Monday, March 01, 2010

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

Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
March 1, 2010
(datelines February 20-February 27) (links correct as of March 1)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Wrong Place Right Time, Plus a Tanned Pig, a Gassed Thief, and God Bless My Huge, Naked Body

Told Ya! Ya Wouldn't Listen!
Mr. Koua Fong Lee, serving 8 years for vehicular homicide in Minnesota, may have a reprieve. He told us all along that his Camry had accelerated all by itself—that it was impossible to stop it from killing those three people. Actually, he was driving an unrecalled 1996 model, but he's in play if the problem is cruise-control electronics. Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

Truly . . Only in America
The saga of the most calamitous split-second glimpse of areola in the history of the world continues. The U.S. Court of Appeals, acting on Supreme Court instructions, agreed to formally reconsider its 2008 decision to reject the FCC's half-million-dollar fine against CBS for the Janet Jackson episode at the 2004 Super Bowl. 2004! (Then, back to the Supreme Court? Then . . .?) Bloomberg News via Business Week /// Not Safe For Work Original Video

Tex-ass Justice: End-Running the U.S. Supreme Court
If you're on trial, and your prosecutor is secretly banging your judge, that might be important. Charles Dean Hood, who ultimately got the death penalty, tried to prove such an affair for over 15 years, but the small town kept it quiet. Finally, in 2008, the judge confessed. Hood asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to at least take the death penalty off the table, but the most-defendant-unfriendly tribunal in America ruled that Hood had "waited" too long to raise the issue. He "waited"? With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to take the case, the Texas court re-thought it and came up with an altogether-different (though overrated) justification for removing Hood from death row. SCOTUS may still take the case, though. New York Times

Naked Worshiping
From time to time, a reporter discovers that a few old-line nudist camps conduct on-premise church services on Sunday mornings (something about how God didn't make you born wearing clothes). Here's a TV news report from the White Tail Resort (near Petersburg, Va.). [Ed.: No money shots, but still probably not safe for work, and definitely not aesthetically safe.] WVEC-TV (Virginia Beach)

Did a Certain Ex-Governor Get an Abortion Before Conceiving Trig?
Virginia state Delegate Bob Marshall, speaking at an anti-Planned Parenthood photo-op, helpfully informed us that kids "born . . . with handicaps" are God's revenge for an earlier abortion. Richmond News Leader

Can't Possibly Be True
The Dean's Office of Yale College (of Yale U.) is formally soliciting Penthouse-Forum-type musings from undergrads on the school's "sexual culture," or, according to a faculty member, "student strategies for creatively navigating" that culture. The director of the Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies supports it, too, and suggests somehow that she is expecting "70 to 80" specific perspectives. The work-product is not an under-the-counter magazine but a website section to be called "sex@yale" (but it will be open to lurkers everywhere). Yale Daily News

Editor's Note

Coming tomorrow [probably], and nearly every Tuesday [less likely, but still possible]: Chuck's Weird 2.0!

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

It wasn't the first time that clever thieves had rigged a van with a false floor, to siphon gasoline from a service station's underground tank, but it might have been the first time that the perp failed to respect the power of gasoline fumes inside a closed-up van. Arizona Republic

Tacky Tacky: Ursula Hall is running for a judgeship in Houston despite a dismal biography and a tone-deaf outgoing answering-machine message. She already has a law school flunk-out and a managerial firing behind her. Her qualifications to be judge: "experience," "judicial demeanor," and being "quite bright." Houston Chronicle

A paraplegic in a wheelchair maybe ought not be so aggressive, fighting with his abled pal over who gets to smoke the biggest rock of crack cocaine. He needed to settle for one of the smaller rocks. KXAN-TV (Austin, Tex.) via WAVY-TV (Hampton Roads, Va.)

Recurring Themes: Once again, cops presume you drunk if you drive around with no wheels on the front of your car (or if you drive with the severed gas hose sticking out of your tank). Once again, cops presume you are a burglar if you get stuck in the chimney of a stranger's house. Once again, cops like it that burglars accidentally punch 9-1-1 while on the job. The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.) /// Associated Press via Yahoo News /// Seattle Times /// WOFL-TV (Orlando)

Below The Fold

In Latvia, the first day of school each September is known as "Knowledge Day," traditionally celebrated by day-long benders, even by the underaged. The newly sensible Parliament is considering a Knowledge Day alcohol ban. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

All of us who are underpaid do not appreciate knowing that Google employs a team of professional doodlers whose only job is to figure out cool ways to design the word "Google" on the search page. CNN

Pigs Living Large (briefly): In the course of examining the expenses of a female Missouri Ponzi-ist known as the "Midwest Madoff," prosecutors discovered she once paid $900 for a tanning bed for her show pigs. Also last week, it was reported that progressive farmers in China are requiring that their hogs be caressed, bathed with soft music, and receive a day of rest following travel. (However, that's just to make the pork tastier because the day after that, they all get slaughtered.) St. Louis Post-Dispatch /// Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

If you're a felony sex offender in Minnesota, you can't be a physician (state law!) but you can be a chiropractor and don't even have to tell patients you're a registered scuzz! Star Tribune

Shhh! "We've secretly removed the border warnings from this bridge in Port Huron, Mich., and there's no turnaround lane. So, if you find yourself on the ramp to the bridge, you'll wind up in Canada, whether you want to or not. Let's see if these Americans, carrying 7 lbs. of marijuana, notice." CNews.canoe.ca (Toronto)

Another British National Health Service Classic: The 79-year-old woman with age-related macular degeneration in her right eye is being treated at a hospital in Coventry. Now, though, it looks like mac-d has hit the left eye, too. So, the bureaucrats say the left eye has to be treated at a different hospital, 20 miles away. BBC News

The Pervo-American Community

Safeway employee Nicholas Lorenzo, 25, was arrested on the job in Louisville, Colo., as he, standing behind the, um, meat counter, engaged a lady customer in conversation while unzipped and enjoying himself. Denver Post

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


Uphill Challenges for Their Lawyers: Stanley Mumby, 52, Sacramento (charge: beating Mom with a wooden sword). Kristopher Santillo, 21, Dartmouth, Mass. (charge: bank robbery). John Wallace, 46, Warr Acres, Okla. (charge: possession of illegal mushrooms). Christopher Sheehan, 51, Sarasota County, Fla. (charge: threats against state officials). Tony Alexander Pete, 43, Ogden, Utah (charge: home invasion and theft). KOVR-TV (Sacramento) /// WFXT-TV (Boston) /// The Oklahoman /// Sarasota Herald Tribune /// Salt Lake Tribune

But this one's trickier: The cherubic Emily Stearns, 19, might be a student-council-president-type—or she could be a big-time drug retailer on the mean streets of Danbury, Conn.(bonus: and a hit-man solicitor!). Danbury News Times

More Things To Worry About

Thorpe Park in Surrey, England, aiming to upgrade the realism of its "Saw Alive"-themed horror ride, wants only the most putrid pungency for the exhibit's stench and is seeking foul-smelling urine from the general public, and it's even giving tips on how contributors can jack up their aromas. "Winner" gets £500 ($757). Daily Mail

After residents of Japan's Tokushima prefecture complained about stray dogs and cats, the government bought some gas-chamber-equipped vans to speed up the evacuations. The poor fellas are dead by the time the van gets to the crematorium. The Guardian (London)

The age of sexual consent within the Vatican State is . .12 (15 if there's a relationship of dependence, like, oh, say, priest and altar boy). But if Italian cops get hold of the Vatican perp, they can convict even if the victim is a "consenting" 12- or 13-year-old. TheAtlantic.com (Andrew Sullivan blog)

And For Further Review . . .

All hail magnificent obsessionists! Like this guy. The website is in Japanese, but here's BoingBoing editor Lisa Katayama: "i-ramen.net is an amazingly meticulous web site that chronicles one man's daily consumption of different kinds of instant noodles since 1997. It appears from the way they're numbered that he is now on his 4,308th bowl. For each new type of instant noodle, he creates a thorough chart that includes a full ingredients list; comments on texture, flavor, quantity, and price; and a starred rating." That puts this nerd on a footing with other meticulous cataloguers, such as the pedophile Dean Schwartzmiller, who not only had time to molest perhaps a thousand boys (though he said most were just fantasies) but also genuinely had time to compile notebooks containing 1,500 pages of descriptions and ratings of his victims. BoingBoing.net /// i-ramen.net/ /// Associated Press via MSNBC (on Schwartzmiller, 1-29-2007)

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Stephen Taylor, Hal Dunham, Bob Pert, Brennan Diettrick, Ruth Brown, David Bonan, Tim Champagne, Andre Matthiesen, and Tracy Hammond, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors