Monday, December 14, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 14, 2009
(mordant and/or stupefying news from December 4-12)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The power of personal belief continues to trump common sense. A U.S. Treasury agent told a reporter that many more deluded people continue to believe in all sincerity that, to get out of debt, they can merely compose their own "private offset bonds" or "bond promissory notes" and send them off to a grateful Bank of America et al. It never occurs, even, to ask why the sellers of the seminars and guidebooks on how to do these thing accept only cash. One guy who used such a "bond" on a federal tax lien was hauled into court by IRS but patiently explained to the judge that the main problem here was that "your clerks may not be familiar with these type of instruments and do not know how to handle them." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Hustler creator Larry Flynt was in court last week testifying against his nephews Jimmy Flynt and Dustin Flynt for producing pornography under the family name. Larry said their product didn't measure up to the exquisite quality of porn that consumers have come to expect from "Flynt." Explained Larry, they're "focusing on the boob element, so to speak. I just think that's sort of passé" Similarly(?), the world-famous Lincoln Center (for the Performing Arts in New York City) formally threatened litigation against the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Facility in Brookhaven, Miss. (pop. 9,800), for referring to the facility locally as the "Lincoln Center." Los Angeles Times /// Daily Leader (Brookhaven)

Things Government Is/Isn't Good At (continuing series): The SEC couldn't catch Bernard Madoff, but IRS nailed Rachel Porcaro, who makes $19,000 a year cutting hair, which IRS auditors said was too little taxable income for her demographic. (She and her kids live in her parents' house, but in that case, IRS said she paid the parents below-market rent and therefore shouldn't have claimed the kids as dependents. So, she's toast. IRS levied her the equivalent of a year's wages.) And while many people had their time wasted at an airport last week, pulled out of line for random searches, someone at the Transportation Security Administration accidentally posted TSA's entire airport screening procedures manual online (leading, of course, to the totally implausible reassurance by the agency that no harm was done). Seattle Times /// ABC News

And while state and local government employees (the people who most affect Americans' quality of life) get laid off and furloughed, with consequent reduction of services, the number of federal employees making $100,000-plus salaries has rocketed up (e.g., Defense Department, from 1,800 such employees in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009; Transportation Department, from 1 person making $170,000-plus in December 2007 to 1,690 in June 2009). (And the numbers don't even include overtime or bonuses.) USA Today

Taking a break from the world's other crises, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education last week issued a major policy pronouncement: The "mythical status" of the hymen "has caused far too much harm for far too long," and from now on, it shall be known not as the hymen but as the "vaginal corona." The Local (Stockholm)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

"Green Balloons": That was, claims former Missouri Speaker of the House (of Representatives) Rod Jetton, the "safe word" that his alleged S&M sex partner was supposed to utter to get Jetton to stop "S"-ing on her poor "M" body. Not hearing the words, Jetton claims, he beat her up something awful. She says she doesn't know what Jetton is talking about and that he knocked her unconscious because he likes his sex rough. (Bonus: As a legislator, Jetton condemned homosexuals for practicing "deviate" sex.) Kansas City Star

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

Andrew Wirth, 24, was charged with murdering two people (one an off-duty cop) who he thought were playing non-consensual grab-ass with him at a bar. Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)

People Different From Us

Elise Egan, 53, was charged with assaulting her boyfriend in the face repeatedly with a raw steak "so that he could learn" not to be so obstinate in demanding a bread roll instead of sliced bread. Associated Press via Fox News [with mug shot!]

Charles Irving, 27, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which he tried to justify by pointing out that he needed to protect his mother from vampires. Plus, he was naked. Kansas City Star

Recurring Themes in Incompetent Criminality: (1) Michael Hamilton, 30, called the cops on his landlord for confiscating his pet fish, even though Michael was sitting on five outstanding arrest warrants. (2) Douglas Lloyd, 57, was discovered stuck in a ground-floor window at a Seattle museum, half-in, half-out, and was arrested for burglary. (3) Three people were arrested for marijuana trafficking in Parkersburg, W.Va., when their car engine caught fire (because that's where a duffel bag of dope had been cleverly stashed). (4) Tita Nyambi, 25, of Franklin, N.J., became the latest guy to dress up as his mother, use a bad high-pitched voice, and try to withdraw money from mom's checking account. Ann Arbor News /// Seattle Times /// News & Sentinel (Parkersburg) /// Newark Star-Ledger

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A Taiwan politician was indicted because last year in a heated argument, he yanked the wig off of a fellow politician and then, this year, bragged about it during his campaign for Tainan City council. Agence France-Presse via Sydney Morning Herald

To hold a United Nations climate-change summit in Copenhagen requires a 41,000-ton carbon footprint: 1,200 limousines, 140 private jets. On the other hand, the Inuit communities of Greenland and Canada want quick action, specifically, a shipment of electric freezers to store their fresh-catch caribou, since it's too warm to leave them outside as usual.) Daily Telegraph (London) /// Reuters via New York Times

Federal officials held a day-long seminar in Washington on how to administer the Freedom of Information Act. It was closed to the public. WJLA-TV (Washington, D.C.)

The Ganja Gourmet opened in Denver—the nation's first full-service restaurant serving marijuana-baked dishes (provided you have a prescription; otherwise, you get the shirley-temple version). KCNC-TV (Denver)

Cecil Bothwell, running for city council in Asheville, N.C., is a self-described atheist. Opponents point out that it's unconstitutional in North Carolina for an atheist to hold public office. However, supporters point out that it's unconstitutional in the entire United States for North Carolina be that way. Opponents say they don't care. Citizen-Times (Asheville)

Life Is Too Long: Mathematicians discuss, on and on, the "perfect" way to slice a pizza. New Scientist

It's Good to Be an Underachieving British Schoolkid: Most of the state schools surveyed admitted they rig the curriculum so as not to make the academically ungifted feel bad. Daily Mail

Below The Fold

"Foster Kids Treated to 'Slapstick Orgasm,' Swearing in Christmas Play" Herald Sun (Melbourne)

"Boise Firefighters Rescue Boy Whose Tongue Was Stuck to Metal Pole" Idaho Statesman

"No More Endangered Eel at Top Supermarket" Reuters

"The Only Two Men in the UK Named Geraint Woolford End Up in Adjacent Hospital Beds" Daily Mail

"Pie Eating Competitors to Be Drug Tested" Lancashire Evening Post

More Things To Worry About

A 46-year-old man in Eerbeek, Netherlands, reported that his house had been broken into and 2,400 (illegal) Ectasy pills had been stolen—but that he is not a user or dealer, but merely a collector. He likes the colors and the various brand names. However, he warned that about 40 of the pills (the "red & whites") were probably exceptionally toxic by now. Australian Associated Press via Australian Broadcasting Corp.

True or false, you can make a decent living cashing in discarded winning tickets off the floor at a New York City OTB store? How does $45,000 a year sound? New York Times

Your Editor is following several suspicious stories that cannot quite be vouched for yet: (1) 'Ukrainian Student Killed by Exploding Chewing Gum" (A student in the habit of dipping his gum in citrus juice for flavoring accidentally dipped it into another chemical in the lab, which blew his jaw off and killed him.) [The NOTW Science Editor says it's not totally impossible but just highly unlikely that any lab worker would leave a chemical that unstable out in the open.] (2) "Chinese Man Gets Remote Control Stuck in Bottom After Drunk Prank" (London's Mirror is there, with x-rays.) (3) Another special that only the Austrian Times has: Chinese truck driver Sing Li's windshield got blown out, forcing him to use a sheet of cardboard (as you can see) to keep rain and debris out and for him to drive while peering out the driver's side window. RIA Novosti (Moscow) /// The Mirror /// Austrian Times

Upon Further Review . . .

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, so this Mursi tribeswoman from Ethiopia's Omo River Valley must be highly desirable—either a hot chick or an elegant lady. The same must be true for the hunk-like men). [Some images Not Safe For Work, in a National Geographic-kind of way] Life magazine

Newsrangers: Peter Hine, Larry Seltzer, Matt Rushing, Steve Whipple, Jenny Morlan, Hal Dunham, Michael Ravnitzky, and Jim Snedden, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors