Tuesday, July 06, 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
July 5, 2010
(datelines June 26-July 3) (links correct as of July 5)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Turbo Fatties, Plus Exalted Cyclopses, Antiquated Use of Whale Vomit, and Fish Pickle-Tickling

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

"Gainers Come Out of the Closet" (Recurring Theme): An ABC News reporter is persuaded that mega-fat people (and their fetishist admirers) are more numerous than imagined (or at least more articulate). (One was highlighted here [NOTW/Pro, 3-22-2010]: the 602-pound Donna Simpson of New Jersey, whose business model calls for her to eat while on streaming video so that admirers will pay to watch her ballooning before their very eyes.) Wrote one blogger, "Lately I've been infatuated with the physics of my belly. . . [I]t moves with me. . . . The more attention I pay to it, the easier it becomes to imagine sizes like 300, 400 [pounds]. I like to think I don't romanticize it, but I can't help lusting over those sizes." ABC News

Ambition of the Blind: In what will be viewed by "progressive" people as a great success, researchers and the National Federation of the Blind announced a prototype for a breakthrough car that will, they say, enable blind people to drive alone, using technology they call "nonvisual interfaces," meaning a bunch of sensors that tell blind drivers who's coming from the left / right / back / front / top / approaching top speed / medium speed / slow speed / big / medium / small / from way up high / little lower / little lower than that / real low, etc. It'd be so easy that anyone could drive! [ed.: "Safety," Your Editor believes, will be provided only by car apps to alert sighted drivers any time one of those cars is near, so the sighted drivers can all pull off the road until the two-ton death machine passes.] Associated Press via ABC News

Inexplicable: Colin Hall, Lord Mayor of Leicester, England, visiting the Southfields library for its Summer Showcase on global understanding, apparently at some point just had his pants fall down. His spokesman said, "He was not wearing a belt, and the trousers came loose and fell." He apologized. [ed.: Nothing sexual or exhibitionistic was reported; it was just that . . the mayor's pants fell down.] The Guardian

Foreclosed on? Lost Your Job? Underemployed?: From the Wall Street Journal, 6-28-2010: "More than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years, a sum so large that U.S. investigators believe top Afghan officials and their associates are sending billions of diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad. The cash–packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets, and loaded into airplanes–is declared and legal to move." [ed.: Still, it appears Afghans are far less advanced than Iraqis were in the early years of that war.] Wall Street Journal

Must've Had an Interesting Life So Far: Arrested for DUI in Massillon, Ohio: the 51-year-old Donald N. Duck. Canton Repository


The Prophet sisters of Detroit, both age 34, were sentenced (house-arrest only) for having sold their kids' social security numbers to scammers. They did it for just "a few hundred dollars," according to the Detroit News. Detroit News

In Mesa County, Colo., the motorist was not seriously hurt, but she was forced to drive her SUV off the road, into a canal, because, she said, a vampire suddenly appeared. KMGH-TV (Denver)

Getting a Head Start on the Holiday: In Blue Springs, Mo., a 21-year-old man blew his hand off while making an IED out of sparklers, and in south Chicago, a man was hospitalized in critical condition after his firework in a tube failed to go off, and he peered into it to check it out. Kansas City Star /// Chicago Breaking News

Strange World

Hiromi Ozaki's Menstruation Machine is featured at Britain's Royal College of Art summer show. Men strap it on, and it's painful, and it intermittently bleeds. Wired.co.uk

At Kenilworth Castle in England's Warwickshire, show-off chefs have replicated a meal supposedly once served to Queen Elizabeth (the original) in 1575. "Chefs Serve Whale Vomit Dish At Castle Feast." Sky News

Vietnam's Barry Scheck: Acupuncturist Pham Thi Hong has convinced authorities to erase the rape convictions of three men she is convinced are virgins, based on dots on their ears. Said she, "[The dots] should have disappeared if they had had sex." Associated Press via USA Today

The French parliament, taking a break from the makework task of saving the entire European economy, passed a law making it a crime to insult someone too viciously ("psychological violence"). BBC News

Good to Know: Archbishop Tutu revealed that, when lobbying for his native South Africa as World Cup host, he had insisted on making a bribe-free bid (contrary to continental custom). But then he also admitted that he promised two members of the committee "first class ticket[s] to heaven" if they chose South Africa. "No, no, it's not a bribe," he said. "A bribe is only when you give things to people who are alive. In order to get their first-class ticket, they must first die. That's not a bribe." Agence France-Presse via Google News

That's Messed Up

The big cheese in the Chicagoland town of Bellwood (pop. 20,000) is City Administrator Roy McCampbell, who took home $472,255 last year (lots of unused days' off, plus he said he does the work of 10 professionals, anyway, such as for human resources and finance, and thus saves the town money). Chicago Tribune

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma and other fine institutions, studying the Mexican male molly fish, declared they now know the evolutionary purpose behind its "moustache": Molly fish chicas go for it, perhaps in part because it tickles their you-know-whats. BBC News

At least late F Stater Wayne McLeod proved his stones. According to the SEC, he ran a $34 million Ponzi scheme in which all his victims carry guns (i.e., cops). But now, either he, or one of them, has put an end to the case. CBS News

Undignified Death: A 38-year-old motorist was killed near Okeechobee, Fla., when a portable potty being hauled on a truck broke free, sending a big chunk through her windshield. WPBF-TV (West Palm Beach)

Jammie Harms, 34, filed a wrongful-firing lawsuit against Omaha, Neb., homebuilder John Smith (who's big on spiritualisms and the afterlife), who said he could sense that the fetus Harms was carrying had "negative energy" and was "hostile" towards him. Associated Press via KMTV (Omaha) /// Courthouse News Service (6-17-2010)

The Pervo Community

In Australia, Catholic priest John Sidney Denham, 67, was sentenced to about 20 years in prison for molesting 25 children over the years and was kinda contrite about it, acknowledging himself as a "mere scumbag paedophile." BBC News

And a Buddhist monk: In Cambodia, Net Khai, 37, was charged with making secret videos of hundreds of women as they bathed naked in holy water at his temple. AOL News

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

A mugshot out of central casting: Robert Prosser, charged in Cincinnati with cultivation of marijuana. WLWT-TV (Cincinnati)

Judith Gerrian, 69, allegedly fired "get outa my yard" gunshots toward her ex-husband, who said he had permission to be there, mowing the lawn. Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.)

Jessica Dorval, 32, was charged with writing bad checks, but, c'mon, she's adorable. Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: Ex-Oregon National Guardsman Randy Pfleider, who got lots of press (including NOTW M168, 6-27-2010) about the Guard's garnishing his disability checks to pay for equipment that he failed to account for after being shot, might not have the story straight. He now says that's what they told him; the Guard says it's not true but that they can't give the whole story without Pfleider's waiving his privacy rights. He said he will, but he hasn't. KVAL-TV (Eugene, Ore.)

Update: NOTW took some leaps of faith to disparage the character of centerfielder-cum-entrepreneur Lenny Dykstra [NOTW M159, 4-25-2010], but now the court-appointed trustee in his bankruptcy case has my back: "Nails," according to the trustee, lies about nearly everything. The Smoking Gun

Recurring: Yet another election (primary ballot for county commissioner in Nye County, Nev.) ended in a tie and had to be resolved by drawing cards. (It was Nevada; they could've done it with dice.) Associated Press via Washington Post


Crystal Mangum, the notorious Duke lacrosse accuser who's now a college graduate (major in criminal justice), was arrested in Durham, this time for setting an apartment on fire with her three kids and two cops inside (they having been summoned because Crystal and the boyfriend were fighting). Last Wednesday, she . . set up a press conference for herself . . to demand justice. News & Observer (Raleigh)

City Pages of Minneapolis has a long-form story about uninhibited, 24-year-old Jordan Kavoosi and his term-paper plagiarism business ($23 a page). You might think his business model would call for expressing a sense of irony, but, no, he's dead-serious and even offered the reporter a 20% cut of the referrals if the City Pages story turned out OK. City Pages

Stanford neuroscientist Patrick House took only minor liberties with the generous data showing how powerful that "cat virus" Toxoplasma gondii is, to conclude that you could have picked up some nice swag if you'd bet on the World Cup countries with the higher human Toxo infection rates. (In fact, he says, since Toxo is associated with rising testosterone, perhaps Toxo should be included in doping tests.) [ed.: Your Editor's mainly interested in whether "cat ladies" are "cat ladies" because they have too much Toxo in their brains. Hey! Needin' some serious research over here!] Slate.com

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.

The Lake Como Park pool in Fort Worth, Tex., has a brand-new parking lot (16 spaces), built with $37,000, but there'll be little use for it until next year (at the earliest) because the pool is closed indefinitely for cost-cutting. Said a neighborhood advisory council official, "Maybe that money should have been invested in doing something to the pool to keep it open." (Answer: No, the contract was for building parking lots.) Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Congratulations are in order to the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis, which, according to this report, from February 2009 until March 2010, managed to keep all of its dental patients free of hepatitis and HIV infections–except possibly for 1,812 of them (the number exposed to protocol violations by personnel who didn't clean the equipment right.). Associated Press via Fox News

Massachusetts legislators once again genuflected at the altar of senior citizens by failing to enact proposed common-sense driving measures based on the mountain of evidence that people's attention span suffers dramatically as they age. [ed.: For example, AARP uses way-misleading statistics to "prove" that seniors aren't so dangerous (e.g., lauding seniors' safety by defining as seniors those as young as 50 or 55; damning the comparison group of dangerous non-seniors, a group top-heavy with speeders, assholic teenage daredevils, and people with higher blood-alcohol levels). Legislators may be skeptical of those stats, but they're not skeptical of exit polls, i.e., seniors damn sure find their way around on election day.] Boston Globe

And for Further Review . . .

The passing of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd raised once again the question, not so much why was he once a Ku Klux Klansman as why are some people attracted to secretive groups of any kind with weird organizational structures? KKK'ers aspire to be things like Exalted Cyclops, Council of the Centaurs, Grand Giant, Grand Dragon, Grand Wizard, Grand Magi, Grand Monk, Grand Exchequer, and Grand Turk. Although the Klan has long been in decline, we still have . . Scientology, where they spell out in soporific detail everything they think you need to know, backed by an organizational structure whose graphic display seems as complicated as the graphic display of the air-conditioning system at the Pentagon. Your Editor, obviously, lacks the gene for understanding this. Slate.com

Newsrangers: Joe Weckbacher, Sandy Pearlman, Chris Paone, Bryce Jackson, Jason Boucher, Paul Mahoney, and Jan Lewis, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle)