Monday, August 16, 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
August 16, 2010
(datelines August 7-August 14) (links correct as of August 16)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Civilization in Chaos, Plus Unathletic Orangutans, Mannequin Love, and the Magnetic Mr. Alvarez

[Attention! Your Editor is lightening up for the next two weeks. See Editor's Note, below.]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It's Getting Messy Out There: In Brewster, Mass., doctors looking for a pulmonary tumor instead diagnosed the guy merely as legume-positive (a pea plant in the lung!). Also, U.S. researchers found that 10% of 7-year-old white girls and 23% of 7-year-old black girls show signs of breasts (twice the rate from 12 years earlier). Also, in San Bernardino, Calif., a vet did gender-reassignment surgery on a homeless Pomeranian. Also, University of Sydney researchers concluded that the way humans decide certain things is the same method used for selecting food by brainless slime molds. WHDH-TV (Boston) /// Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News /// Press Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) /// Discover magazine

Another Unionist Faces Reality: Jim Callaghan of the United Federation of Teachers was summarily fired by the president for trying to union-organize UFT's headquarters employees. President Michael Mulgrew said he can't be expected to run things efficiently if there'll be some union complaining all the time. New York Post

Creative Sentencing: Judge Joseph Smyth in Norristown, Pa., pushed the envelope a bit when he ordered embezzler Lanette Sansoni to house arrest . . for 21 years, so she could work and keep paying back the victim (whose idea the sentence was). But two days earlier, New Mexico judge Ross Sanchez had beat that: He agreed to hold off on a sentence for security-fraudster Samuel McMaster Jr. in order to turn McMaster loose on casinos' poker tournaments, where he has a decent chance to win back the money (but looking at up to 12 years in the slammer if he fails). Delaware County Daily Times (Primos, Pa.) /// ABC News

American Gothic: Churchers from the New Beginnings Ministries in Coshocton County, Ohio, regularly protest on weekends in front of the nearby Foxhole strip club, bullhorn-warning the sinners about hell and hairy palms, and videoing customers and license plates to put on the Internet. Recently, however, the dancers have fought back, accepting pastor Bill Dunfee's offer to start "coming to the church." There they are, on Sunday mornings, in their best hubba-hubba outfits, singing and prancing, at tailgate parties with drinking and grilling and wielding Super-Soakers to wet those t-shirts. Columbus Dispatch

Losers

Critics of the U.S. penal system say prisons are little more than classrooms in which hardened criminals teach the impressionable ones. But it's hard to see anything that Nathan Pugh (30-year rap sheet) has ever learned, and even harder to imagine anyone wanting to learn from him. He handed his holdup note (he's got a "bom"!) to a Wells Fargo teller in Dallas on July 26, but she said she can't give out money without seeing ID, so Nathan forked over his Wells Fargo debit card. How much you need? she asked. $2,000, said he. With that much money, I'll need to see another ID. So Nathan dug out his State of Texas ID for her. She emptied her drawer ($900) and said she'd go looking for the rest. Nathan didn't wait, grabbed the $900 and his ID cards, and fled, but he had to snatch a woman as hostage when he saw cops approaching the front door. Cops easily arrested Nathan after the hostage slipped out of the hold and took Nathan down. Dallas Morning News

Strange World

A broken clock is correct twice a day, and here's an Australian psychic who had a hunch that the body of the missing 6-year-old was buried in a nearby sacred Aboriginal site . . and she was right--well, except for the fact that it was a different dead body. Sydney Morning Herald

At a Netherlands zoo, they had to hire an Olympic gymnast to swing from newly installed trees in the Great Apes enclosure, to teach the orangutans because they had maybe forgotten how to do it. (But it's not like they're dumb: A Canadian study of video archives found instances in which orangutans are clearly using mime to communicate a message--usually "me want," but not necessarily.) Reuters /// BBC News

In Glemsford, England (near Sudbury), residents of a neighborhood have been in the dark for three years after two streetlights burned out. Cost to change them: £8,000. Work started last week. Why this delay? Because it's Britain! They have safety rules! It was unsafe to change the bulbs using the ol' "climb a ladder" methodology because they were too close to power lines. They had to move the poles a little. Daily Mail

It says here (from Metro in Stockholm) that a man was arrested after he tried to get his money back on a rip-off. He had arranged for sex with a 13-year-old girl over a dating website and deposited 500 kroner ($67) into her bank account, but she didn't show. He tracked down her home phone number. Dad answered. Awkward. Still, he demanded that Dad make good. The Local (Stockholm)

That's Messed Up

The Catholic Diocese of Madison, Wis., said it will comply with the new state law requiring employee health plans with prescription drug benefits to cover birth control, too--but that if an employee chooses to "misuse" the law--by actually using birth control--that will be grounds for termination. Wisconsin State Journal

According to this Ohio lawsuit, here's something that's the fault of the canoe outfitter in Springfield: Four guys rent a canoe, then come upon a train trestle over the river, and they climb the trestle to jump into the river, and three jump off fine, but the fourth lingers and is hit by a train and killed. (The canoe outfitter should've warned its customers that they might be tempted to climb the trestle and that they shouldn't do it.) Springfield News-Sun

Readers' Choice: Buffalo, N.Y. Traffic stop. Gary Korkuc, 51. Cops heard meowing in the trunk. Discovered cat ("Navarro") soaking in a tank, "marinating" in crushed red peppers, chili pepper, salt, and oil. Navarro had allegedly been "mean." (Bonus, from the AP story: "Police say [Korkuc] told them he was going to cook Navarro. Korkuc also told officers a number of things that didn't make sense, including that his neutered male cat was pregnant." [ed.: The AP writer thought it did make sense that Korkuc would cook Navarro in the first place?]) (Double Bonus: Mugshot!) Buffalo News /// Associated Press via Yahoo News /// The Weekly Vice [mugshot]

The Pervo-American Community

Eddie Campbell, 61, was arrested in Charleston, W.Va., making out with his best gal in a city park, pants down, left hand on the gal, right hand in his lap, busy. However, she was a member of the mannequin-American community. Daily Mail (Charleston)

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


Central Casting: Get me a guy who can play a pedophile who creates a horror film in his home for the purpose of luring kids there to see it. Yeah, someone like Simon Walford, 39. BBC News

Another West Virginian, Michael Lacy, 36, was arrested, but he has a genuine question of fact for the jury: OK, he got the 11-year-old girl pregnant while she was staying with Lacy's daughter, but it's not his fault because it was dark and he thought he was getting it on with his girlfriend. WSAZ-TV (Huntington) [from July 30]

Two more guys in the wrong place at the wrong time, from this week's Smoking Gun collection. Interfering with railroad tracks /// indecency

Updates & Recurring Themes

From time to time, someone survives a few more bullet wounds than the last full-metal victim we wrote about. We're up to 21 bullet holes now, in Angel Alvarez. The doctor who wrote the treatise on gunshot-wound survival said Angel's got to be the record-holder. (Bonus: All bullets were police-issue. Looks like NYPD has been hitting the firing range) New York Daily News

Once again: One guy gets pushed into the water (a reservoir near Boise, Idaho). Poor swimmer. Second guy jumps in to help. Also poor swimmer. Third guy jumps in to help. Also poor swimmer. Fourth guy jumps in to help. Also poor swimmer. All dead. Associated Press via The Oregonian

Below The Fold

Obviously, it's harder for some furries to come down off recent highs and return to their day jobs. Hence, Gary Guy Mathews, 44, of Pittsburgh, Pa., has petitioned in court to change his name to Boomer the Dog (whom he has already been informally for a while now). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Houston, Tex., radio performer Suzi Hanks was profiled for her volunteer work reading for the blind, including reading Playboy, and not just the articles. Suzi at work: "She has large breasts and a small waist. In the centerfold, she is arching her butt over a bale of hay." Suzi, to reporter: "I'll describe her genitalia," she said. "This is what guys want, so that's what I give them." Houston Chronicle

Artist-entrepreneur David Rees sharpens pencils, by hand, in a workspace not much different-looking than a diamond-cutter's. He'll sharpen your personal pencil, also (or send you a sharpened classic No. 2), for $15, postage paid. "I guarantee an authentic interaction with your pencil." Los Angeles Times

Editor's Notes

Your Editor has become overstimulated again and needs to rest. For the next two Mondays after today, I have selected some recent updates to earlier creme de la weird, plus some recent variations on seemingly age-old weird-news themes. The next fresh Pro Edition, dated September 6, will be posted and mailed on Tuesday, September 7 (because September 6 is Labor Day in the U.S., and labor is prohibited by law). During the next two weeks, Your Editor will in no way be on "holiday" except perhaps in the sense that he will be at his desk doing things that require neither his best efforts nor meeting a deadline.

Newsrangers: Rob Snyder, Rick Lesniak, Christopher Nalty, Gil Nelson, John Rankin, Kathryn Wood, and a whole bunch of people who tipped me off to the marinating cat, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors