Monday, November 29, 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
November 29, 2010
(datelines November 20-November 27) (links correct as of November 29)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Battling the Porno Goblin, Plus Corpse-Fishing, Rat-Blowing, and Snake-Launching

★ ★ ★ ★!

Scared Senseless: The primary-school principal in England who last year famously banned parents from taking photos during school events on the off-chance that kids' pictures would somehow wind up in online pornography has struck again. For a class yearbook for 4-year-olds, so petrified of pornography was she that parents received customized books with only their own kids' photos unaltered. The rest of the photos in the yearbook have black bars over the kids' eyes. (Bonus: Elsewhere in The Country Afraid of Everything, a contractor that runs public swimming pools has prohibited the use of water floats recreationally because one kid somehow choked on one.) Daily Mail /// Daily Telegraph

Entrepreneurship in China: BBC profiled Wei Xinpeng, 55, a boatman in a village near industrial Lanzhou, who collects bodies (the murdered, the suiciders, the accidental drowners) and offers them to grieving relatives. He charges a look-see fee for the distraught to check his inventory and has wound up selling about 40 of his 500 collected corpses (over seven years) for up to the equivalent of $500 each. BBC News

Something Else DARPA Wants to Know: You knew that snakes can fly--or at least one breed, and if not "fly" then certainly stay airborne way longer than you'd imagine. The cleverly-named "Asian flying snakes" propel themselves off of treetops, then do some major slithering through the air until they reach their destination treetop, which can be, easily, 700 feet away. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency thinks it can learn something. Washington Post

Surreality TV: Here's surveillance tape from Sword Furs in Westlake, Ohio, showing (allegedly) Nakita Norman, 44, shoplifting a whole fur coat . . by stuffing it down her generous-sized panties. (Actually, they say she had two of 'em way down in no-man's land.) WEWS-TV (Cleveland)

And Still More Things To Worry About

Sounds Looks Like a Joke: The crack law-enforcement establishment in Fort Bend County, Tex., seeking the Halloween-masked guy who fatally shot a 53-year-old man, earnestly issued this artist's rendition of the shooter. Houston Chronicle

Thanksgiving Anthropopathy: The homeless people of Austin, Tex., probably got special Thanksgiving meals--probably--but so did 2,700 homeless dogs and cats, courtesy of a local pet food company. (Bonus: The pets' meals were all-natural, with turkey, sweet potato pie, and cranberry treats.) KVUE-TV (Austin)

Elsewhere among the Texas homeless, the Salvation Army in Fort Worth launched a campaign to improve nutrition in meals for homeless humans, with recipes and demonstrations. (Bonus concession by SA case manager: "Obviously, when you are homeless, it is hard to cook since you don't have a kitchen.") Star-Telegram

"Held [it] up, lifted its tail, then blew a soft, warm breath on its hindquarters." New air-travelers' protocol from the Transportation Security Administration? Actually, just an animal rescue specialist trying to warm up one of the thousand rats that had been transported from a house shown on the "Hoarders" TV show. (Plus, you have to lift up the tail to see whether it's a boy or not because rats must be sex-segregated, y'know, like people in Saudi Arabia.) San Jose Mercury News

South Africa solidified its claim as the Rape Capital of the World with this study reporting that 37 percent of men in Johannesburg's province admit to raping. Only 25 percent of women said they'd been raped, but authorities have long estimated that fewer than 10 percent of attacks are reported. Associated Press via CBS News

"Value of a Chinese College Degree: $44" (per year over what migrant workers make). Thus, China, too, learns an ultimate truth: Everyone is not above average (or, in the American iteration, Everyone can't "get ahead.") Sooner or later, no matter how much learnin' you have, society will run out of jobs requiring learnin'. Wall Street Journal

Losers

Embarrassing: Burglarize a house, get into the basement, get stuck in a stairway, have to be rescued by the fire department. Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator

More Embarrassing: As a thief tried to break open the donation box at St. Benno Church in Munich, Saint Antonius (obviously guarding the box) whacked him on the noggin, drawing blood and sending him off empty-handed. (Antonius, currently a statue, had somehow fallen over on top of the perp.) The Local (Berlin)

The Pervo-American Community

A Salon.com writer discovered an Internet bulletin board for down-market exhibitionists, www.DickFlash.com. Seriously. It's not just for trumpeting your exploits. There are tips on how to avoid getting caught, plus defensive moralizing–plus misogyny running wild. Salon.com

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


Most of these ladies look guilty of street prostitution (and of scaring religious fundamentalists, who fear the ladies' impact on heterosexuality). WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

Below The Fold

No Longer Weird: (1) It's Christmas-time, and here come the stories from Spain on statuettes of famous people taking dumps ("caganers"). (2) If you're not careful when robbing a store, you might pick up the wrong bag (here, pizza dough rather than pizza proceeds). (3) Is it a bug or a feature? Store sells electronic device with pre-loaded porn. (4) She's suing McD's because she fell off the toilet in the rest room. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News /// Boston Globe /// WXYZ-TV (Detroit) /// Southeast Texas Record (Beaumont)

A new dimension to the "sinus headache": Next week surgeons finally take out that open safety pin that this South Carolina 6-year-old stuck up her nose (unopened) years ago. (Bonus: Her mom's most worried about the side effect called "brain drip," which WYFF-TV is uninterested in explaining.) WYFF-TV (Greenville)

Six Billion People on This Planet: In India and Japan and China, lots of 'em play competitive "kabaddi," which "involves teams joining hands, holding their breath, and raiding opponents, chanting 'kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi' as they do so." As a bonus, players live longer and healthier lives! Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Samaritan Nate Hill of Brooklyn, N.Y., trying to help his fellow citizens relieve stress, dresses as a well-padded, friendly panda and walks the streets, inviting anyone who needs to to punch him. A penny a punch. He gets hit about 100 times a day that he's working. Wall Street Journal

Fredrik Hjelmqvist, owner of an audio-equipment shop in Sweden, became undoubtedly the first person to ever play recorded music ("YMCA," "I Will Survive") from inside his stomach. He swallowed a tiny audio hookup, then, using a stethoscope, detected the Village People in his belly. [Sorry, we don't know why Fredrik thought this was a good idea.] The Local (Stockholm)

Newsrangers: Sandy Pearlman, Christopher Nalty, and D.L. Moore, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors