Monday, February 22, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

February 22, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines February 13-February 20) (links correct as of February 22)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Every Child Left Behind, plus Free-Range Urination, the Other White Meat, and Professor Courtney Love

“For Only $8 a Month . . .” (We’ll Feed This Kid $1.84 Worth of Food)
CBS News busted the “Feed The Children” charity (and its “for only $8 a month” TV ads) that has been bleeding the bleeding hearts for years but whose chutzpah on the Haiti crisis has been particularly strong, bringing in $1 million to feed “12,000" kids. If FTC performs as usual, it will keep $770,000 of that $1 million for “administrative expenses.” “12,000" kids? CBS found that FTC’s Haiti operation consisted of three doctors working on several dozen kids but no one at all being fed. (Bonus: CEO Larry Jones and his adult daughter both live the high life and are involved in a premium family feud.) CBS News

The Sacred Institution of Marriage
Susan Zirkin, 73, got divorced in 1962, but because of Orthodox Jewish law, she could not remarry or have children. Her ex-husband wouldn’t let her, and under the laws, it’s his call until the day he dies (which just happened last week, so she’s finally free). The problem is not only with the divorcee’s own sense of spiritual commitment but that of the community as well, in that she and any subsequent children she had would be shunned as long as Mr. Israel Elias refused to grant her the get, and few rabbis even try to buck tradition. The Independent (London)

Life Is Too Long
Apparently, some people actually gourmet-cook for their dogs. The St. Petersburg Times exposed this practice, likely having been pitched by a local magazine, New Barker, and a local restaurant, La Maison Gourmet, whose principals believe that a “growing number” of dog owners spend their time this way. For example, there’s a 12-step-or-so recipe for “veggie cookies for dogs,” which posits that dogs will appreciate it if you make them a certain treat with whole-wheat flour, dried basil, dried cilantro, dried oregano, chopped carrot, green beans, tomato paste, canola oil, and garlic. [How ever did dogs evolve so successfully until now without basil in their whole-wheat flour?] St. Petersburg Times

And What Was Blake Robbins Doing, Anyway?
Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia now admits it screwed up in its well-intentioned program to provide all students with free notebook computers. Administrators activated webcam software in the machines, supposedly, they say, in case the computer were lost or stolen, in which case, the cam could help locate it, and if stolen, ID the perp. But then Blake and his parents filed a lawsuit because one administrator at his high school disclosed in passing that Blake had been spotted “in his home” engaged in “improper behavior.” Normally, there’s not much that can be seen from the webcam if the operator is sitting right in front of it . . . unless . . .. Philadelphia Daily News [Feb. 18] /// Philadelphia Inquirer [Feb. 20]

When a Teachers’ Union Says “It’s About the Children” . . .
The teachers said they didn’t necessarily disagree with the proposed reforms to improve the dismal Central Falls High School in Rhode Island (e.g., only 7% of 11th graders are “proficient” in math), but they strongly oppose having the reforms dictated from above, by the superintendent. That is horrible, they say. Everything must be negotiated! The union thus rejected the reforms. The superintendent thus fired all the school’s teachers (though she expects to re-hire the 50 best ones as part of the reforms). The union’s reaction: Litigation! (for the benefit of the students, of course). Providence Journal

Meanwhile, Over on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

Deanne Elsholz, 44, was arrested for domestic abuse on husband David, bloodying his nose. Trouble started when David tinkled on the bathroom floor, apparently oblivious of the exact location of the toilet bowl. Trouble continued when Deanne chased him and fell (Bonus: slipped on the wet bathroom floor!). AWI. WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

Latest Fight Night at Chuck E. Cheese (Memphis): Woman and her two urchins were monopolizing the photo booth. Second woman: “Dang, how long ya’ll gonna be?” First woman’s stepfather lands black-eye-inducing punch to second woman. Relatives of both women commence longshoremen-type brawl. WREG-TV (Memphis)

Hired / Fired / Arrested, All in a Couple of Hours: John Yarrington, 23, offered to help police nail drug dealer Cory Noonan with a bogus buy, for a $100 fee. Yarrington did his part; police got surveillance evidence; police paid off Yarrington’s fee. Yarrington wandered off, but ten minutes later was back at Noonan’s trying to buy drugs for his own account. Police still had Noonan under surveillance and hauled away their ex-CI. Cape Cod Times

Police in West Seneca, N.Y., say Daniel Wolf, 40, stole seven bottles of Head & Shoulders shampoo from a Rite Aid. [Mug shot: maybe should’ve copped conditioner, too, and a razor] Buffalo News

Least Competent Psychic: Sylvia Mitchell had a pretty good racket going in New York City, “cleansing” an immigrant restaurant worker from time to time for several hundred bucks here, several hundred there. But she went a bit too far. She called the client up for an “emergency cleansing,” which happened to work out to $9,400, which is what she owed a Ralph Lauren store, and the client’s dim bulb finally lit up. New York Post

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

It’s Good to Be a British Welfare Mother: Jobless mother of six, age 34 and “entitled” to a 5-bedroom home under housing assistance law, found one in Sir Paul McCartney’s ‘hood. The government pays her £7,000 ($10,800) a month to make the rent. (Bonus: Not everything’s easy in Britain. A warehouse worker just got fired for excessive flatulence.) Daily Mail /// The Mirror

For one day last week, VA Fuels on Washington Blvd. in Pasadena, Calif., hit the news cycle for selling regular gasoline at $8.87 a gallon (premium $9.09)—and they had some customers! The clerk on duty had no inkling what owner Vasiliy Abrahamian was up to, and Vasiliy didn’t bother to explain the next day, either, when he lowered the price by $6. Pasadena Star News /// Pasadena Star News [update]

Not Supposed to Be There: (1) a zebra, galloping through downtown Atlanta (Bonus: It’s the second downtown zebra in Atlanta in two years.) (2) a bull, galloping through a house in Peoria, Ill. (3) a dog, swimming around more than a mile offshore near Cairns, Australia. Atlanta Journal-Constitution /// Peoria Journal Star /// Cairns Post

Should’ve Seen This Coming: Crystal Beth Williams, 21, was arrested for possession of crystal meth. Northwest Florida Daily News

The Horror of Umbrage: An Illinois staffing agency was shamed into full-suck-up-apology mode for not restraining a Chinese client’s call for a writer “respectful” of “Chinese culture” who is not also an “arrogant American.” Apparently, such wording is supposed to be deeply painful to us Americans. Fox News

Below The Fold

Courtney Love Gives Oxford Talk BBC News

Man Offers Woman Asphalt for Sex WSPA-TV (Spartanburg, S.C.)

Mother Accused of Hitting Son with Bat [money quote: “I brought him into this world, and I’ll take him out of this world”] Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pa.)

Eyewitness News

New Orleans Mardi Gras has beads and breasts, but the carnival in Binche, Belgium, looks weirder. From GlobalPost.com: “[H]undreds” of identically-dressed masked men, “torsos deformed into barrel chests and humped backs,” each with “mystic symbols of scarlet and gold, heads bound with white ribbons, feet clad in wooden clogs pounding the cobblestones in tune with the relentless drumbeat.” On the afternoon of Mardi Gras, they strip those off and put on crowns of ostrich feathers as they toss not beads but oranges at the crowd. It doesn’t sound exciting, but if you’re from Binche, this is apparently as good as it gets. GlobalPost.com [gloriously inexplicable photos!]

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Suzanna McGraw, exploiting an opportunity to score above her grade [mug shot], impulsively pulled over to the side of Interstate 15 near Orem, Utah, to get it on with the 17-year-old before he changed his mind. A trooper stopped to investigate. Windows were fogged, the couple were undressed, stolen stereo equipment and a marijuana pipe inside. Also stolen: the car itself. KSL-TV (Salt Lake City)

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


The dad is Delmer Doss, 19. He and the mom are charged with child abuse, though they maintain it was just harmless, laugh-a-minute fun—blindfolding their 11-month-old son and watching him walk into walls. WCNC-TV (Charlotte, N.C.)

OK, so you got arrested for burglary. Really, you need to man up. TheSmokingGun.com

More Things To Worry About

A prominent Italian TV chef got caught musing about the good old days, when people ate scrumptious dishes of cat. Daily Telegraph (London)

African Guinea worms invade human bodies, can grow to a length of three feet, and can only be extracted by verrrrry painfully twirling them around a stick (like spaghetti on a fork) and pulling. The good news is that President Carter’s Carter Center has been on the case since 1986, and through water purification programs, 99% of the worms have been eliminated. The bad news is that 2,500 people, still, will have to twirl the worm this year. Daily Telegraph (London)

Editor's Note

Update: The story of Akbar “biggest dick” Zeb [NOTW/Pro, 2-8-2010] has been busted as bogus—or at least, the same media mob that accepted the story uncritically at first are now uncritically accepting the denial. The original source was Arab News of Saudi Arabia, generally the only English language, not-overtly-proselytizing channel into that world. Your editor wouldn’t touch the story until Foreign Policy ran it, since, I thought, they’d obviously have more experience with Arab News than I. And now I’m linking to them again for the denial. Foreign Policy

And For Further Review . . .

A January report in The Times of India warned that a Pakistani jihadist group had purchased 50 kits for making suicidal bombing attacks against India, via paraglider. Foreign Policy magazine probed the likelihood of such an attack’s success, along with that of four other “bizarre” schemes (insect swarms, the commandeering of americium-241 in the nation’s smoke detectors, botulinum contamination, and attacking via World of Warcraft). Is there an Arab Silicon Valley venture-funding jihadists’ dreams? Foreign Policy

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Gene Curry, Sandy Pearlman, Roger Meiners, Tom Barker, Steve Passen, and Kevin Wetter, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, February 15, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

February 15, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines February 6-February 13) (links correct as of February 15)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Government by Finger, Plus Farm Love, a Hideous Baby, and the Need for Remedial Screening

When "You Lie!" Doesn't Quite Capture the Moment
Legislator Abel LeBlanc was tossed out of the New Brunswick Assembly for lack of commitment to bipartisanship, viz., liberally giving the finger to two colleagues, along with a threat to one "punk" and a challenge to "walk outside with any one of yas here." Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News /// Audio on Archive.org [prepared by BoingBoing.net]

For One Brief Moment, Perfect Justice
The trade association of mortgage bankers sold its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., for $41 million. It had bought the building in 2007, at the top of the real estate market, for $79 million. Washington Post

Price of Overthrowing the Government: $5.00
South Carolina's Subversive Activities Registration Act, passed last year, kicked in in January. Any member of "a subversive organization or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent, and every person who advocates, teaches, advises, or practices the duty, necessity, or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing, or overthrowing the government of the United States . . . shall register with the Secretary of State [of South Carolina]." Fill out the form and pay your $5.00. RawStory.com blog /// Subversive Agent Form [link from FitsNews.com]

The Life of a Driver in Afghanistan
It's probably shorter than yours, but it's thrilling, if you maneuver the 40-mile stretch through the Kabul Gorge between Kabul and Jalalabad. Narrow 2-lane highway. Perpendicular mountain to your right. 1,000-foot drop to your left. One-foot-high "guard rail." Junker cars with bald tires and weak brakes. Nearly immobile supply trucks crawling along the roadway, provoking impatience. And, said a roadside vendor, "[H]istory has proved that the Afghan people are bullies." Hence, "astonishing speeds," "impossible turns," and a local hospital that treats more accident victims than war wounds. New York Times

A Rough Week for Religion
(1) The Islamic Fiqh Council of North America fatwa'd those airport body scanners as violating "modesty" (but said pat-downs of female Muslims by same-sex TSA screeners are OK). (India's superstar Muslim actor Shah Rukh Khan, obviously not modest, said he cheerfully signed a printout of his six-packed image after scanning at London's Heathrow airport, but the airport said there's no such thing as a printout.) (2) Kevin Johnson, 59, was arrested for attacking a dance instructor with a stun gun, because the "sinner" was teaching married women dances involving touching. (3) Virginia legislators banned nonconsensual microchip-implanting (such as requirements by employers and insurance companies) as too invasive–helped by support from some legislators additionally worried that the chips are the mark of the Beast. (4) In the swingingest Catholic diocese in America (Scranton, Pa. [NOTW M143, 1-3-2010]), Father James Shimsky was arrested during a cocaine buy. (5) A New Zealand father explained in court that the Bible approved his smacking his son with a polyethylene electrical pipe when he's bad. "I won't moderate my behavior. I see no wrong in using violence." (6) An ex-employee at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City sued her supervisor for wrongful discharge, pointing to the boss's daily cursing "fits" and "constant barrages of . . . flatulence." (7) A University of Udine (Italy) study found for the first time that brain damage in three specific lobe areas can lead to enhanced religiosity. (Ouch.) (1) Detroit Free Press /// Daily Mail (London) /// (2) Wisconsin State Journal /// (3) Washington Post /// (4) Philadelphia Inquirer /// (5) New Zealand Herald /// (6) New York Post /// (7) Science Daily

Meanwhile, Over on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

An undereducated, overexcited TSA airport screener precipitated a lawsuit by the ACLU by hypothesizing the danger posed by an Anglo Arabic-speaking physics major who had some vocabulary flash cards. Sputtered the screener, Heyyyy, that's Osama bin Laden's language! Philadelphia Inquirer

Lloyd Norris, 57, apparently seriously thought he was going to pull a fast one by paying for his new $225,000 home in an Atlanta suburb with "U.S. Treasury notes" that he printed up with his computer (signed by "Timothy Geithner"). (And he was just getting started; he had $1 billion worth of them at home.) Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Don Meserlian, 82, a fully absorbed, one-man 9-11 "Truther" in North Caldwell, N.J., finally got tired of being ignored. He was arrested for threatening to kick the heinies of local police ("with one hand tied behind my back"), who he said are condoning all that treason--even though they have no jurisdiction over any 9-11 business. (Meserlian has a new jurisdiction theory, too, if only they'd listen to reason.) Star-Ledger (Newark)

American Sophisticates: A big majority of Americans favors letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military . . . except that . . . 11% of them (according to a New York Times/CBS News poll) think it's OK for "gays and lesbians" to serve openly but not "homosexuals." New York Times

Recurring Themes: (1) Yet another man, fleeing the police, took refuge in a building only to soon realize that it was the back of a police station. (2) Yet another robber had his getaway hampered because he had accidentally dropped his car keys back at the crime scene. (3) Yet another man had the bright idea to steal a backhoe and then, when police arrived, to believe that zig-zagging it down the street would avoid police and get him home free. (4) Yet another robber showed up later in person to inquire whether there was a reward out for the robbery. (5) Yet another man managed to get fatally run over by his own car. (Bonus: He was a sheriff's deputy; it was his patrol car.) (1) Associated Press via Billings Gazette /// (2) Tulsa World /// (3) Richmond (Ind.) Palladium-Item via Arizona Republic /// (4) Lexington Herald-Leader /// (5) Associated Press via Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Police in Shanghai, China, report a growing drug problem with cocaine, methamphetamines, and ketamine–by retirees looking for stamina for all-night mahjong games. Seriously. The Guardian (London)

Swedish Member of Parliament Fredrick Federley perhaps violated the chamber's rules by accepting a free vacation from a company but said it wasn't actually "he" who did it. Federley is a notorious cross-dresser and explained that it was really "Ursula" who took the vacation. The Local (Stockholm)

Got "Bribes" in Their DNA: With all the suffering in Haiti, you'd think the officials who normally require palm-greasing to let goods into the country would relax a bit to permit medicine, water, and food to flow to the homeless. Wrong. Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press via USA Today

Brockton, Mass., is shoveling $180,000 in tax revenues and insurance money over to a 6-year-old because elementary school officials had called him a "sex offender" for tweaking the waistband of a 7-year-old girl's panties. (At age 6, he's much more obsessed with "cooties" than "sex.") The Enterprise (Brockton)

Creative Spousal Abuse: Yes, he kicked her, threatened to kill her, spied on her, isolated her in the home, but the really effective abuse, Tonya Parrish now says (now that she's a widow), was that he brought home several dozen cats for her to take care of. She's now trying to give them away but still has about 30. Cincinnati Enquirer

Below The Fold

Gainesville Man Charged with Telling Police Dog to Sit Gainesville (Fla.) Sun

One-Armed Man Hunted for Stealing Single Cufflink Daily Telegraph (London)

Millionaire Gives Away Fortune Which Made Him Miserable Daily Telegraph (London)

Farmer Makes Half-Mile Wide Heart from Manure Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune

Eyewitness News

The U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Thailand Armed Forces ran the annual Cobra Gold exercises in Thailand last week, and London's Daily Mail has photos of the survivalist challenges (yummy frogs, lizards, cobra blood). That cobra blood is delicious, sir! May I have another, sir! Daily Mail (London)

Here, through the magic of YouTube, is thoughtful New Hampshire state Rep. Nancy Elliott, working through a problem right there at a hearing on the repeal of the state's new same-sex marriage law: "I started thinking, and we're talking about taking the penis of one man and putting it in the rectum of another man, and wiggling it around in excrement, and you have to think . . . hmmmm, not sure, would I allow that to happen to me?" YouTube.com [link from BoingBoing.net]

Here is an animal curator showing off a crustacean anomaly [or maybe it's just an ordinary man with one hell of an STD]. BBC News

We all exorcise demons in our own way, and Australian sculptor Ron Mueck's way is by creating this sorta-realistic-looking (but humongous and hideously misshapen) silicon-fiberglass baby. Memorable. AOL News

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Methamphetamine, That Miracle Drug: Edward Rodriguez was arrested in Mesa, Ariz., hiding in a ditch, wearing women's pants with a hole in the crotch exposing his genitals and with his own underwear around his neck and "numerous pornographic items" by his side. Yee-ha! Arizona Republic

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


Dalton Vandeloo, 18, is charged with a bold, semi-elaborate blackmail scheme in which he somehow digs up a topless photo of a woman and then threatens to publish it, or in the alternative, to infect her computer with a virus, unless she sends nude photos of herself. But wait. That perp's name was "Vincent Galarza," not "Dalton Vandeloo," so Dalton may be innocent. Only one way to tell. (Note to "jury": Ignore "Vincent"'s request that the girl write "I ♥ Dalton" on one photo.) Sheboygan (Wis.) Press

More Things To Worry About

How is it possible for a woman who has lived in the same house for 30 years to suddenly not be able to get from the house to the street without having to crawl under a train? (Welcome to Callahan, Fla., pop. 962.) Florida Times-Union

Army soldier Joshua Tabor was arrested for using an Enhanced Interrogation Technique to get his 4-year-old daughter to recite the alphabet (which, unfortunately, she had not yet learned). Seattle Times

You kinda know what to expect from a first-grader when her parents acknowledge that, yes, she has a "temper problem." Translation: She went maniacally out-of-control/violently-nuts on the teacher, principal, and responding police officers. And it also means that the parents are outraged at any suggestion that there might be a problem. The Smoking Gun

Deadliest Karaoke Song: A New York Times reporter in the Philippines thinks Sinatra's "My Way" has provoked the most homicidal reactions, even though a man in Thailand once took out eight people for singing John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." New York Times

And For Further Review . . .

OK, what is the proper response to Rev. Phelps and the lesser Phelpses of Westboro Baptist, who picket funerals with their God-hates-fags signs? (After all, I'll bet even the thoughtful Pope Benedict has a trace of private doubt from time to time about his beliefs, but the Phelpses seem to have none about theirs–absolutely zero.) They met their match the week before last when they picketed Twitter headquarters in Sodom City. The counter protesters drew all the attention with their nonsense signs (e.g., God Hates Flags, Where's Waldo, I Have a Sign, God Hates Kittens, I Was Promised Donuts, Me, Subject Hates Object). LaughingSquid.com

Newsrangers: Geoffrey Landis, Gary Goldberg, Mike Mendenhall, Larry Seltzer, William Howe, Hal Durham, Bruce Leiserowitz, Nedra Albrecht, William Kuykendall, Pete Randall, Barry Rose, Emmitt Dove, Peter Swank, Gerald Sacks, Perry Levin, and Peter Smagorinsky, and the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Geoffrey Egan, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and the News of the Weird Editorial Advisors (Paul Blumstein, John Cieciel, Harry Farkas, Fritz Gritzner, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Yo, if you're looking for this week's Pro Edition, it's underneath 16 More Things I Learned Last Week. (Basically, there are only two things on this blog: the weekly Pro Edition, posted Mondays, and, starting today, maybe, most of the time, More Things I Learned Last Week, posted Tuesdays.)
16 More Things I Learned Last Week
A supplement to News of the Weird/Pro Edition
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
February 9, 2010
(datelines January 30-February 6; links correct as of February 8)

Even after years of ridicule about "zero tolerance," a New York City principal still almost suspended a 9-year-old boy for having a 2-inch-long toy "gun." New York Daily News

Switzerland set for referendum the question whether animals deserve public defenders in legal proceedings. (Don't roll your eyes. In the United States recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a notarized piece of paper associated with a set of books and a bank account has the same free-speech rights as the human being(s) who own the paper, books, and bank account.) The Times (London) /// New York Times

The Haiti earthquake (200,000 dead) was terrible, just terrible! We're all in a tizzy over the inhuman suffering. Meanwhile, in the Rwandan civil war, the death toll (the vast majority no more deserving of their fate than were the earthquake victims) climbed to 6,000,000. New York Times

"Amy," star of a seminal child porn series that has appeared in the collections of at least 800 convicted pervs, has demanded restitution from the uncle who originally took the pictures – and from everyone who had copies. Psych professionals estimate the damage done to her at $3.4 million, and some courts have begun to go along. New York Times

In other child porn news, the queen of the Viardouro samba group (one of 12 groups in the top-class competition at Rio's Carnaval) is 7 years old. She's supposed to be really good, but even in Brazil they have a problem with this. (Not her dad, though. He couldn't be prouder.) And here's something that could really confuse pedophiles: A rare ailment (lipodystrophy) makes this 13-year-old girl look like she's 50. Associated Press via ABC News /// MSNBC

And also, Miley Cyrus's 9-year-old sister is launching a lingerie line for kids. Ninemsn.com (Sydney)

Kyrgyzstan will issue electronic "passports" to every one of its millions of sheep, to make them identifiable from birth to slaughter. Agence France-Presse via Google News

A 21-year-old Milwaukee man, pranking at 9 o'clock at night on his mother, put on a ski mask and menacingly approached her. Appropriately scared, she shot him in the jewels with her .357. (Or maybe it wasn't a prank; cops think he might have intended to rob his old lady.) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jailed British mob boss Colin Gunn was freely issuing threats on his Facebook page because prison officials were afraid to stop him, for fear of violating his "human rights," until Justice Secretary Jack Straw loaned them some stones. (It's still good to be a British criminal.) The Times

And it's good to be a Canadian murderer: To get his testimony against his former Hells Angel brothers, murderer Sylvain Boulanger got (a) a pass plus (b) $3 million in walk-around money. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News

Once again, some dog shot its owner, near Los Banos, Calif. Fresno Bee

Immigrant taxicab drivers in Southampton, England, are complaining about the brutally unfair signs some (non-immigrant) cabbies are putting on their taxis: "Driver Speaks English." Daily Telegraph

District of Calamity II: Wayne County's (Detroit's) budget for burying unclaimed bodies ran out last June; bodies are stacked like cordwood in 67 portable freezers. WDIV-TV (Detroit)

One of the Fine Points of Texas Law: A mother is responsible for the legal costs when her minor son is arrested for assault, even if she was the one the kid beat up. El Paso Times via Austin American Statesman

Washington, D.C., area BDSM dungeonmaster Paul Pickthorne, describing his clientele: "Men, women, transgender, heterosexuals, gays, bisexuals. Every ethnicity. White-collar and blue-collar. It's really very, very diverse – though we do have an unusually high percentage of lawyers. I don't know why." Washington Post

Newsrangers: Paul Andrews, Ryan Lang, Brendan O'Naughton, Stuart Zukrow, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, February 08, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

February 8, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines January 30-February 6) (links correct as of February 8)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Indiscriminate Anti-Discrimination, Plus Runaway Mojo, Neil Armstrong's Poop, and the Horror of Upside Down Faxes

A Cavalcade of Anti-Discrimination
(1) Near-Perfect Storm: Benjamin Grundy is challenging Garfield-Palouse High School in eastern Washington for illegal discrimination. He's gay, plus biracial, plus mentally challenged. Plus, he'd like to be on the cheerleading team. (2) The U.S. Dept. of Justice is trying to get in front of any discrimination complaints in its Civil Rights Division, with a job announcement for "experienced attorneys," in which the Department "encourages qualified applicants with targeted disabilities to apply." "Targeted disabilities" include the traditional (deafness, blindness) as well as "mental retardation." (3) Similarly, England's Portsmouth City Council tells aspirants for taxicab licenses that they can get applications in "another language [besides English]," in "large print," in "audio," and in "Braille." Seattle Weekly /// Department of Justice job notice (pdf) [link from The Volokh Conspiracy blog] /// Daily Telegraph

"Where Feet, Fist, and Faith Collide"
Pastor John Renken leads his flock in solemn prayer to the Heavenly Father and then, not an hour later in the back room of their meeting house, he's screaming at his parishioners: "Hard punches! Finish the fight! To the head! To the head!" It's Xtreme Ministries, of Memphis, where mixed martial arts is helping to re-masculinize the gospel (to correct, as another practitioner put it, having "raised a generation of little boys" as churches have catered mostly to women and children). New York Times

A Dog Chastity Belt – Seriously
It only sounds like a joke. Breeders like it because they can take charge of in-heat cycles without invasive surgery. (But don't tell anybody about that; show them this photo of the dog all harnessed up, and let them think this is just another shrink-wrapped dog toy on their supermarket shelf.) (Bonus: Desperately horny males ferociously gnaw at the straps, but so far haven't broken through.) San Francisco Chronicle /// Pet Anti-Breeding System

Teachers' Union Poster Child
Alan Rosenfeld, 64, a New York City lawyer and real estate entrepreneur with 12 properties, is also a schoolteacher, though he hasn't been in a classroom since 2002. He's one of those Rubber Room teachers, whose contract calls for full salary and benefits even though the chancellor thinks he's a sexual menace to his female students (proven only once, with wrist-slap punishment). Rosenfeld's salary is $100,000 a year plus health care plus retirement benefits (that would, if he retired today, get him $82,000 a year). New York Post

Free Judge Klein!
By now, everybody knows how the lawyers' class-action racket works. Lawyer digs up a Bad Guy and a Lead Plaintiff and some Victims. Judge certifies the "class." Lawyer and Bad Guy settle. Lead Plaintiff gets a nominal amount, Lawyer a big fat fee, Victims bupkis. Retired Los Angeles County judge Brett Klein got drafted back to duty to approve or reject the final terms of Windsor Fashions's class-action settlement for mistreating credit-card customers. Terms: Lead Plaintiff, $2,500, Victims, $10 gift vouchers, Lawyer, $125,000. Judge Klein said, Enough of this! I'll approve it only if the Lawyer also gets his $125,000 in $10 gift vouchers, too. Sweet! (Upshot: The legal establishment rebelled; the County bar association re-classified Klein as now permanently retired.) Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile, Over on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

Your Weekly "Hey, Watch This!" Moment: A guy in a Detroit suburb built a snow sled with a motorcycle muffler, a piece of pipe, gunpowder, match heads, and gasoline, to power himself down a hill, and had a pal light the wick. Result: hospital. He's 62; you'd think he'd know better, but Alcohol Was Involved. Detroit Free Press

Inexplicable: Mr. Chamil Guadarrama, 30, was arrested in Springfield, Mass., after a store security guard spotted him with 75 bottles of lotion stuffed down his pants legs, which made him look like the Michelin Man, silly and nearly immobile. Said a cop, "They could not fit Mr. Guadarrama into the cruiser because his pants were bursting at the seams and he could not bend over." The Republican (Springfield)

Craig Show, 49, filed a lawsuit against Idaho state police and the Bonner County sheriff because they searched a bag on his motorcycle when he was stopped for DUI last year. That bag had been blessed by a medicine woman in 1995 and had remained closed ever since, and when the cops opened it, the mojo got out, and now Show's life is ruined, he says. United Press International (citing Bonner County Daily Bee, Sandpoint, Idaho)

Lame: He's only in high school so maybe the quality of his excuses will improve. He was caught with 150 snapshots of clothed females' body parts, which may or may not have been illegal to take, but then he offered the rationale that he had to go extracurricular because the sex education at Lake Travis High School (Austin, Tex.) is so poor. KXAN-TV (Austin)

Recurring Themes: (1) Crooks continue to brag about their crimes on Facebook, which cops monitor. (Wrote a grateful cop, to assault suspect Christopher Crego: "It was due to your diligence in keeping us informed [on Facebook] that now you are under arrest.") (2) Some anger-management counselors can't even talk themselves out of going postal when the need arises. (3) Amateur counterfeiters continue to settle for "Ehhh, that's close enough." (4) Crooks continue to call on the police when they need help, as though cops don't ever receive "be on the lookout for" photos. Buffalo News /// Washington Post /// Associated Press via KHOU-TV (Houston, Tex.) /// Charlotte Observer

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A few municipalities have made wearing saggy pants illegal, but now two Florida guys have earned a patent for pants that only look like they're falling down. Comply with the law and keep your cred. ABA Journal

Speaking of the Patent Office, its Chief Communications Officer confirmed last week that the agency absolutely does not accept faxes that arrive upside down. If they get even one upside down page, they'll send you back a "Notice of Document Faxed Upside Down" instructing you to resend all of your fax, no matter how many pages. BNet blog

Life Imitates Police Squad: South Bend, Ind., police officer A chased a car theft suspect on foot, soon joined by officer B and his K-9. However, K-9 veered off and attacked officer A. A pulled out his gun and shot at K-9 (missing). That ticked off officer B, who started swinging at A, and the two were on. Other officers arrived, caught the suspect, and pulled A and B apart. K-9 then attacked a couple of those officers. South Bend Tribune

Saugatuck Township, Mich., voters will go to the polls in May on a referendum to raise the property tax to pay for the increased expense incurred by the town to fight a lawsuit that claims its property taxes are too high. Seriously. Grand Rapids Press

The California State Historical Resources Commission laid claim to new property for its historical register, namely, the detritus left on the Moon by Apollo 11 astronauts (since so many of the items were products of California companies). Most of the items had been jettisoned to make the astronauts' return flight lighter, and included tools, a flag, food bags, and, yes, bags of human waste. San Francisco Chronicle

Akbar Zeb must be one of Pakistan's most valuable diplomatic aces because they keep floating his name as potential ambassador to United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, and now Saudi Arabia. All three countries have rejected him, though, because in their Arabic dictionaries, "akbar zeb" means "biggest dick." Foreign Policy (citing Arab News)

Below The Fold

"Menstruating Ghost" Film Stirs Controversy Herald Sun (Melbourne) (Australian Associated Press story)

Bike Riding After Midnight Leads to Clown Attack Beaumont Enterprise

Childcare, Chinese Style: Rickshaw Driver Chains 2-Year-Old Son to a Post While He's at Work Daily Mail (London)

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Ian Stafford, 59, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to a spree of panty thefts committed while he was mayor of Preesall, England. It appears that a number of the raids also resulted in happy endings. (Bonus: beyond-reasonable-doubt mugshot) Lancashire Telegraph

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


We don't know this guy's name, but he could be a "domestic batter[er]." The Smoking Gun

More Things To Worry About

Things You Thought Didn't Happen: New babies' DNA is routinely taken at hospitals for medical screenings. Did you know that several states keep that DNA, by name, on file forever? Is there a problem? CNN

News That Sounds Like a Joke: The lender will soon foreclose on the building in downtown Atlanta that's now a homeless shelter serving about 700 people, who will become, presumably, homeless homeless people. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The cursed Taliban shot down a supply helicopter en route to a British forward operating base in Afghanistan, leaving the cook with only with a cupboard full of Spam and no re-supply due for six weeks. Hence, sweet and sour Spam. Spam fritters. Spam carbonara. Spam stroganoff. Stir fried Spam. Daily Telegraph

And For Further Review . . .

A new book on Adolf Hitler is out, examining his medical history. Some popular legends were debunked, e.g., he wasn't missing a testicle, did not have syphilis, was not delusional. On the other hand, he had flatulence something awful. His officers were known to hold perfumed hankies over their noses when he entered their bunkers. His personal doctor (who may have been a quack) injected him with a primitive erectile-dysfunction drug made from the semen and prostate of young bulls. The researchers found that, in all, Hitler took 82 different medications with as many as 28 a day. Daily Mail (London)

Newsrangers: David Abdoo, Ron Corby, Peter Smagorinsky, Bex Zumbruski, Steve Dunn, Stephen Taylor, H.Thompson, Mike Mendenhall, Larry Seltzer, Gary Goldberg, Neil Gimon, Susan Holland, Brian McIntyre, Joe Harman, Jeremy Kitt, Chrys Rodrigue, and Stefan Creaser, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, February 01, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

February 1, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines January 23-January 30) (links correct as of February 1)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Proudly Insipid Meat, Plus Teen Taxidermist, Porn That Kills, and Aryan Hyperprocreation

One benefit of the "mad cow" panic of the 1990s is that the federal government banned the Scottish face-scrunching, taste-bud-numbing delicacy haggis from our shores. It's a boiled bag of sheep innards, oatmeal, suet, and pepper, and substituting beef innards just didn't work out for expatriate Scots. The Department of Agriculture announced that it would soon lift the ban. The Guardian (London)

Pastor Fred Munger Armfield, 60, of Greenwood, S.C., was arrested just after an encounter with a prostitute, and according to police, confessed. Six days later, he changed his mind and denied that any such "transaction" took place. His legal analysis is that "cash" can't be used to prove a violation of law, citing a court case that he says invalidates "Federal Reserve Notes." (Bonus: The "cash" involved in this transaction was apparently five one-dollar bills.) More from Armfield's petition: "[I am a] descendant of the original Moro-Pithecus Disoch, Kenyapithecus and Afro Pithecus, whose ancestors roamed from that point throughout the world. A living flesh and blood being with sovereign status. A femme couteur [CORRECTION: couleur] libre." (Second Bonus: The party of the second part, Melinda Robinson, is known around town as "Truck Stop.") The Index-Journal (Greenwood)

Another American original is Wolfie Blackheart, 18, of San Antonio, Tex., a self-described tail-wagging werewolf. She has Tourette's syndrome (which causes her to yip). She wears a harness and collar (because she "belongs" to someone). She happens to be an expert animal decapitator, on a career path to taxidermy. That means, though, that she's a perennial suspect any time neighborhood pets go missing. (She swears she only does roadkill.) Express-News (San Antonio)

(Update) April Gaede, the super-white mother whose teen spawn (Lynx and Lamb) made the news four years ago as the duo "Prussian Blue," singing neo-Nazi numbers [NOTW 930, 12-4-2005], is on to a new project. a no-fee matchmaking service for fertile Aryans, to increase their numbers. April said her one regret in life is "the many years that I lost in which I could have produced four to six more children with that ideal eugenic quality that [Lynx and Lamb] possess." The daughters, by the way, have apparently soured of life on the road with Mom. Southern Poverty Law Center blog

(Update) Great Moments in Schadenfreude: The U.S. Supreme Court turned down Paul Powell's death-sentence appeal in a case so legally complicated that it clearly got the best of him. Virginia prosecutors thought it was enough to qualify Powell for the needle if they proved he killed a woman and also raped her sister (i.e., the necessary "aggravated" circumstance). The Virginia Supreme Court eventually said no, that the "aggravated" act had to be committed against the actual murder victim. Powell was so overjoyed at his "victory" (meaning, life in prison instead of death) that he failed to read the case very closely and thought the death penalty was totally off the table because of "double jeopardy." He then wrote out a sneering, jeering tirade against the "stupid" cops, taunting them by smugly describing all the crimes he committed that fateful night, assuming that his sentence had already maxed out at life behind bars. Except . . that in his rant, he confessed to raping the murder victim, too, and not just her sister. Thus, the prosecutors had a new crime for the "aggravated" circumstance. No double jeopardy. D'oh! CNN

What happens later in life to unphony rebels like Holden Caulfield? From the New York Times obituary: "Mr. Salinger was controlling and sexually manipulative, [Joyce] Maynard wrote, and a health nut obsessed with homeopathic medicine and with his diet (frozen peas for breakfast, undercooked lamb burger for dinner). [His daughter] said that her father was pathologically self-centered and abusive toward her mother, and to the homeopathy and food fads she added a long list of other enthusiasms: Zen Buddhism, Vedanta Hinduism, Christian Science, Scientology, and acupuncture. Mr. Salinger drank his own urine, she wrote, and sat for hours in an orgone box [accumulating sexual and other energy]." New York Times

People Different From Us

Michael Colquitt, 32, Alcoa, Tenn., apparently a church slacker, filed for a restraining order against his dad, Pastor Joe Colquitt. The preacher was so angry at his son's poor attendance record that he threatened, at gunpoint, to kill Michael and his wife and kids. The Daily News (Maryville)

We Need a Better Class of Burglars: The cops' best guess was that whoever broke into the West Main Pharmacy in Medford, Ore., was looking for oxycodone. That's because he grabbed all the ready-to-pick-up prescriptions in the "O" section (somehow clueless that pharmacies file outgoing orders by the customer's name, not the drug's name). Mail Tribune (Medford)

Ms. Nancy "Sunny" Bostrom is up for election tomorrow to the Piedmont, Calif., City Council. It's a second act. A year ago, her mother was the woman whose mummified corpse was found sitting in a chair. At the time, Sunny denied she was a neglectful daughter and swore that she had recently visited with Mom. (Still, Sunny was not charged with any crime.) San Francisco Chronicle /// San Francisco Chronicle (February 2009)

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Tribal violence erupted in Papua New Guinea's southern highlands, and two are already dead. It started when a young man from the Tapo clan sent a pornographic text message to a woman in the Pipi clan. Seriously. Australian Broadcasting Corp. News

The principal at Roy Kennedy elementary school in Ottawa, Ontario, has banned playing with balls in the yard because she thinks it's too dangerous. CTV.ca

Fr. Steven Poole, 41, of West City, Ill., was arrested after doing a shoplifting number at Wal-Mart. Police said he coveted a $60 sofa cover, a $3 tub of butter, and a $145 memory-foam mattress (whose bar code he had switched to read $31). Associated Press via New York Times

The attorney general of Fiji complained about the country's court system, which employs neither a professional court reporter nor a transcriber of recordings but just a lady writing out the courtroom dialogue by hand. That annoys the lawyers, who have to speak slowly, often have to repeat themselves, and frequently lose their train of thought. Agence France-Presse via Google News

More "Human Rights": A crazed immigrant from Iraq fatally stabbed two doctors in a British hospital in 1990 and has been locked away ever since. The government would love to deport him but can't because it's worried he can't or won't take his meds back home, which will re-render him a raving psychotic, which would be a violation of his rights (and the rights of his future murder victims). So, he's permanently Britain's problem. BBC News

Below The Fold

Ohio Trucker Was Watching Porn When Rig Struck Car, Killing Driver, Police Say Columbus Dispatch (Associated Press story)

Jim Bartek of Maple Heights Ends 524-Day Streak of Listening to Judas Priest Album "Nostradamus" Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

iGrow: Walmart of Weed Opens in Oakland San Francisco Chronicle

743 Pounds of Marijuana Found in Septic Tank Truck, Arizona Police Say CNN

Advert for "Reliable Workers" Banned as Discrimination By Jobcentre Plus BBC News

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Brisbane (Australia) Magistrates Court has actually ordered a home-improvement contractor to throw away his short-shorts. Female clients had complained, but he said he couldn't help it that his penis is so large that it protruded. He also couldn't help it that he had a penile rash that required him to apply cream while working. Australian Associated Press via Herald Sun (Melbourne)

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


Kurt Milner, 28, might just be an overenthusiastic Simpsons fan, and the fact that he had some pornographic drawings of the characters (including the underage characters) is not really evidence of possessing child "porn." Your call. Queensland Times

Steven Sheangshang, 32, and Danny Love, 24, accused of carjacking, present a bold issue of due process of law. Is it possible that there are jurors anywhere in the country who could believe that these guys are innocent? Cincinnati Enquirer

More Things To Worry About

Glenn Armstrong, 47, of Brisbane, Australia, tried out this explanation for taking pictures of young boys naked: He and his wife had been arguing over how prevalent circumcision is, and he was intense about proving that "uncut" was more popular. News.com.au

Louisiana has been trying to coax people into eating nutria meat, as a partial solution to these pests that have been stripping the state's wetlands of vegetation (nutrias: body of a beaver, tail of a rat, feet of a duck, nipples on the side). Another partial solution: Fashion designers Billy Reid and Oscar de la Renta have introduced nutria-fur coats. Discover Magazine blog

The security of the U.S. effort in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater is largely dependent on the wisdom and judgment of a man (Pakistani President Zardari) who arranges for a goat to be slaughtered at his home almost every day, to protect himself against black magic. The Guardian (London)

Only one thing for school officials to do if they learn that Merriam Webster's [Collegiate Dictionary] 10th Edition has a definition of "oral sex" in it: immediately remove the dictionary from all elementary schools in the district. The Menifee Union district in southern California has about 9,000 students. The number of offended parents who had demanded the ban was . . one. Press-Enterprise (Riverside)

And For Further Review . . .

"Hate" is such a grim emotion that it's almost a relief to see it practiced with such joie de vivre as displayed by Rev. Fred Phelps and his merry band of loathers who work out of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. They mainly hate homosexuals but direct their most pungent derision for gays' enablers (which, when you factor in the indifferent, includes just about everyone). Exhibits A and B of the joie: a "We Are The World" parody video ("God Hates The World") and now, a parody video of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" ("Whorish Face"), performed by cheerful granddaughter Megan Phelps.
God Hates the World [link goes to BoingBoing.net] /// Whorish Face [YouTube.com (video may present buffering problems)] /// Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends TV show episode with the Phelpses [link goes to SoJones.com]

Editor's Notes

Several readers have noticed the use of the phrase "News of the Weird" on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and, correctly guessing that I had nothing to do with the material, asked whether that isn't an illegal use of my trademark. Well, it is. On the other hand, I'm also sure it's not worth anything to The Daily Show and that if I wrote a cease-and-desist letter, they'd cheerfully comply . . by changing the title to "Weird News," which is not trademarked. And why would that be better? As it stands right now, maybe some newspaper and website editors watch The Daily Show, and the phrase "News of the Weird" will stick with them, and they will go on to mistakenly think my work is savvy enough for that show and that, maybe, they should host my real work in their newspaper or on their website! So, shhhh! Don't tell anyone that it's not the same thing, OK? Maybe I can get a steak or two out of this. Maybe some haggis?

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Stephen Taylor, Jim Weiss, Peter Trobridge, Jesper Weber, Bob Pert, Sarah Rosenzweig, and Charles Smaistrla, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors