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)