Monday, April 05, 2010

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

Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
March 29, 2010
(datelines March 20-March 27) (links correct as of March 29)

A "Red State" Sex Fetish, Plus the Dope Economy, a Chili Pepper Bomb, and Poop Week at Pro Edition

Who's in Charge of Making Up Fetishes?
How are we supposed to keep up with them if we can't imagine how people (well, men) could possibly get off that way? These men go all tingly-toed by ogling a shapely calf and well-turned ankle in sexy stilettos, pumping a gas pedal ("revving," "cranking"). The thrill is supposedly enhanced if the lady is in distress, e.g., trying to start an uncooperative engine. Of course there are chat rooms and videos. The Daily Beast

Bad News for People Who Seem to Prefer Health Care Doled Out by Insurance Companies' Accountants Rather Than the Government
(1) Mr. Houston Tracy, who is insured, has a major medical disorder, but BlueCross BlueShield of Texas said it will not cover it because it was a "pre-existing condition." This is interesting because Houston is now about two weeks old, and it's "pre-existing" only in the sense that it was spotted pre-natally, in the womb. Might the government be more sympathetic to Houston than an insurance company would? Paula Ortel wouldn't think so. (2) Ortel, on Medicare, has a brain tumor that was miraculously wiped out (9 years' remission!) by an experimental kind of interferon that's authorized for multiple sclerosis. Medicare had been paying $100,000 a year for her drug. But then Ortel moved from one county in Wisconsin to another, which triggered an automatic review of her records–and Medicare's realization that her drug was not authorized for brain cancer. The interferon was cut off; the tumor immediately returned; and she now knows she's doomed. KHOU-TV (Houston) /// Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via ABC News

California County Worried About Job Loss, Local Business Downturn
That might describe every county in California, but Humboldt (on the north coast; biggest city: Eureka), is special. "We have to recognize," said the county supervisor, that a "big . . .piece of our economy . . . is subsidized by being illegal," i.e., Humboldt is the marijuana-growing capital of America, and if any of the various legalization initiatives succeeds, dope prices are likely to drop, meaning fewer riches to be spent at Humboldt businesses. [ed. Suggested course of action: Embrace the brand right now, e.g., "Humboldt Weed–American Excellence"]. Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News

I'm Not the Messiah, Said Raj Patel (Oh, Yes, You Are! They Shouted)
Who determines Messiahhood–the alleged Messiah or the followers who breathe heavily at the very mention of his name? British-born food writer Raj Patel went on The Colbert Report, and a few people recognized the arc of his work and biography as matching the prophesies of a Scottish mystic, Benjamin Creme, and the religious cult Share International. "[H]undreds of people" are said to believe Patel is Maitreya, "the teacher." Patel's disavowal was worthless, in that (just as in Monty Python's The Life of Brian) Maitreya prophesied that the real Messiah would disavow. The Guardian (London)

Pakistan Has Nukes, But India Has This!
A military research lab in India announced it would create tear-gas-like hand grenades but using the world's strongest-known chili peppers. [ed.: The most interesting thing here is the "Scoville" scale, for quantifying spiciness. You don't just suck on a chili pepper and conclude that it's "more than 100 times spicier" than jalapeños. You quantify it: Jalapeños, 8,000 Scovilles; "bhut jolokia" chili peppers, 1,000,000 Scovilles. So if chili peppers can be quantified, why can't, say, flatulence?] Associated Press via Google News

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

Readers' Choice: (1) Police said Albert Bailey and his pal were super-efficient bank robbers–calling People's United Bank in Fairfield, Conn., and telling them to lay out some money because they'd be by in 10 minutes to rob them (and no dye packs in the bag!). Didn't work. (2) Alcohol Was Involved: Cops picked up Donald Wolfe, 55, after he was spotted giving mouth-to-mouth to a dead possum. Connecticut Post /// Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Recurring Themes: Sometimes, an inmate on parole will try to break back into prison because he misses the life (or. like Sylvester Jiles, needs protection from his victim's family on the outside). And sometimes, if a guy is dared hard enough, he'll climb part-ways into a trash chute to unclog it by hand and will need fire department help to get out. Star Tribune (Minneapolis) /// Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald

Below The Fold

In what is surely the nation's longest-running state of denial, convicted 1970 wife-and-kids killer Jeffrey MacDonald is still swearing he didn't do it. He won yet another hearing, this time because an investigator found a strand of hair from the crime scene that didn't belong to any of the four principals. Richmond Times-Dispatch /// Wikipedia on Jeffrey MacDonald

The New York Post found new five-inch-heeled Jimmy Choo shoes that light up with every step ($2,495, but the unrenewable light bulb gives out after about 100 hours' use). Too expensive? Try designer Stella McCartney's new model–basically, a Birkenstock-like sandal, but with high heels ($695). New York Post /// New York Daily News

The Georgia Supreme Court ordered the murder trial of Jamie Weis, 32, to start even though Weis had complained about the lack of death-penalty experience of his low-paid, state-funded lawyers. The dissenting justices predicted judgment day was coming, not just for Weis but for the state's "fully arm[ing] its prosecutors" while sticking the defense with mediocre representation. [ed.: Alternate solution: District attorneys even up the odds by hiring several dumb lawyers just to prosecute these cases. You're welcome.] New York Times

Russian math genius Grigory Perelman is so smart that you (and I) can't even explain what it was that he just singularly solved ("Poincaré's conjecture"). Nonetheless, he still wants you to (a) go stick your million-dollar prize and (b) leave him and his mother the hell alone. Said a colleague, "[Perelman] feels tiny improper things very strongly," among them the belief that fellow mathematicians aren't bright enough to be judging him. The Guardian (London)

Green Technology: Like all other major world cities, Beijing and Delhi have clean-up problems. However, Beijing said it will start using gigantic "guns" to shoot deodorant onto its several landfills, and the week before last, Delhi unveiled its air-pollution partial solution: a humongous electronic air cleaner. The Guardian (London) /// The Times (London)

The dollar value of a 1400 SAT score is now up to $35,000 (amount that a brainy young Ivy League woman can fetch by giving up some eggs for in-vitro fertilization (compared to maybe $2,000-$5,000 paid by couples who aren't so choosy). Boston Globe

Vegetarian-With-Attitude Anthony Coffman, 28, went nuts in an Edinburgh, Ind., grocery store, ripping open package after package of meat, hoping to contaminate them, and also, he said, to keep meat-loving girls from getting too "chubby." WRTV (Indianapolis)

The Pervo-American Community

Richard Finch, 56, was accused of having sex with an underage boy in Newark, Ohio. Finch is the co-founder (with Harry Casey) of KC and the Sunshine Band. Why underage boys? Obviously, "That's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, he likes it, uh-huh uh-huh . . " Columbus Dispatch

Brain injuries sometimes cause serious, inexplicable personality changes, like to Matthew Davis, a former Anglican Church pastor now teaching school in Delano, Calif., who was accused of indecent exposure (and urinating into a trash can) in front of his students. KGET-TV (Bakersfield)

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

Charles Thomas was charged with passing a bad check, but did they have to arrest him while he was on the job (as a "female impersonator")? The Smoking Gun

From the looks of things, Robert "Little Dog" Littell, might be guilty of whatever they call the crime of huffing paint. The Intelligencer (Wheeling, W.Va.)

You might decide guilt or innocence of this alleged little-boy-purchaser on the basis of his mug shot, but some will judge him before that, by the name on his ID card: Mr. Patrick Molesti. WSB-TV (Atlanta)

More Things To Worry About's annual list of the oddest-titled real books of the year included The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, and Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes." Reuters via Yahoo News

Lost in the news about the Catholic Church's failing to remove child-molesting priests is this account, revealed last week in employment-tribunal proceedings in Sydney: A Qantas pilot was returned to duty for three years even after depression and anxiety so bad that he had "an overwhelming desire to switch off his plane's engines" during several flights between 1979 and 1982. He said he had to "struggle with [his] uncontrollable [hand] as though it wasn't mine" and could restrain it only by placing it under his seatbelt. (Bonus: The pilot won his worker dispute, that Qantas failed to get him treatment; the passengers were the only losers, even though they never knew, until now, that they were on the verge of death.) New Zealand Herald

Recurring Theme: Once again, an immigrant from one of those cultures where parents show love for their urchins by kissing their genitals got in trouble after he innocently sent photos to Walgreens for printing. They called the police, but this time, luckily for the father, the judge was sympathetic to the family's culture and ordered the sex-abuse charge dropped. (On the other hand, the father and his wife are illegals, and the entire family will now be deported to Mexico after 10 quiet, productive years in the U.S.) Salt Lake Tribune

The good news is that this curious-goods shopkeeper admitted that he doesn't know whether the bar of soap he's selling is authentic. The bad news is that what he's offering is soap supposedly from Warsaw from 1940, made with the body fat of Holocaust victims. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News via Yahoo News

Recurring Theme: A 67-year-old woman took The Only Way Out in Brussels, Belgium, leaping off her 12th-floor balcony, but she didn't yell "Fore!" and the 72-year-old man on the sidewalk got taken out, too. Reuters via Yahoo News

And For Further Review . . .

Well, it's Poop Week at News of the Weird / Pro. (1) Researchers concluded that the strongest insect in the world is the dung beetle (can lift 1,141 times its body weight; for a 150-lb. human, that would be 80 tons). (2) A manure lagoon at an Indiana farm reports having methane bubbles the size of small houses, and they're full of gas so be careful when you pop them. (3) Revenge-Pooping: Give the customer a hard time about using the employees' rest room? The customer used it anyway and left some calling cards. (4) Or: Ex-girlfriend dumped you? Take a dump in the back seat of her car (but be really sure that it's her car and not one that looks like her car). Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News /// Wall Street Journal /// Morning Sun (Pittsburg, Kan.) /// Las Cruces Sun-News

Newsrangers: Kathryn Wood, Mike Mendenhall, Barry Rose, Hal Dunham, Andy Severance, Stuart Zukrow, Brian Bjolin, Darren Allen, Tim Plumley, Jim Hirsbrunner, John Grady, Dianne Ferrans, Bill Hines, and a large cast of people who found the two Readers' Choice stories, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors