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