Monday, February 15, 2010

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

February 15, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines February 6-February 13) (links correct as of February 15)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Government by Finger, Plus Farm Love, a Hideous Baby, and the Need for Remedial Screening

When "You Lie!" Doesn't Quite Capture the Moment
Legislator Abel LeBlanc was tossed out of the New Brunswick Assembly for lack of commitment to bipartisanship, viz., liberally giving the finger to two colleagues, along with a threat to one "punk" and a challenge to "walk outside with any one of yas here." Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News /// Audio on [prepared by]

For One Brief Moment, Perfect Justice
The trade association of mortgage bankers sold its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., for $41 million. It had bought the building in 2007, at the top of the real estate market, for $79 million. Washington Post

Price of Overthrowing the Government: $5.00
South Carolina's Subversive Activities Registration Act, passed last year, kicked in in January. Any member of "a subversive organization or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent, and every person who advocates, teaches, advises, or practices the duty, necessity, or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing, or overthrowing the government of the United States . . . shall register with the Secretary of State [of South Carolina]." Fill out the form and pay your $5.00. blog /// Subversive Agent Form [link from]

The Life of a Driver in Afghanistan
It's probably shorter than yours, but it's thrilling, if you maneuver the 40-mile stretch through the Kabul Gorge between Kabul and Jalalabad. Narrow 2-lane highway. Perpendicular mountain to your right. 1,000-foot drop to your left. One-foot-high "guard rail." Junker cars with bald tires and weak brakes. Nearly immobile supply trucks crawling along the roadway, provoking impatience. And, said a roadside vendor, "[H]istory has proved that the Afghan people are bullies." Hence, "astonishing speeds," "impossible turns," and a local hospital that treats more accident victims than war wounds. New York Times

A Rough Week for Religion
(1) The Islamic Fiqh Council of North America fatwa'd those airport body scanners as violating "modesty" (but said pat-downs of female Muslims by same-sex TSA screeners are OK). (India's superstar Muslim actor Shah Rukh Khan, obviously not modest, said he cheerfully signed a printout of his six-packed image after scanning at London's Heathrow airport, but the airport said there's no such thing as a printout.) (2) Kevin Johnson, 59, was arrested for attacking a dance instructor with a stun gun, because the "sinner" was teaching married women dances involving touching. (3) Virginia legislators banned nonconsensual microchip-implanting (such as requirements by employers and insurance companies) as too invasive–helped by support from some legislators additionally worried that the chips are the mark of the Beast. (4) In the swingingest Catholic diocese in America (Scranton, Pa. [NOTW M143, 1-3-2010]), Father James Shimsky was arrested during a cocaine buy. (5) A New Zealand father explained in court that the Bible approved his smacking his son with a polyethylene electrical pipe when he's bad. "I won't moderate my behavior. I see no wrong in using violence." (6) An ex-employee at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City sued her supervisor for wrongful discharge, pointing to the boss's daily cursing "fits" and "constant barrages of . . . flatulence." (7) A University of Udine (Italy) study found for the first time that brain damage in three specific lobe areas can lead to enhanced religiosity. (Ouch.) (1) Detroit Free Press /// Daily Mail (London) /// (2) Wisconsin State Journal /// (3) Washington Post /// (4) Philadelphia Inquirer /// (5) New Zealand Herald /// (6) New York Post /// (7) Science Daily

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

An undereducated, overexcited TSA airport screener precipitated a lawsuit by the ACLU by hypothesizing the danger posed by an Anglo Arabic-speaking physics major who had some vocabulary flash cards. Sputtered the screener, Heyyyy, that's Osama bin Laden's language! Philadelphia Inquirer

Lloyd Norris, 57, apparently seriously thought he was going to pull a fast one by paying for his new $225,000 home in an Atlanta suburb with "U.S. Treasury notes" that he printed up with his computer (signed by "Timothy Geithner"). (And he was just getting started; he had $1 billion worth of them at home.) Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Don Meserlian, 82, a fully absorbed, one-man 9-11 "Truther" in North Caldwell, N.J., finally got tired of being ignored. He was arrested for threatening to kick the heinies of local police ("with one hand tied behind my back"), who he said are condoning all that treason--even though they have no jurisdiction over any 9-11 business. (Meserlian has a new jurisdiction theory, too, if only they'd listen to reason.) Star-Ledger (Newark)

American Sophisticates: A big majority of Americans favors letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military . . . except that . . . 11% of them (according to a New York Times/CBS News poll) think it's OK for "gays and lesbians" to serve openly but not "homosexuals." New York Times

Recurring Themes: (1) Yet another man, fleeing the police, took refuge in a building only to soon realize that it was the back of a police station. (2) Yet another robber had his getaway hampered because he had accidentally dropped his car keys back at the crime scene. (3) Yet another man had the bright idea to steal a backhoe and then, when police arrived, to believe that zig-zagging it down the street would avoid police and get him home free. (4) Yet another robber showed up later in person to inquire whether there was a reward out for the robbery. (5) Yet another man managed to get fatally run over by his own car. (Bonus: He was a sheriff's deputy; it was his patrol car.) (1) Associated Press via Billings Gazette /// (2) Tulsa World /// (3) Richmond (Ind.) Palladium-Item via Arizona Republic /// (4) Lexington Herald-Leader /// (5) Associated Press via Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Police in Shanghai, China, report a growing drug problem with cocaine, methamphetamines, and ketamine–by retirees looking for stamina for all-night mahjong games. Seriously. The Guardian (London)

Swedish Member of Parliament Fredrick Federley perhaps violated the chamber's rules by accepting a free vacation from a company but said it wasn't actually "he" who did it. Federley is a notorious cross-dresser and explained that it was really "Ursula" who took the vacation. The Local (Stockholm)

Got "Bribes" in Their DNA: With all the suffering in Haiti, you'd think the officials who normally require palm-greasing to let goods into the country would relax a bit to permit medicine, water, and food to flow to the homeless. Wrong. Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press via USA Today

Brockton, Mass., is shoveling $180,000 in tax revenues and insurance money over to a 6-year-old because elementary school officials had called him a "sex offender" for tweaking the waistband of a 7-year-old girl's panties. (At age 6, he's much more obsessed with "cooties" than "sex.") The Enterprise (Brockton)

Creative Spousal Abuse: Yes, he kicked her, threatened to kill her, spied on her, isolated her in the home, but the really effective abuse, Tonya Parrish now says (now that she's a widow), was that he brought home several dozen cats for her to take care of. She's now trying to give them away but still has about 30. Cincinnati Enquirer

Below The Fold

Gainesville Man Charged with Telling Police Dog to Sit Gainesville (Fla.) Sun

One-Armed Man Hunted for Stealing Single Cufflink Daily Telegraph (London)

Millionaire Gives Away Fortune Which Made Him Miserable Daily Telegraph (London)

Farmer Makes Half-Mile Wide Heart from Manure Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune

Eyewitness News

The U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Thailand Armed Forces ran the annual Cobra Gold exercises in Thailand last week, and London's Daily Mail has photos of the survivalist challenges (yummy frogs, lizards, cobra blood). That cobra blood is delicious, sir! May I have another, sir! Daily Mail (London)

Here, through the magic of YouTube, is thoughtful New Hampshire state Rep. Nancy Elliott, working through a problem right there at a hearing on the repeal of the state's new same-sex marriage law: "I started thinking, and we're talking about taking the penis of one man and putting it in the rectum of another man, and wiggling it around in excrement, and you have to think . . . hmmmm, not sure, would I allow that to happen to me?" [link from]

Here is an animal curator showing off a crustacean anomaly [or maybe it's just an ordinary man with one hell of an STD]. BBC News

We all exorcise demons in our own way, and Australian sculptor Ron Mueck's way is by creating this sorta-realistic-looking (but humongous and hideously misshapen) silicon-fiberglass baby. Memorable. AOL News

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Methamphetamine, That Miracle Drug: Edward Rodriguez was arrested in Mesa, Ariz., hiding in a ditch, wearing women's pants with a hole in the crotch exposing his genitals and with his own underwear around his neck and "numerous pornographic items" by his side. Yee-ha! Arizona Republic

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

Dalton Vandeloo, 18, is charged with a bold, semi-elaborate blackmail scheme in which he somehow digs up a topless photo of a woman and then threatens to publish it, or in the alternative, to infect her computer with a virus, unless she sends nude photos of herself. But wait. That perp's name was "Vincent Galarza," not "Dalton Vandeloo," so Dalton may be innocent. Only one way to tell. (Note to "jury": Ignore "Vincent"'s request that the girl write "I ♥ Dalton" on one photo.) Sheboygan (Wis.) Press

More Things To Worry About

How is it possible for a woman who has lived in the same house for 30 years to suddenly not be able to get from the house to the street without having to crawl under a train? (Welcome to Callahan, Fla., pop. 962.) Florida Times-Union

Army soldier Joshua Tabor was arrested for using an Enhanced Interrogation Technique to get his 4-year-old daughter to recite the alphabet (which, unfortunately, she had not yet learned). Seattle Times

You kinda know what to expect from a first-grader when her parents acknowledge that, yes, she has a "temper problem." Translation: She went maniacally out-of-control/violently-nuts on the teacher, principal, and responding police officers. And it also means that the parents are outraged at any suggestion that there might be a problem. The Smoking Gun

Deadliest Karaoke Song: A New York Times reporter in the Philippines thinks Sinatra's "My Way" has provoked the most homicidal reactions, even though a man in Thailand once took out eight people for singing John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." New York Times

And For Further Review . . .

OK, what is the proper response to Rev. Phelps and the lesser Phelpses of Westboro Baptist, who picket funerals with their God-hates-fags signs? (After all, I'll bet even the thoughtful Pope Benedict has a trace of private doubt from time to time about his beliefs, but the Phelpses seem to have none about theirs–absolutely zero.) They met their match the week before last when they picketed Twitter headquarters in Sodom City. The counter protesters drew all the attention with their nonsense signs (e.g., God Hates Flags, Where's Waldo, I Have a Sign, God Hates Kittens, I Was Promised Donuts, Me, Subject Hates Object).

Newsrangers: Geoffrey Landis, Gary Goldberg, Mike Mendenhall, Larry Seltzer, William Howe, Hal Durham, Bruce Leiserowitz, Nedra Albrecht, William Kuykendall, Pete Randall, Barry Rose, Emmitt Dove, Peter Swank, Gerald Sacks, Perry Levin, and Peter Smagorinsky, and the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Geoffrey Egan, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and the News of the Weird Editorial Advisors (Paul Blumstein, John Cieciel, Harry Farkas, Fritz Gritzner, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).