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

Due Process of Law Meets Faulty Brain Wiring, Plus An Accountant Strips and Anthropologists Rumble

★ ★ ★ ★!

Catch-22, on the Big Stage: David Henderson served on the front lines in the Korean War, and among his souvenirs therefrom was a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, for which he has been getting government help. For enhanced benefits under a 2001 law, he had to apply by a certain 120-day deadline--which he missed, by 15 days, and is now permanently shut out. But wait, said his doctor. Doesn't anyone understand the meaning of "out of it"? He has lost touch with reality. 120 days? 135? Might as well be a thousand days . . or two million. (Justice Breyer: Does anyone think Congress put the deadline in to exclude someone like Henderson?) (Justice Scalia: La-la-la ♫ the statute doesn't say there's an exception ♫ so there's not an exception ♫) New York Times

I Know What I'd Do The 56-year-old man lay in the back of the ambulance, struggling to breathe, while the driver pulled in to a strip mall so close to the man's house that, flat on his back, he knew it was the Subway sandwich shop. Driver ran in, a few minutes later ran out, and onward to the hospital. Man survived and is fine. Ambulance company said all protocol was followed. (Backstory: Driver didn't stop for a sandwich. Driver stopped for sudden-onset diarrhea.) Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

U-S-A! U-S-A! Number . . Oh . . Oh, Dear! In math, an international assessment last year reported that the U.S. finished 31st (behind intellectual powerhouses Slovenia, Estonia, and Liechtenstein, but on the bright side, we kicked Latvia's dumb ass!). Better in science (We have all those Bunsen burners)! 23rd, but still in the shadow of those brainy Slovenians. OK, how about just comparing ourselves lately to Western nations, without those pesky, smart-ass Asians that were in the 2009 mix? Now, 13th in math, 24th (dead last) in science. Polacks (5th in math, 3rd in science) are probably teaching their kids ethnic sensitivity (to stop telling "American" jokes!). Wall Street Journal [perhaps subscription-protected] /// New York Times

Jobs Abroad for the Phillie Phanatic: A mainstream conservation agency in China now routinely dresses a minder up as a large panda bear for the purpose of socializing motherless baby pandas in preparing them for the wild. It is not known, they readily admit, whether the baby panda is fooled. [That's good; try to imagine what they'd be thinking if they knew.] Daily Telegraph (London)

We Ask, You Tell, You Prove: For a modern EU nation, Turkey's military-service homophobia is epic: Absolutely no gays allowed! However, since Turkey requires universal service, homosexuality is a way to avoid the military, for straights as well as gays. The government knows that, though, and gets all up in the face of anyone claiming exemption based on homosexuality. You have to prove it, and for some officials, the only really persuasive evidence is a photograph of yourself engaged in the act . . and then, only if you're receiving! (And they have to see your face, so stop biting the pillow and turn toward the camera!) (Bonus: But the Czech Republic is apparently the only EU country to still hook up the penile plethysmograph to verify the orientation of alleged gays who seek political asylum.) Foreign Policy /// BBC News

The Officially Sanctioned Jesus and Mary World Tour: No amateur sightings this week! The Roman Catholic Church declared that Mary, indeed, did appear once twice three times to a nun in Champion, Wis. (in 1859). Good to know. Associated Press via Forbes

And Still More Things To Worry About

Fine Points of Wisconsin Law: Brandi Jo Winkelman, 17, was arrested for "child abuse" for beating up a girl in school. (Bonus: The victim is older than Brandi Jo.) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Good ol' European Union human rights rules have required that a prison in Poland pay out the equivalent of about $4,000 to a rapist whose meals contained meat. He claims to belong to a Buddhist sect that requires vegetarian. (Bonus: Before he was a Buddhist who wanted special treatment, he was a Catholic who wanted special treatment.) BBC News

Jake Schutter, 11, is back playing baseball, and swinging his metal bat, while his parents' lawsuit works its way through the courts. They're suing Easton, the bat-maker, because its metal bats (Jake's, too) are too dangerous because batters' hits (including Jake's hits) come off the bat too fast. (Jake got hit with a batted ball in May and has lost hearing in one ear. What a trouper!) Chicago Sun-Times

Tara Cohen, 38, got into some drug issues so she's being deported to her "native" Mexico (and by "native," the Immigration judge means the place from where she was brought to the U.S. at age ½ and which she knows as much about as you know about, say, Eritrea). Toronto Star

President Ian Khama, 57, of Botswana, is looking for a First Lady--but "not like this one," he said, pointing to the portly woman who is his Assistant Minister of Local Government. "She may fail to pass through the door, breaking furniture with her heavy weight and even break the vehicle's shock absorbers." (Given the job market in Botswana, the Assistant Minister merely chuckled.) ABC News

Ambassador Meera Shankar, India's rep to the United States, was singled out for a thorough TSA patdown (for the second time in three months) at the Jackson, Miss., airport as she returned to Washington from a university speech event. India's Foreign Minister went nuts, and Gov. Barbour wasn't too happy, either. WTOK-TV (Jackson)

What Passes For a Knife Fight on Academia's Mean Streets: Half the organization of anthropologists are furious at the other half because the governing board voted to de-emphasize the word "science" in their descriptions. There . . will . . be . . blood . . journals and notebooks flying across the room. New York Times

Unrepentant neo-Nazi John Ditullio is on trial in New Port Richey, Fla., charged with stabbing two neighbors to death because they were gay and/or friendly with blacks. Ditullio, already tattooed, added a couple more while awaiting trial, and the judge (i.e., the great state of Florida) is paying a cosmetologist $125 a day to cover them up, lest the jury get the wrong impression of Mr. Ditullio. On the other hand, everyone's tolerant of all the due process because they smell a lethal injection coming on, and no one wants it on them if Ditullio gets downgraded to life without parole. Among the evidence: a Christmas card to a victim's mother, taunting her for the "loss" of her son. (Bonus: The St. Petersburg Times stylebook apparently requires that a neo-Nazi residence be referred to as a "compound"--even if it's just a trailer.) St. Petersburg Times /// New York Times


Another teenage girl outsmarted herself trying to avoid a DUI: Got mom to switch seats with her as the deputy was approaching the car (but the deputy saw 'em, and besides, mom was UI, too). Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, N.C.)

The Pervo-American Community

Accounting Made Nasty: Raymond Taylor, 57, Kennesaw State University (in Georgia) business instructor, just (without mentioning why) decided in the middle of class to get close to nature. (Bonus: caught-in-the-headlights mugshot!) Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In the state of Florida, an appeals court ruled, it's legal for an elementary school principal to "manual-Photoshop" (i.e., using scissors and paste) ordinary portrait photos of 8-year-old girls over the raunchy nude photos of adult women. (A trial court had sentenced him to five years in prison.) Lakeland Ledger

Pervo-Brit: Driving instructor Barry Morgan, 58, was convicted (though not imprisoned) for his incentive program for young women drivers: For every mistake you make, Barry gets a free grope, plus, since he turned up the car's heater, might as well take off those tops. Daily Mail

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

To believe Jennifer Pizzuto, 35, guilty of a prostitution scam, you have to believe that she actually had some clients. Tough call. Allegedly, she and her boyfriend ran stings (Jennifer distracting them with her "charms," boyfriend robbing them). Asbury Park Press

It says here that this female funeral director did some awful things, covering up errors about remains, digging up and reburying one body, lying to clients and to the authorities. But, c'mon, is that the face of a bad person? I mean--whoa, momma! Free Marcee Dane! WLS Radio (Chicago)

Below The Fold

Betcha Can't Eat Just One Any: The Product of the Year at the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence [sic] Awards is set to appear on the international stage. Haggis chips. United Press International

Headlines: "Woman Kidnaped, Forced to Shop" /// "Missouri Home Damaged By Lawnmower Fire In Bedroom" WPVI-TV (Philadelphia) /// Associated Press via St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Squealers: (1) Mom, to police: No way did I threaten to shoot that pizza delivery guy for being late. Mom's daughter, to police: Yeah, you did, Mom. (2) Daughter, 60, to police: I took good care of my 98-year-old mom. Daughter's parrot (over and over, to no one in particular): "Help me! Help me! A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" WPXI-TV (Pittsburgh, Pa.) /// Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)

Mixed Message: Larry Falter, owner of LTD Jewelers in Superior, Wis., is a man of deep faith and gives props to the Book of Revelation, hence, "50 percent off" for his "Second Coming" sale. (Bonus: So . . you can take it with you!) Duluth News Tribune

The author of Bizarre Thailand fills us in: At the Monkey Hospital in the provincial capital of Lopburi, monkeys get deluxe cremations because, of course, they'll soon be back as humans, and they'll remember who mistreated them. In Khon Kaen province's "Tortoise Town," the big entertainment is the shell-butting duels during mating season. Then, near Bangkok, there's the temple that an abbot has built with the 6,000 buffalo skulls he's collected. And-- . . well, you get the picture. CNN

The Christmas parade in Yr Editor's favoritely-named F State town of Niceville turned un-nice when a city worker leaped on a float halfway through the parade, grabbed the keys, and urged the driver, also a city worker, to step down and fight him. The spectator accused the driver of stealing his overtime pay for the last two years, so "Get out of the truck and I'll whip your ass." (Answer to obvious question: .266) Northwest Florida Daily News

No Longer Weird: (1) Another woman about to plop down on a toilet only to see, staring up at her, a critter (here, a squirrel). (2) More self-frightened UK school administrators: At Gillespie's Primary in Scotland, no playing in the snow during recess or lunch (too dangerous!). (3) And more now-ritual fistfighting on the floor of the South Korean parliament (over an expensive river-cleaning project). (4) Once again, the sad fate of a newly-spotted mammal species (a monkey in Myanmar): Before biologists could arrive to study it, natives ate it. (5) Once again, as U.S. Customs inspected the suitcase of the arriving "spiritualist" (from Ghana), up turned a mother lode (a hedgehog, elephant tails, chameleons, cat skins, sheets purposely soaked in chicken blood). (6) Once again, inexplicably, the musician entrusted with the multi-million-dollar Stradivarius violin guarded it like he would, say, an Army surplus book bag. (1) WBBH-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.) /// (2) The Scotsman (Edinburgh) /// (3) Reuters via Yahoo News /// (4) National Geographic /// (5) Baltimore Sun /// (6) CNN

Newsrangers: Christopher Nalty, Robert Hagwood, Sandy Pearlman, Richard Witt, and Hal Dunham, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors