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

SPECIAL SHORTER HOLIDAY EDITIONS (this week and next): Less for you to read! Fewer distractions for those with other holiday duties! (Regular-length distractions resume January 3rd)

Sophie's Choice 2010, Plus Sluttin' for Bone Marrow and Serenadin' the Pat-Downs

★ ★ ★ ★!

Mom Really Did Always Like Me Best: Toronto's National Post discovered that doctors can now almost routinely snuff out just one of your twins from the womb--in case having two would be, y'know, a bother. [Doctor: Which one shall I abort? Mother: Ehhh--surprise me.] National Post

How Is "Insulting Muhammad" Like "Marijuana Possession"? It's so easy to inadvertently slight the Prophet (in this-here story, merely tossing away the business card of a fella named "Muhammad" will do it), but the charge is used selectively "to settle grudges, persecute minorities, and fan religious extremism." ("Marijuana possession" is widely used in America to get crime budgets up and serve as a substitute for more serious but hard-to-prove charges.) Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

A Local Pimp's "Business Plan": A paper found on a suspected pimp by the Alameda County (Calif.) DA included these self-improvement notes: Take care of "my bitches more better"; Find "other ways to work my hoes"; "Stack money to the ceiling"; "Attend the Players Ball in Vegas (cross country pimpin!)." LA Weekly

Can't Possibly Be True: University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester is a fairly upscale joint (you would think). However, they hired short-skirted models to approach men in New Hampshire malls in full-flirt mode to talk them into giving DNA mouth swabs so that UMass Memorial could browse the results for bone-marrow matches. The catch? A 2006 NH law requires insurance companies to cover such tests (though legislators were told at the time the tests cost about $100; UMass Memorial's consultant was billing up to $4,300). When questioned by the New York Times, UMass Memorial shrugged. We need bone-marrow donors, they said, so what're ya gonna do? New York Times

"Books" and "DVDs" Are So 20th Century: At Toronto Public Library, you can check out humans for a half hour. They have a roster of people different from you, from whom you can learn things (like, say, a cop, or a city-dump supervisor), offering themselves for conversation [Yr Editor, too, is available, free-lance, but prepare to get dispirited.] (Toronto)

Absolutely Nothing Is Weirder Than a Society That Lets Cops Get Away with Framing People: Don't we want to get the real murderer off the street? Don't evidence-planting cops realize, personally, that they're just lazy pussies? Are Americans so frightened--and vapid--that they're OK with sending any warm body to jail for vicious crimes--even if it's the wrong warm body? And, judges: "My family, right or wrong" is one thing; "my legal system, right or wrong" is something else again. Kevin Cooper got turned down again recently for a rehearing, and it's an American's worst nightmare: Can the cops (here, the San Bernardino County, Calif., Sheriff's Office) plant evidence against an in-all-likelihood-innocent man, and send him to the needle, and courts of law will not save him? New York Times /// Wikipedia (Kevin Cooper)

And Still More Things To Worry About

Radiation therapy for thyroid disorder makes the recipient a danger for several days to children or pregnant women with whom the patient comes into contact and requires a 2- to 5-day quarantine. But that's for thyroid-disordered dogs getting radiation. If the patient is human, no quarantine--full body contact OK! Go figure. New York Times

Oklahoma Babylon: (1) (Recurring) Mark Richardson, Jr., 21 and 4-feet-9, was arrested in Oklahoma City for conning baby-sitters by claiming to be autistic and wearing diapers (but mainly just needin' some relief). [ed.: I ask you: Is that the face of a con artist?] (2) A convicted sex offender was apparently running a pay-as-you-go child-abuse center in Guthrie, with parents renting out their kids. (Seriously.) The Oklahoman /// KOCO-TV (Oklahoma City)

Sell That Which You Do Best: A Ukrainian firm charges the equivalent of about $18 to send you over a garrulous drinking buddy for the evening. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Cognitive Dissonance: The most extravagant Christmas tree in the world is actually in the Muslim world (in Abu Dhabi, valued at the equivalent of more than $11 million). Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

The Transportation Security Administration tried repairing its image at Los Angeles International . . but all they came up with was 17 employees in an agency choir, serenading travelers. USA Today

Leading Product Spinoff for WikiLeaks: The Pakistani company that makes, er, Butterfly feminine hygiene products quickly posted billboards in Karachi: "WikiLeaks . . Butterfly Doesn't." Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

At an installation in Bloomington, Minn., John Ilg's sculpture "Honesty," in which the word is spelled out with 316 rolled-up dollar bills (tucked in chicken wire) . . was (of course) stolen. Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Houston's KHOU-TV found that, since 2006, 45 Immigration "detainees" (i.e., held for investigation because they had no green card or active visa) had asked for and received (free of charge, of course) hormones for sex-change. KHOU-TV

Nudity Specials: (1) A 52-yr-old postal worker in Whitefish Bay, Wis., stripped to deliver mail to a 21-year-old woman (but only because she seemed stressed and only to "cheer her up and make her laugh"!). (2) Robert Hurst is the man witnesses identified as being naked at night in a cemetery in Picayune, Miss.; his explanation (sorta) is that he was trying to photograph spirit-lights among the dead and that bare skin attracts them (photographically speaking). Of course. (Waukesha, Wis.) /// Picayune Item


(1) The gent in the neck brace is Kevin Funderburk, 25, who was unsuccessful in the sex attack on a 71-year-old woman (armed with frying pan) . . . . . (2) Kyle D. Gore, 23, was charged with trawling for child sex online, directing responses to his secret e-mail "" (hint: 23+[19]87=2010) . . . . . (3) How to tell that Jason Davis, 30, isn't cut out for shoplifting: Apparently, the thrill gives him diarrhea . . . . . (4) Joe Colclasure was arrested for bank robbery after an employee intervened, causing Joe to slam the vault door on his own hand . . . . . (5) And the similarly dexterity-challenged Michael Barton, 29, was arrested after accidentally slashing himself shoplifting razor blades . . . . . (6) Recurring Theme: This time, it's Jessi Clark, 29, caught with drugs in her hoo-hah but protesting to cops that they're not hers. (1) Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.) /// (2) Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) /// (3) The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) /// (4) Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.) /// (5) Associated Press via /// (6) Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)

Newsrangers: Jonathan Cole, Josh Mauthe, Stuart Zukrow, Richard Hunding, Ludmilla Bade, Rich Heiden, Carolyn Sherve-Bybee, Bruce Leiserowitz, Felicia Hallman, Camille Victour, and Matthew Hill, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors