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 NationalGeographic.com

'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.) ClickLiverpool.com

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