Monday, January 25, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

January 25, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines January 16-January 23) (links correct as of January 25)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Laying Back in Sunny Haiti, Plus No-Jump Basketball, Praying with Boxes, and Sex Ed for E.T.

Hear, Hear! A Toast . . . to the Rescue Efforts!: Only days after the earthquake, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships docked at a private beach enclave (guarded, with 12-foot-high fences) about 60 miles up Haiti's coastline, freeing up several thousand frolickers for "jet ski rides, parasailing, and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks." About a third of the guests stayed on the ships, too grossed-out to have fun, but Royal Caribbean had contracts to honor (though it made a big donation to the rescuers and promised that "proceeds" from the enclave's thriving craft stores would be sent along, as well). The Guardian (London)

The All-American Basketball Alliance is hoping to kick off a 12-team season in June, using only the new American minority: white players (natural-born Americans, both parents Caucasian). But it's not actually a skin-color thing, argued Atlanta-based Commissioner "Moose" Lewis. AABA is merely rejecting the in-your-face street-ball culture (like taunting your opponent, as notoriously practiced by, say, Larry Bird) and bringing back the purity of basketball fundamentals (such as exemplified by, say, Tim Duncan). Augusta Chronicle

Oh, Dear God, Think of the Children! Mirko Fischer is suing British Airways for making him change seats on a flight. His pregnant wife was by the window; Mirko in the middle; and a 12-year-old boy on the aisle. BA prohibits men (but not women) from sitting next to unrelated children. Either the man or the precious little buttercup must relocate. Guess which. Daily Mail

Just because it's a technology-oriented magnet school doesn't mean that the grownups know technology. At San Diego's Millennial Tech, an 11-year-old boy working on a "motion detector" brought in an empty Gatorade bottle with wires running to some electrical gizmos. Could be a bomb! The ordnance squad was called; the school was locked down. [Note to file: The terrorists have won.] Tests found everything harmless, no dots to connect. The grownups had to salvage something, though, so they said the kid violated "policies" and that he and his parents should get "counseling." (The San Diego Union-Tribune must have fired all its copy editors because there's no clue in the story as to which "policies" and what "counseling.") San Diego Union-Tribune [dateline January 15th, but Associated Press versions ran January 16th]

A Week of Silly Names: Laurel and Hardy were arrested for cocaine trafficking in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Carlos Laurel and Andre "Shug" Hardy). Mr. Knowledge Clark was arrested for carnal knowledge of a 16-year-old girl in Memphis. A teen baristress at the American coffee and pastry shop (Starbucks) complained of sexual harassment by a supervisor named Tim Horton. Two guys were arrested for stealing a check in Hellertown, Pa.—Richard Fluck and Bryan Flok. Citizens Voice (Wilkes-Barre) /// Commercial Appeal (Memphis) /// ABC News /// Morning Call (Allentown)

Meanwhile, Over on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

Myesha Williams, 20, dropped by the police station in DeLand, Fla., to demand to know why her picture was all over the news. Police answer: We've been looking for you about that beauty shop you robbed a few days ago. Daytona Beach News-Journal

Sabrina Medina filed a lawsuit against the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort in Hawaii because, she said, an employee caused her husband's death. The late husband, Humberto Murillo, had swiped two 12-packs of beer from a Resort store, and the manager chased him. Mr. Murillo started punching. The manager and a bystander subdued him. Mr. Murillo's heart got overstressed, and he is no longer with us. That's Hyatt Regency's fault. Honolulu Advertiser

Embarrassment: Lazaro Flores, 50, showing off for his girlfriend by practicing his quick draw, accidentally shot himself in the leg. News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Epic Embarrassment: Shane Williams-Allen, 19, an alleged serial car burglar, was arrested in Tavares, Fla., after breaking into what he discovered was an unmarked sheriff's car. Among his bounty were a Taser and handcuffs, but he later called police for help after he had accidentally shot himself with the Taser and accidentally cuffed himself. Orlando Sentinel

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Fine Points of the Law: If you put on a ski mask, grab your gun, and walk into the store intending to rob it, but there's no one there (clerks in the back room somewhere), and you get spooked and run out, is that "attempted robbery"? The prosecutor in Joliet, Ill., thinks so. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

Should the judge and jury in a death-sentence case be BFFs and exchange bawdy gifts after the trial? A federal appeals court saw no evil. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a rare reversal, sent the case back and demanded the judges show some "dignity and respect" for death-row convicts. In the case of Georgia's Marcus Wellons, some jurors had become so chummy that, after condemning Wellons, they presented gift candies to the judge (penis-shaped chocolate) and the bailiff (breasts-shaped chocolate). ABA Journal

You're an orthodox Jew and therefore must pray while wearing two small leather boxes (on your head and arm) and reciting in Hebrew. You've got at least a four-hour window to say the prayer, but it would be impolite to suggest that you do it someplace other than during a two-hour airline flight (in that passengers might be a little jumpy these days). New York Times

Free Roger! What can be done about a hysterically screeching 2-year-old whose mother pretends is well-behaved, to the rising anger of other shoppers? What if a stranger says, I can shut her up, and slaps the kid a couple of times, indeed shutting her up. It turns out that that's not a public service but, rather, a crime. Instead of a civic award, Roger Stephens of Gwinnett County, Ga., got a year in jail. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Bible in War and Catastrophe: (1) Trijicon, the Michigan maker of high-tech gunsights for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, said it has been imprinting obscure references to Bible verses (resembling serial numbers) onto the combat devices for years. Jesus would've wanted that. Critics feared it would reinforce Muslims' beliefs that Western anti-terrorism campaigns are nothing more than holy war, and two days later, Trijicon said it would stop. But if the war effort now goes south, we know whom to blame. (2) A U.S. evangelical group, Faith Comes By Hearing, quick-shipped 600 solar-powered audio Bibles into the earthquake zone, text in Haitian creole dialect. (Critics say Haitians' excessive reliance on spiritualism has been a major factor in their national lack of progress.) Detroit News /// ABC News (policy change) /// USA Today

Below The Fold

Mom Forces Son to Kill Hamster for Bad Grade Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Judgment Day for Obese Woman Who Used Her Weight As a Weapon WOIO-TV (Cleveland)

Flashier Great Tits Produce Stronger Sperm, Bird Study Shows

'Terror-Pisser' Killed Neighbour's Garden with Night-Time Golden Showers The Local (Berlin)

Eyewitness News

(Recurring Theme) This is what happens when an elderly driver hits the gas instead of the brake and there's not a driver's license office in front of her to cushion the crash. BBC News

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

(Recurring Theme) Robert Smith, 32, Marlborough, N.H., was arrested, himself, when he called the police to demand the arrest of the prostitute who took his $150 for a three-way that she never delivered. [Actually, Robert looks more like a one-way guy.] WMUR-TV (Manchester)

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

Was it murder or self-defense? Only one way to tell. Mark Hoffman, 47, stands accused, from an incident at a "party" in his honor after his release from prison earlier in he day. KVVU-TV (Las Vegas)

And a week ago Friday, Valerie Minicucci, 40, was accused of shooting up drugs in a school bathroom just after dropping off her kid. The mug shot was taken, undoubtedly, after the drug had kicked in. WTNH-TV (New Haven, Conn.)

More Things To Worry About

There was a 40-minute delay in one of the outer matches at the Australian Open tennis tournament Tuesday, after a ballboy was apparently overcome by the match's suspense and soiled himself and the court. (Bonus: Story features a large photo of pro player Andy Murray, maybe giving lazy readers the impression that Murray's the one with the problem.)

Alcohol Was Involved: Julia Laack was sentenced to six months in jail for an October incident. There was video of her stealing beef jerky from a store. Police went to her house. Laack, in front of her kids, resisted, and stripping down to her underwear. Tried to kick one cop in the jewels. A female officer put a spit hood on her, but she wrenched it loose and hocked into the officer's mouth. In the squad car, she mooned out the back window and told the female cop her kids were doomed. The Aristocrat! Sheboygan (Wis.) Press

Updates: (1) As to last week's NOTW/Pro story of the Army's bringing child porn charges over swimsuit snapshots of a relative: The Army said the prosecution is about other pornography, not those snapshots, but it refused to say more. (2) The British firm that's making those bomb-finding dowsing rods that have made Baghdad so safe [NOTW M137, 11-22-2009] has concluded that the main reason people think they're frauds is that the rods are too plain-looking. Therefore, they're adding flashing lights! (Didn't help. The firm's CEO was arrested last week.) Register-Mail (Galesburg, Ill.) /// The Register (UK)

And For Further Review . . .

From a New Scientist article last week on a "Short History of Radio Messages to ET," describing a 1986 project: "Joe Davis is an artist and a research affiliate at [MIT]. In the mid-1980s, he became concerned that no image of humans had been sent into space representing the details of human genitals or reproduction. So he led a project to transmit the sounds of vaginal contractions towards neighbouring star systems. To do so, he recorded the vaginal contractions of ballet dancers. The messages were to be sent from MIT's Millstone Hill Radar to Epsilon Eridani, Tau Ceti and two other stars." [Upshot: The killjoy U.S. Air Force shut down the transmission a few minutes after it started. Oh, why does America hate science?] New Scientist

Newsrangers: Charles Butterfield, Sam Gaines, Sandy Pearlman, Della Marcinuk, Patrick Lessard, Kevin Dean, Ted Hering, Gale Walters, Peter Smagorinsky, David Scott, Joe Casso, and Tom Barker, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, January 18, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"
January 18, 2010
(datelines January 9-January 16; links correct as of January 17)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weapon of Self-Destruction, Plus Window Captures Felon, Witnesses Vomit, and the Urban Caveman

He Just Can't Stop: Scott Ritter was a leading voice against the invasion of Iraq after first being so tough as a UN weapons inspector that Saddam kicked him out of the country. In 2002 he began warning us that the "evidence" of WMDs that was so impressive to Vice President Cheney was actually trifling. In early 2003, though, Ritter was picked up for talking sex with an underage girl, his second (maybe third) such bust. He stayed off the radar until last week, when they got him again, for vividly ejaculating for a webcam during an online chat (again with an underage girl, i.e., police officer). (No conviction on any of these arrests has been reported, though.) New York Times ///

Transportation Security Administration says it's one of those unfounded myths going around (An 8-year-old on the "no fly" list! Ha!). That's technically true, but Michael Hicks, 8, has been on the "selectee" screening list since he was 2 and regularly gets patted down at airports. His last-used boarding pass showed 4 random screenings. There are at least 1,600 Michael Hickses in America, presumably with the same problem. (Official response: We're working on it; after all, it's only been 8½ years since 9-11.) New York Times

So many radio waves dance through the air these days that they overwhelm the aluminum foil. Arthur Firstenberg is one of the electromagnetically-sensitive who live in New Mexico for its relative isolation, but the menace is growing, and Firstenberg filed a $530,000 lawsuit against a neighbor (and former friend) because he gets nausea, vertigo, diarrhea, aches, pains, insomnia, and impaired vision from her wi-fi and cell phone. (Earlier, she had compassionately started to phase out her fluorescent lights.) He's been sleeping in his car all winter. Santa Fe Reporter ///

America's War Against Soldiers: Illinois National Guard Spec. Billy Miller is awaiting court martial for "child pornography"—actually family snapshots his mom in Galesburg sent him of a young female relative in a swim suit. The same pictures appear on the family's website and Facebook page. Associated Press via

One of America's more prominent delusional patriots, Ed Brown of New Hampshire, got a 37-year sentence for his combination tax-evasion and 2007 stockpiled-weapons standoff with U.S. marshals (he had 60,000 rounds on hand). He and Mrs. Brown (who got 35 years) had vowed to die before paying taxes on any of her income from the previous decade. Root of all evil, says Brown: the Freemasons! Associated Press via

Meanwhile, on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

Travis Copeland, 19, bolting from a courtroom in Waukegan, Ill., tried lowering his shoulder and crashing through a window to freedom, but the window is bulletproof, and he staggered away and fell to the floor. Here's a frame from the surveillance video showing Travis about to hurt himself. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

Four men who allegedly pulled off a home invasion in Oakland, Calif., were caught in the getaway when they accidentally wedged themselves into a narrow space between two buildings. KTVU (Oakland)

Bible-Belt Honesty: Clarence Burnett, 25, sitting for a polygraph test for a sheriff's deputy's job in Pensacola, Fla., admitted that he has possessed child pornography. His interview turned out badly, but at least he passed the polygraph. (Bonus: Last August, Max Hinton, 21, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for having child pornography after he admitted the fact during an interview to be a police officer in Montgomery, Ala.) Press-Register (Mobile) [with mug shot of an honest man] /// Birmingham News

Recurring Themes: (1) People still commit robbery just for attention, going through the crime pro forma but then immediately giving up and waiting for the police. (2) People still try to sell their young kids in the underground economy (or trade, say, for a gun). KPTV (Portland, Ore.) /// KSAZ-TV (Phoenix)

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Stephen Gough, the UK's "naked rambler," was released from prison on December 17th after his latest public frolic, but, according to a news report last week, he then immediately ripped his clothes off and was back behind bars "within seconds." He vows never to wear clothes in public again. The prosecutor responded, Well, then, maybe you'll never be in public again. STV News (Glasgow)

Marian Chadwick, 57, owner of a Dallas-area boutique, fended off a gunpoint robbery by wagging her finger at the thug and commanding him, "in the name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the Holy Spirit." Following more wagging, he walked away, cursing. Dallas Morning News

Can't Possibly Be True: Here's a genuine shack, five by seven, no door, no electricity, no plumbing, nothing. Asking price: £40,000 ($65,000). It sits on a small plot of land on a British beach overlooking the North Sea. Daily Telegraph

"I Look Like a Man, I Talk Like a Man, I Am a Man": That's alleged South African drug lord Fadwaan "Fat" Murphy, who was widely feared around Cape Town until his recent arrest. During booking, Murphy's strap-on penis fell off, causing him to admit he was born a hermaphrodite. The Times (Johannesburg)

From a interview with "Markus," the first licensed male prostitute in America (in Nevada): "[I]t's more of a civil rights thing." "[T]his is the first time in the economy of the United States that a male has actually stood up and said, 'I want to do this for a living.' And be protected under law to do it. It's just the same as when Rosa Parks decided to sit at the front instead of the back."

A new ordinance from the city council in Glasgow, Scotland, requires that kids visiting restaurants be within sight of their parents at all times. So far (until they think it through), "kids" means age 15 and under. Awkward for restroom breaks. The Times (London)

Below The Fold

Vomiting Witnesses Disrupt Murder Trial Edmonton Sun (Edmonton, Alberta)

Sequoyah Hills Neighbors Oppose Man's Plan for Music Studio, Sperm Bank at Home Knoxville News-Sentinel

Floor Collapses at Swedish Weight Watchers Clinic (Stockholm)

Eyewitness News

Pat Robertson might have had a different world history teacher than the rest of us. Even before the earthquake and the Duvaliers wrecked Haiti, there was . . . Satan. Christian Broadcasting Network via YouTube

In Izmir, Turkey, a sheep gave birth to a stillborn calf, which somehow produced a mutant head that eerily resembles a human's. Agence France-Presse via /// [Not Safe For Stomachs]

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Kyle Knupple, who owns KUSA Aviation of Beaumont, Tex. [by the way, there's also a Kyle Knupple of Galveston, Tex.; he's not the one], is the object of a lawsuit by his former long-time office manager, who said she's finally had enough of Kyle's prolific and often theatrical masturbation around the office. Houston Press

Bonus: Scott Ritter and Kyle Knupple were not the only self-servers dominating the news last week. Basim Salim Abdul-Rahim, 41, of Seattle, is in trouble with police for several well-lubed displays of himself at his local bar. Arrestee Larry Booker, 55, of Kansas City is well-known by the local police for flashing body parts liberally adorned with baby oil. And here's a success story from Shanxi province, China, where one reformed onanist was singled out for helping in the government's campaign to locate and shut down Internet porn. Said he: "[W]hen I was in middle school, I used to get grades that were good enough to enter a really good university. It is because of the influence of pornography on the Internet that I was only able to go to junior college." /// Kansas City Star /// BBC News

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

Gary Mortensen, 26, pulled over in a traffic stop near Eugene, Ore., might just be an innocent victim of deputies' profiling. The Oregonian

Bonus: Aron Johnson, 46, of Scott Bar, Calif., might have side issues, but the question is whether he's guilty of threatening to kill a local good Samaritan. Siskiyou Daily News (Yreka, Calif.)

More Things To Worry About

An elaborate marijuana farm was busted in Lenoir County, N.C. The plants were grown inside a school bus, but the bus happened to have been buried completely underground (with backhoes), with a garage built on the land over it. WITN-TV (Greenville, N.C.)

Urban Cavemen: A few fitness buffs avoid foods that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture (just meat, a few vegetables and fruits); they fast for long periods and work out just before meals, to mimic hunter-gatherers who didn't eat unless they found food. They do specific exercises to build sprinting and bounding abilities so they can escape ferocious, now-extinct animals. (Remaining issue: Real Paleolithics' lives maxed out at about age 30.) New York Times

And For Further Review . . .

Your Editor has notified you of the "Breatharian" movement before [NOTW 610, 10-15-1999; NOTW 999, 3-25-2007], which is the philosophy that humans don't really need "food" because they can train themselves to survive on only sunlight and oxygen. That there aren't many Breatharians around is either self-explanatory (they've all starved to death) or an indication that Breatharianism is easily abandoned. Now comes Mr. Wiley Brooks, assuming the mantle and vaulting to a higher plane. Wiley promises to teach you the secret to eternal life through Breatharianism, but as you'd expect, immortality is expensive: $100,000 cash ($10,000 down, immediately). (It's still cheaper than ridding yourself of thetans, via Scientology.) (Bonus: Brooks even reveals his bank account and routing numbers.)

Newsrangers: John Ellwood, Sarah Del Collo, Steve Dunn, Stephen Taylor, Tom Burnett, Sam Gaines, Ken Wilder, Tom Barker, Pete Randall, Jim Rehmann, and H.Thompson, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, January 11, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"
January 11, 2010
(datelines January 2-9)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Heroin for Dummies, Plus Cop Milks Woman, the Coke Machine Wrangler, and a Bag of Teeth

New York City has taken an unequivocal position against smoking cigarettes (and has even banned trans fats in restaurants). Heroin, not so much. Its Department of Health's 16-page pamphlet actually suggests ways to find a vein and recommends the "safer" way if you miss the vein slightly (pull out and try again!). (But, there are various admonitions in the booklet urging junkies to just say no, so . . problem solved!) New York Post /// "Take Charge, Take Care" [pdf]

Australian Olympic hurdler Jana Rawlinson has made the ultimate sacrifice for her country. To improve her speed for the 2012 games in London, she had her breast implants removed. Agence France-Presse: She "said she enjoyed having larger breasts but did not want to 'short-change Australia.'" Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Leading Economic Indicator: In Tokyo, the equivalent of $640 will let you rent a nice-sized piece of real estate: 32½ square feet (even worse, 130 cubic feet). Seriously. It's an "apartment" house of lie-down lockers with thin mattresses, tiny TV sets, flimsy walls, and bathroom and kitchen down the hall (free wi-fi, though). For Japan's unemployed who need convenient downtown access to job interviews, it's big. New York Times [with slideshow]

The War Will Be Over Sooner Than You Think: In Afghanistan's Kunduz province on Tuesday night, 14 terrorists riding to their target were killed when their bombs blew up prematurely. And in Karachi, Pakistan, on Friday, an explosion at a terrorist "safe house" killed 8 terrorists. [Ed.: So, if we assume there are 10,000 super-rabid jihadi terrorists in the Afghan-Pakistan theater, at this rate, they'll have completely wiped themselves out by December 2014.] CNN /// Associated Press via Voice of America

More People Who Can't Connect Dots: After several years of bits and pieces of accusations, some by patients' parents, some by colleagues (one openly calling Dr. Earl Bradley a pedophile), pediatrician Bradley, 56, of Lewes, Del., was finally charged with sexually assaulting patients. According to a probable-cause affidavit, when one 12-year-old girl went in with a sore throat and pink eye, he didn't take her temperature, nor a urine sample, nor a throat culture—just gave her a vaginal exam. New York Times

People Different From Us

Unclear on the Concept: Donald Koranek, 80, was yanked out of the courthouse security line in Tampa because he had a pocket knife. Guards made him take it back to his car. He returned and tried to walk through the machine again. Beep! He had taken his knife back to the car but thought the handgun in his waistband was still OK. St. Petersburg Times

Not Lovin' It: First, Melodi Dushane, 24, went nuts at a McD's in Toledo, Ohio, because she wanted early-morning Chicken McNuggets. (No can do; everybody knows that!) She punched an employee in the mouth and knocked out the drive-thru window. And police in Kansas City, Mo., are still looking for the woman who went nuts because her McD's burger wasn't tasty enough (threw a water dispenser, pushed cash registers off the counter). WNWO-TV (Toledo) /// Kansas City Star

Never Overestimate Fraternity Boys: Even Yalies are basically primal. Filmmaker Richard Mosse created a short piece (Fraternity) consisting of solo shots of Delta Kappa Epsilon's finest yelling into the camera for the reward of a keg and bragging rights for the loudest and longest scream. ("The triumphant, longest lasting bro screams as if giving birth, his face turning beet-red, and sweat [tears?] beading down his cheeks. Snuff-film associations abound, as well as a discomfiting sense of visual assault.") (Bonus: Five U.S. Presidents were DKEs.) [with video]

Recurring Themes: (1) People still smoke while siphoning gasoline. (2) Parents still stick their babies out in front of them when they're about to be Tasered. (3) Men still celebrate New Year's by firing into the air, and the bullets still come down (in Decatur, Ga., girl, 4, dead; in Florida, boy, 6, hit in chest). KOMO-TV (Seattle) /// WOFL-TV (Orlando) /// Atlanta Journal-Constitution /// Miami Herald

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

World's Clumsiest Hypnotist: Helmut Kichmeier, who works with Britain's Circus of Horrors, was practicing in front of a mirror and accidentally put himself under. His wife called Kichmeier's mentor, Ray Roberts, who un-tranced him. Daily Telegraph /// Circus of Horrors

The Subtleties of Government Regulation: (1) Ten days after Umar The Nigerian almost took down the airliner over Detroit, the State Department announced it was revoking his visa. (2) Eight days after Minneapolis's historic Fjelde House was demolished as a fire hazard by the city's Regulatory Services Division, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission extended the site "interim protection." Associated Press via Detroit News /// Star Tribune

The District of Calamity: (1) Safety inspectors were examining the tracks at a station on Washington, D.C.,'s Metrorail, but one operator didn't get the memo. His train barreled right at them at full speed, forcing a Three Stooges-like dive for cover. (2) In 2006 D.C. Fire Department ambulance driver Selena Walker was fired for (in all likelihood) causing the death of a beating victim by taking the long way around to the hospital. Last week, D.C.'s local appeals court reinstated her, with $156,000 in back pay, because the Department, basically, failed to say "May I?" (They can only fire within a 90-day window and missed, largely because of Walker's own stonewalling of the investigation.) Washington Post /// Washington Post

Also Known as the Rosie O'Donnell Countermove: Research in the latest issue of Biology Letters shows that female frogs and toads prevent rape with their ability to puff themselves up to gargantuan size so that aggressor males lose their grip and fall off before inseminating the eggs. (Bonus story element: "toad necrophilia"!) Agence France-Presse via Sydney Morning Herald

Below The Fold

Bag of Teeth Links Man to Seattle-Area Dental Burglaries Seattle Times

Iowa Man Spells Out Wife's Birthday Message in Manure WRSP-TV (Springfield, Ill.)

Midwest City Man Uses Buttocks to Smash Ex's 72-inch TV, Oklahoma City Police Say Daily Oklahoman [mug shot!]

Denver Pot Dispensaries: 390; Colorado Starbucks: 208 KMGH-TV (Denver)

Eyewitness News

People hard up for money have surely considered a Coke machine's coin box, but Nicholas Nunley did it the hard way, dragging the whole thing off with his truck, sparks flying. WRCB-TV (Chattanooga, Tenn.) via WBBH-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.) [with video from police chase]

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Jared Walker, 22, is the man Portland, Ore., prosecutors believe has been riding municipal buses cutting locks from unsuspecting females. He has one sex-crime conviction as well as an arrest for hair-gluing. The Oregonian

Need your sexual schadenfreude a little more explicit? A man (name not disclosed) was released from Britain's Southampton General Hospital after the local fire department was summoned to cut the steel pipe off of his penis. Took about a half-hour, using a 4½-inch grinder. Didn't ask, didn't tell. Daily Telegraph

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

Donald Kruger, 35, has been charged with murdering his childhood friend in Billings, Mont. He might be genuinely insane, with Exhibit A being his hairstyle ("Mullet 2.0") Billings Gazette

Guilty? Keith Luke might possibly have assaulted his jailhouse-visiting psychiatrist, whom Luke's lawyer brought in to assist in Luke's defense. Complicated. That's why we have mugshots. Boston Herald

More Things To Worry About

Orlando cop Brandon Loverde, 31, working off-duty in uniform at a nightclub, was arrested after he escorted an unruly young woman out to the parking lot, then put on a blue latex glove and allegedly squeezed one of her lactating breasts. Said the police report, "Officer Loverde told her he wanted to 'Suck on them.'" Orlando Sentinel

All Men Do It: Mark Zachary, 51, of Orangeburg, S.C., nabbed by store security with a huge slab of shoplifted meat under his coat, denied he was "stealing" it, insisting instead that he was "massaging" it. Associated Press via WSPA-TV (Spartanburg)

St. Louis Cardinals' minor leaguer Tyler Bighames, already facing a drug-test suspension, was arrested for DUI in Fort Myers, Fla., with blood-alcohol readings of .234 and .223, both figures being higher than his batting average last season (.216). Naples Daily News

And For Further Review . . .

Behold (especially you fraternity boys!) a selection of sex education videos going around the Internet last week: Giant tortoises mating. Another turtle coupling, with male in especially who's-your-daddy mode. A walrus auto-fellating (Seriously). [Links from and] Tortoises /// Turtles /// Walrus

Newsrangers: Gary Davidson, Don Tyler, Sandy Pearlman, Cindy Hildebrand, Margaret Musgrove, John Connell, Rahima Schwenkbeck, and Doug Dollemore, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, January 04, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

January 4, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Reports from Last Week
(datelines December 26-January 2; links correct as of January 4)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Are We Safe (I)? Are lapses in security inevitable? Some things don't seem to lapse: (1) After a breach, new air passenger restrictions resemble Whack-a-Mole (after the mole has left the building). (2) Transportation Security Administration overdoses Americans with "security theater" (bureaucratic Valium). (3) Israelis wince with embarrassment at our wussiness (with 6 U.S. airliner attacks in 10 years, out of 99 million departures, that's 1:16 million flights). (4) Jihadists smile and study our new rules. (5) TSA gives itself a shout-out (acting chief Gale Rossides, the day before Umar The Nigerian struck: "[W]e are respected internationally for our security work"). The new buzz: TSA still won't inspect scrota, never mind sphincters, which is what it would have taken to detect the guy assigned to blow up a Saudi prince on August 28th and who failed, painfully [NOTW/Pro Edition, 9-14-2009]. ABC News [TSA's self-salute] /// CNN [folly of "security theater"] /// Toronto Star [Israelifying airports] /// [Christopher Hitchens on Americans as sheep] /// [William Saletan on crotch bombs] /// [odds of airborne terror]

Are We Safe (II)? A guy named Dennis Montgomery has allegedly pulled what might be the national security version of a Ponzi scheme on the U.S. government (according to an investigation in the current Playboy). He parlayed his experience in video-compression into scary claims that the Arabic network Al Jazeera was sending jihadists their new target coordinates by burying bar codes in telecasts and that only his proprietary software could reveal them—for the right, fat contract. CIA director George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, among others, slurped it right up, as "credible intelligence," leading to a December 2003 crisis weekend that went nowhere. The thing about U.S. security is that we have more than two dozen intel agencies—and they mostly hate each other. Hence, when the CIA finally exposed Montgomery, he walked down the street and pitched to another (U.S. Air Force, $3 million). We want to believe. (Montgomery, who was once abducted by aliens, has declared bankruptcy over heavy gambling debts and is in major litigation with a former employer over ownership of his magic software.) Playboy

Lonely Men, Understanding Their Limitations: A Japanese otaku nerd decided to take the plunge with his online avatar girlfriend Nene Anegasaki and get hitched. "They" honeymooned in Guam, he in the flesh and she inside his Nintendo, which is capable of hosting such wedding night excitement as games of Paper Rock Scissors. The man declined to give his real name to Reuters "for fear of being misunderstood." And inventor Le Trung, 34, who introduced his custom-made Japanese robot girlfriend Aiko last December, said he has upgraded the gal and this year had her over for Christmas with his parents in Brampton, Ontario. [Le has constructed her to be so intelligent, though, that she has likely ruled out marriage without a prenup.] Reuters via Yahoo News [Dec. 20] /// Daily Mail (London) [Le Trung] /// [Project Aiko]

New Mayhem Genre: Christopher Macquarrie, 25, and Jonathan Fager, 22, were charged in Gainesville, Fla., with wrecking an apartment with a sledge hammer. No, they're not just college-town rednecks; they were creating a "mural" for the new "gallery" into which they were in the process of converting the apartment. A week earlier, in Edinburgh, Scotland, "gifted" artist Kevin Harman was fined £200 for smashing a window at the Collective Gallery and calling that his new art piece. He was said to be deeply insulted that the Gallery labeled it "vandalism." Gainesville Sun /// The Guardian [video!]

Several months ago, a hard-to-believe story surfaced from Uganda in which a farmer had forced his young wife, who was breastfeeding their child, to also regularly breastfeed his farm dogs. (You know how people make up news stories on the Internet.) But London's venerable daily The Independent sent a reporter to Pallisa, Uganda, and working with local officials and activists, the journalist has nailed the story. It really happened, over a period of 7 years. The farmer's reasoning: His dogs needed to eat, and since he had to send two cows to the wife's family to win her hand, he figured the wife owed him. Seriously. (Uganda's incorrigibly patriarchal tribesmen even have their charm, as when local women's activists invited them for a Q-and-A, and a few earnestly sought instruction on how, exactly, a man is supposed to respect his wife.) The Independent

Common-Sense-Challenged Americans

They don't make cops like they used to. Squeamish San Luis Obispo, Calif., sheriff's deputy John Franklin filed a lawsuit against the local Catholic parish, claiming to have been severely traumatized when Father Geronimo Cuevas reached out and touched his genitals while Franklin was working undercover in a park sex sting. (San Luis Obispo)

Nicholas Tretter, 29, was charged with assaulting a man in Minneapolis by, according to prosecutors, running up behind him and stabbing him repeatedly. Tretter told police he did it "to see what it felt like" to stab someone. Star Tribune [with mug shot, totally in harmony with his explanation]

Sure enough, if you tie Christmas trees to cars to carry them home, teenage boys will grab hold of the trees and "surf" them in traffic (This kid got "moderate" head injuries when thrown off). Orange County Register

Spare the Pellet, Spoil the Child: Dad shot his stepson with a pellet gun on Christmas day as, one guesses, a teachable moment to let the kid know it was wrong for him to shoot people. Setting a good example is important to the dad, even though in another life, he's a registered sex offender. /// [mug shots]

Recurring Themes: (1) Sawed-off shotgun tucked into pant leg, rush into convenience store for holdup, yank out gun, shoot self in foot. (2) With pal, break into shop, tie up employees, prepare to steal ATM, realize it weighs 250 pounds, can't lift it, abort. Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald /// Chicago Sun-Times

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

"South Dakota Woman Narrowly Missed Topping U.S. Intoxication Record": She was discovered behind the wheel of a stolen truck, fortunately passed out, with blood sample showing .708 alcohol (U.S. record .720 by an Oregon woman, also behind the wheel, also fortunately comatose).

"Japanese Researchers Develop See-Through Goldfish": Scientists at Mie University and Nagoya University bred translucent genes into light-gilled goldfish, with the benefit that biologists and students don't need to dissect the fish to see their beating hearts and itty-bitty brains. Translucent frogs, developed in 2007, will be offered for public sale this year as pets for about $110 each. Agence France-Presse via Google News

Anglican priest Tim Jones of York, England, got in trouble for his explicit Christmas message to the penniless in his congregation: Please, don't turn to mugging or prostitution, but shoplifting food from the big chain stores is OK (e.g., Chef Boyardee would be a smart choice). A few days later, a stalker dumped a pot of Chef Boyardee spaghetti on him. (Bonus: Here's a giant mold universe found inside a Chef Boyardee can [which, OK, has absolutely nothing to do with the story of Father Jones].) The Guardian //

The Pentagon's War on Disabled Soldiers: A 2008 law was supposed to upgrade coverage for veterans' combat-related disabilities (e.g., explicit coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder and for combat training injuries)—at least that's what Congress apparently intended, but the Pentagon must've considered that too much to keep track of. It has limited the law to (a) future PTSDs only and (b) wounds that occur in actual combat, ignoring many maddening, tear-jerking claims. Washington Times

Below The Fold

"Taking Naked Pictures of Sleeping Teen Not a Crime [says Swedish] Court" (Stockholm) [citing Hallandsposten]

Redneck Security System (Bonus: It worked!): "Beer Can Alarm Gives Away Intruder" Fargo (N.D.) Forum

"South Africans Smoke Vulture Brains for Lotto Luck" [Who knew vultures were so smart?] Agence France-Presse via Google News

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Colt Heltsley, 20, was turned down by an Ohio appeals court after trying to claim that his "privacy" was invaded when sheriff's deputies staked out a group of porta-potties at the Preble County Fair in 2008, since such "invasion" exposed Heltsley's peeping habit. There were rips in the potties' walls, and Heltsley was the only suspect spotted working the holes. Cincinnati Enquirer [with mug shot!]

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

Is Gregory Oras, 37, of Oldsmar, Fla., guilty? The charge is preposterous, since no one would possibly think to abuse 9-1-1 by calling merely to demand that police drive him to another bar. (Evidence withheld from your view: Gregory's other tattoos, including the word "cannibalism" on his fingers, a dancing skeleton, a naked women, a pumpkin head, a dragonfly, an elephant, the Batman symbol with breasts, a snowman, naked pixies, a squirrel, a two-headed child, and, on his back, the word "doomed"). St. Petersburg Times

More Things To Worry About

"Traditional Marriage": Israel's Rabbinical Court Administration announced it had granted a man divorce number 11 (next-most: 7). (Bonus: He says he's back on the market, gals! "I send out a hook in all directions, and the fish come on their own.") BBC News

A shopping center in Shijiazhuang, China, opened a women-only parking lot, with spaces 3 feet wider than normal and female attendants to "assist" lady drivers. A center representative told Agence France-Presse that women have a "different sense of distance." (Bonus: A German academic has just concluded that men's superior "spatial coordination" makes them "5%" better at parallel parking than women. The feminist icon Germaine Greer was said to have called the study "pointless" but wanted to remind everyone that "women also have bosoms which makes it very difficult to turn around.") Daily Telegraph (London) [citing Agence France-Presse] /// Daily Mail (London) [Dec. 21]

Another Thing That Doesn't Work in New Orleans: the city-owned Holt Cemetery, where a relative brought WWL-TV out to show that a grave Holt dug was so shallow that part of her sister's body was sticking up through the dirt. (The casket top had caved in, but that's another story.) WWL-TV [with video]

And For Further Review . . .

Intelligent Design: As with all copulating species, female Muscovy ducks battle male Muscovy ducks over who controls fertilization. Patricia Brennan of Yale, writing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, found that the female Muscovy avoids forced sex by having evolved a clockwise-spiraled corkscrew vagina that foils male intruders (but relaxing it a bit for preferred mates, so that they don't get stuck in vaginal "cul-de-sacs"). The real story, though, is the exacting research design, with high-speed video and mock-up glass tubing of the respective organs. Clearly Brennan enjoys her work. /// Not Rocket Science blog [with Safe-for-Work videos]

Newsrangers: Peter Hine, Lance Ellisor, Sam Gaines, Perry Levin, Peter Smagorinsky, and Dan McGauley, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors