Monday, November 23, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 23, 2009
(ludicrous and/or disquieting news from November 14-21)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

And Gen. McChrystal Thinks He Has a Tough Job: "We want [buzkashi] to become an Olympic sport," said the head of the Buzkashi Foundation, who is the promoter-in-chief of Afghans' traditional national sport. The main problem, though, is that the game is basically anarchy. One horseback rider needs to hand-carry a goat carcass the length of the field, around a flag, and back before other riders, using any tactic short of homicide, stop him. The time limits vary, and frequently the boundary lines are disrespected, sending spectators fleeing. The Foundation wants to corporatize the sport, with businessmen entertaining clients at matches like U.S. executives do in stadiums' luxury suites. USA Today

(Totally) Unclear on the Concept: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded money for bonuses (up to $3,000 each) to excellent teachers, including about 200 in Boston, but the Boston Teachers Union says the 200 can't take the cash. The union's rationale goes something like this: Oh, we're for excellence, too, but if you're basing that on whether students succeed, and thus reward their teachers, you have to understand that successful kids have had many other teachers, too. Therefore, bonuses must be given to all teachers. Boston Herald

The State of Scholarship, 2009: "Experts" at England's Leeds University, fastidiously documenting their observations, can now conclude, as cutting-edge academic research, that women seeking to attract men socially should dress baring about 40 percent of their bodies. More than that, too slutty; less than that, priggish. 40 percent. Daily Telegraph

The Way The World Works (why the African people are still dirt-poor despite the continent's rich natural resources): (1) The president of Senegal has decided the best way to help his people is to build a huge bronze statue in Dakar that celebrates "African renaissance" and is so impressive that tourists and businesses will flock to it, creating commercial opportunities. And even though he came up with the idea, President Wade selflessly is only going to take 35% of the income the site generates, in perpetuity. (2) U.S. law could not be clearer that any foreigner whom we strongly suspect of corruption affecting natural resources (conviction not necessary, just good evidence) cannot get a U.S. visa. The Justice Department has a super-compelling dossier on the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, but the State Dept. still lets him come kick back at his $35 million coastal estate in Malibu. Equatorial Guinea . . has oil reserves. BBC News /// New York Times

People want to be accepted to the best schools, so, of course there are prep courses for law school admissions tests and for College Boards. There are even prep courses on how to impress admissions officers at elite high schools and elite grade schools. Now, in New York City, there are prep courses for 3- and 4-year-olds, to get into elite kindergartens. Seriously. New York Times

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Charles Hersel, 39, was arrested in Thousand Oaks, Calif., by police who were responding to complaints from Westlake High School boys that a man was roaming the grounds offering them money if they would spit in his face. (The fee the time the police were watching was $31.) Some students said he was also offering money if they would expel even grosser bodily fluids on him. Los Angeles Times /// KEYT-TV (Santa Barbara) [mug shot]

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


Amber Foster, 21, might have called in a false rape report on her ex-boyfriend, which is what the Muncie, Ind., police are charging. Or she might actually have been assaulted by the man, but if so, it was following an apparently consensual game of "Strip Yahtzee." The Star Press (Muncie)

Sub-Prime Americans

The Cook County (Ill.) Commission approved a settlement of $14,000 to janitor Mary Lait, who works in the sheriff's office and has twice thrown her back out of joint "reaching around to pick up a piece of toilet paper." Chicago Sun-Times

Chutzpah!: Mallory Ewart, 18, kindly organized a charity car wash on behalf of the family of a man killed in a hit-and-run collision in Vancouver, Wash. She raised hundreds of dollars. She presented some of it to the family. According to police, she siphoned off $500, herself, in order to post bail for her boyfriend — who is the driver accused of the hit-and-run. The Columbian

Sounds Like a Joke: The city of Salinas, Calif., 20 miles from idyllic Monterey, has a murder rate three times that of Los Angeles, fueled by feral gangs, but help is on the way. "Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield," according to a Washington Post dispatch. "This is our surge," said Mayor Dennis Donahue. Washington Post

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A Minnesota language software company with traditional translation platforms (Spanish, German, etc.) also does English-Klingon, with the assistance of linguist d'Armond Speers, who knows of what he speaks because, in a personal test of children's legendary language-learning ability, he spoke to his newborn only in Klingon for the first three years of his life. He said he learned a lot. (Bonus: Speers never cared that much for Star Trek.) Minnesota Daily

Irv Rosenfeld, 56, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., stock broker, was scheduled last week to smoke his 115,000th marijuana joint. He's one of the original Federal experimental medicinal patients in pain, allowed to buy huge quantities for 27 years. (The Federal program has been criticized for growing low-dose weed, but when you buy in Rosenfeld's quantity, that may not matter.) WTVJ-TV (Miami)

Oh, Dear! Joe Laiacona, 62, is running for the Illinois General Assembly's 40th District, from Chicago, against the open-lesbian daughter of a powerful Chicago ward boss. Laiacona, too, is gay and out. But Laiacona trumps her because he also happens to be a prominent figure in Chicago's leather community. The lady opponent complained, "We can't get a civil unions bill passed, and here's a guy who's . . . into bondage and sex slaves?" So far, Laiacona has no public position on the touchy issue of detainee torture. Chicago Reader

British actress Rita Marcalo, who has suffered a couple of epileptic seizures a year for 20 years even though she takes the best medication, believes epilepsy doesn't get enough attention from the public and so in December will give a one-woman show in which she hopes to induce her own seizure, right there on stage. She'll stop taking her meds and stare into the strobe lights to see what happens. Daily Telegraph

More Chutzpah!: At least three people were arrested in Canoga Park, Calif., when police found a sophisticated marijuana grow house with an advanced ventilation system to prevent the escape of dope scents into the neighborhood. That probably helped but did not eliminate the odor, and police got a whiff — because, for some reason, the perps had chosen a house located about 25 feet from the Topanga police station. KTTV (Los Angeles)

Inexplicable: The Readers' Choice this week was the arrests in Peru of suspects who supposedly killed people just to claim their body fat, which they could liquify and sell to international traffickers to make various cosmetics. The suspects thought the fat they had harvested could bring up to about $60,000 a bottle. [That is preposterous, given the supply curve nourished by U.S. obesity. Nothing would be better for the U.S. trade deficit than to be able to export what might be our greatest natural resource.] The Guardian (London)

Eyewitness News

Briton Jason Ripley, 39, was the toast of the Internet last week for (a) surviving an impossible injury and (b) doing it with Pythonesque style. The first thing he did when his car accidentally rammed an iron pole, completely impaling his chest, was call his boss to tell him he'd be a little late. ("I've had a bit of an accident. I'm in a spot of bother.") Daily Mail (London)

Almost as big a celebrity was Kevin McCarthy, whose home in Santa Rosa, Calif., is pictured at this link with a toppled, 90-foot-tall crane lying right in the middle of it. Oops! (No one was home, though.) Daily Mail (London)

More Things To Worry About

Asheville, N.C., physician Earl Sunderhaus is in trouble, though he was only doing his part to reduce the obesity epidemic. A patient reported him to the state medical board because he told her she was too [and apparently this is the technical term Sunderhaus used] "fat" to have another kid, and that made her feel bad. (Also, he told her she needed to get a job before getting pregnant again, instead of raising another child from the taxpayers' trough.) Citizen-Times (Asheville)

James Condren, 44, was brought to court in the Sydney suburb of Sutherland, to answer charges that he had called in bomb threats the day before to 10 different schools. Naturally, what's the first thing Condren did when he got to court? Yell "Bomb in the courthouse!" Cleared the room. Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

Who better to convince 200 young Italian women, specially selected for their beauty, that Islam is the one true way, than Col. Muammar Gaddafi? [see sexy photo of Gaddafi at link] He invited them to a posh party in Rome while he was in town for the UN food conference and lectured them for two hours. [Given Gaddafi's history, they got off light.] BBC News

Nicolas Cage filed a big lawsuit against his former business manager after finding himself in the embarrassing position of having spent money like he was the U.S. Congress or something. The business manager has fired back, saying he tried many times to tamp down Cage's spending, to no avail. He claims that Cage's purchases in 2007, alone, included three homes, 22 cars (including 9 Rollses), and 47 pieces of art. By 2008, the manager said, Cage owned 15 houses, four yachts, a Gulfstream jet, and an island in the Bahamas. New York Post

Upon Further Review . . .

Evangelical Christians seem to have a variety of indicators showing why America is headed for ruin, but Pastor Steven L. Anderson has one you may not be familiar with. We are bound for hell because men . . pee sitting down. Founding Fathers, standers. Original King James Bible authors, standers. New King James authors, sitters. Europeans, sitters. (Bonus: According to Anderson, the OKJ contains several iterations of the verb "to piss," such as "pisseth.") YouTube

Editor's Note

CORRECTION (I believe): A news story I relied on for NOTW/Pro, 10-26-2009, suggested that the Waiau, New Zealand, rabbit-carcass toss had been canceled this year as being a poor influence on young minds regarding the treatment of animals. But it says here that it was indeed held, that 70 people entered, and that Lisa Lutz, a German tourist, won it. Waikato Times via Stuff.co.nz

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Hal Dunham, Alex Courtade, Peter Hine, Kathryn Wood, Angel Rodriguez, Justin Warner, and Roger Meiners, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors