Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Good to Know . . .

Chuck Shepherd ceaselessly combs the news to feed his weekly syndicated News of the Weird (the cream of underreported gems of the absurd and the ironic). This is what he learned last week. (Datelines April 3-April 10. Links correct as of April 12.)

April 12, 2010

★★★★★

Latest outsourced work that you didn't think could be outsourced: grading papers in Bangalore for a college professor in Houston. The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Daily Mail profiled the British countess who is pushing to legalize drugs (and who has been a practicing trepaner for over 40 years [ed.: She drilled a hole in her head to increase oxygen intake, and therefore creativity], and who talked the Count into it, too). Daily Mail

A parable for our times: David DeVore gave up an Actual Job (real estate) to become an Internet Nothing (making six figures by marketing his David After Dentist YouTube video of his 7-yr-old son [also David] in a goofy daze after a drug-aided tooth removal) (Bonus: $20 T-shirts and other D.A.D. memorabilia are selling in 20 countries). Washington Post

The district attorney in a podunk Wisconsin county formally warned the school board that he'd arrest teachers who follow the state-authorized sex-ed curriculum–because they are contributing to the delinquency of minors. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Intellectually-challenged TV actress Heidi Montag bragged that she has had 10 cosmetic surgeries, including a "back scoop"–something which, when queried, she admitted that she never really knew what it was. [ed.: The procedure's not that bad, but still– . . ..] San Francisco Chronicle /// TheStir.CafeMom.com/ [a surgeon explains]

Fine Points of the Law: (1) The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the state's child porn law is so unspecific that police seeking search warrants will now have to describe, in some detail, the kind of stuff they're looking for. (2) Canadian judge John Douglas, rendering a decision: "If [the defendant] was charged with being a colossal asshole, I would find him guilty. Of assault causing bodily harm, I find him not guilty." Associated Press via KETV-TV (Omaha) /// Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News

Update: It's explicit now that Humboldt County (which is to U.S. pot farming what Wall Street is to U.S. investment banking) wants marijuana kept illegal because its black market is teeming, and legalization would let megafarms drive them under. Los Angeles Times

A man named Malcolm Brenner, of Punta Gorda, Fla., wrote a book, self-published it (50 copies), and now has issued a cry for help. The book's about his 1970s physical and romantic fling . . . with a dolphin ("bonds that are so strong we don't understand how they work"). WBBH-TV (Fort Myers)

Optimist: Erlyndon Joseph Lo, 27, a law school graduate, was arrested for threatening to kill people at a Dallas abortion clinic (but he had the foresight to request a judicial order that morning to prevent police from harming him as he killed [ed.: SMU law school must be so proud!]). Dallas Morning News

Losers

Another Optimist: Drifter Justin Massler, convicted of stalking Ivanka Trump, told reporters he has a Plan B to win her heart legitimately . . by first becoming a millionaire, at which point she'll come to him. New York Daily News

Veteran softball player George Black, who plays the "hot corner," lost a fly ball in the sun [Bonus: a line drive!] and took it in the eye. He is suing the owner of the field for not keeping the sun out of his eyes. Globe and Mail (Toronto)

An unnamed man was arrested in Singapore as his plane landed, but his threats to bring down the aircraft using "mind power" will probably get him committed rather than jailed. On the other hand, hospitalization is not in the works for Deepak Chopra, despite his Twittering an apology to his 179,000 followers for causing the Baja California earthquake by meditating too hard. "Sorry about that," "Won't do it again–promise." Australian Broadcasting Corp. News /// AOL News

KATV in Little Rock reported on a mother and son cutting off a man's pinky finger with a cigar cutter for a reason that's utterly unclear. Anyway, the finger's gone, and they're in jail, and that's all you're getting from Harrison, Ark. KATV

A Jehovah's Witness traded he-said/he-said "assault" accusations with a Catholic-lite pastor in Fort Worth, Tex. One of them is bearing false witness; police said it's the pastor. WFAA-TV

The landlord and a tenant in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., have been on what the landlord calls "bad terms" lately. A sheriff's deputy said the landlord went too far . . by climbing on the roof, waiting, and then dumping a bucket of water on the tenant as he came out the door. Northwest Florida Daily News

Strange World

Warehouse workers for Denmark's Carlsberg beer went on strike . . after the company ended the tradition of providing up to 3 beers each per shift to make the day go faster. Reuters via The Province (Vancouver)

God's Will: A 24-year-old Muslim woman was killed at a go-cart track in Port Stephens, Australia, when her burqa (the full-body robe) got caught in the car's wheels and strangled her. Daily Mail (London)

A local council in Cardiff, Wales, created a self-contained "bike lane" that looks about 6-feet long, but as is predictable, the council has a perfectly earnest explanation of why they did it. Daily Telegraph [photo]

The latest world-class spin from the PR office in Pyongyang has K.Jay (the Great Leader, the Great General) now a world fashion plate, since the global elite are now supposedly rushing to wear those blue-gray tunics of his. Agence France-Presse via Herald Sun (Melbourne)

They found a new species of monitor lizard on Luzon in the Philippines, up to 6-feet long and (unlike the Komodos) a vegetarian (Bonus: and whose penis has two heads). National Geographic News

Some UK prisons report that they engage in the trendy "retoxification" of former drug addicts who have been dry while locked up. When they're about to be released, officials feed them methadone on the theory that no matter how cured they are, they'll hit the needle right away on the outside, and retoxifying them beforehand will help prevent overdoses. (Tories sigh and await next month's elections.) Daily Telegraph

The universal torture music: U.S. Marines needing to keep up the pressure on the Taliban in Marjah have turned to blasting Metallica and Thin Lizzy at them, 24/7 [ed.: and this is supposed to make the locals respect us?]. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

It's Good To Be A British Prisoner: According to Freedom of Information law releases to The Times of London, items of recovered prison contraband include the normal stuff like drugs, plus a tattoo machine and, for one security-conscious jailbird, a safe. The Times

The Pervo-American Community

A 27-year-old man told Oklahoma City police he was sexually assaulted in a misunderstanding with the perp, who thought the victim was looking for sex, but the victim said he only wanted to smell the guy's farts. The Oklahoman /// The Smoking Gun [explicit police report]

Tilden Lester, 50, an incest-chat-room regular, was arrested when he tried to set up sex with a man's (i.e., undercover cop's) two young daughters. (Bonus clue for cop: Lester's screen name is DrPeddelDfile.) Seattle Times

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


(1) Brian Darchangelo, Canandaigua, N.Y. (charged with DUI with kids in the car). (2) William Ferris, Cincinnati, Ohio (complained to police that he paid a hooker $50 but only got a blowjob). (3) Keith Hone, 41, Indianapolis (charged with beating up his wife and older daughter because his younger daughter had just had her lip pierced). (4) Presumed Smarmy: Dustin Winesberry, Boulder, Colo. (a registered sex offender who's still at it, including trying to seduce you gals with his mug shot). Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester) /// The Smoking Gun /// WISH-TV (Indianapolis) /// Daily Camera (Boulder)

That's Messed Up

Addiction: Harry Jackson pleaded guilty to a brief escape from Camden County (Ga.) jail and got a 10- to 18-year tack-on to whatever he was originally in for. The escape was necessary because he needed a cigarette, causing him to go over the wall, break into a convenience store, and get caught sneaking back in. Florida Times-Union

Laziness: In the old days, mafiosi disposed of their dead bodies cleanly (acid, hog food, burial under football stadiums), but in Linden, N.J., sanitation workers report they're finding body parts in garbage bags. Star-Ledger (Newark)

Modern Parenting: The science says it was a DUI car crash by mom; the family says mom was home at the time, and they rehearsed their 11-year-old daughter to alibi her. Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

The 81-year old great-grandmother's Bucket List, apparently, contains "At last, demand child support from the man who knocked me up in 1950," which would be Urban Joseph Grass, now 82. Houston Chronicle

Joseph Velardo blatantly swiped a computer from Staples, which he thought would be his third felony, which he told police he is happy about because three felonies prevent a person from getting into law school. He didn't want to go, and this was his plan. (Bonus: It was only a misdemeanor.) WPTV (West Palm Beach)

Embarrassing: The guy swiped the money jar from the kid collecting dollars and coins for liver disease research, from a table in front of a Wal-Mart, but the kid's uncle chased the guy, overpowered him, and sat on him until police arrived. (Bonus: The uncle is wheelchair-bound.) WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg) [video, in that a reporter was on the scene, interviewing the kid when the jar was snatched]

They might as well not have a Registered Sex Offender list in Washington state . . if officials are going to send a 6-year-old girl to live with her RSO grandfather for 10 years (and now she's suing the state for those 10 years of his abusing her). ABC News

There are many ways to get yourself a beatdown. If you're bald, you could get Philip Levine to create artwork for your dome, like this guy. Toronto Star

Illinois real estate agent George Michael's property-tax case hits the fan next month, when the state said it will send him a bill for $225,000 for fraudulently claiming that his lakefront house is a church. He made NOTW in August [M124, 8-23-2009] when they caught him submitting a photo showing the house with a cross–not a cross on the building, it turns out, but on the photo, made with a marker pen. ABC News

California Assemblyman Dave Jones of Sacramento introduced a health care reform bill to regulate . . pet insurance (Bonus: Can't deny coverage for pre-existing conditions!). KXTV (Sacramento)

Weird 2.0

"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"A little learning is a dangerous thing"—Alexander Pope
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


A Florida state senator introduced her "Jay Leno bill," to stop promoting middle schoolers to high school if they're as dumb about civics as the people Jay discovers on his "Jaywalking" segments. Inexplicable: why we tolerate that most naturalized citizens know more (because of the citizenship test) than many born-here Americans know. [ed.: Still, even the naturalization test is largely trivia.] Miami Herald

The Government's Gaming Gap: the constantly increasing inability of smart lawmakers to write regulations that smart industry lawyers can't render useless (or worse). Take, for instance, the FTC's recent "fix" of the deceptive (and annoying!) "Free Credit Report" troubadour TV ads. FTC Fix: If you offer free credit reports that come with a catch to them, you must disclose that credit reports are not totally free except at the FTC-authorized AnnualCreditReport.com. Game: Experian's "Free Credit Report" started charging "$1," donated to charity, and thus continues to exploit the catch while avoiding the disclosure. New York Times

A Worse Gaming Gap: Massachusetts's near-universal health-care system's penalties for not buying insurance are much smaller than the cost of any treatment, encouraging people to sign up when they need something and then drop out a few months later). [ed.: A second stimulus program–tax breaks for small businesses to encourage hiring–has been stalled for months, in large part because they can't figure out how to outsmart companies that would've hired without the break and companies that fire temps and then claim the break by hiring replacements.] Boston Globe

Discovered still on the books in California: a 1949 law that requires health officials to seek "cures" for homosexuality. Los Angeles Times

Discovered on the British police's surveillance video network (designed to protection against criminals): up to 14,000,000 cars photographed–and images stored!--every day (including views of the driver and front-seat passenger). The Times

Local governments responding poorly to severely slashed budgets: In Chicago Heights, Ill., a new $200 "crash tax" for any 911 call in which emergency personnel are dispatched, irrespective of circumstances. In Ashtabula County, Ohio, Judge Alfred Mackey, when asked what citizens should do in view of the loss of 63 of the county's 112 deputies (and with many of the remaining force tied up with law-required duties such as prisoner transfers): "Arm themselves. [We]'re going to have to look after each other." Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio is as tough as they come in incarcerating bad guys . . unless the perp has a significant health condition that might require expensive medical care–in which case, miraculously, Joe turns all-"have a nice day" on him. WBBM-TV (Chicago) /// WKYC-TV (Cleveland) /// Courthouse News Service

And For Further Review . . .

Here are on-the-scene photos of a fire in Hampton, N.H., last Thursday from the Manchester Union Leader. The photo on the right shows the man whose house was burning down, and, right behind him, also watching the fire, a man in a full gorilla suit. Union Leader

Editor's Notes

I'm tinkering yet again with Pro Edition. Basically the same. Some different section titles. More entries, shorter. (Less writing means less wear-and-tear on my alarmingly weakening brain.) (I also have some Syndicate issues.) To see what I'm thinking about, remember to go to my Blogspot page starting tomorrow.

Yes, I saw the story of the two women arrested at Liverpool airport for trying to move their dead relative to Germany, Weekend at Bernie's-style, but on closer reading, I see that the ladies' story is plausible. He may have died after they set out for the airport, and the dark glasses were to hide an eye condition that provokes people to stare at him. Who knows? The Guardian

Newsrangers: Geoff Egan, Greg Willette, Sandy Pearlman, Christopher Thompson, Matthew Fisher, Wes Jones, Douglas Boyle, Pierre Langenegger, Tom Slivan, and Muiris Dore, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors