Monday, December 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
December 6, 2010
(datelines November 27-December 4) (links correct as of December 6)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The Duke Bedeviler Won't Go Away, Plus Dachshund-Cracking and Art You Only Think You See

★ ★ ★ ★!

Free Crystal Mangum!: She is the dancer who thrilled the Duke lacrosse team in 2006. On the plus side: She has since graduated from North Carolina Central University and is raising three kids. Minus: Police say she beat up her boyfriend and set a fire in her bathroom while her kids were home. Two groups of pro-Crystal, she-was-raped locals remain active on her case and drive officials nuts with their rantings (It's a "lynching!" It's just "white power!"). Crystal's case was scheduled for court last week, and the friends think that, like the earlier outcome, this is all a set-up. (Bonus: Do you have a "publicist"? Crystal has.) Raleigh News & Observer

Inexplicable: The science blog Respectful Insolence turned up a call for volunteers issued by veterinary chiropractors, who are looking for 400 Dachshunds because they want to do some sort of exam and back-snapping and neck-straightening, or whatever it is that chiropractors do. Dachshunds! 400! Scienceblogs.com

Disabled-Thinking Zone: Can it be regarded as a smoking-gun catch to prove that Medicare ludicrously wastes money on a particular item, if Medicare officials already know they ludicrously waste money on it (and are about to fix several other, sorta-related items but admit that they're not fixing that item, meaning they're fully aware that they'll continue to ludicrously waste money on it)? The item is ordinary ol' wheelchairs, which retail for $100-$350 but which Medicare won't reimburse you for if you buy. It will pay 80 percent of the cost of rental, though, up to 13 months, at somewhere around $40-$125 a month. South Florida Sun-Sentinel

No Longer Weird Naaa, It's Still Way-Weird "Adhl" is the practice by which women cannot marry in Saudi Arabia unless they have the blessing of their parent/guardian, and for some otherwise-independent women, that permission is not forthcoming (for example, here, with a 42-year-old female surgeon, licensed in Canada, Britain, and Saudi Arabia, whose father keeps finding excuses to keep her eggs idle). In fact, she can't even buy a phone without her father's permission. (Bonus: Page 212 of the Prophet Sayings textbook for 11th graders gives this advice for boys-2-men: "Be jealous, beat her hands, protect her, and achieve superiority over her.") Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

Update: At a hearing scheduled to start today, a state court judge in Houston may declare Texas's death penalty unconstitutional for the reasons chronicled in News of the Weird over the years (no, not the one that says small-town Texas jurors are barely distinguishable intellectually from amoeba). Just say: The risk of wrongful executions is alarmingly high, which could not have been within the spirit of the U.S. Supreme Court's go-ahead of capital punishment in 1976. (Bonus: The judge, Kevin Fine, is a seriously-tattooed, recovering alcoholic/coke-head.) Huffington Post

And Still More Things To Worry About

Damn right I'm a hate group! However, "I'm sure I'm more about love than I am hate," said Baptist pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe, Ariz., but "I do hate homosexuals [and wish death upon them]." (Bonus: And then there's this guy, a county official in a Washington, D.C., suburb, who says TSA pat-downs are part of a "wide-scale homosexual agenda.") KNXV-TV (Phoenix) /// WTOP Radio (Washington)

More government-sponsored art: £1,500 to Polish artist Angieszka Kurant for this-here "invisible" painting . . which "hasn't been painted yet" (but since it's "invisible," how would anyone except Kurant know when it was done, anyway?). There's also his movie "shot without film in the camera." Deep. The Sun

The Los Angeles Times's Steve Lopez boils us over with the local transit authority's "policy" whereby cash found on a bus will be held for 30 days (to await legit claims) and then, if no one proves ownership, is given back to the person who found it kept by the agency "in order to discourage fraud." (Bonus: Lopez got 'em to change the policy before his very eyes just by demanding that the agency head explain himself. How often does that happen in America?) Los Angeles Times

Recurring Themes: (1) In Uganda, a call to arms for a sex strike--to withhold "services" to influence the upcoming national elections. (Bonus: It's not wives withholding; it's the husbands--threatening to deny ladies their immortal manhoods!) (2) She survived the rollover accident near Ocala, Fla., but couldn't avoid the Florida Highway Patrol trooper screeching over to see if anyone was hurt. She is no longer with us. (3) Mindlessly following his GPS to get home in Newfoundland, he took the shortest route . . which happened to be through a sliver of land in Maine . . which was unfortunate, since U.S. border security found a half a kg of marijuana. Reuters /// Star-Banner (Ocala) /// Associated Press via Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News

Update: An Ohio school board has agreed to pay $450,000 to the Dennis family (mom, dad, son) for the "mental pain and suffering" (and the son's "physical pain and sickness") caused by the kid's "science" teacher John Freshwater, who specializes in "creation"-type "science" (e.g., tossing Lego pieces into a pile and asking whether the pieces can assemble themselves or do they need a creator to do it). He once zapped a cross into Zachary Dennis's skin in the guise of teaching electricity [News of the Weird M058 (5-18-2008)]. Columbus Dispatch

Ailene Brown, 28, and Shmeco Thomas, 37, were busted in Edmond, Okla., for shoplifting--smuggling some of the items out of the store in their rolls of body fat and under their breasts (wallet, gloves, boots, jeans, big-screen TV . . .. KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City) via Orlando Sentinel

The French fast-food burger chain Quick [or whatever it's called] will offer, coming up for Christmastime, the foie gras burger in its 350 outlets for the equivalent of $6.57. Reuters via Yahoo News

Alan Fletcher, 51, was arrested after electrifying his front door with a booby trap. (Bonus: The reason he did it was to "prevent" that guy, whoever that guy is, that guy, from having sex with his wife.) Daily Telegraph (London)

The Three-First-Names Theory: Wanted for questioning in the murder of a woman in Largo, Fla.: The 26-year-old Larry Joe Jerry. (Bonus: Four First Names: He's LJJ Junior!.) St. Petersburg Times

Fine Points of the Law: (1) This Frenchman is off the hook for stealing a car because he committed the crime exactly one minute before his adulthood birthday commenced (according to the time on his birth certificate). It's off to juvy. (2) A 1970 error in revising a Virginia law makes it not a crime to fail to stop for a stopped school bus; what is illegal is your failure to get out and stop the bus altogether. (3) The exalted, genteel New Hampshire Supreme Court grappled with this thorny question of American jurisprudence: Does an inmate have to throw poop at a guard to be guilty of "assault"? (A: No. Leaving it on the floor is sufficient.) Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News /// Washington Post /// Associated Press via WCVB-TV (Boston)

Losers

Redneck Chronicles: In Safety Harbor, Fla., Joe Capes and Ronald Richards were busted for a late night fistfight over which side of the plate the late Mr. Conway Twitty swung from. St. Petersburg Times

You'd think that hiring people to pack and truck nuclear weapons to a Texas upgrade factory would be serious work, but the Dept. of Energy inspector general identified employees in 16 alcohol-related incidents on that job between 2007-2009. Kitsap Sun (Kitsap, Wash.)

Nearly a thousand Einsteins were persuaded by Arlan Galbraith of Ontario to give him an average of $20,000 each so he could help them corner the market for edible pigeon meat, which was to be the next big thing. He's been arrested for fraud. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News

The Pervo-American Community

Update: We had William Tyler Black in this space 11 weeks ago, for providing a Happy Ending for himself in a Sarasota, Fla., Wal-Mart. He agreed to a time-served sentence and to stay away from Wal-Marts. He also got the opportunity to announce, definitively, "I swear I'm not a pervert." The Smoking Gun

More from the H.E. department: Alexander Ofner, 39, was picked up at the Sea Turtle Cinemas in Bluffton, S.C., enjoying himself while watching . . the new Harry Potter film. Beaufort Gazette

Never bet that you've found a perversion without an extensive support group, no matter how unique it sounds. For British pervo Michael Crombie, 73, it's little-girl sex with the added kicker that he'd like to dunk 'em underwater for a few seconds. Nothing morbid. Not particularly dangerous. Just gets turned on by the bubbles. Sky News (London)

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


Here's Art Taylor, 18, who supposedly just minutes before swallowed a small baggie of cocaine. Metrowest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.)

Does this fella, Mr. Oloff, look like a copper-wire thief? How about if you knew his full name (Jesus Christ Superstar Oloff, 33)? WBBH-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Bridget Mize, 35, stands a decent chance of beating the rap for bigamy. The prosecutor will have to prove that not one, not two, but three different men at various times asked Bridget to marry them. Shreveport Times

Below The Fold

At a museum in China, a Swiss art collector paid the equivalent of $45,000 for a statue of Venus de Milo but made from . . panda poop. (Bonus: The statue was actually built by children.) Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Recurring Theme: One more time (here, outside a Canadian university building), someone cleaning up mistakenly dismantled an actual art installation that he failed to appreciate. It wasn't a "pile of wood"; it was "art"! CP24.com (Toronto)

How to Tell You're in Nebraska: You open a newspaper and read a story about tree bark in wintertime. Associated Press via Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, S.D.)

NASA's findings last week that "life" can exist from a building block of "arsenic" rather than (as previously thought) "phosphorus" surely sabotaged Duane Snyder's big day . . at the Ramada Inn in South Haven, Mich. . . where he revealed that he had definitely been contacted by extraterrestrials in that he had found a block of ice along the road at the height of summer. Time /// AOL News

Awesome: It's not often that rescuers get to save a woman who's sitting in a pickup truck . . in a tree. Associated Press via CBS News

"I am not stupid. I know the law." So goes Ms. Angeles Duran, 49, who last week laid claim to the, er, sun. The only treaties she found said that nations couldn't own it, and that obviously means that private citizens can. She's generous, though--planning to keep for herself only 10 percent of the wealth she anticipates from licensing the rays (the current and future worth of which is . . all the money in the world). Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Nicholas Hodge, 31, an acquaintance of a woman in Winona County, Minn., decided he'd walk into her home at 2:40 a.m. a week ago Friday and not leave, forcing her to call the sheriff. From the Winona Daily News: "'He sat on a toilet in the kitchen and wouldn't leave,' sheriff's department investigator Kraig Glover said. 'I'm not sure why they had a toilet in the kitchen,' Glover said." Winona Daily News

Editor's Notes

Yr Editor, a resident of the F State (whose reputation for electoral shenanigans took a grossly unfair hit in 2000), would like to point out that in last month's elections, New York City simply lost 195,000 votes, poof!. They finally turned up last week. In The F State's "debacle," after two accounting firms re-counted every single one of the 6 million-plus ballots cast, one by one, the discrepancy was about 150-200 votes. (Oh, now, there might have been some mild disagreement about the definition of a legal vote that year, with Democrats arguing that ballots expressing "intentions" should have been counted and Republicans for strict enforcement of the standing rules, but Republican judges settled it. Safeguarding and tallying the ballots, though--Florida was on top of that!) New York Times

Bad sex is a tradition of British literature, giving Brits a leg up in the annual competition among novels in English for the passages that mostly render the universally enjoyable acts of sex as frightening, byzantine journeys into the unknown. The winner this year was Irishman Rowan Somerville, and the passage the judges deemed most awkward is this one: "Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too-blunt pin he screwed himself into her." Daily Telegraph

Time-Waster: Mug shot hall of fame, courtesy of Colorado Springs's station KRDO-TV

Newsrangers: Jan Lewis, Mike Mendenhall, Lisa Manikowski, Sandy Pearlman, Christopher Nalty, Roy Henock, and Tami Smith, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors