Monday, May 24, 2010

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
May 24, 2010
(datelines May 15-May 22) (links correct as of May 24)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

American Pigeons, Plus Jihadi Rap, Shiksa Anti-Defamation, and Roaring Virile Fire

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Mindless Nation: People oughta know better, but still– . . . The New Living Expo in San Francisco showcased $1,200 machines guaranteed to suck out your toxins, and a $249 silver amulet to protect you from deadly "cell phone radiation," and a $15,000 Turbo Sonic if your red blood cells need to be de-clumped. Meanwhile, a Canadian study found that 97% of people who admitted buying "anti-aging" products didn't think they'd work but nevertheless had a need for hope (like those who buy the $525 Euoko Y-30 Intense Lift Concentrate, derived from "viper venom." In other news, it turns out that that guy who flouted his own Social Security Number in order to sell his "LifeLock" identity-protection service has--duh!--had his identity stolen at least 13 times since he started advertising it, but still, customers keep coming, at $10-$15 a month. San Francisco Chronicle [link to story the previous week] /// Canwest News Service via Montreal Gazette /// Phoenix New Times via

War Is Hell: (1) Shouldn't the Army have realized before now that its standard-issue M4 rifles don't play well in Afghanistan because the enemy targets are often a half-mile away and not in much closer quarters, as in Iraq (and Vietnam)? (Army's solution: Nine people in every unit–not 10, not 20, not "all"–are equipped with M-110 longer-range rifles.) (2) A guy's Army Reserve unit got sent to Iraq, and his wife consequently went into a deep depression, including not keeping up with the mail or homeowners' association fees. The guy gets back to find his $300,000 home was sold by the association for $3,500, and he has only a slim chance of getting it back. Associated Press via ABC News /// WFAA-TV (Dallas-Ft. Worth)

The American Omar Hammami, now known in Somalia as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, has made five jihadist rap songs for your Internet streaming-audio pleasure (It all started out in Afghanistan / When we wiped the oppressors off the land / The Union crumbled, rumbled, and tumbled / Humbled, left them mumbled / Made a power withdraw and cower). (But if "rap" is "music," he'll need a protective fatwa because "music" is not permitted in radical Islam.) ABC News [contains links to the audio]

If you were a Saudi woman, this would be a watershed moment–maybe like America electing a black president or something: In the city of Al-Mubarraz, as a sex cop (i.e., the fabled Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) approached a young couple to demand the woman's ID, she kicked the cop's butt. Charges are pending, but women all over the country are getting ideas in their heads. The Jerusalem Post

Who knew? The District of Columbia government gives away condoms by the handful, but the men and boys of Washington are apparently such fussy préservatif connoisseurs that they're demanding Trojans, and especially Trojan Magnums, instead of standard-issue Durex. Washington Post

And who knew that there were super-randy Chinese couples at all, much less orgiasts? Well, computer science professor Ma Yaohai, 53 (screen name: Roaring Virile Fire) knew, and organized a swingers' club, but now he'll be serving 3½ years in prison for "group licentiousness" (but his fellow orgiasts avoided jail time). New York Times [NOTE: In case you're wondering, the domain RoaringVirileFire dot com is available!]

It's supposedly a common sight on the playing fields of Silicon Valley, and next month there's a world championship in Barbados. It's Segway polo! The probable favorite of the eight-nation tournament is the Barbados Flyin' Fish, but don't rule out Steve Wozniak's Silicon Valley Aftershocks. San Jose Mercury News

Strange World

The newest "protected class" in Canadian anti-discrimination law: "non-Jewish shiksas." National Post

British Health Care: For two years, doctors missed the fact that a 6-inch sliver of a brush was embedded, painfully, in the woman's buttock (the "buttock"–the fleshy part). Then, surgery went bad, and she's no longer with us. BBC News

For the equivalent of "up to $1,000" (reports Reuters), Japanese Michael-Jackson-obsessives who win a lottery can spend the night (10 hours) on the floor of the Neverland Collection at the Tokyo Tower on June 25th (the anniversary of his death), surrounded by loads of MJ memorabilia. Reuters

An amateur photography artist, using pictures from all over in an installation devoted to fatness, went too far, said the caretakers of the public space he was showing in: Nobody wants to see really fat people--especially if they're naked. BBC News /// [WARNING! DO NOT CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK! It features photos Not Safe For Stomachs. You will regret it.] [ed. Don't complain to me; I told you not to.]

In France, 95 percent of heteros who officially hooked up in 2009 opted for civil unions rather than marriage. [CORRECTION: The previous sentence should read, "In France, 95 percent of those choosing civil-union status in 2009 were heterosexuals."] (The unions are somewhat easier in, easier out, though with fewer benefits than marriage.) Meanwhile, of course, gays and lesbians are dyin' to get married. BBC News

Unique dining experience at the Beijing Zoo: First, watch the hippopotamuses at play, then step into the zoo's restaurant and dine on a tasty hippopotamus toe (or kangaroo tail, deer penis, ant soup, etc.). The Guardian (London)

The Japanese artist Arakawa died in New York at 73, and, jeez, that must have made him furious . . in that he had spent his entire career famously rejecting the concept of death. New York Times /// (Arakawa's website) /// New York Daily News [Bonus photo of a lovely Arakawa creation, which seems ridiculously "in Memory of Helen Keller," in that she, and Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, might actually be equipped to tolerate it]

That's Messed Up

Lawrenceville, Ga., is trying to balance its 2010 budget, and to do that, the town will need those bonuses back that it mistakenly paid city workers . . in 1994. Associated Press via WXIA-TV (Atlanta)

Nelson Derbigney's second wife Laura is an Hispanic Catholic, but the first wife has a court order that the son from that first marriage will be raised as an Orthodox Jew like her mother. That means that Laura better be down with all-things-kosher when the kid visits his dad. (Said Laura's lawyer, of the logical extension of the law: If Nelson were a Muslim, would Catholic Laura have to wear a burqa?) WMAQ-TV (Chicago)

Basic Sex Ed shouldn't shy away from teaching "sodomy" and the consequences of "penetration," and all you 5- and 6-year-olds at Llewellyn Elementary in Portland, Ore., need to pay attention to that. KPTV (Portland)

Would you fly safer if you were boxed up and sent FedEx? FedEx won't hire pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours in the air, but most regional airlines will taken them with 250. Buffalo News

He's in critical condition after bailing out of the moving car, but he obviously felt that he had to take that chance–anything to get away from his wife's incessant yapping. The Leaf Chronicle (Clarksville, Ky.)

Douglas Hughes, running for governor of California, stakes his candidacy on curing the child-rape epidemic: Send the convicted pedophiles to their own little devil's island 30 miles off Santa Barbara, Hughes says, and let them self-govern, build their own infrastructure, etc. The Daily Caller ///

On the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

Perps' Rookie Mistakes: (1) If you choose a bank to rob that's only one block from a station house, cops can be there before you get out the door. (2) Count the money with one hand; if you lay your gun on the counter to free both hands, the vic will grab it and shoot you. (3) When you're poised to break-and-enter a house, carrying on a cell-phone conversation outside a window will tip off the resident ("I'm about to commit a crime," he was overheard saying). Birmingham News /// Associated Press via KFSM-TV (Fort Smith, Ark.) /// Northwest Florida Daily News

Stay Classy: A school bus driver in Milwaukee was fired for routinely taking dumps on her bus, into plastic bags, which she would toss out at her earliest convenience. WITI-TV (Milwaukee)

The Pervo-American Community

The prolific inseminator (at least 30 children) John Speights Jr., 45, better known around the bedrooms of Tampa as Poppa Love, was sentenced to life in prison. Several of his inseminatees were underage and related to him, but Poppa had his fans, too, and deputies had trouble controlling them when they heard the sentence. Said the judge, "This court is convinced, sir, that you are devoid of any moral values." St. Petersburg Times

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

We might have been able to presume innocence of these eight people on The Smoking Gun's weekly mugshot collection–except for those shirts they're wearing. These days, wearing those shirts'll get you 20-to-life. The Smoking Gun

Jerrod Wyatt, charged with . . ahhh, doesn't matter, does it? Times-Standard (Eureka, Calif.)

Paul Woodward was finally executed in Mississippi–friendless, familyless. That's what happens when you let yourself go. Clarion-Ledger (Jackson)

The exquisitely styled Allen Brown–one of the most magnificently coiffed people ever . . to be sentenced to 18 years in prison for pimping. The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, N.J.)

Updates & Recurring Themes

When this thing happens, it usually precedes a beating, as it did here, too: Police inadvertently threw their main witness to an attempted murder into the same cell with the attempted murderer. St. Paul Pioneer Press

It's for charity this time, but the animal rights people still cut them no slack. A veteran of the British sport of "ferret-legging" proposes an exhibition as a special fund-raiser. (Real British men do not get squeamish when a razor-toothed ferret is dropped down their baggy pants.) Alas, the ferrets are alleged to get all stressed at this. Daily Telegraph

Karma hit Anthony Hauser, the Minnesota dad who helped try to shield his son in 2009 from that wicked Satanic plot known as chemotherapy (for the kid's leukemia), in favor of homeopathic solutions. The state forced the kid into chemo, and he's now in remission, but guess who's got leukemia now? (Since he's an adult, the state doesn't care how he "treats" it.) Fox News

And For Further Review . . .

In the event you don't get around the Internet very much, here's last week's sensational "16 Products They Sell Only at Chinese Wal-Marts," raising a number of questions, for example, "How can 'anti-bacterial underwear' be such a big deal when the same store sells 'mixed meat,' animal ribcages, and pig faces for customers to grab right out of a barrel?"

Newsrangers: Kathryn Wood, Josh Harris, Gil Nelson, Bruce Leiserowitz, Phillip Choisser, Sandy Pearlman, and Hal Dunham, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors