Monday, June 28, 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
June 28, 2010
datelines June 19-26) (links correct as of June 28)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Where 5th-Graders Get Laid, Plus Tasering Granny, Maple Syrup Pee, and Birth Tourism

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

Condoms for All: The Provincetown, Mass., School Committee voted, obstinately, to give out free condoms, but of course only for high sch– . . no, wait, for any student who wants one. Said one supporter, "It's very possible that a fifth- or sixth-grader would be getting involved in sexual activity." As official policy, parental objections are deemed useless. "The intent is to protect kids," said the superintendent. Boston Globe

Because We're Lawyers and We Can–That's Why: In July, Loyola Law School of Los Angeles will jack up all students' grade-point averages by 0.333 for the sole announced purpose of making the grades look better to future employers. At least 10 other law schools are also attacking the "competitiveness" thing through the back door, by strategically softening grades. Said a Duke professor who studies grade-inflation, "If somebody's paying $150,000 for a law school degree, you don't want to call them a loser at the end." New York Times

You're Ugly, But Not to Worry: The dating site for us cuties (, 600,000 members worldwide) has started up fertility banks for sperm 'n' eggs, and in a fit of egalitarianism are opening it up to all you uglies. Explained founder Robert Hintze, "Initially, we hesitated to widen the offering to non-beautiful people. But everyone–including ugly people–would like to bring good looking children into the world, and we can't be selfish with our attractive gene pool." Newsweek

The Food Chain, Re-Established: The owner of the Mesa, Ariz., restaurant Il Vinaio got all upset that people were questioning his decision to sell burgers made with lion meat. CNN Money

Primary Locus of Weird: the Medial Prefrontal Cortex: Researchers writing in the Journal of Neuroscience have anticipated the behavior of people better than the people, themselves, anticipated it–simply by looking at which parts of the brain juice up during a thought. This means that "self-awareness" is tied to the MPC and that our category of PFOTs (People Full Of Themselves) actually consists of people who have weak relationships with their MPCs. Reuters via ABC News

. . . And in the PFOT Trial of the Century
: The leading surreal moment (so far) in the Rod Blagojevich trial: Last Thursday, the courtroom heard a wiretap from December 5, 2008 (enabled by a trusted Blago associate who flipped on Rod), in which Blago is doubting that that trusted associate would ever flip on him. Key wiretapped Blago quote: "[There is] scrutiny going on and lawyers to pay. How in the hell am I going to send my kid to college?" Chicago Tribune


One of the "world's most dangerous" drug lords, Jamaican Dudus Coke, is now in New York City lockdown in part because of the failure of his ingenious disguise ("dork with bad 'do"). Daily Mail (London)

A: "Yes." Q: "If we [Aussie] blokes shoot each other in the butt, do ya think it would it hurt?" Daily Telegraph (London)

A gas station is usually a good place to pull into if your vehicle is in distress. But not so much if the distress is that it's on fire (though the driver here lucked out). Saugus (Mass.) Advertiser

Peter Wann cost his team $1.2 million. They were DQ'd from a blue marlin tournament in Morehead City, N.C., because crew man Peter hadn't gotten his $30 fishing license yet (and had lied to the captain about it). They forfeited $318,000 for the first marlin caught and $912,000 for the overall championship. (Bonus Fact: There are people who will give you $1.2 million for catching a few fish.) Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

Courtenea Bradley, 21, was charged with child neglect after beating on her male companion as he was driving (with her baby in the back seat). She had also given serious attitude to the cops who pulled the swerving car over: "My [expletives deleted by the reporter] family is one of the richest around, and we will have y'all's [expletive] jobs." Northwest Florida Daily News [with smiling mug shot]

Strange World

Britain's safety nannies reached a new pinnacle: No crosses will be allowed at the Ebdon Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare (too dangerous, since the other headstones are flat). Bath Chronicle [link from Nothing To Do With Abroath]

No papers have been filed in court yet, but the North Korean government has demanded that the U.S. compensate it for everything that's gone wrong in the country since 1950. They estimate that they can get back on their feet for maybe $75 trillion. (Bonus: K.Jay, himself, is blamed, though gently, of course, for his country's 7-0 loss to Portugal in the World Cup, in that the coach is seen in now-historic photographs receiving tactical soccer instructions from the Dear Leader over "mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye." Seriously.) Agence France-Presse via Australian Broadcasting Corp. /// United Press International

UK women apparently need warnings by cosmetic surgeons 'lest they rush to get "dimpleplasty"(to look like cute Brit singer Cheryl Cole). The artificial dimple is fixed in place (but could shift over time) and thus looks stupid with most any facial movements, but try telling that to women who want to become cute. (Sydney)

Beyond the World Cup: Olivia Grange, the sports minister of Jamaica, says she hopes to successfully lobby international Olympics officials to include what the country really excels at: dominoes. BBC News

"This is a quiet street where families live," said a distraught neighbor of one of Britain's most notorious hard-core dominatrixes, who moved in next door a while back. "[W]e reached our limit when she started holding sado-masochistic sessions in her garden. [M]y four-year-old daughter saw things she should never have seen." ("Mistress Lucrezia" is being investigated because one of her recent clients expired during a session.) Daily Telegraph

That's Messed Up

Poor Dustin Dibble's dream has turned sour. For 18 months he has been counting on the $2.3 million a jury awarded him after a New York City subway car took his leg off. An appeals court turned him down last week. After all, Dibble had been drunk and fallen onto the tracks all by himself, and right in front of the incoming train, and no, said the appeals court, train operators cannot recognize hazards in "1.0" seconds (as the original jury had expected). New York Post

Lona Varner, 86, and her grandson sued the city of El Reno, Okla., because ten police officers, checking up on a verbally aggressive, bedridden Varner, didn't like her attitude. According to the lawsuit, two of them Tasered her, and one deliberately stepped on her oxygen hose. The town, about 30 miles from Oklahoma City, doesn't appear to have a budget large enough to accommodate the coming payout. Courthouse News Service

Laith Sharma, 49, admitted that he was stalking and harassing that 14-year-old girl in Windsor, Ontario, but the medical professionals won him probation. Sharma suffers from "maple syrup urine disease," they said. The urine supposedly is a marker for certain brain damage preventing impulse control. Canwest News Service via Calgary Herald

Chutzpah! Raytown, Mo., farmer David Jungerman posted a big public sign on his property opining that "Democrats" are the "Party of Parasites," meaning they facilitate handouts for the down-and-out by taxing the treasures earned by hard-working producers (like David Jungerman). There's certainly merit to that point. The less-meritorious Jungerman point, though, is what the Kansas City Star revealed: Jungerman has been given (as in handouts) more than $1 million since 1995 in "federal crop subsidies" (i.e., money he didn't earn) (i.e., the government let him suckle money when he was, temporarily, down and out due to low farm prices). (No, no, Jungerman said; that's totally different!) Kansas City Star

It's tough growing up these days. Ranay Collins, 49, was arrested in Las Vegas for beating her 16-year-old daughter nearly unconscious with a cane. Collins defiantly explained to cops when they arrested her, "That [expletive deleted by the reporter] owes me $50 for rent." (Complicating factor: The kid's developing her own handsome set of pathologies.) KTNV-TV (Las Vegas)

Readers' Choice: There was a brawl in Victorville, Calif., of parents upset by something that happened during graduation exercises . . at a kindergarten. Victorville Daily Press

Human rights lawyer Peter Erlinder, 62, back in the U.S. after 21 days in jail in Rwanda for agitating for, y'know, human rights, was robbed one night last week in front of his home in St. Paul, Minn. At gunpoint, Erlinder reached in his wallet and tossed to the ground all the money he had, and the robber grabbed it and fled (Bonus: Rwandan currency). Star Tribune

The Pervo-American Community

The "rotund" man with the "violent temper [and] dictatorial, commanding attitude" toward the masseuse, acted like a "crazed sex poodle." He jumped on top of her, pinning her to the bed (leading her to yell, "Get off me, you big lummox"). [ed.: Several weeks before this incident was reported in the press, the rotund man and his wife had announced their separation, and one report at that time quoted the wife's friends as saying the husband's fondness for masseuses was a major factor.] The Oregonian /// The Oregonian Editorial Board /// The Smoking Gun /// National Enquirer

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

Nicolas Cocaign, 39, just cannot be guilty of the charge because then you'd have to believe that immediately after killing a man, he sliced open his chest with a razor blade, removed a rib that was in the way, grabbed his heart, and ate a piece of it raw ("to take his soul," he supposedly said). (Bonus: Turns out he misidentified what was actually a lung.) Daily Telegraph (London)

Douglas Matthews looks like a real sweetheart, right? He couldn't be guilty of sexual assault on a teenage boy. The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

From The Smoking Gun's weekly mugshot collection: (1) the Jabba-like alleged probation violator, and (2) the alleged aggressive panhandler.

Updates & Recurring Themes

Recurring: Once again, a driver ran over himself in his own car, fatally, and once again, a man was run over by his own truck, which was being operated by his own dog. WKYC-TV (Cleveland) /// Associated Press via Arizona Republic

Update: Gulf News [ed.: which tries to be legitimate but has been busted before] reported one group of Saudi women seeking to exploit the hell out of that breastfeeding fatwa [NOTW/Pro, 6-14-2010]. They are women who want to drive cars all by themselves and promise that if they don't get their way, they will merely breastfeed their families' drivers, thus becoming the drivers' "mothers" and thus be allowed out on the town with them. Gulf News

And for Further Review . . .

[ed. This seems important enough but has received little news coverage.] New York City's upscale Marmara Manhattan hotel leads the hospitality industry in several innovative areas, not the least of which is the recently announced Birth Tourism package. Pay the hotel about $35,000, and they'll give an expectant mother from abroad a super-deluxe suite for the week she's supposed to drop, plus furnish a doctor and take care of all medical expenses associated with a normal delivery. The big payoff, of course, comes from Amendment XIV of the U.S. Constitution, which makes that urchin a U.S. citizen no matter what (and, as a matter of U.S. Immigration policy, the urchin becomes an "anchor baby" that may ultimately enable the legal entry of beaucoup relatives "in order to keep the family together"). [ed.: Considering the Immigration agency bureaucracy and U.S. immigration lawyers, 35 grand of upfront grease is actually a reasonable investment.] About 15 packages have been sold, according to a June 10th report on the British travel industry website

Editor's Notes

Your Editor missed this Bonus fact from last week's story on the lightning strike from heaven that burned up the 62-foot-high Jesus statue near Monroe, Ohio. Right across the street from the statue, untouched by any lightning bolts, is a large sign for a Hustler Hollywood porn shop. Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun

Speaking of "crazed sex poodles," if there's anyone who's still not down with National Enquirer as a substantive professional news source, it has to be because you were asleep during the O.J. Simpson trial, and asleep during the Monica Lewinsky mess, and asleep during the John Edwards affair. Hell, even though it was a different company at the time, you must have been asleep in 1992 when the Star played and transcribed Gennifer Flowers's answering-machine tapes, during which Gov. Bill Clinton gave her long, careful discourses on how to fudge and spin that-there entirely malleable concept called "truth." It's been certain for almost 20 years that the so-called supermarket tabloid press has employed two standards. For exposing celebrities (for whom publicity is life-giving oxygen almost without regard to whether it is positive or negative), the tabs cut corners and go minimum on evidence. For exposing politicians, the publishers most of all seek mainstream credibility and are thus relentless on the evidence.

Your Editor will also post tomorrow (Tuesday, June 29) a selection of Weird 2.0 stories from last week.

Newsrangers: Tim Allen, John Ellwood, Hal Dunham, Peter Hine, Pierre Langenegger, Tim Trewhella, Peter Wardley, Kathryn Wood, Gil Nelson, and Jack Whittaker, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, June 21, 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
June 21, 2010
(datelines June 12-June 19) (links correct as of June 21)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

New Medication Surcharge, Plus Condiment Crimes, Clown Therapy, and a Real "Killer App"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Can't Possibly Be True: Not only do your taxes make possible free, expensive medical care for uninsured humps who wake up every morning with no plans except to do unhealthful things all day, and not only do your taxes pay for their free, expensive meds so they'll be a little less likely to wind up back in the hospital for more free, expensive care, but now your taxes may go to set up a rewards program so that forgetful or obstinate humps who don't take their free, expensive meds get a "financial incentive" to take them. Yes, it's come to this: In test projects now, we're paying these humps $10 to $100 a day just to remember to take their meds. And you know what? It's probably a good deal for us taxpayers. New York Times

We're Lucky Terrorist Jihadists Are So Clumsy: In the same week as Somalia's al-Qaeda-lookalike organization might have finally jumped the shark by ordering all good Muslims not to watch the evil World Cup, The Atlantic published an essay on how undeservedly strange it is that we Americans seem petrified by jihadists despite evidence that they're more likely to blow themselves up than us (well, that is, after they've sated themselves with computer porn, which they consume in abundance). Mohammad Atta might have been the last competent holy warrior. BBC News /// The Atlantic

The Week in Phraseology: political urinal mints . . . penis-recognition algorithm . . . charity groin wax. WZVN-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.) /// Popular Science ///

Barry Scheck's Road to the Holy Grail, One More Time: A retired Texas judge, assigned to decide the fate of an inch-long strand of hair from the scene of a 1989 murder, ordered DNA testing on it, and if it comes back with someone's besides Claude Jones's, it will become official (though still on a technicality): Texas will have wrongly executed someone (in that Gov. George W. Bush dispensed with Mr. Jones a decade ago). (It's still a "technicality" because it will not establish Jones's actual innocence, but, without that strand of hair, Jones would have been legally ineligible for the death penalty even if he had done the murder.) Associated Press via

Don't Know Much About Science Books . . ♪ . .: (1) Israeli researchers say they've shown that making batteries out of potatoes is quite cost-efficient for less-developed countries. (2) A Peruvian artist said he could re-engineer an historic glacier in that country just by painting the nearby mountains white. (Bonus: It sorta makes sense!) (3) Whale poop, released along the ocean's surface, causes absorption, by plankton, et al, of about twice as much carbon as whales release, themselves. Haaretz (Tel Aviv) /// BBC News ///


Joy Cassidy, 74, was arrested in Boise, Id., as the one who dumped mayo down the book drop at the Ada County library. Turns out she's now a "person of interest" in at least 10 other "condiment-related crimes" in the area. Associated Press via CBS News

Jose Romero, 17, was charged with the attempted robbery of a Speedy Stop in Austin, Tex. The crime didn't work, but Your Editor reports it here for you to imagine the scene when Jose walked in, sidled up to the clerk, and demanded money while trying to intimidate by pointing to his waistband, where he had stuffed his caulking gun. Austin American-Statesman

Have you ever wondered what must certain people's lives be like (such as the people who would do these things)? (1) Let's say, you're a guy who gets violent because the United States engages in the tyrannical act of taking a census every 10 years. (2) Let's say, you're a guy who gets violent because the Burger King ran out of lemonade. (3) Let's say, you're a guy who gets screamingly riled up at a cop just because he caught you not scooping up after your dog–so riled up that you chase him down and rub scoopings on his windshield. Really . . what must these people's lives be like? The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.) /// Naples (Fla.) Daily News /// (Brookline, Mass.)

Strange World

Britain's traveling John Lawson Circus introduced a side venture: a "clownselor" to conduct anxiety-reduction sessions to help people over their coulrophobia that is said to be Britain's third-leading phobia. Fox News

Two super-smart college students at Scotland's Edinburgh University tricked up a notebook computer with a killer app–a syringe to deliver fatal doses of something or other. And it worked fine. And their families have no idea why the kids did it. Daily Mail

God's Will: (1) A soccer fan in the South African village of Makweya was murdered by his pious wife and two pious children because he failed to give up the TV remote. They wanted gospel; he wanted World Cup. (2) The Lord's wrath, in the well-known form of a lightning bolt, brought down the renowned 62-foot high statue of Jesus along Interstate 75 outside Monroe, Ohio. Associated Press via Yahoo Sports /// Springfield News-Sun

Some teddibly, teddibly (politically) correct employee at the London museum overseeing the new exhibit "Winston Churchill's Britain At War Experience" decided to Photoshop out Sir Winston's famous cigar from an iconic military picture. Daily Telegraph

Toreador Christian Hernandez, 22, retired–hung up the ol' (barely-used) sword in Mexico City–after two fights. Literally, his butt was last seen diving over the fence. Said Christian later, "I didn't have the ability. I didn't have the balls." Daily Telegraph (London)

That's Messed Up

Wasn't Ever Issued a "Maternal Instinct" Gene: Christina Muniz, 29, was arrested in Surprise, Ariz., as she was packing for her move to California, to fulfill her dream of becoming a stripper. What about her two kids? Doesn't want them. They're yours, she told the cops. As the 11-year-old boy tried to hug his mom, she punched him in the stomach. ABC News

It's Good to Be a Canadian Swindler of Kids: Mary Hardwick was convicted of embezzling $12,000 from a kids' hockey team in Canada but given probation because, you know, she had been depressed . . a "death in the family" . . stuff like that. On further inspection of her record . . She had pinched over $2,000 from a junior hockey team in 2007 and $20,000 more from a junior team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. Toronto Star

More Terrorizing to Our Troops Than the Taliban: Bobbi Finley was arrested on a dine-and-dash in New Orleans, and suddenly the fugitive warrants started pouring in from around the country. Turns out that at least 40 U.S. military men have had their bank accounts cleaned out by Bobbi, including 9 who actually went to the altar with her. KGTV (San Diego)

The Pervo-American Community

The Town Administrator of Shirley, Mass., is apparently (allegedly) a longtime audio/video gadgeteer and chronicler–of the comings and goings in the women's restroom at Town Hall. Kyle Keady, 46, was caught with an extensive collection Boston Globe

And the president of the Detroit School Board, Otis Mathis, asked to rescind his recent resignation–and believes he can work through his "issue" while remaining on the job. The "issue" is his habit of "touching and fondling" himself while in private meetings with school superintendent Theresa Gueyser. WXYZ-TV (Detroit)

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

A week of unusually difficult challenges for various defense attorneys: Perps include William Gordius (restroom peeping in Bangor, Me.), and David Haskell, 18 (caught inside an ATM in Haverhill, Mass.) (and apparently all broken up about it), and Brian Andrews, 31 (wielding an ax at a 4-year-old's birthday party in Elyria, Ohio). WCHS-TV (Portland, Me.) /// WHDH-TV (Boston) /// WEWS-TV (Cleveland)

Updates & Recurring Themes

Recurring: They've discovered a 7-year period in which the payroll office of the Washington, D.C., government deducted life insurance premiums from paychecks but never sent the money to the insurance companies. Policies were canceled. However, it being the District of Calamity, it's never clear whether it was corruption or ineptness. Washington Post

Recurring: A 3rd-grader in Coventry, R.I., trying to honor the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, created a baseball cap with a large American Flag and little Monopoly-sized charms on it, except that the charms were military, and therefore there were itty-bitty guns, so you know how this ended. At least they didn't suspend him. (Bonus additional confusion about America's military purpose: At a Congressional hearing last week, Gen. Petraeus, deep into an inspirational message on U.S. soldiers and Marines fighting two wars simultaneously, with mounting death tolls, was questioned by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona . . on whether the military will be stepping up on renewable energy.) Associated Press via Indianapolis Star ///

Recurring: Clitoral Surgery in Africa Is Inhumane; Clitoral Surgery by an Ivy League Research Hospital, OK: Cornell pediatric urologist "Dix Poppas" (Bonus: his real name!) has as his specialty helping women deal with the trauma of oversized clitorises–by nicking a little bit off the "stem" (but not the "bud") [ed.: not to get too scientific on you]. America's Leading Sexual Authority, the one and only Dan Savage, condemns the Ivy League approach, as well. The Stranger (Seattle)

Recurring: Poor Dog/Rich Dog: Conchita is the latest little bitch to get the run of a mansion after her owner dies (along with a $3 million trust fund so she won't have to become accustomed to an ordinary dog's lifestyle). She's also got that gold Escalade (which was a hand-me-down from owner Gail Posner, who said she originally was to buy Conchita a Range Rover but decided instead to keep it and let Conchita have the Caddy). Posner's human son is beside himself because he "only" got $1 million from the estate (though he may now wish he had been nicer to his mom). Wall Street Journal

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.

Chuck Provini has a cutting-edge idea for clean energy and shopped it to all the proper places in the U.S. energy hierarchy, looking for development money. Nothing. One agency tried to shake him down for $750,000 just to put in an application. Hard even to get phone calls returned. Fortunately, though, there is money available for clean energy–lots of it, easily accessible, put up by people who understand that out-of-the-box thinking will be required on the energy frontier. But unfortunately, that source of money is . . the Chinese government. They flew Chuck out immediately, wined and dined him . . deal!. Provini, a through-and-through American (a Marine!) is chagrined that he'll now be saving the planet on behalf of China. ABC News

About 85% of Americans have health insurance, putting us only slightly behind . . Rwanda . . which covers 92% of its people (at the equivalent of $2.00 a year, providing not nearly what U.S. care covers, of course, but consider that most of Rwanda's health problems are diarrhea and other parasitical infections, unsafe childbirth, etc. (as opposed to, you know, the third artery stent that a lifelong smoker has to have). New York Times

It's not that "government" screws up everything. In Arizona, it's saving lives! They have 250 lucky squirrels–Mount Graham red squirrels, once thought to be extinct, and they're being kept alive by an effective state program. Arizona has allocated $1.25 million to build a rope bridge in their habitat so they can cross a highway that would otherwise consign an estimated five of them a year to roadkill. (Bonus Cynical View: They're American-born squirrels; if they were immigrant red squirrels– . .) ABC News

Not among California's many fiscal problems is strapping GPS devices onto sex offenders to keep women and children safe without the huge cost of incarcerating every molester. California has bought at least 7,000 devices, and more are coming. But it is a problem that they were recently 31,000 calls behind in responding when the GPS either goes dead, is cut off, or indicates an offender in a no-no zone. San Diego Union-Tribune

According to "international maritime treaties," most vessels (such as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which is classified as a vessel) aren't registered/flagged in countries where serious, costly "regulation" is possible. The DH carried a Marshall Islands flag. (Bonus: That's a real nation.) (Extra Bonus Gulf oil-cleanup bizarreness: Here's a Coast Guard chart that shows what Adm. Thad Allen, the "national incident commander," is up against–13 government agencies and 3 federal sub-departments.) Los Angeles Times /// Coast Guard blog via

The Gulf of Mexico is a big body of water. Hence, Dr. Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Haley Barbour and the other experts [ed.: and actually, Cecil Adams in The Straight Dope!] might be correct that the oil will some day become unnoticeable. Not so in Nigeria, where the sloppy contractors are working for ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. Gio Creek and Bobo Creek are not big bodies of water, and the Nigerian delta has endured the equivalent of 50 Exxon Valdez spills over the last 50 years. However, if you're from rural Nigeria, you don't expect much, and you learn to swim and wash clothes in the salad dressing. New York Times /// The Straight Dope

And for Further Review . . .

After reading a quick rundown of 61-year-old Ozzy Osbourne's life, the first question that pops to mind is, Why is he still alive? Clonazepam, zolpidem, temazepam, chloral hydrate, Percocet, codeine, morphine, marijuana, alcohol, cigars–and those are just the ones he could identify (i.e., add to those anything that was passed around backstage, because Ozzy said he took 'em all). To Ozzy, a "parent-child conversation about drugs" was, "Hey, kid, can you get me some?" He's also a world-class hypochondriac and suffers from Parkinson's-like tremors. For these reasons (and because he's now reformed and sober), he's just been hired by London's Sunday Times as its health-advice columnist. (Bonus: In the name of science, Dr. Ozzy has also agreed to have a full genome sequencing.) Sunday Times Magazine (June 6th) /// DailyTelegraph [ed.: You soon will have trouble viewing The Times because Lord Murdoch is transitioning it behind a pay wall. As of June 21st, you can still get free access provided that you register.]

Editor's Notes

The News of the Weird flag is at half-mast. The new prime minister of the UK, Mr. Cameron, has announced a top-priority effort to eliminate the "joke" regulations and "compensation culture" that underlie the law's treatment of health and safety risks. I admit that I was similarly apprehensive when the UK agreed to be bound by EU regulations because I was worried that Brussels would smarten up those Brits, but the local councils' mindlessness has only improved (deteriorated). Still, without the certainty of a few "elf and safety" stories every week, Your Editor will soon have to work harder to find suitable content. Daily Mail

Newsrangers: Gerald Sacks, Perry Levin, Peter Hine, Conrad Heiney, Hal Dunham, Nedra Albrecht, Len Dozois, Craig Oakley, David Gregory, Bob Pert, Peter Smagorinsky, Ric Adams, Alan Chaikin, Albert Clawson, Bruce Leiserowitz, and Peter Swank, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, June 14, 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
June 14, 2010
(datelines June 5-June 12) (links correct as of June 14)

Voodoo Economics, Plus World Cup Voodoo, Breast-Feeding Voodoo, and Los Angeles Dodger Voodoo

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

RIAA on Law . . and Economics: Not many people [ed.: thank goodness!] earnestly believe that artists should lose control of their work just by presenting it. Thus, the Freddy-Krueger-like Recording Industry Association of America usually does well in court. Its number-crunching, though, tends to the cartoonish. In a notorious 2009 case, the hapless mother Jammie Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay RIAA $1.92 million for downloading 24 copyrighted songs (later reduced to $54,000). Now, RIAA is going for the gold against the LimeWire peer-to-peer file-sharing service, figuring that LW software has facilitated at least 200 million illegal downloads, and that at the bargain-basement estimate of just $750 per song (a generous 67% markdown from the final price Jammie was charged), RIAA is still due $1.5 trillion. (RIAA's fallback position: LimeWire goes belly-up, and we pick the bones.) (Bonus: For even screwier economics, see the page from regarding RIAA's 2008 lawsuit filing against the less-genteel file-sharing service The Pirate Bay.) Hollywood Reporter ///

Thank Goodness for Rich People's Divorces! So much great weirdness turns up in court filings! We learned last week, for instance, that the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Frank McCourt and his estranged Jamie) have had a Russian psychic healer on the payroll since at least 2008 to help the team. According to Jamie's attorney, Vladimir Shpunt made less than Manny Ramirez but more than the players' minimum. Los Angeles Times

We Make 'Em Naive in the F State: Was Florida teen Kayla Manson, 13, honestly so clueless that she had no idea her that that boy over there would savagely beat up her gal pal? Over a text message? Well, on the Today show last week, she was so clueless that she quoted the C-word (twice) when Meredith Veiera asked what was in the text. Veiera: "[Kayla] didn't know there are certain words you can't say on television." MSNBC

Netherlands Solves Female Unemployment: The common sense solution, according to three local government councils in northern dutchlandia, is to publicize commercial dating services that introduce unemployed single women to (employed) single men! Voilà! The Times (London)

It's Not All Bad News: Stanford undergrad Daniel Jacobson, working only for class credit, submitted what experts believe is a credible, professional, detailed, top-to-bottom working plan for a 2½-mile streetcar line through downtown Oakland, Calif., that would create more than 20,000 jobs. Took him 9 months (because, after all, he had other courses). Total cost of the study and plan: a $1,275 grant from Stanford (and he had $288 left over!). Amount Oakland paid in 2005 for a "feasibility" study for about the same thing: $300,000 (which produced nothing and was back on the drawing board this year–for a new $300,000, of course). San Francisco Chronicle

Close Enough for Government Work?: OK, ya got your almost-regulation-free Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling, and ya got your almost-regulation-free Wall Street casino-trading, but also: (1) The FBI set up the (Natalee Holloway) Aruban murder suspect with $25,000 for a sting, but dawdled 24 hours on the arrest, during which time he fled the country and killed yet another young woman. (2) Only after U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar gnawed their ankles for two years did the Army finally reverse itself and OK a $50,000 insurance payment for a soldier who got his leg blown off in Iraq (delayed because the Army "couldn't" come up with "consistent" medical "criteria") (and therefore the proper governmental course is to stand down and await divine inspiration). (3) National Public Radio and ProPublica found 115,000 troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were diagnosable with "mild traumatic brain injuries" but were being ignored–similarly because the Pentagon just "couldn't" decide on the proper "criteria" for diagnosis and thus just let the whole mess lie there. The Smoking Gun /// Star Tribune (Minneapolis) /// ProPublica


Mr. David Bowers of Jackson County, Kan., is no longer with us, for failing to respect the error that is his son Zachary, 22. According to the police report, dad and son fought, and dad tried to bluff the son by tossing him a gun and daring him to shoot. Kansas City Star via Wichita Eagle

The Chicago Black Hawks won hockey's Stanley Cup last week, but this is the tattoo Jeremy Scheuch wanted to show off for city pride. Chicagoist [link from Huffington Post]

Andrew Young and James Miller were arrested in Charleston, W.Va., and couldn't have been more surprised at the cops' reactions (and the $100,000 bail!). All we did, they said, is what we've done many times before: practice our pro-wrestling moves on the 2-year-old daughter of a friend (including, this time, the Undertaker's signature choke-slam, which put the girl in the hospital with a leg fracture). WSAZ-TV

Just because you're a pro Repo Man with cars doesn't mean you can slide into repoing riding lawnmowers. Different set of skills. A 37-year-old repoer in Twin Falls, Id., was arrested. Associated Press via Yahoo News

The Aristocrats! This week it's Amy Hager, 33, taken away after a domestic violence donnybrook in Bradenton, Fla., and reacting by tossing her own caca at the arresting officers. [ed.: Because of inadequate news reporting, we do not know whether she had been spontaneous or had already dumped in her pants before the cops got there.] Bradenton Herald

A story you can write the basics of just by knowing the keywords ("Massachusetts," "Mercedes SUV"): Janice (They're Not Fair to Me-Me-Meeeeeeeee!) Eberle is suing the city of Danvers for writing her out that ticket for parking illegally in a handicaped space. Well, it was raining, she said, and she had just had shoulder surgery, and it was raining really hard, and besides, the ticket is for $300, for heaven's sake. WHDH-TV (Boston)

From nighttime surveillance video of the front of the Empire Skate store on Herd Street in Wellington, New Zealand: Two guys toss rocks at the window, evidently hoping to break it open to grab some display items . . until one rock bounces back and hits one of the guys in the head, making him woozy. The other guy helps pull him away. New Zealand Press Association via

Strange World

It's Good to Be a British Domestic Batterer: Nicholas Williams, 33, was acquitted of beating the crap out of his girlfriend–acquitted on the ground that it wasn't his fists doing the talking but just alcohol amped up by the smoking-cessation drug Champix. Daily Mail

Ian and Jean Smith, of Brockhurst Hill, London, in their 70s, are retired now–from their day jobs, that is. They still dabble in hedonism on the side and are thought to be Britain's oldest still-married "swingers"–veterans of the wild 1970s and more than 300 orgies. [with cropped photo of the naked couple today]

Where were you on December 2, 1984? In Bhopal, India, on that day, the chemical plant of a Union Carbide Corp. subsidiary blew up (probable cause: either poor safety management or a disgruntled worker), killing more than 3,000 and speeding the deaths of at least 10,000 more locals. Last week, the first criminal convictions were handed down, with seven people getting sentences ranging up to two years each. The Hindu

If there's an unusual medical condition out there, London's Daily Mail will be on it. Latest example: British woman Michelle Philpots, whose traffic accidents in 1985 and 1990 have left her with brain injuries that replicate the condition of Drew Barrymore's character in the movie "50 First Dates." No short-term memory, and every morning, it's 1994. Daily Mail

England's Rob Green has a fallback excuse for muffing that goal in the 1-1 England-U.S. World Cup tie on Saturday: Maybe the sangomas were on his case. Sure, they said their ostrich legs and chicken feathers, etc., help bring African teams to glory, but sangoma potions are dangerous and could fall into the wrong hands, and, well, stopping an easy shot suddenly becomes impossible! (African teams now routinely disclaim reliance on sangomas–except that, of course, if one African team relies on sangomas against another country from the Motherland, it behooves that other team to employ counter-cyclical curses.) The Globe and Mail

Here's something not likely on the Muslim fundamentalists' annual report about oppressive conditions in Israel's West Bank: Several "speedsisters" have successfully broken into the formerly-all-male Palestinian motor-racing season, in Nablus. "Driving is driving," said Ms. Suna Aweida, so GTFO of her way. BBC News

Among U.S. allies' leaders, who would know China better than Oz's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, who served a spell in Beijing and speaks fluent Mandarin? It was reported last week that Rudd (speaking in English at the December Copenhagen climate summit) called the Chinese delegation a bunch of "rat-[F word]ers" for weaseling out of stringent sanctions. (Sydney)

That's Messed Up

Seattle police arrested Graydon Smith, 31, for domestic assault . . despite the signed contract he had with his girlfriend whereby he could beat her up at will–provided he didn't touch the stomach (because she is pregnant). KOMO-TV (Seattle)

New York state school officials, having vowed to crack down on "phantom promotion" of unprepared pupils to the next grade, nonetheless adopted "holistic rubrics," which is their term for 2 plus 2 equaling 5 ("That's so-o-o close! Good job!"). Actual question: How many inches long is a 2-foot long skateboard? Full-credit: "24 inches." Half-credit: "48 inches." New York Post

In Cheektowaga, N.Y., Gurninderjit Thandi pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run accident of last March, during a drive home when his blood-alcohol level was 0.56. He asked the judge for leniency in that all he was doing that night was testing out . . his new, transplanted liver, which he had received in January. Buffalo News

Florida's Board of Medicine cracked down on Broward County surgeon Bernard Zaragoza for having removed a healthy kidney when he was actually after a diseased gallbladder. Total punishment: a $5,000 fine. But wait! The Board explained that it was actually the 83-year-old patient's fault (relatively speaking), in that the kidney in this guy's body was exactly where the gallbladder was supposed to be. Miami Herald

In health insurance news, Kathy Myers, 41, of Niles, Mich., doesn't have any. She hurt her shoulder about a month ago playing with her dogs and cannot get ER help because they only do life-saving-type stuff. So Kathy shot herself, hoping to establish cred. (Bonus: She missed every vital organ, and ER still sent her home.) WSBT-TV (South Bend, Ind.)

The Pervo-American Community

Dale Graham, 94, Payson, Ariz., is still going strong–likely the beneficiary of an awesome, envious genetic structure! Oh, wait. Cops found him in someone else's garage with a vacuum cleaner "attached to the front of his pants," and he may have "inappropriately touched two children." (Disregard that awesome genetic legacy thingie.) KSAZ-TV (Phoenix)

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

Is Robin Roberts guilty? No, it's neither of those Robin Robertses. This Robin is a 30-year-old Dallas woman accused of shoplifting from a Home Depot and then temporarily disabling the security guard with a balls-twist. KDFW-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Thomas Peno was on a courtroom break from his hearing on charges that he had gotten drunk and broken into cars in Vernon, Conn. During the break, he got drunk again and broke into some cars again. But does that mean he was guilty of the original break-ins? I say, You have to go to the mug shot. WTNH-TV (New Haven)

This fella couldn't possibly be any guiltier, and we don't even know who he is–or if he even exists at all. It's a composite sketch of a murder suspect, in Steubenville, Ohio. He's believed to be armed and ridiculous. WTRF-TV (Wheeling, W.Va.)

Updates & Recurring Themes

Correction from the News of the Weird column released yesterday, NOTW M166, 6-13-2010: Most of those wild new species were discovered by researchers at Arizona State, not the University of Arizona. NOTW M166 (uncorrected)

Update from NOTW/Pro, 5-31-2010: Prospects for little Ardi Rizal, 2, to form a smoking-cessation support group are improving. Comes word from Huizhou, China, that a young lady, Ya Wen, 3, has taken up smoking (and beer-drinking) following an accident a year ago in which she was hit by a van. [ed.: Her mother says she can knock down 3 beers a day easily, which means she is 50 percent more dangerous than Your Editor.] Daily Mail (London) [ed.: I'm declaring a Hoax Alert Orange on this, for no reason other than the coincidence of having a "who's who" and a "you win" in the same story.]

Update from NOTW M016, 7-29-2007: It's now being reported that two powerful Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia have brought the issue of adult breast-feeding to the fore (whereas previously the whole thing just sounded like a joke). It turns out that it is not only Orthodox Jews who are earnest and creative in inventing technicalities for enjoying modern life while pretending to adhere to ancient restrictions. Fundamental Wahhabi Islam prevents unmarried men from glimpsing a woman without even her head scarf unless they are of the same family, and apparently the physiological basis for this is that the two could not possibly ever be lovers if they had been breastfed from the same bloodline. OK. So here's the way around that, according to the above-referenced clerics: If there's a guy outside the family that a woman wants to be with, she just has her mom breastfeed him. (This can also be done prospectively, earlier in life.) Seriously. So now the clerics are yipping over whether the milk has to be directly from the actual teat, or can it be saved into a container? However, so far, it appears that the dominant Saudi Wahhabi sentiment about this is, WTF? Have you guys LYFM? AOL News /// New York Times (Orthodox Judaism technicalities)

And for Further Review . . .

The Glorious Executioner: One of the gang of five set to shoot convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner through the heart in Utah on June 18th is far from reluctant. "How often does this come along? 100 percent justice." "There's just some people we need to kick off the planet." "The death penalty is nothing more than sending a defective product back to the manufacturer. Let him fix it." No qualms? "I've shot squirrels I've felt worse about." CNN

Newsrangers: Jeff Tunkey, Craig Oakley, Kathryn Wood, Gerald Sacks, Don Peck, Morrow Long, Jeffrey Babbin, and Rob Snyder, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, June 07, 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
June 7, 2010
(datelines May 29-June 5) (links correct as of June 7)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Transgenders Outsmart Cops, Plus Fun on Trampolines, A Certified Hermit, and Dwile Flonking

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Fine Points of the Law (I): In super-gay Rehoboth Beach, Del., it's against the law for men to reveal their junk, front or back, and it's against the law for women to reveal their stuff, front or back, or their breasts. But there's nothing in the law about men revealing the B- and C-cups they've just acquired as they set out on transgendering. News Journal (Wilmington)

Fine Points of the Law (II): Inventor Jiro Takashima, 75, says he never felt comfortable letting his Pro-State massager medical device ($78.50) be marketed off-label as a sex toy, but his daughter Amy Sung, 35, is a bit more capitalism-oriented and so packaged the same item as the Aneros ($49.95, on the rack right next to the Doc Johnsons). At medical conventions, the two of them are quite popular, but in their booth at sex expos, they are rock stars. A U.S. District Judge is currently deciding whether the pair can block knock-offs. Houston Chronicle /// Pro-State on Sale ($54.99)

City Councilman Michael Ceremello of Dixon, Calif. (near Sacramento), said he did what he did because he's a "leader." "Leaders" "have to take actions that are necessary to draw attention to the fact that [my colleagues] aren't listening." Leadership statement: "[Y]ou don't have the floor. Please sit back and shut the [F-word] up." "Leadership" issue that got Ceremello jazzed: City officials had ticketed him for a front-lawn violation. KOVR-TV (Sacramento)

Sounds Like a Joke: Photographer Rosita McKenzie's work will be featured at the Edinburgh Art Festival in August. She's been blind since age 12. "I have had photographers say that I have captured things they would not have been able to. [For example] I took a picture of a bridge of the Edinburgh Canal and in the bottom right hand corner there was an image of a jogger." [ed.: OK, well . . an infinite number of blind people . . using an infinite number of cameras . .] BBC News

And Last Week in the Real Newza Da Weird: (1) Some jihadists intent on smuggling arms and munitions into Gaza successfully tricked Israel (formerly known by anti-Semites everywhere as the home of "clever Jews") into a rope-a-dope so that world opinion would turn even further against Israelis. (2) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right of criminal arrestees to remain silent is sacrosanct–as long as they break silence by telling the cops that they are remaining silent. (3) Now, three classes of people are permitted to walk right into the Texas Capitol building in Austin without going through metal detectors: members of the legislature . . and state employees who flash their ID cards . . and anyone else, provided he has a Texas concealed-weapon permit. Jerusalem Post /// Associated Press via Washington Post /// Houston Chronicle

And one more thing: The first rule of the Bilderberg Club is, of course, Don't talk about the Bilderberg Club. The second rule of the Bilderberg Club is, act like we're secretly doing something truly good and monumental to re-order the world. The third rule of the Bilderberg Club is . . what . . you mean we didn't come up with anything this year, either? The world still sucks? OK, we'll meet back next year and try again, but until then, remember the first rule of the Bilderberg Club. The Times (London)


According to police, it was Steven (One Lung) Kyle who needed to rob a jewelry store in Edmonds, Wash., but his gun and "bomb" were fakes, and he was naturally outrun by Samaritans and held for police. [ed.: Y'all need to heed rule number 1 from the movie "Zombieland": Cardio!] Everett Herald

A Dallas, Tex., call-center debt collector didn't get the training memo, apparently. The debtor has him on his answering machine saying, "This your [MF word] wake-up call, you little lazy ass [unidentified B word]. Get your [MF word] [N word] ass up and go pick some [MF word] cotton fields." WFAA-TV (Fort Worth) via KHOU-TV (Houston)

Whee! (I): Johnny Winn, 37, who eventually blew a blood-alcohol .32, also had been driving around Coldspring, N.Y., with two children on the hood of his car. WIVB-TV (Buffalo)

Whee! (II): James Burden, 55, was convicted in Scotland's Falkirk Sheriff Court, of an early morning romp on a neighbor's outdoor trampoline. According to the complaint, he was in his birthday suit, bouncing and bouncing while pleasuring himself, "just for the thrill of it," he said. "I did not intend for anyone to see me." (Glasgow)

Strange World

The operator of a sewage center near Berlin, Germany, says he pipes in Mozart music . . to stimulate the growth of bacteria that break down waste. The Guardian (London)

Yesterday in Sydney: U.S. musicians Laurie Anderson's and Lou Reed's "Music for Dogs"–with notes so high that the humans in the audience have to take them on faith (but dogs in attendance, on leashes, of course, evidently wagged, barked, and lit candles). Sydney Morning Herald

Unless bishops intervene, Karen Markham, 44, is to be evicted from her upscale hovel in Acton, England, which is a big deal because she is one of only a couple hundred Church of England "consecrated hermits," who live according to monastic rules. She rises at 4 a.m., prays and chants for 3 hours, then contemplates in silence, weaves rugs from local sheep, and is of course chaste. [That pretty much describes Your Editor, too, except I've got high-speed Internet.] Daily Telegraph

Britain's Norfolk District Council banned the non-Olympic sport of Dwile Flonking on Brit-centric "health and safety" grounds. (Apparently, it's played at pubs, with "flonkers" using a short pole to fling beer-soaked rags at opponents' faces. If the flonker misses twice in a row, he has to chug a half pint.) Daily Telegraph

No Cure for Starvation: North Korea's news agency announced that its Nobel-shunned researchers have come up with a "super drink" that stops skin from aging and staves off heart conditions by removing "acid effete matters." BBC News

In Sydney, boutique chef Yukako Ichikawa is offering a 30 percent discount on meals at her Wafu restaurant, provided that the diner eats the whole meal and shows the plate. Noted: "Vegetables and salad on the side are NOT decorations . . They are part of the meal, too." Reuters

Quoted in a BBC dispatch from Calcutta, legacy hangman Mahadeb Mullick is wistful about being called on to execute the 2008 Mumbai hotel terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab: "But if you ask me, I think Qasab should be taken to a zoo and fed to the lions and tigers in front of the TV cameras. Hanging him is too little a punishment." BBC News

That's Messed Up

There's a two-year-old, architecturally dazzling, $421 million courthouse in New York City's South Bronx, a few blocks from Yankee Stadium, but now with "sewage-related problems," a ceiling in the underground parking garage that's sinking, and construction lawsuits involving 37 parties. [ed.: This is what happens . . when the mob loses influence in New York City. Construction jobs get botched. With the rapid-succession deaths of Carmine Lupertazzi and John "Johnny Sack" Sacramoni, and the head-crunching demise of Phil Leotardo, and the entrepreneurial indifference of successor "Little Carmine" Lupertazzi, the New York family just went to hell.] New York Post

Car dealer Dewey Hernandez of Downey, Calif., was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a $4 million fraud operation involving fictitious buyers for real estate during the wild years, but there is no telling what the effect was on the judge when he saw the result of a search of Hernandez's home in 2009: a roomful of voodoo dolls labeled with the prosecutor's name on them and with pins in their eyes. (It didn't work, although Dewey later explained that the pins were just a graceful plea that the prosecutor be blessed with wisdom.) Los Angeles Times

Something else government didn't do very well: Federal tax documents stored in a basement in Springfield, Ill., when the forecast was for super-heavy rains? You'd think . . .. [ed. To some of us who've had hurricane problems, just seeing the name of the company with the garish green trucks, ServPro, sends chills down our spine, because if you need ServPro, it means your life is gonna suck for a while. ServPro figured out how to save the soaked documents–for about $670,000.] Quad City Times

Actor David Carradine's widow declined to leave well-enough alone and filed a lawsuit against the film company handling her husband's last film, in Bangkok. (Carradine's body was found in the same position as men's are after they have an autoerotic asphyxiation accident, but the Thai paparazzi are pretty backward, meaning nothing "official" has leaked out.) In any event, the Widow Carradine said the studio had promised to supply a minder, and when the minder didn't show up that night, Carradine apparently set out on his own in pursuit of satisfaction. ABC News

Ewwwwww! A BBC News dispatch from a brothel in Bangladesh reported on the usual awfulness of child prostitution but added this increased awfulness: Oradexon. It's a drug that temporarily fattens up cattle, but madames feed it to little girls because 'Deshi men prefer their little girls to be big girls. BBC News

The Pervo Community

A 72-year-old man got booted off the jury in Auckland, New Zealand, last week because, as he un-self-consciously explained, he had become so aroused during presentation of evidence of the rape of two teenage girls that he had to wear a sensation-dampening condom to court. New Zealand Herald

"Dillon Makuski," 20, has an unusual-enough name that, unless he changes it, he's set to become Googlably immortalized for decades: He was sentenced to probation (and, of course, counseling) for the attempted theft of diapers from a home. Dirty diapers. Stevens Point (Wis.) Journal

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

This is Margaret Johnson-Burton, 62, who's in a bit of trouble for shooting her tenant over a misunderstanding about where his ashtray was. (He was also allegedly a year behind with the rent.) Naples Daily News

Updates & Recurring Themes

Recurring: All hail Gavin Stanger, 24, who apparently arrived fully equipped for a short stay in the Wenatchee, Wash., jail (on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge). Jailers were said to be amazed at Stanger's rectal inventory (which he apparently carried around without wincing): cigarette lighter, rolling papers, golf-ball-size baggie of tobacco, a bottle of tattoo ink and eight needles, a one-inch-long smoking pipe, and a small baggie of marijuana. Wenatchee World

Recurring: The Mademoiselle Fitness Center of Oklahoma City acquiesced and let 385-lb. Sandra Ruiz out of her contract because she threatened a lawsuit over not being able to use the stationary bike. Too dangerous, the Center said, if you get our drift. (Bonus: Here's the actress Glenn Close, recounting how she once asked at a bicycle shop for a "vagina-friendly" seat.) KOTV (Tulsa) /// The Oprah Magazine via CNN

Recurring: In January, it was an Ottawa elementary school that barred ball-playing on its grounds ("health and safety") [News of the Weird/Pro, 2-1-2010]. Now, Britain's Walsall Council has erected a no-ball-playing sign a few meters away from the main sign at the Broadway West Playing Fields. Daily Telegraph

Update: About last week's status report on John Mark Karr: Well, it's worse than that–much worse. Either his former "girlfriends" are making up stuff about him, or, or, or . . . ewwwwww! The Daily Beast

Recurring: The only thing stupider than accidentally, unfatally shooting yourself is, of course, accidentally, unfatally shooting yourself in the knap sack. Seattle Times

Update: The St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald bureau figured out exactly how much F State attorney general (and candidate for governor) Bill McCollum had to pay Prof. George Rekers to testify in court on the wisdom of Florida's law banning adoptions by gays, i.e., to declare that kids would be totally messed up. McCollum admitted he couldn't find anyone else who actually believed that, so Rekers, it was. As it transpired, Rekers flamed out and was totally useless. Now the Times/Herald bureau has learned that McCollum was so desperate to find anybody to testify that he agreed to pay Rekers twice his normal fee (total $120,000). Miami Herald

Editor's Notes

PFOSes–Special Illinois Edition [ed.: the first three letters of the acronym stand for "people full of"]: You've got the tacky axis–Senate candidate Mark Kirk, who didn't even get Roger Clemens's silly disclaimer right. Kirk bragged that he was "Intelligence Officer of the Year," but it was his unit that won some award or other. "I simply misremembered it wrong," he told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board. (Clemens had the syntax right, though, when he said, "Andy [Pettitte] misremembered" the incident in which Clemens supposedly admitted steroid use. Not "misremembered it wrong.") More Kirk, from his resumé: "In my role in the military, I command the war room at the Pentagon." (Reality: Once a month, on Navy Reserve maneuvers, they let him fool around in one of the two war rooms.) More Kirk: "As a veteran of Operation Desert Storm . . .." (Reality: never left Maryland). Chicago Sun-Times

And then there's the grandiose axis of PFOSes, currently led by Mister Milorad R. Blagojevich, who went on trial last week on federal corruption charges. Much like Richard M. Nixon, Blagojevich must know, on the fourth or fifth level from the surface, that he's a PFOS, but he also possesses an outsized view that each of his detractors must be a PFOS, too, and, dammit, he's not letting them get away with it. He joined Chicago's Second City for a night, soaring across stage in the Jesus role: Rod Blagojevich / Superstar / Are you as nuts as we think you are? Guilty as charged (though not necessarily of the criminal counts). Chicago Sun-Times /// Chicago Tribune

Newsrangers: Larry Seltzer, Matt Marks, Douglas Howie, Jeff Ammons, Jan Wolitzky, Sasha Takacs, and Sandy Pearlman, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, June 01, 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 31, 2010
(datelines May 22-May 29) (links correct as of May 31)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Comprehensive Immigrationists, Plus Spit Power, Fast Eddy, and Lord Google

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

Principle! Massachusetts state Rep. Mike Moran–one of those enlightened people who would give border-jumpers like Isaias Naranjo a leg up toward U.S. citizenship over those idiotic goofball Mexicans who actually, y'know, filled out the paperwork at U.S. consulates and patiently waited to enter the U.S. legally–says his views haven't changed on that even after Señor Naranjo, DUI and doing 60 mph, accidentally rammed into him (and even though, when questioned by police, Sr. Naranjo just laughed and said, "I plan to go back to my country, Mexico. Nothing is going to happen to me, man."). WHDH-TV (Boston)

Principle (II)! Mexico's Foreign Ministry declared that Arizona's new law (requiring citizenship status-checks of arrestees) "violates inalienable human rights" (a point echoed by Presidente Calderón during his recent trip to Washington). Turns out that Mexico has almost precisely the same law on the books for its own, mostly Honduran, immigrants. According to some of them, Mexico doesn't rely on deportation but rather on beatings, then theft by police of immigrants' money and property, then prison. USA Today

Sounds Like a Joke: Juries' perhaps-primary duty is to assess the credibility of witnesses. Drew McAdams was kicked off a jury in Scotland's Livingston Sheriff Court because he's likely too good at it. Citizens of ordinary ignorance are preferred for juries, and not "professional lie detectors" like McAdams, who is a former Army intelligence officer who made a name for himself on TV reading human body language. That's apparently TMI. Scottish Daily Record

A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall–But Not on France: The European Community is in considerably worse shape financially than even the U.S. Community–yet French workers went on strike last week over the issue of preserving their retirement age . . at 60. Associated Press via USA Today

Pakistan and India are vying for conspiracy capital of the world. Zaid Hamid, the Pakistani Glenn Beck, is just one of many spreading word that the U.S. is behind every single bad thing that has befallen the country (e.g., America planted that Times Square bomber, to embarrass Pakistan). But then in the Indian state of Punjab, an official captured a pigeon with strange markings, which he said were obvious indications that the pigeon was sent on a spy mission by Pakistan. (Bonus: The pigeon is being held incomunicado in, like, the Punjabi Gitmo.) New York Times /// Agence France-Presse via New York Post

In the first decade of the 21st century, your house, job growth, and 401(k) have pretty much tanked. However, over the first decade of the 21st century, a guy named Eddy Curry will make $72 million, no strings attached. Eddy's a pro basketball player, but not a very good one, and he's got a heart condition, anyway, and his coaches don't much want him around. (Bonus: He's still closing in on being bankrupt!) Associated Press via NBC Sports ///


Anthony Gonzales, 20, aka the only man in Pueblo, Colo., with the name of his gang ("East Side") tattooed on his upper lip, really needs a full-face balaclava if he sets out on a life of crime because he will be ID'd. Pueblo Chieftain

"If Google told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" asked a columnist, describing Lauren Rosenberg's lawsuit over whose fault it was that she was hit by a car. She asked Google Maps for a walking route in Park City, Utah, and the result, on her Blackberry, included one stretch of state Route 224 that has no sidewalk. (It has a shoulder, but she felt the right to walk on the road.) Fortune /// [lawsuit]

Michael Lessard, 25, with revenge on his mind and a shotgun in his hands, broke into the home of a former friend–but he didn't count on the former friend's secret weapon: the guy's mom. Mom and son beat the crap out of Michael, as you can see. Orlando Sentinel

Pedro Guzman, 21, warned the woman, "[G]et your grandma [to shut up] or I will put her on the floor." She didn't, and he did–a sucker punch that broke granny's jaw. "People got to learn not to mouth off to people they don't know," he explained later. Pedro . . will now be serving 25 years for that one punch. The Pitch Weekly (Kansas City)

Rodney Newsome's seven-month-old scam on Virginia authorities had given him a new lease on life, erasing his then-current criminal woes. Oblivious (supposedly), Newsome's lawyer had convinced prosecutors that his client had, sadly, passed away at age 37. However, Rodney, thus then in the clear, couldn't leave it alone. He activated another start-up: a check-theft scam on a bank in the same area, which tipped off an alert court clerk that Rodney had miraculously returned from the dead! Washington Post

The proper remedy for dinner's not being on the table when Guy Jones wants it: Guy set fire to his basement. Associated Press via WSAZ-TV (Charleston, W.Va.) [mugshot!]

Strange World

A Reading University (England) scientist said he's the first human ever "infected with a computer virus." [ed.: pause while you, as they say, wrap your head around that] If the computer chip you're implanted with itself has a virus, then the control-room door you pass through using the implanted chip then acquires that virus, and the next person to enter with a chip thus acquires the virus in his own chip when he passes through that door. Whew! Who knew? BBC News

The beams on the well-known Howrah bridge in Kolkata, India, are becoming seriously eroded because so many commuters hock out their gutkha as they cross. The Telegraph (Calcutta) /// Wikipedia (gutkha)

The leadership of Ireland's Parliament has ruled that, based on a 1947 precedent that they can't seem to ignore, it's not a punishable offense for one MP to yell "F--- you" to another. (Mitigating circumstance: MP Paul Gogarty of the Green Party, the offender, did, bless his heart, precede his two "F--- you"'s by saying, "With all due respect . . ..") Sky News (London)

A group of three dozen side squeezes of various Italian Catholic priests wrote a joint letter to the Vatican imploring il Papa to get rid of that celibacy thing. The Guardian (London)

Free clothes in Indonesia: The vice/virtue cops in Aceh province have been given 20,000 loose swaddling skirts to hand out if they encounter fly Muslim women in form-fitting threads. Agence France-Presse via Google News

That's Messed Up

Oregon National Guardsman Gary Pfleider II wears a (permanent) brace on his leg, courtesy of an Iraqi sniper in 2007. But apparently in all the trauma of being shot, and bloody, and air-lifted out of the line of fire, Pfleider neglected to pause to take a formal inventory of his battlefield-issued supplies, and the government is now garnishing his benefits and tax refunds for $3,150 worth of stuff. KOMO-TV (Seattle)

The Nye County, Nev., sheriff's office's chief media spokesman, Det. David Boruchowitz, announced to the press the arrest of a man charged with burglary and assault. That man was . . Det. David Boruchowitz. The chief investigator on the case, Boruchowitz told reporters, was . . Det. David Boruchowitz. Associated Press via Google News

Anne-Marie Gray filed a lawsuit in New Britain, Conn., against ESPN for illegally firing her over her medical condition, which is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gray was an original 1980 ESPN employee and a true-blue company gal for 30 years. She was so dedicated to her job that when IBS struck (often, at a moment's notice), she'd unload in plastic bags in an out-of-the-way conference room, but when she slipped up, the bosses got all huffy and somehow must've thought "IBS" was off-message. Williamson Daily News (Clinton, Conn.)

LAPD is looking for Mr. Eduardo Ibarra Perez. He's wanted for murder, and is "considered armed and dangerous." He's also considered "moobed," and the ever-respectful LAPD doesn't want to embarrass him, as you can see from the mugshot. LAPDOnline [via]

Americans' kindness to animals extends only to companions, lab animals, and zoos. Livestock? It's generally OK to stab them with pitchforks, beat them with crowbars, cut their beaks with hot blades, lynch them with log chains from a front-end loader. If you break any of the few rules there are against cruelty to livestock, it's usually a misdemeanor.

If a man asks his daughter for a photo of his four-month-old granddaughter, and the daughter works at the [Steve Irwin] Australia Zoo, this is the photo that arrives. Townsville Bulletin

N'yawkers are the hardiest, street-smartest, toughest SOB's in the country . . . except for these 51 bus drivers, who needed an average of 64 days' paid time off after reporting that riders had spit on them. New York Times

An "ugly secret of global poverty," revealed the New York Times's peripatetic moral conscience, Nick Kristof: "[I]f the poorest families spent as much money educating their children [and buying mosquito nets to stop the spread of malaria] as they do on wine, cigarettes, and prostitutes, their children's prospects would be transformed." New York Times

The Pervo Community

Good to Know: Expert witnesses testifying at an Australian medical board de-licensing hearing went on record assuring women that there are "no acupuncture points in the vagina." Dr. Grant Woo was wrong about that and can no longer practice medicine. Herald Sun (Melbourne)

The 24-year-old man who had sex with the 14-year-old girl said it was her fault, that she kept coming onto him. Ho-hum. Come on, man, how stupid do you think we– . . . wait . . . the cops actually believe him. They pixellated out his face in the mug shot because he, not she, is the victim of a sex crime. He's certified-mentally-challenged, and she's just a trollop-in-training who freely admits that she got naked and teased him over and over until he caved in. WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

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

How 'bout it? Is Colin Belle a serial sexually annoying bar customer . . or is Colin Belle so damn good looking and sexy that women just can't stay away from him? Northern Territory News (Darwin, Australia)

And come on! Is this the face of a man who just about axed up his landlord? City Pages (Minneapolis-St.Paul)

A few prime cuts from The Smoking Gun's weekly collection: Accused of obstructing law enforcement (and of having bad hair) /// Accused of assault (and really bad hair) /// Accused of disorderly conduct (but possibly acquittable under the "witch" exception to the law)

Updates & Recurring Themes

The American Academy of Pediatrics came to its senses and rescinded the policy recommendation it made three weeks ago [NOTW/Pro, 5-10-2010]: It is no longer OK to recommend genital "nicking" to third-world parents who are bent on totally de-clitorizing their young daughters. New York Times

More Poor Multitaskers: Four teenagers were hospitalized in Wheatland, N.Y., when their driver lost (won?) the game of who-can-hold-his-breath-the-longest. He passed out and smashed into a tree. Another poor multi-ta–wait a minute, this is a championship multitasker! Amanda McBride, 29, gave birth while driving to the hospital. The baby's daddy was with her . . but he couldn't drive because he suffers seizures. WHEC-TV (Rochester) /// Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer

According to shrinks, a "hoarder" is different from someone "living in squalor." The hoarder irrationally overvalues "things," but a person living in squalor is basically a lazy slug. Last week, a mid-70s couple, Jesse and Thelma Gaston of Chicago, were rescued, both in critical condition, from their house where they had fallen two weeks earlier and become trapped underneath breathtaking mounds of junk. The diagnosis given by the director of the hoarding study project at Boston University: The Gastons are indeed hoarders . . and lazy slugs. Chicago Breaking News /// Daily Mail (London) [better photos]

John Mark Karr is the guy who famously, falsely, confessed to murdering little JonBenet Ramsey, in 2006, 10 years after her death, and since has run through a series of romances with JonBenet-like youngsters, the latest with Samantha Spiegel, who was 9 when she came to his attention. She's 19 now and has just gotten a restraining order against Karr, who is currently known as "Alexis Reich" in preparation for his gender-reassignment surgery, which Spiegel says was Karr's idea only to make it easier for him to get close to younger and younger girls. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

And for Further Review . . .

The Internet's worst parents last week were the Rizals of Banyuasin, Indonesia, whose lax supervision of two-year-old Ardi has allowed him to acquire a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. Seriously. Said Mom: "If he doesn't get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall." Said Dad: "He looks pretty healthy to me. I don't see the problem." (One problem is that Ardi will only smoke one particular brand, which sets the folks back the equivalent of $5.50 a day, which in Indonesia ain't a mere bag of shells.) (In fact, WWNKT--What Would Nick Kristof Think?) Daily Mail (London) [with photos galore of Ardi puffing away!]

Newsrangers: Bob Pert, Douglas Boyle, Perry Levin, Joshua Smith, Jenny Aus, Larry Seltzer, Sandy Pearlman, George Elyjiw, Carl McGlone, Gerald Sacks, and Colleen Cheney, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors