Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Weird 2.0
Spawn of News of the Weird / Pro Edition
March 9, 2010
(datelines February 27-March 6) (links correct as of March 9)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

[SPECIAL BONUS: There's another group of stories
following Weird 2.0. (News That Sounds Like a Joke)]

Evidently, it's big news 8½ years after 9-11 that a respected Muslim cleric has issued a fatwa condemning suicide bombing, backed by 600 pages of Quranic scholarship. Nonetheless, everybody knows that the most important basis for fatwas remains not murder, but insults! CNN

Twenty-three super-principled members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted (23-22) to officially condemn Turkey. It's not for anything anyone alive did. The country is being smited because the 23 have concluded that, based on their study of history, the Ottoman Empire committed "genocide" in 1915-1923 and that it's up to the U.S. House of Representatives not to let them, whoever they were, get away with it. Agence France-Presse via Google News

America has done a creditable job at reducing manmade pollutants over the last 40 years, but it is falling way behind on one: farm animal manure. In the old days, small farms could recycle their manure over their own fields. Now, megafarms produce megapoop but don't have megafields to spread it on. The government tries to set standards, but the way this works is that the megafarms' lobbyists object, using "the small family farms" as their human shield against further regulation. Washington Post

And speaking of The Way Things Work, the federal government way-overpays its workers (in salary, benefits, and due-process-of-law protections) compared to the private sector in most occupations accounting for the bulk of the federal workforce. However, the unions howl and trot out those few occupations where federal workers are paid less (e.g., doctors, lawyers, senior managers). A USA Today analysis concluded that, on average, a fed gets $7,000 a year more in salary, plus better benefits. (And, although you don't get a guaranteed lifetime job, it helps during a recession that your boss can print his own money.) USA Today via News-Journal (Wilmington, Del.)

In New York and about half the states, domestic violence by choking is only a citation offense or a misdemeanor, not rising to a felony unless there is tangible, documentable injury (i.e., more than fear, more than discomfort, more than red marks). Year after year, the New York state legislature ignores anti-domestic- violence advocates and continues to treat spousal chokings as it does traffic tickets. New York Times

Tex-Ass Justice (continued): What does it take to get Texas law-enforcement officials to admit they made a mistake such that they would actually pardon someone they've convicted? We found out last week. It helps to be dead. Tim Cole was pardoned for a 1985 rape he never committed. Another guy confessed to the rape in 1996, but having another perp on hand is never enough for Texas officials; they ignored him. Cole died in prison in 1999. In 2008, they got around to the DNA, which exonerated Cole . . and implicated . . the guy who confessed in 1996. Houston Chronicle

Pennsylvania is known as "East Utah" for its restrictive liquor package-store laws. You can only buy beer for take-home if you get a case at a time from a "distributor" or buy it at a "bar" (at bar-type mark-up). Now, the large grocery chains Giant Eagle and Wegmans have gone to the trouble of opening fake-out "bars" inside their stores so they can sell beer. (But since the alleged purpose of the state's restrictions is fear of underage drinking, the chains are requiring that driver's licenses be scanned for each purchase. That means they potentially store much more information than just date-of-birth.) The beer distributors, of course, think this is basically a fine system. BoingBoing.net

[Weird 2.0 is a kinda-upmarket rendition of News of the Weird / Pro Edition. No perverts, no drunks, no stupid criminals. Just scary important stuff.]

Newsrangers: Laurence Polk, Peter Hine

News That Sounds Like a Joke
Some Weeks, News of the Weird / Pro Edition just isn't enough
March 9, 2010
(datelines February 27-March 6) (links correct as of March 9)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Global Warming (and Bathtub) Alert: Scientists from the University of Fairbanks discovered that about 8 million tons of methane is bubbling up from the frozen tundra north of Siberia. (They don't know whether the gas has been coming up all along or just started.) Reuters via ABC News

Toyotas Are Safer: Near Arlington, Wash., a 59-year-old man driving his 1978 Buick left the road and careened down an embankment. His steering wheel had come off in his hands. KOMO-TV (Seattle)

A Swiss condom manufacturer believes that a market awaits in the person of younger teenage boys who are sexually active but find adult sizes too loose. It will begin making a "small" for 12- to 14-year-olds. Unaddressed question: Are there 12- to 14-year-olds actually anticipating sex who would let themselves be seen with a "small"? Daily Telegraph (London)

Arelisha Bridges, 45, was charged in Atlanta with murdering her 26-year-old husband following a domestic altercation. Bridges is a registered lobbyist for an anti-domestic-violence organization. (On the other hand, she's probably not a very good lobbyist, as her total expenses for the year amount so far to $20.) Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Covington, Ky., psychiatrist Douglas Rank was arrested two weeks ago when his own personal demons bubbled over, resulting in his going bloodily samurai on his girlfriend. Apparently, several of his patients are in such bad shape that they've called the jail to see if Dr. Rank can keep his regular appointments while in lockup. Kentucky Enquirer

The Times of India reported that a 55-year-old man checked in to a Kolkata hospital, suffering from a 21-day (and counting) erection. It's a serious story, with warnings and care instructions about priapism. But the name of the hospital is the Wockhardt. The Times of India

Paul Railton was fined £66 ($100) and assessed three driver's license points for walking his dog on a country road by holding the leash out the window as he motored along. His lawyer admitted there was "an element of" of laziness involved. Associated Press via MSNBC

Germain Bowman-McDonald filed a lawsuit against a wig store in New York City based on a July incident when a plastic mannequin head fell on her left foot. The nerve damage that resulted, she said, has left her unable to curl the toes of that foot. Her husband filed a separate lawsuit asserting that the injury has prevented their having satisfactory sex (i.e., no toe-curling for him, either). New York Daily News

The Aristocrat! Toni Tramel, 31, jailed in Owensboro, Ky., for public intoxication, had "assault on a police officer" added to her booking sheet. She had squirted her breast milk at her female jailer. WBKO-TV (Bowling Green, Ky.)

Newsrangers: Kaitlyn Buckway, Kathryn Wood, Kiki Yablon, Graham Rankin, Steve Wagner, Larry Seltzer, Peter Smagorinsky, and Mark Yeager.