Monday, September 27, 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
September 27, 2010
(datelines September 18-September 25) (links correct as of September 27)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Back-Door Caffeine for Jews, Plus Vampires Loose in Peru and the Fall of a Legendary Procreator

★ ★ ★ ★!

Another Talmudic Loophole: Yom Kippur fasting (nothing by mouth) presents a challenge to caffeine addicts, but in Brooklyn, N.Y., this year, no problem: Caffeine suppositories flew off the shelves! The Brooklyn Paper

You Don't Quite Look Young Enough! In Australia (could be America), an investigator found instances of young teen girls undergoing Brazilian waxes at the behest of their boyfriends–for that ultra-chic porn-model look. Courier-Mail (Brisbane)

A Remedy Worse Than the Malady? No doubt, the group of "prediabetes" symptoms (obesity, passing out) caused by insulin irregularities is undesirable. Researchers at Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam reported a potential cure last week at a conference. They way to fix this, see, is for the patient to get a fecal transplant from a lean, insulin-normal person.

Is There Anything the Mayo Clinic Can't Do? They cut this woman literally in half (except for one connective strand), removed her bone cancer, and put her back together. She's in a wheelchair, but she's fine. Winnipeg Free Press

Can't Possibly Be True: London's The Independent, from a Freedom of Information Act request, learned that the Queen's people, finding themselves with budget problems in 2004, actually asked if they could tap into the government's home-heating subsidy program. (Bonus: Before the Labour Party was against it, they were for it.) Daily Mail

Civilization in Decline: Louis Converso Jr. pleaded guilty to DUI, and is free on bail until sentencing, during which time he will resume his place on the waiting list for a liver transplant--undoubtedly ahead of people who actually beat the demon rum and stand a chance of joie de vivre. Buffalo News

(Update) Holy Prostitutes: News of the Weird has tread this ground before, but an upcoming British TV documentary fills in on Devadasis, who are lower-caste Indian women who decide to forgo the tremendous career opportunities they have--in jobs like hauling human manure--and instead pledge their virginity and beyond to fund their local Hindu temples. It's supposedly illegal (since 1988), but the government doesn't often get to the sticks. Devadasis commit at age 3 or so, start selling sex at puberty, and are washed up fairly young. [LINK CORRECTED] The Independent (London)

And Still More Things To Worry About

Woody Smith said he killed his wife because he was wired on caffeine (more than 400 mg a day). [ed. 400? Amateur!] Associated Press via Herald Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

Don't Ask How They Found Out: According to recently revealed files, a World War I-era British MI-6 McGyver-type agent came upon an ordinary item that could be used as an "invisible ink"--semen! Daily Telegraph

Hands Off Rich People! Americans need to be free to give away $8 million to things like the Wombat Awareness Organization. The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia) via

Fine Points of the Law: Yes, the trooper was doing 126 mph responding to a traffic call, and yes, he was texting while driving, and yes, he lost control of his cruiser and killed two girls, and yes, they fired his butt--except--since he was doing trooper business at the time, and got hurt in the crash, he can tap the state worker compensation fund. Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat

Hail the Sedentary Life! A fitness freak, 32, was paralyzed during a workout on a pole-dancing pole (York, England). Then this star high school athlete died, tangled up in a Bowflex machine (Grass Valley, Calif.). Yorkshire Post /// KOVR-TV (Sacramento)

In the nakedness center of the universe (Cap d'Agde, Frawnts), it's the straight-laced nudists versus the mate-swapping swingers, and it's getting ugly. The Independent (London)

Democracy in Action: Mayor Rogelio Vizcarra of San Cristobal, Peru, said he will not be intimidated into withdrawing for re-election--even though a dirty-tricks operative dug up Vizcarra's old man's skull and won't return it until Vizcarra drops out. Associated Press via New York Times

The super-potent Howard Veal of Grand Rapids, Mich., with 23 children by 14 women, is off to prison after falling $500,000 behind in child support. Grand Rapids Press

Brandon Rhode, scheduled for execution in Georgia last Tuesday, tried to save the state some money by slashing himself with a razor a few hours early, but he survived. His lawyer said, What a crazy thing to do, and therefore, Rhode must insane and therefore You can't execute him! (A judge will decide, maybe today.) Creative Loafing (Atlanta)

In Afghanistan, it's boy-babies--good, girl-babies--bad, and some families are so ashamed of their string of girls that they designate one as a "boy" and go all-in on treating her like a boy. (Otherwise, with all girls, neighbors would think God is punishing them.) New York Times

Vampires in Peru! At least 20 civilians are dead and as many as 3,500 bitten. The vampires are still in control in a remote Amazon region very difficult to access, and the casualties were expected to climb. (Vampire bats, of course.) BBC News


Donald Dennehy is in prison in Colorado, and Donald Dennehy (his dad) (see: "acorn, falling near tree") got talked into furnishing son with a golf ball-sized slug of black-tar heroin, for resale inside the joint. Plan: A woman visits son in prison and transfers the ball from her mouth, by kiss; son swallows it, awaits passage through his system. (She'd sneak the ball into prison inside her hoo-ha and then transfer it to her mouth.) Well . . Dad couldn't find a woman with a clean-enough record to be admitted as a visitor but was so enamored of the plan that he took it on, personally, smuggling the ball inside his own poor excuse for a hoo-ha and intending to plant the wet, sloppy kiss, himself. So far, it's merely ridiculous. Here's the good part: All of the Dennehys' phone calls discussing the plan were, of course, monitored, and cops were waiting with a warrant when Dad arrived, rear-loaded. (Bonus: mugshot!) The Smoking Gun

The Pervo-American Community

Former vice principal Charles Hurt of Pennbrook Middle School near Philadelphia was charged with a little creative mentoring, teaching a 13-year-old boy how healthful it is to masturbate and backing it up with a dollar for every shot (provided the boy text-messages Hurt, play-by-play). WCAU-TV (Philadelphia)

A 47-year-old man was arrested for indecent exposure for bicycling while naked from waist down near Galleria Mall in Rock Hill, S.C. Explanation: "I was trying to get a tan." (Bonus: Reporter on the scene? Ms. Kimberly Dick) The Herald (Rock Hill)

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

An uphill quest for innocence for Jonathan Rowell, 25, allegedly caught with 3,000 matches along with a supply of meth. Still, justice demands that you look at his mug shot first. Northwest Florida Daily News

Update: Jesse Thornhill, who appeared in this space in July [7-19-2010], had the charges dropped. It turns out that he did not try to run down his landlord with his van. It was a "misunderstanding." [ed.: Not much "news" here; I just need to put up Jesse's mugshot once more.] The Smoking Gun

Below The Fold

"[Tractor-Trailer] Hauling Fire Extinguishers Catches Fire" WTHI-TV (Terre Haute, Ind.)

"Billboard [Touting Public Schools] Has 'Pubic' Mistake" (Bonus: Four people "proofread" it.) WANE-TV (Fort Wayne, Ind.)

"Security Barrier at [Jerusalem] Zoo to Counter 'Monkey Intifada'" (When the chimps get all fertoutst, they throw rocks at visitors.) (Bonus: Ewww--They throw like a girl!) Jerusalem Post

Detroit's Mayor Bing promoted Ralph Godbee, the interim police chief, to permanent status, replacing the now-fired Warren Evans. Evans had been undone by an affair with a babe lieutenant. (Bonus: The lieutenant's been busy; Godbee had an affair with her, too.) Detroit News

The good thing about a Bentley recall (compared to, say, a Camry recall): They only have to fix 596 cars. (Bonus: What was defective was the hood ornament.) Bloomberg News

Recurring Theme: Still good to be a British welfare family. (Bonus: Mom and dad and their 6 kids--Shakur, Roni, Rain, Roxy, Italy, and Lil [Wayne].) Daily Mail

Among the infinite ways in which "there are two kinds of people in the world": Some people like food that crawls around on their plate; some don't. (Plus, some people like to eat food that has the texture and taste of dirt; some don't.) New York Times /// Time

Editor's Notes

Weird 2.0 on Tuesday morning. (Today's post was running a little long.)

The 2010 Ig Nobel prizes (from the Annals of Improbable Researc?h) will be awarded Thursday night in Cambridge, Mass. Last year's keynote award, you may remember, was the "life-saving bra" (whose cups convert to protective face masks in case of emergency). (Said the inventor, accepting the prize: "Isn't it wonderful that women have two breasts [so we can also save a loved one]?") List of all previous winners /// the Ig Blog (highly recommended)

Here's an MSNBC photoblog from a West Virginia church that specializes in snake-handling. (Note: They are not responsible if you get "bit," but they'll pray with you if you do. If you get bitten, of course, it's because you were hellbound in the first place.) MSNBC

Newsrangers: Richard Hunding, Peter Hine, Janet Carey, Neil Gimon, and Sandy Pearlman, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, September 20, 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
September 20, 2010
(datelines September 11-September 18) (links correct as of September 20)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Bearded Mama Plus My "Amanda Rights" and the Total Breakdown of Libido Control

★ ★ ★ ★!

Careful What You Wish For: In a tender, moving story, a sensitive adopted son, 33, finally tracked down his biological mom, aiming for a tearful reunion . . only to discover that she's a retired circus "bearded lady" (keeping herself trimmed these days to 11 inches). Still, blood is thicker than facial hair. (Note to Maury Povich: Please return their phone call; they need someone to pay for the confirming DNA test.) AOL News

(Recurring Theme) Surgeons Just Wanna Have Fun! When Dr. Red Alinsod did the hysterectomy last year on Ingrid Paulicivic, 47, he electrocauterized a 1-inch-by-5-inch "INGRID" on the old part (after he took it out, he said, which he maybe did because women have been known to actually ask for their uterii, as, y'know, souvenirs). She's suing because she can't help but think he must've done something bad to her before he removed it because she's still in pain. (In 2003, hotshot surgeon James Guiler was sued for branding initials into a patient's uterus--during the surgery. Even worse, it appeared that the initials, UK, were merely a tribute to the Lexington, Ky., doctor's alma mater.) The Smoking Gun /// Associated Press via Kentucky Enquirer

Breakthrough in Political Campaign Technology: New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino mailed out a flier intimating that Democratic state pols are corrupt, with photos of 7 current and recent office-holders and accompanied by smell-o-vision odor described as "garbage-scented." Subtle. Associated Press via

Civilization in Decline (continued): Jennifer Tesch's daughter got kicked off her cheerleader squad because she had complained to her mom about the saucy language they had to use in one of the cheers: Our backs ache! / Our skirts are too tight! / We shake our booties! / From left to right! Cheerleading is supposed to be risqué these days . . . but this kid is 6. WXYZ-TV (Detroit)

You Knew It Was Just a Matter of Time: There's now marijuana ice-cream, in a Santa Cruz, Calif., shop (Rx required, of course) at $15 a half-pint, take-out only. KGBT-TV (Harlingen, Tex.)

And Still More Things To Worry About

Coming Soon to Your Town: He was a furrie dressed as a bear at the recent Comic-Con in San Diego, but when a cop and the media got hold of the story, they turned him into the lascivious, child-stalking Pedo Bear, "mascot of pedophiles"! The San Luis Obispo, Calif., sheriff put out a warning to bear-indifferent parents, and now the fright has spread to Tulsa, Okla.! ///

Yes, Fort Madison, Iowa, cop William Bowker was a screw-up and a slacker, and also had an affair with the chief's wife, and was fired, but that's no reason to deny him unemployment benefits (supposedly reserved for people laid off through no fault of their own). (So declared a judge, overruling the state Civil Service Commission.) Des Moines Register

Religions Closer to the People: "The purpose of my nose ring is basically, it makes me feel whole," said the congregant of the Church of Body Modification in Johnston County, N.C., and therefore, she says, her high school's dress code should make an exception for her. (Ruling: Nope, not yet). The City Church of Anaheim (Calif.) (one of those churches that do collections with KFC buckets) thrives, though, with 200 members who have been encouraged to commit to Jesus by getting tattoos of the red-heart Church logo. WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durham) /// Orange County Register


Tommy Ryser had 3 chances that night to avoid DUI tickets but blew them all. (Bonus: The 3rd vehicle he drove was a tow truck that he was taking to the scene of the 2nd ticket to bring that car home.) Bellingham (Wash.) Herald

Soldier of Limited Imagination: Joining the Army was a mistake, but he had a plan . . in which his pal would shoot him in the leg . . lightly . . and not so that his leg would get mangled and require (so far) 25 surgeries. Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)

Megalos on Parade: Calumet County, Wis., DA Kenneth Kratz, 50, on the cusp of divorce, showed he hasn't lost his smoothness . . by text-message-hitting on a domestic-violence victim whose husband he is prosecuting. "Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA . . . the riskier the better?" "I'm serious! I'm the atty. I have the $350,000 house. I have the 8-figure career. You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!" He's not resigning, in that he said he checked out his behavior with some committee somewhere, and they said it wasn't below the line. Wisconsin State Journal

The Pervo-American Community

Absence of Libido Control: William Black, 28, Sarasota, Fla., apparently tortured by all the hot-looking shopper-ettes at, well, Wal-Mart, could stand it no longer. He went to the magazine rack, grabbed an SI swimsuit issue, dropped his drawers, and soon made a mess in the aisle. Seriously. Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Donald George, 64, a friend of the family, was sharing digital memory cards full of family photos but realized only too late that one particular card had shots on it of him molesting the 5-year-old daughter. Awkward. The Oregonian

(The Pervo-Anglo-American Community) Briton John Ridley, 32, faced a magistrate on charges of possessing porno images, er, 79,000 or so, including various shots of humans with "several breeds of animals," including a "live unknown mammal" and a gorilla. Northampton Chronicle & Echo

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

Tough Call: Could Ronald Pudder, 23, be the kind of guy to set a church on fire--unsuccessfully? (Well, he did get the door.) WTAM Radio (Cleveland)

Everybody's Favorite Mugshot: He's charged with abuse for overtraining his football-playing stepson with too many wind sprints. Orlando Sentinel

And try these two from this week's Smoking Gun collection. Arrest for public intoxication /// Arrest for battery (and felonious bad judgment, bordering on capital bad judgment)

Below The Fold

William Fayant admitted killing a prominent bagpipe player and was given a ticker-tape parade by grateful Saskatchewanians sentenced to 15 years in prison. Regina Leader-Post

Update: Prosecutors finally cracked down on our old friend Jonathan Lee Riches, who has been massively wasting courts' time since 2006 (on more than 3,800 lawsuits). If a judge approves, all of Riches's future filings will go to a specially-appointed reviewer, who will almost immediately shred them. Riches has sued everyone who's anyone in the world [ed.: but not, unfortunately, Yr Editor]. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Owner Lay Dead on the Couch as Estate Agent Showed Buyers Around Her Home Daily Mail (London)

That's Messed Up: It says here that Mohammed Fazlu, 7, of Bangalore, accidentally kicked his ball into an open, moving freight car, went in to get, got trapped, was transported to who-knows-where, and was unable for four months to ID himself enough that authorities could return him to his parents. Daily Telegraph (London)

DUI's are expensive; hence, a field sobriety test is taken seriously. Usually. In Orland Park, Ill., cops couldn't stop Sheryl Urzedowski, 38, from diva-ing, prancing back and forth, hands on hips, in a "fashion show"-type sobriety walk. But then she blew it by demanding to be read her "Amanda rights." Chicago Tribune

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.

Department of Veterans Affairs–Only the Best for Our Soldiers! Since 1999, the famous Prudential insurance company has steered grieving relatives of fallen soldiers to not take their life insurance payoff as a lump sum but rather to keep it in Prudential's (not-FDIC-insured) bank and make "withdrawals" only as needed. It doesn't take a genius to see why Prudential would want this, but maybe you need supernatural intelligence to figure out why Eric Shinseki (the retired Army general and current Secretary of Veterans Affairs) would sign onto this process in 2009--and was not last week taking reporters' questions about why. Bloomberg News via New York Times

More Wrongly-Convicted Men (and Not Just from Texas or Mississippi . . Although Mostly from Texas and Mississippi): Two Mississippians who had served 30 years for rape, and an associate, who served 22 years before dying in prison, had their convictions overturned on DNA evidence, but to be fair, hey, all three men had at some point confessed to the crimes. The New York Times interviewed another such fella, from Missouri, to ask him WTF? You were innocent, and you confessed? Turns out that there's a fairly logical explanation: If you're innocent, you don't think you "need" a lawyer, but then you get badgered for hours by police until a seemingly reasonable course of action is to confess to get the cops to shut up, thinking you'll soon get a lawyer to prove your innocence, which ought to be simple to do, since you didn't commit the crime. Except--now the police have your confession on video. ABC News /// New York Times

Upon Reconsideration, the Pentagon Is Against Child Pornography: In 2007, it began investigating 264 child-porn downloaders (those with .mil e-mail addresses caught as part of the big global child-porn raids) but begged off after 52 names, claiming to be too busy with contractor fraud cases [ed.: And we know how slam-dunk-successful that's been!]. The 264 were in all likelihood heavy consumers and porn-swappers, and some perhaps even porn-makers, and the Pentagon finally came to its senses last week and put the other 212 names back in play. CNN

Firefighters in Allentown, Pa., have this super-sweet contract provision of up to four days' sick leave without documentation--with "four days" being the typical workweek, meaning one invented sickness equaled 12 straight days off. Richard Gawlik, Jr., was fired, but the union president said Gawlik's golf-playing (he posted his sick-days' scores on a website) "was well within the guidelines of his [doctor's] diagnosis." Morning Call (Allentown)

Editor's Notes

I've finally unsubscribed to my Google Alerts for "News of the Weird" because the vast majority of the blips I get these days are from blogs in which writers put their own stories under the title "news of the weird," with not even a faint reference to the (trademarked) News of the Weird. In the old days, I'd be on 'em in a flash. Today, it'd be useless. I know Jon Stewart used to use the term, but I figured that was cool. But medium-market radio station deejays' blogs are not cool.

Professor Shepherd's Assigned Readings for the Week:

Michael Lewis, "Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds," Vanity Fair, October 2010 (Initially I thought Lewis overused forms of the word "breathtaking" when describing Greece's lax taxation and profligate government benefits, but he's right. Breathtaking. Only genuine idiots get caught paying their fair share, and a government job is up to three times as valuable as a private sector job . . and that's before the bribes get worked in.) Vanity Fair

J.J. MacNab, "'Sovereign' Citizen Kane," Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center), Fall 2010 (It leads off with a bloody cop-killing, but that's to get your attention for this short history of the tax-resister movement, summarizing conspiracy strategies that hucksters sell to an audience educated far beyond their IQ and itching for ways--any way--to stick it to the federal government. The true believers, says MacNab, actually think that all judges and high officials know perfectly well that they are faking the power--that they know the fine print in the whatzit bill that passed one year unnoticed actually removed all kinds of federal power and that the patriots are the only ones who've realized it. Key strategy: Overwhelm courts with boring paperwork using sentences containing more nouns than verbs because only nouns have legal authority. Seriously.) Intelligence Report

James Downie and Alexander C. Hart, "Year of the Nutjob," The New Republic, Sept. 23, 2010 (9 candidates for high office that in the old days would have some 'splaining to do about the odd things they believe--but those were the old days.). The New Republic

Newsrangers: Kyle Gray, Gary Locke, Peter Smagorinsky, David Light, and Amber Mances, and 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)

Monday, September 13, 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
September 13, 2010
(datelines September 4-September 11) (links correct as of September 13)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Bite Me, Plus A Solution to the Ground-Zero Mosque and Lawyers Who Hear the Dead

★ ★ ★ ★!

In Mississippi, "Conviction System" or "Justice System"? The former is operating smoothly in the case of "bite mark" analysis that has been ridiculed by actual "justice systems" elsewhere in America.'s Radley Balko explains how the state attorney general is pushing to execute yet another man based on scant "real" evidence but on the assurances of two hick local-yokel "experts" that tooth marks on the corpse could only have come from the man on trial (alone among everyone walking the earth). The A.G. may now even have reached Stage 5 Acceptance that his "experts" were not--but still believes that his oath of office requires him to preserve previous convictions rather than to "do justice." ("Doing justice" would require, at the very least, not executing Eddie Lee Howard on the basis of pseudo-science.) Ugly.

Only in San Francisco: (1) To serve the city's jailhouse population (where romance is discouraged and interpersonal sex is illegal), the city government's health obsessives have installed 16 condom machines (as if Leroy and Big Wayne care). (2) Normally, if a business owner raises prices, it's supply and demand. In Haight-Ashbury, though, the obstreperous homeless who litter in front of the local McDonald's aren't sitting still for this obvious plot against them. Pushing the 99-cent hamburger back to $1.49 insults their dignity and drives them to the Dumpsters. San Francisco Chronicle /// San Francisco Chronicle

Patriot Game: TPM's Muckraker (the investigative arm of Talking Points Memo's liberal-leaning political blog) discovered, which looks like a blatant pyramid scheme and is cheerfully acknowledged by the founder to function like one--but that's all right, Mike Patterson blissfully says, because he's a "patriot," and you'll hardly notice he's ripping you off because some of the money collected will go to support "patriotic" programs. There's even a helpful chart on how much you and your sign-ups can earn each other through the first 11 levels, topping out at $53,000. TPMMuckraker

Solution for the "Ground Zero Mosque": CNN reported last week from Amsterdam that a Muslim had opened an Internet site selling Shariah-compliant sexual aids for marrieds--lubricants and lotions, with lingerie coming soon--vetted by Saudi scholars. (And the site is tasteful--no videos or dildos.) [ed.: So if proprietor AbdulAziz Aouragh could buy into a storefront at the Park51 (mosque) site, a beautiful convergence would result--of Islam, tolerance, self-awareness, private enterprise, man-woman-supporting marriage, New York City sex! Win-win-win! Please, I'm much too modest to accept the lavish praise you're about to bathe me in.] CNN

And Still More Things To Worry About

"Exposure to Chemical TBT Causes Female Snails to Grow Penises on Heads" Good to know. (Garden-type snails are already hermaphrodites.) Australian Associated Press via

The Americanization of China Continues: A lawyer in Xian has sued her local movie house and a national distributor for the cost of wasting her time . . by subjecting her to 20 minutes of commercials before the movie started. The Guardian (London)

A 17-year-old girl in Ardingly, England, sued her school because she tripped and hit her head six years ago and since then has suffered a "personality disorder," i.e., she's a real bitch, and she knows it, and nobody seems to like her. Daily Telegraph

Romania's senate killed a bill to regulate and tax "witches" and fortune tellers. The bill's sponsor said the opponents just chickened out--afraid they'd get spells cast on them if they voted for it. Associated Press via Google News


The lovely Shannon Wriska, 34, was arrested for going nuts on her husband (attempting to burn his boat, his go-kart, their Jacuzzi) because he praised the actress Jennifer Lopez while the couple watched a movie. Northwest Florida Daily News

Larry Taylor, 18, was arrested for a street robbery in Seattle--easily found by cops and easily ID'd by the victims because his hairstyle includes "GET MONEY" shaved onto one side of his head and because of tattoos "GET" on his left hand and "MONEY" on his right. KOMO-TV (Seattle)

Tierra Aldridge, 24, was jailed in Chicago after handing in her 3-year-old son at a police station, telling officers she doesn't want him anymore. WBBM-TV (Chicago)

Steven Black was arrested in Maryland Heights, Mo., accused as part of an identity-theft ring. He was carrying $1,540 at the time . . bound in a shoelace tied to his scrotum. The Smoking Gun

Mark Smith, 59, entered a bank in Watsonville, Calif., and plopped down a holdup note that claimed he had a bomb, and demanded $2,000 because he needed to help a friend pay the rent. The teller then persuaded Smith that what he really needed was just a bank loan, and he had started the paperwork as police arrived. Santa Cruz Sentinel

The Pervo-American Community

Author unknown, but a 170-page hardcopy "instruction manual" on child-molesting surfaced in Orlando. Book review (by local detective): "amazing," "detailed," "I've never seen anything like it." WFTV (Orlando)

First, there was the "Austrian" (Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned one daughter for 24 years and fathered her 7 children). Then we got the "American" version (Phillip Garrido of California, who imprisoned Jaycee Dugard for 18 years and fathered her 2 children). It turns out that we need more "American" subdivisions. Garrido's the "Californian," and Jeffrey York, 47, might be the "Ohioan." He is now accused of locking up and sexually abusing his adolescent daughter for a year and otherwise terrorizing the entire family for a decade. And then, higher on the nausea scale, there are the "Missourians," who were indicted last week for kidnaping and enslaving over several years [ed.: and sexually torturing--story is Not Safe For Stomachs, and you don't really need to click the Courthouse News Service link] a teenage girl in Laclede County, north of Springfield. (Bonus Ridiculous Fact: So, after abusing the girl for two years, the leader took care, as soon as she turned 18, to have her sign a "contract" permitting even more torture, as if--.) CNN /// Courthouse News Service

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

(Update) Infinite Number of Cats, Infinite Number of Keyboards: Keith Griffin, 49, told detectives that he never acquired child porn and that all that stuff on his computer must've downloaded accidentally as the result of his cat walking across the keyboard while he was away. Guilty? (Spoiler Alert!) Even Keith now realizes he's full of caca. He just pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12½ years. [BETTER LINK (since the mugshot is now missing from this one: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Laurence Saunders can't possibly be innocent, can he? Police say he broke into a neighbor's house and scared her so bad that she grabbed his Fidel Castro beard and dragged him out the door. Kansas City Star

And here's an alleged probation violator (from this week's Smoking Gun collection) who you know has spent a good deal of time with the mirror . . to get his look just right. The Smoking Gun

Below The Fold

"Businessman Hid in Shed from Bailiffs for a Year" (Seriously. Business went south. Couldn't pay loan. Thought if his house was dark, bill collectors would go away. Neighbor slipped him food. Seriously.) Daily Telegraph

"Mom Pulls Gun on Middle School Volleyball Team" (It was a mismatch, and the victorious brats were taunting the losers and, she figured, needed a dose of hot lead.) (Update: Well, maybe she only pointed her finger like a gun; they're not sure now.) KENS-TV (San Antonio)

The well-known aphorism "Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result" doesn't apply to the tax-resister movement or the "sovereign citizen" theory. Even the Texas Court of Appeal agrees. If you're an individual, a corporation, or an association, you're subject to American law. Submitting the well-worn "Affidavit of Truth," or declaring yourself a "living flesh and blood son of God" or "a sovereign man" gets you no exemption. And especially you get no exemption on the ground that your name in all caps (on court documents) is a different person than your name in upper/lower case. But guess what? Those guys will keep claiming they're right. Gray v. Texas, Texas Court of Appeal via (court decision 8-18-2010)

"'Father' of 55 Children Arrested in Suspected Benefits Scam" French officials will do DNA tests on the 42 mothers they've contacted so far, but you're advised to bet heavily on him being a "father" only by paperwork. Reuters via Toronto Sun

Univ. of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley, now that he's had a few months of practice to observe his charges: "We had, I told them, the worst shower discipline of any team I've ever been around. So we talked a little bit about application of soap to the rag . . .." Knoxville News Sentinel

Arizona lawyer Charna Johnson is about to be suspended for telling a client that she channeled the client's late wife and that the wife said it was OK if the client had sex with Johnson. [Suspended--for claiming "channeling"? "Channeling" is how former U.S. Sen. John Edwards got rich . . by melodramatically convincing North Carolina jurors that a dead baby was speaking to them through Edwards and that the dead baby wants jurors to make that mean ol' malpracticing doctor pay . . ..] National Law Journal via

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.

Classic American "Success" Story: Three guys in the right place at the right time and who had mastered the military contracting process formed Mission Essential Personnel and have now won $1.4 billion in business by promising to supply interpreters for the Afghanistan "surge" last year and this. [ed.: That ends the "success" part of the story.] Problem: That's a big contract, for a big need, and there just aren't that many people who can pass security and who know the Dari or Pashto languages. A? whistleblower has come forward to ABC News to swear that at least one-fourth were unqualified at the job but were approved (Bonus: Language tests were administered over the phone! Double Bonus: Probably some of the people being "tested" over the phone weren't ringers!) All were thrown into the field with U.S. personnel depending, life-or-death, on their interpreting. The Army is investigating. Won't end well. ABC News ///

Among the profit centers of the American economy in 2009: Capitol Hill. The 50 richest Senators/Representatives "earned" $85 million for the year (using low-ball numbers listed on Congressional disclosure forms). For most, it was effortless. U-S-A! U-S-A! The Hill

IRS figures that employees on Capitol Hill owe $9.3 million right now to the federal government in back taxes, including three employees of the Office of Government Ethics. Washington Post

U.S. overseers have successfully pressured Iraq to part with $400 million--everything works beautifully in Iraq, y'know, so they've flush with money--to pay off overprivileged Americans who were caught in the war zone when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. Oh, were they ever traumatized back then! They naturally sued Saddam, and they won, and they've been waiting for a government to be formed in Iraq so they can collect the big bucks. Iraq has 30 percent unemployment, high infant mortality, a fragile infrastructure, etc., but let not anyone stand in the way of Americans who demand their day in court! Christian Science Monitor

"Staffing Shortages Stymie Stimulus": A USA Today investigation found that it's not only the Pentagon that can't manage its contractors. Congress passes massive legislation so that members can claim credit for something but with scant attention to how the legislation will be implemented. Result, for example: Dept. of Energy has spent only 8% of the $3.2 billion, 18-month-old stimulus money for energy-efficiency block grants . . because it has not enough officers to vet, award, and monitor contracts. (One solution, offered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration: We need to hire new contractors to vet, award, and monitor the awarding of contracts. But then won't we soon need new contractors to vet, award, and monitor those contractors?) USA Today

Once again (this time in the UK, but the US does it, too), agencies and courts focus on the particular "right" involved directly in front of them--up or down--and not on the bigger picture. (This phenomenon, for example, gave rise to "victim statements" now required in many states, forcing judges to listen--live!--to concerns other than the precious "rights" of the convicted. The formal "victim statement" was an astonishing change in Anglo-American law.) Nonetheless, here's Ms. Tania Doherty of the UK, who had the crap beat out of her by Kawa ali Azad, and is petrified of the man, but he was dealt with by the system, in that he was deported back to Iraq. Case closed; Tania's safe. Except: Iraq refused to take him, and he's now back in Britain, and an immigration judge decided that, as an "asylum-seeker," Kawa's "human rights" require that he be released on bail, and no one's seen him for five months. Daily Mail

Editor's Notes

Two thoughts today: Ms. Pia Beathe Pedersen quit her job as newsreader on a Norwegian radio station--in real time, while on the air. There's an awful amount of pressure nowadays. News, news, news. Politicians complain about the incessant 24-hour news cycle, the constant updates, the Internet "hits" culture, the more-more-more nature of satisfying ever-shorter attention spans . . . but, ladies and gentlemen, someone has to write and deliver the stories that populate those problems. Pia, Sweetie, Yr Editor feels ya. I can't tweet, can't Facebook, can't even blog . . . because I just lack the 24/7 mentality. Associated Press via The Times of India

Howard Kurtz's explicit "Appeasing the Google Gods" lays it out. Today's news professional must write accurate, insightful, and fair repor?ts but also must create cognitive explosions to grab Internet readers' attention, wading as they do through the online slush. (Presumption: Readers are still interested in finding accurate, insightful, and fair reports. Questionable.) I should've titled this post "Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Hillary Clinton Appear to Chuck Weirdly Undecided About Sarah Palin, Osama bin Laden, and Angelina Jolie." Washington Post

Newsrangers: Andy Wright, Gerald Sacks, Kevin Karplus, Alan Esworthy, Peter Smagorinsky, and Frank Smith, and 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)

Tuesday, September 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
September 6, 2010
(datelines August 28-September 4) (links correct as of September 6)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Our Imminent Squid Overlords, Plus U.S.-Sanctioned Pedophilia and Porcelain Muses of the Rich and Famous

★ ★ ★ ★!

Humboldt Squid Are Gettin' Restless: Let's go to the stats--up to 8 ft. long, up to 100 lbs., 40,000 or more teeth, 8 swim/hold tentacles plus 2 "attack tentacles," darting along at 15 miles an hour, migrating up the Pacific coast, with females capable of laying 30 million eggs. "Two Mexican fishermen were recently dragged from their boats and chewed so badly that their bodies could not be identified even by their own families." Daily Express (London)

The Jolly, Perky Numerary: The articulate Ms. Sarah Cassidy, 43, granted a cheerful interview to London's Daily Mail about how cool it is not only to be celibate but to bring the pain to herself for two hours every night to be reminded that God is love. [Yr Editor dislikes articulate weird people because, well, now that she explains herself, she appears wise and penetrating.] "[Our materialistic, hedonistic society]'ll understand [pain] if you go jogging and pounding the streets . . . just because you want to be thinner"--or Botox injections or leg-waxing or cramming your toes into tiny shoes, "but they won't understand" Sarah's wrapping the tight-spiked "cilice" around her leg nightly for God. Sarah is upper-level Opus Dei. Daily Mail

For Ahmadinejad, the Time Has Come . . to Wipe Out Iranian Blue Balls (update): One of the many loose laws that Shi'ites accept but that Sunnis get ticked off about is this "temporary" marriage thing, where depending on local custom, men can shack up with gals for from an hour to 99 years, as long as they go through Islam to do it, and some imams are quite liberal, i.e., prostitutes acceptable. Ahmadinejad, looking for some catnip to toss to Iran's disaffected progressives, has once again introduced legislation to permit, and regulate, temporary marriages. Women's activists went nuts. Haaretz (Tel Aviv)

News of the Overprivileged: "The first day of school is like a movie premiere," said Mia Lin, 16, of Framingham, Mass., speaking for all her BFFs and competitors trying to "redefine [their] style[s]," to achieve the necessary "swagger" (which Mia does with the help of her inventory of 90 pairs of shoes, which is one problem, at least, that Pakistani and Haitian teenagers don't have right now). Boston Globe

Dirty Little Secrets of the Week: (1) U.S. soldiers and Marines are getting creeped out by Afghan Pashtun men in the south who routinely walk around displaying, hand-in-hand, their little pretty boys (ages 9-15). It's (a) tradition and (b) one way around all that burqa business where men can't even glance at their own pre-betrothed females, much less anyone else's. President Karzai, a Pashtun, hasn't been caught yet. (2) Russia's finance minister publicly urged people to step up their already-legendary intake of vodka and nicotine--because those products are heavily taxed. [ed. More Dirty Little Secrets in Weird 2.0, Below] San Francisco Chronicle /// Agence France-Presse via CBS News

And Still More Things To Worry About

(Non-Virtual) Second Life: Joshua Gessler (big-time Washington lawyer AND alleged producer of child pornography). Sgt. Jeffrey Pelo (decorated cop, devoted husband AND methodical serial rapist, sentenced to 400 years in prison). Rodney Stewart (evangelical pastor AND seeker of sexual threesome with "mother" and "her 15-year-old daughter," i.e., cops). Charles Cook (Platte City, Mo., Alderman AND pants-dropping driver offering woman a ride home). (Washington, D.C.) /// ABC News /// WJW-TV (Cleveland) /// KCTV (Kansas City)

Add "Jews" to the list of infidel-lashers (39 times, to Mr. Erez Yechiel, for singing to mixed company, which Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak says is especially bad because music provokes male-female shenanigans). (Bonus: Here's the Prophet Muhammad: "[O]n the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.") Jerusalem Post /// Wall Street Journal


Let's Go to the Video: Sherin Brown, 23, was crushed by a falling light pole after a tractor-trailer hit it on the street in Brooklyn, N.Y. No, wait! There's surveillance video of that block! The light pole missed her, but there's Sherin, crawling under it and starting to moan. New York Daily News

Recurring Theme: Man usually wins any life-or-death battle with an ordinary house spider. Almost lost this one, though. Daily Telegraph (London)

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

Alcohol, That Miracle Drug: Arrested for vandalism and disorderly conduct, in Anderson Township, Ohio, Mr. Forrest V. Frankenstein Jr. Cincinnati Enquirer

Actually, somewhat more Frankensteinian-looking is Juanita Byars, 72, who allegedly molested a 7-year-old boy in her care and then threatened to kill him for squealing on her. Salisbury (Md.) Post

Below The Fold

"[New Hampshire] Teen Who Zapped Nipples During Shop Class Sues" New York Daily News

"California Doctor Gets Stuck in Chimney, Dies" (Back story: She, a respected M.D.; boyfriend described relationship as "on/off," lately "off"; she, wanted it "on," tried to come in the hard way.) ( submitter: "This is why he never gave her a key.") CNN

"Man Replaces Ex-Girlfriend with Custom-Made Sex Doll" (The Italian toymaker Diego Bortolin usually charges around $5,000, but this one was $18,000 since the man wanted it exact . . except, of course, for bigger boobs.) (Sydney)

Speaking of which, Kermit Butts of Madisonburg, Pa., goes on trial in October as accused aider-and-abettor in the murder of . . Samuel Boob. Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)

"Ve Heff Rules!": Here at the Quik Fill, if you show your pistol and demand cigarettes, you'll still have to show picture ID that you're over 18 (and take off that ski mask). Post-Standard (Syracuse)

More Brits at the Trough: Donna Harrison has six kids (one new), along with four more she takes care of, and for all that she deserves government housing--but not just any government housing. She demands that it be just so, meaning two separate houses next door to each other. Daily Mail

Just like the battle over the "ground zero mosque," there's the "right" to do something, and there's the "desirability": "Pensioner [age 74] in Battle for the Right to Go Topless [in his apartment house]" The News (Portsmouth, England)

Celebrity Toilets in the News: Consider what great thoughts must have been produced on these authentic commodes from residences of J.D. Salinger and John Lennon (just off the auction block). Imagine! AOL News /// Reuters via Yahoo News

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 Ol' Three-First-Names Hypothesis: James Jay Lee, 43, the "Discovery Channel madman," thought the only way to give large swaths of America the benefit of his wisdom on imminent calamity was to take hostages in Silver Spring, Md., until a police sharpshooter put him out of his misery. On the merits, Lee makes a formidable case: Earth indeed contains more people than it can support under the present arrangements, and, yes, "civilization is filth." Agreed. Let's move on. ABC News

Dirty Little Secrets Uncovered Last Week:

(1) Secret life on a commercial egg farm: In a major coincidence, FDA officials conducting previously scheduled inspections over the last three weeks just happened to be present on the very days that two massive egg farms experienced, out of the blue, totally unexpected excretory avalanches. Manure was "four to eight feet" high in pits underneath the hen houses making it impossible to close door latches, and I'm sure the operators of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms were shocked--shocked--to learn that from inspectors. And gaping holes in the wall giving rodents all-access passes probably materialized only minutes before the inspectors arrived. The hens tracking manure through the pens, right in front of inspectors, were rogue chickens bent on embarrassing their masters! Nothing to see here, move along . . .. (Bonus: By the way, that salmonella outbreak? That's your fault.) New York Times /// USA Today I /// USA Today II

(Extra Bonus: This guy in Australia is on the case--although his intent was to help the many, many people who would like their pet roosters to be able to roam their homes. Behold, chicken diapers.) Courier Mail (Brisbane)

(2) What a copper/zinc mine (near Redding, Calif.) that closed in 1966 looks like today: (First, consider that it used to dump a ton of the metals into the Sacramento River every day--that's "day" as in 24 hours, every day.) Through creative, persistent EPA vigilance, it's all cleaned up! . . . um, except for the acid that's still there and so strong that one droplet burns through jeans and exfoliates skin. Total discharge is down to a mere 40 lbs. a day, but, like the infinitely bouncing ball, acid will be seeping into the river forever. It's perhaps the most toxic hole in the ground on Planet Earth.) U-S-A! U-S-A! San Francisco Chronicle

(3) After years of the U.S.'s embarrassingly exporting surplus high-tech stuff to buyers who shouldn't have it, the White House decided that not all Pentagon equipment is merely off-the-shelf hardware, i.e., that it needs to divide exports into (a) "sensitive" military "crown jewels" (e.g., stealth-aircraft technology) and (b) mundane items like vehicle parts. Currently, there's just a "munitions list" guarded by the State Department and an "I Don't Know, What Do You Think?" list monitored by the Commerce Department. Wall Street Journal

(4) More than a half-million children and adolescents in the U.S. now take antipsychotic medicines, only one of which has been approved (though heavily restricted) for kids. "Even the most reluctant prescribers encounter a marketing juggernaut that has made antipsychotics the nation's top-selling class of drugs by revenue, $14.6 billion last year, with prominent promotions aimed at treating children. In the waiting room of Kyle's original child psychiatrist, children played with Legos stamped with the word Risperdal, made by Johnson & Johnson. (It has since lost its patent on the drug and stopped handing out the toys.)" New York Times

(5) One more essential, crucial, common-sense government database that has been mishandled into almost total uselessness (like the notorious "no-fly" list) is Georgia's Sex Crimes Registry. It's so far out of date that that pervert listed on your block has probably already moved (and the guy who moved into his house after him is totally clean) . . or . . a new pervert down the block isn't on the list because he was never processed. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(6) The U.S. war on drugs is such a finely-tuned operation! In fact, the Mexican and Colombian cartels are having considerable difficulty getting their money into the U.S. to be laundered . . um, that is, difficulty getting one percent of their money into the country, because the other 99 percent crosses the border with impunity. And, y'know, your local Radio Shack pays a higher percentage to get money from Visa and Mastercard than the cartels pay to the American federales. U-S-A! U-S-A! Washington Post

Editor's Notes

Yr Editor still thinks it's physiologically and ergonomically impossible, but once again, here it is in the news. "Girl Trips, Swallows Toothbrush." I have known a few really uncoordinated people in my time, but still . . .. New Zealand Herald

Internet Phenom: First, there was supposed to be a tree in Thailand resembling a naked woman with her legs spread, but AOL News pretty much debunked that, but then there's this tree, in Brooklyn, that's real. (NSFW™, depending on where you W; after all, it's just a tree) AOL News ///

Newsrangers: Gerald Sacks, Kyle Dubois, Geoff Egan, Wayne Hall, Peter Hine, T.C. Kraemer, Brent Hunter, Bruce Leiserowitz, Jeff Carrick, Joe Weckbacher, and Steve Dunn, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors