Monday, November 16, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 16, 2009
(curious and/or absurd news from November 7-14
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved. But please forward this issue to your pals.)

Weekly Gold

If you were a California lifer, why wouldn't you want to be on Death Row? The condemned get individual cells, better telephone access, nicer contact-visit arrangements, more personal-property privileges — and in fact, the state budget for each is $138,000 a year (compared to $49,000 a year for all other inmates). California now has 685 on death row but has only executed 13 in the last 32 years (versus 71 who have died of causes other than execution). (As reported here two weeks ago [NOTW/Pro, 11-2-2009], one just-convicted murderer is so anxious to get there that he volunteered confessions to two more murders that no one knew about.) Los Angeles Times

More Inconsistencies About U.S. Health Insurance: (1) A Harvard Medical School study revealed that, of all the Americans who passed away last year without health insurance, 2,200 were military veterans who had served their country but did not qualify for free veterans' benefits. (2) An analyst for the pet marketing industry told the Washington Times that "hundreds" of companies now offer supplementary pet health insurance for their employees. More than a million people pay about $400 a year for coverage. (3) As part of the new labor pact agreed to by Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell to keep the trains and buses operating in Philadelphia: If the Rx is for one Viagra a day, workers' insurance will pay for one Viagra a day, no longer just the stingy "10 per month" allowance. New American Media (Pacific News Service) /// Washington Times /// Daily Finance [link from Salon.com]

Chicago firefighter-turned-arsonist Jeffrey "Matches" Boyle (so nicknamed by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass), who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2006 (served less than two) after pleading guilty to setting eight fires, was officially approved for his $50,000/year pension from the Chicago Fire Dept. Cook County Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. (euphemistically referred to as a "veteran" of "Chicago politics") concluded that Matches was off the clock when he set the fires. Chicago Tribune

The animal kingdom's most underrated intellect is . . the pig. With the completion of the pig genome, scientists who study that kind of thing remark on human-pig similarities: We're both quick learners, slow to forget things, have similar hearts, similar teeth, metabolize drugs the same way, stare at ourselves in the mirror (though for the pig, it appears to be curiosity more than vanity). Said one biologist, "I look at the pig as a great animal model for human lifestyle diseases. Pigs like to lie around, they like to drink if given a chance [and] smoke and watch TV." New York Times

A New Jersey judge overruled the police chief in the town of Manville and said prospective hunter James Cap, 46, was indeed qualified for a firearms license. Cap had last hunted while in his teens, but then had his neck broken in a high school football game and has been a quadriplegic for 30 years. His gun will be wheelchair-mounted, fired by Cap's blowing into a tube. Associated Press via Philly.com

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

David Roberts, 68, who apparently is no longer excited by Mrs. Roberts, 61, struck up online flirtations with much younger females, including one "14-year-old girl," who happened to be online-chatting with him from the next room. That is, Mrs. Roberts had discovered David's secret life and was twisting him slowly in the wind. The Welsh couple are divorcing. BBC News

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


There's never a good time for a DUI, but this is among the worst: Mr. Tracy Tredway, 43, principal of Riddle Elementary School in Argos, Ind., got his DUI arrest while driving home from a Halloween party that he attended in pink dress, heels, and wig. The Smoking Gun

Bonus: Also from The Smoking Gun, three particularly interesting chaps from its current weekly collection of mug shots. (As always, we don't know what they're charged with. And as always, it doesn't matter.) Not a People Person /// Coming to the End of a Bad Hair Year /// The Neighbor You Dare Not Disturb

Sub-Prime Americans

The partially-submerged car in this photo (on Galveston Island, Tex., so it's in salt water) is a French-built Bugatti Veyron (the world's most powerful), which the driver had just purchased for $1.25 million before momentarily losing control when surprised by a pelican flyover. Houston Chronicle

Kevin W. Dunigan, 46, was convicted of murder in Sacramento, 14 years after the fact, when DNA was matched to him while he was in prison for being a 20-year bad guy. Kevin solidified the prosecutor's case by acting as his own lawyer. The jury seemed unimpressed by his assertions that he "[ran] the country" for the last few years, that George W. Bush did "everything I told him to." (Bonus: Bush's middle name is not the classic one, but Dunigan's is.) Sacramento Bee

No Longer Weird (but still irresistible): (1) In Holtsville, N.Y., four men were arrested for soliciting prostitutes outside a massage parlor during the middle of a raid of the parlor on prostitution charges. (A female plainclothes cop was apparently so hot that the four potential johns had ignored all the squad cars and flashing lights.) (2) Lloyd Barclay, 51, knocked off the KNBT bank in Bethlehem, Pa., but left his wallet and ID on the counter. (3) Michael Noyer, 45, burglarized a house in Manchester, N.H., but left his planner and his unemployment check stub behind. (4) Inept burglar Juventino Sanchez Jr., 57, tried to hit a Highland Park, Kan., business overnight but wound up stuck, upside down, in an air-conditioning vent. Newsday /// Morning Call (Allentown) /// Manchester Union Leader /// Capital-Journal (Topeka)

Well, it's a sub-prime American deer: In Viroqua, Wis., a seven-point buck apparently lost a head-butt contest with a same-size concrete statue of a buck, staggered off, and collapsed, dead, a few yards away. La Crosse Tribune

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Government Officials Get Snippy: (1) Nepal's deputy agriculture minister, Ms. Karima Begam, miffed that a local official at a regional airport had sent only a second-string car to pick her up, slapped the poor guy in the face . . four times. (2) Chris Jackson, a city council member in Plattsburgh, N.Y., spit in the face of constituent Patrick Girard. Alcohol was involved, in that the incident occurred during a barroom analysis of the Boston Red Sox. Agence France-Presse via Google News /// Press Republican (Plattsburgh)

A team of researchers roaming the depths of Loch Ness in Scotland, looking for You-Know-Who, encountered a monstrous . . collection of golf balls, "hundreds of thousands" of them. A recent Danish Golf Association report said the balls will be there for from 100 to 1,000 years before decomposing. A UK legislator called golf balls "humanity's signature litter." CNN

Another Hardy Thief: Recently reported here was the 70ish bank robber who has to tote his oxygen tank around with him on the job [NOTW/Pro, 9-21-2009]. Now there's Shanae Harston, 19, whom police say they caught red-handed burglarizing a house in Vallejo, Calif., and who was so very pregnant that upon arrest, she immediately went into labor (and gave birth a short time later). Vallejo Times-Herald via San Jose Mercury News

If there is one thing you'd think we in Western capitals excel at, it's in having governments skilled at lying and "spinning." However, this sad report in The Times of London says the raggedy Taliban are actually vastly outperforming us, propaganda-wise, in Afghanistan. The Times

The director of the University Catholic Center at Duke University criticized his own business school's recruiting for a research study on sex-toy use by female students. Father Joe Vetter said he's worried that the study might encourage young women to "just sit around and masturbate" instead of forming relationships. Raleigh News & Observer (11-6-2009) /// WRAL-TV (update, 11-13-2009)

Eyewitness News

British soldier Shaun Clark has taken the ol' leave-no-one-behind adage super-seriously. Here he is having the name of yet another fallen UK troop from Afghanistan fighting . . tattooed on his back. Daily Mail [only about 110 out of the 232 are visible in this shot, but still–]

Mr. Lin Ma, 66, of Yuji in southern China, decided his wife had jumped on him one time too many for his drinking, and chose The Only Way Out. He is pictured here with the 8-inch nail sticking out of his head following an unsuccessful suicide attempt with a hammer. CEN/EuroPics via The Sun (London)

More Things To Worry About

A former TV weatherman, John Fredericks, had to leave his Las Vegas gig last year over some strangeness about his dog, but that's not worth sorting out because there's new strangeness: He had a brief meet-and-greet with a woman, fell in love, wouldn't stop calling her, and finally brought out the vicious-threat artillery . . before lapsing back into lovey-dovey. Fredericks must have been unaware that telephone answering machine messages are savable. KLAS-TV

Christians should love their enemies and do them good, said military veteran Dan Moss, 61, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., so after the Fort Hood massacre, with America oozing contempt for Major Hasan, Moss ordered a dozen yellow roses for the guy from a Killeen, Tex., florist. Moss's message quoted, "Koran 2: 190-3. In God's eye, and those who submit, you are a hero." Moss said he can't understand why the florist would call the FBI on him. Naples Daily News

Hyperactive Seniors: (1) London's Daily Telegraph caught up with the recent divorce of Bertie and Jessie Wood, who were 98 when the decree was granted last year. (The ex-husband died shortly afterward, and the ex-Mrs. Wood isn't doing too well, herself, but apparently the pair were certain they needed a fresh start.) (2) In Los Angeles, John Scott was arrested for tagging-vandalism. He is 74 (more than twice as old as the previous oldest arrested tagger.) Daily Telegraph /// Los Angeles Times [with mug shot]

In another sad piece, Sweetbay supermarkets of Florida has certainly freed up some space in Thanksgiving news stories. It is selling frozen pre-fried turkeys, thus probably reducing the usual number of Thanksgiving-morning house fires (and first- and second-degree burn admissions to ERs). Tampa Tribune

Upon Further Review . . .
Herewith, a major time-waster: 5½ hours of e-mail exchange between two married-to-other-people colleagues at Cornell University's business school. They may have a better sex life than you, but you're probably more careful when you click "send" on your e-mails. GuestofaGuest.com

Newsrangers: Richard Hunding, Stephen Taylor, Paul Vogt, James Hoban, Peter Swank, Sam Gaines, Peter Hine, Thomas Wyman, Hal Dunham, Kathryn Wood, Eugenia Schenecker, Sandy Pearlman, John Ellwood, Gregory Payne, and Russell Bell, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors