Monday, July 26, 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
July 26, 2010
(datelines July 17-July 24) (links correct as of July 26)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Money Buys Tender Flesh (and Alan Dershowitz), Plus Ugly Criminals, Roadkill Beer, and Pink Vigilantes

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

Ephebophilia Legalized in Florida: Well, if you're hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein (friends: Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, Prince Andrew, the Council on Foreign Relations), and you can pay your teenagers from abroad enough not to complain, you get a laughably mild "house arrest" for a year, and then case closed. The FBI and local police said there were up to 40 youngsters, but the federal prosecutors thought they'd make bad witnesses, especially after Alan Dershowitz for the defense started sliming the girls one-by-one as soon as the prosecutor ID'd them. [ed.: Essay Question: Is it Epstein's Jewishness that makes him the Dershowitz-required "oppressed person" in this case?] (Bonus: And anyway, who can't find enslutting evidence about girls on Facebook?) Daily Beast

Brilliance, in Five Words or Less: Candidates running independent of a party in Wisconsin are entitled to five words alongside their name on the ballot (because "Republican" and "Democrat" are so rich in meaning). Use them wisely. Ms. Ieshuh Griffin, running for the Milwaukee city council, chose "NOT the 'whiteman's bitch.'" (No can do, officials said.) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Everything But the Colon Repair Kit: A senior embalmer at the Memphis Funeral Home saved up the tools he used in 1977 on The King and will offer them at auction in August (including rubber gloves, forceps, lip brushes, comb and eye liner, arterial tube, aneurysm hooks, stuff like that). Reuters via MSNBC

A Genuine "Writing" Contest: Former BBC reporter Reg Turnill sponsored a £1,000-prize short-story competition to honor H.G. Wells, but it attracted not a single entry. The problem, Turnill acknowledges, is that, in trying to honor sound creative-writing habits, he required that all stories be written out by hand. Kent News

But There's Also Good News in Literature: For the Toronto Burlesque Festival last week at the Gladstone Hotel, five models stripped down for "Naked Girls Reading." They chose their own texts, and it turns out they actually do know how to read. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

The Theory Behind Your Weekly Jury Duty: It's anthropometry, or physiognomy, or something like that, according to the July Fortean Times. Ugly people commit more crimes than we attractive people do (flat noses, "thieves"; one-sided grins, "brutality"). We lookers have more options in life to stay on the side of light. Better job opportunities. Better first impressions. Apparently, the ugly soon lose hope at the unfairness of it all. [ed.: I wish there was something I could do for you ugly people, but I'm just one man.] Fortean Times

Losers

Napalm in the Morning: To the police chief in Florala, Ala., answering a disturbing-the-peace call, the smell was strong. Several gas cans were open throughout the house. Juliana Bryant, 33, said that was because she "liked the smell." (She was jailed.) Mobile Press-Register [citing Andalusia Star-News]

Mr. Sitha Hen, 35, was caught in the act in Mannheim Township, Pa., trying to break into the Labor Ready temp agency in the middle of the night . . by chiseling through the brick wall. (Bonus: OK, why?) Lancaster New Era

Mr. Jimmy Lee was sentenced to 32 weeks in jail for breaking into Khonat's Newsagents in Blackburn, England. They caught him when he came back in to ask if anybody'd found his choppers, which he had left at the scene. Blackburn Citizen

Horatio Toure was arrested in San Francisco, about 10 minutes after he stole a cell phone from a woman . . who was where she was only because she was testing her company's GPS-tracking system in real time . . and guess what, Horatio? It works. San Francisco Chronicle

Recurring Themes: (1) Dine 'n' Dash (except don't forget to take your purse when you dash). (Bonus: Livin' Large--a $39 tab at the Waffle House) (2) If you shoplift a security camera from a store that sells security cameras, they've probably got security cameras trained on you. (3) Don't forget your getaway-car keys. (Bonus: When police arrived, the bank robber was still there, furiously trying to smash through her window with a tire iron.) Associated Press via News-Leader (Springfield, Mo.) /// Associated Press via KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) /// Chico (Calif.) Enterprise Record

Strange World

In Jerusalem, Arab Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for rape for "deceiving" a Jewish woman into the sack by claiming to be a Member of the Tribe when he's not. (But whatever standard the judges came up with to decide this will inevitably put all of us smooth-talking men on the defensive.) Haaretz (Tel Aviv)

A British brewery issued End of History beer, so called because (a) it's 110 proof and (b) it's served in taxidermied roadkill, a "completely new approach to beer," said the co-founder. The Independent (London)

U.S. tourist Jean Barnard, in her sixties, was on holiday in Australia, on a Qantas hopper to Darwin, and as she took her seat, a 3-year-old next to her yelled a death scream directly into her ear. She's now "stone cold deaf" and suing Qantas in a lawsuit that's crawling along. (Bonus e-mail from Barnard to a pal: "Had it not been for [my exploding eardrum and the fact that I was swallowing blood], I would have dragged that kid out of his mother's arms and stomped him to death. Then we would have had an 'international incident.'") Australian Associated Press via News.com.au

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is among its most, er, "traditional," meaning husbands still routinely beat the hell out of their wives, but for several years now, Ms. Sampat Pal Devi, now 40, has organized the gulabis ("pinkgang," vigilantes in pink saris) that visit the husbands and fathers and attempt reasoning (and if that fails, return in large numbers, armed with bamboo sticks). In her four years' operation, Pal has seen women's influence grow in positions of leadership throughout Uttar Pradesh and India. (Bonus: That's unfortunate, she says, because women are often more corrupt than the men they replace, and wives and daughters still prefer to get help from the gulabis and not the government.) Slate

Your Editor doesn't understand the problem, but it says here that the townspeople are tired of tourists ripping off their signs and have now commissioned a theft-proof granite marker. Why in the world would they be having that problem in County Dorset, in the village of Shitterton? Daily Telegraph

That's Messed Up

Did the red-light camera in Columbus, Ohio, catch you? That'll be $95, please. What? You're innocent, and you demand a hearing? OK, that'll be $95, please. (If you win, you get your money back, theoretically, but only under the legal doctrine of "taking our own sweet time about it.") WBNS-TV

Undoubtedly the nation's thinnest-skinned office-holder is Alderman Stephen Hipskind of Elmhurst, Ill. When citizen Darlene Heslop spoke to a committee meeting and didn't get what she wanted, she "rolled her eyes," "sighed," and walked away. Hipskind immediately demanded that the City Attorney explore whether Heslop could be charged under the "disturbance and disorderly conduct" section governing the city's meetings. Chicago Tribune

Washington, D.C.,'s school system is in catastrophic decline. The chancellor just fired 241 teachers. [ed.: How could that be? Just a couple of years ago, before Michelle Rhee took over, nearly every one of D.C.'s teachers was rated "outstanding" (even though the system, itself, was the country's most expensive and worst-performing). How could the teachers have deteriorated so quickly? The only solution: Fire Michelle Rhee. Bring back the outstanding teachers!] New York Times

The Pervo Community

It was bad enough that a 33-year-old transvestite was caught mounting a dog in the dry moat of Britain's historic Pendennis Castle in Cornwall. But then also last week, Anthony Julies was in Wynberg Magistrates' Court in Cape Town, South Africa, after being caught having sex with a neighbor's poodle. (He didn't even stop when the neighbors gathered around to shame him, because, he said, it "wasn't right" to start something and then stop. Also, he said, "[T]he dog mustn't flaunt herself like that." Daily Telegraph /// Independent Online (Cape Town)

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


Is Lori Turner, 39, the sort of person who would try to scam a McD's (by distracting the clerk, removing a burger from her take-out bag, stuffing it down her pants, then complaining that she didn't get it)? Spartanburg Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.)

If your idea of an animal rights activist/vegan is a Berkeley hippie., Walter Bond, 34, would like you on his jury. The Smoking Gun

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: Kwame Kirkpatrick just can't stay out of trouble. The ex-mayor of Detroit is doing hard time for lying in court [NOTW M169, 7-4-2010], and now he's about to have jail privileges taken away because, during his last visit from his wife, he violated rules by copping a feel. CNN

Update: News of the Weird first mentioned Kopi Luwak in 1993 [NOTW 301, 11-12-1993], but it seems about once a year, an entry-level reporter somewhere in the world will discover that, hey, there's a coffee made from beans swallowed and excreted by an Asian civet (cat), and (after washing and roasting) it's so-o-o-o smooth-tasting, and ain't that wild, and let's do a story about it! Recently, Indonesia's highest Islamic authority considered a fatwa against Kopi Luwak but now says the coffee is OK as long as--duh--you wash the beans. The Jakarta Globe

Update: Wesley Snipes was convicted of three misdemeanor tax-avoiding charges in 2008 and sentenced to a year each, to run consecutively, and appealed, calling the sentence too harsh, but now the appeals court has turned him down. [ed.: And it was too harsh . . except that what the judge knew that the jury didn't was that Wesley had smart-assed his way for years with IRS agents, calling them morons for underappreciating his bogus legal theories that he is beyond the tax laws. The jury compromised on what should have been a boom-lowering, perhaps based on low-balling Wesley's IQ because he "fell for" such a scheme. All the sentencing judge did was make sure that Wesley got the max allowable on the three counts the jury settled for.] St. Petersburg Times

Update: Those three overpaid city officials in Bell, Calif., from last week? They've resigned after outraged citizens marched on city hall. (Bonus: The citizens aren't done yet!) Los Angeles Times

Recurring Ways to Die Undignified Deaths: (1) An 85-year-old man in Whitewater Township, Ohio, is the latest to be found dead in his yard with his feet sticking up, having fallen in head-first while working on his septic tank. (2) Irshad Khan and an assistant are the latest of the seemingly endless supply of clumsy Muslim jihadists, having accidentally blown themselves up in Pakistan. (3) In Marin County, Calif., a 17-year-old boy fell to his death on the Coastal Trail, perhaps, authorities say, while busy on his cell phone. Cincinnati Enquirer /// BBC News /// KTVU-TV (Oakland, Calif.)

And for Further Review . . .

You know the stories. A parent forgets that his tiny toddler is in the back seat and leaves him there while at work or shopping, and sometimes the baby doesn't make it. This is actually regarded by some people in America as a morally hazy area. It seemed clear to Your Editor that it was weird to be so distracted even though you are supposedly "caring for" an infant in your car. Subsequently, I read stories, and a few readers wrote me, pointing out that, hey, we're all busy, and we lead complicated lives, and it's not that hard to forget about your tiny little urchin in the back seat, that it's happened to them or to someone they know. Oh really? OK, enter David Bell of Menlo Park, Calif., who has studied up such things as attention span and the psychology of learning and now will sell you a VizKID that you stick in the front seat when your urchin is in back. $19.95. OK, good for David. But it's not a morally hazy subject. San Jose Mercury News /// VizKID

Newsrangers: Alyssa Ure, Gerald Sacks, Trace DeHaven, Jessica Robinson, Nigel Parry, Mark Hazelrigg, Kelly Egnitz, Raymond Johnston, J.W. Gantz, Jim Dukes, and Stacy Moore, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, July 19, 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
July 19, 2010
(datelines July 10-July 17) (links correct as of July 19)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

"We're Number One, Baby!" Plus Fatal Acne-Picking, Shoveling Out Fat, and Poor "Christie Brinkley"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

New World Leader (Among People with "Camel Sex" on Their Minds): Googlistas have tallied search terms per ip-address location and concluded that since 2007, by one measure, the leading country for that (also, "donkey sex") is Pakistan . . which also leads in "rape pictures," "rape sex," "child sex," "dog sex," and so forth. Associated Press via Fox News

(Update) The Market Responds: Alvin Greene Action Toys! That South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate whose out-of-the-box thinking about jobs (e.g., sell "action figures of me") got his wish, sorta. The out-of-the-box Charleston RiverDogs minor league baseball team (proprietor, M. Veeck, a special name in baseball lore) was scheduled, over the weekend, to give away Statue of Liberty toys with Greene's photo pasted on. Associated Press via Business Week

Suspicion Confirmed: Why, of course Allah still heard y'all's prayers, said the highest Islamic authority in Indonesia, even though y'all have not been facing Mecca when you pray for a long time now--ever since we told you wrong. Our bad. From now on, y'all need to nudge over a little to your right. Reuters

Manuel "Lefty" Hernandez, 28, Springfield, Mass., was charged with snatching a man's wallet (probably with his left hand, as that's the only one he has). Police could have charged him with a felony if he had had a weapon, but they said he was unarmed. The Republican (Springfield)

British Ninnies (continued): The Exchange mall in Rochdale, England, caved in to local Asian-immigrant activists and announced it'd convert two of its deluxe toilet stalls to . . "squat toilets," i.e., deluxe holes in the floor. Don't want local Pakistanis and Bangladeshis getting constipated by having to sit down! Daily Mail

Overcoming Adversity, Aspiring to Greatness! A man believed to be in his 70s, with cane and gun and carrying his oxygen tank, failed in an attempt to rob an upscale clothing store in New York City, firing shots in frustration ("You want one? [bam!] You want another one?") (Update: Turns out he was only 63 and, after a police chase, he is no longer with us, anyway.) New York Post /// CNN

The State of Academic Research: (1) A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that women with big hips ("pear-shaped" bodies) have worse memories than women who are round overall ("apple-shaped"). (2) Researchers from Britain's Manchester University have helpfully produced, via mathematical formula, "the perfect handshake." The lead guy said he was surprised to find that there were no such guides before now. BBC News /// Agence France-Presse via Google News /// Newspress.co.uk [longer version; link from Nothing to Do with Arbroath]

Losers

Police in Cinnaminson, N.J., said Ronald White, 35, made some really bad counterfeit $20's, really bad, but on the other hand, when he bonded out of the police station that night, the cashier accepted a few of his $20's stuffed among the real $20's he put down. (Bonus: That doesn't make White a Loser, in itself, but then he came back to the station later to complain that he was overcharged, and they discovered the bogus bills.) Philadelphia Inquirer

Thinning the Herd: The plan of Dwayne Moten, 20, was for his buddy to shoot him so he could blame it on his wife's boyfriend and get custody again of his son, but the friend apparently aimed badly, and Mr. Moten is on to the next life. KDFI-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth)

A 47-year-old man from Las Cruces, N.M., got torched, but it was fair-and-square. He lost a drinking bet with his buddies, meaning they got to set him on fire . . . well, set his prosthetic leg on fire, but it spread. El Paso Times

Sara Blasse, of Camden County, N.J., wrecked her car and was thus called upon for an excuse, and the winner was that the car was hijacked . . until cops saw right through that . . so second-place excuse went to . . doing oral sex on her boyfriend in the front seat . . but that didn't work, either. She finally confessed. She was, indeed trying to hurry away after stealing a laptop computer. (Bonus: Mugshot!) Philadelphia Daily News /// KSAZ-TV (Phoenix)

Strange World

Potential Game-Changers: (1) An administrative court in Munster, Germany, has agreed with cop Martin Schauder, 44, that he deserves overtime pay (with years of back pay!) for all the time it takes him to get in and out of his bulky uniform. (2) Australian schoolteacher Valissa Bauer, 39, filed a lawsuit worth about $765,000 (U.S.) because the school system, north of Brisbane, stuck her in a class of 31 special needs kids, causing her to wreck her larynx yelling at them. Daily Telegraph (London) /// The Sunday Mail (Brisbane) via Herald Sun (Melbourne)

The Most Effective Way Yet (to Make Sure You Get HIV): Health officials in several African cities told the New York Times that they know of heroin addicts who are injecting a small amount of their own (heroin-laced) blood into their addicted pals (What are friends for?) who need a quick fix. New York Times

The brave, death-wish journalists at China's Zhejiang Daily shouted out at the "Detention Center Management Bureau" of the "Public Security Ministry." Those are prison officials who had reported (with straight faces) certain inmate deaths as coming from: "bumping into a wall" (while playing blind man's buff with other inmates), "picking at his acne" too much, "showering" (probably meaning beaten to death for refusing to shower), and "improper" sleeping position. (At press time, the journalists were still in business.) The Australian

What happens when London's "restaurant district" gets a fat-clogging sewer backup? Workers have to shovel out the fat like miners. The Independent [photo!]

The Pervo-American Community

Registered sex offender Michael Light, 40, in Fairborn, Ohio, was arrested after asking a fire marshal (and ultimately cops) directions to the Little Miss Fairborn pageant he was on his way to photograph. ("Little miss"-type activities are exactly what got him in trouble in the first place.) (Bonus: He actually would've been on his way to pedophilic bliss had he just left the attitude at home.) Dayton Daily News

Armand Pacher, 64, was arrested in Aventura, Fla. (just north of Miami Beach), and charged with having sex with his dog (named "Christie Brinkley"). Allegedly, he told a vet's receptionist, "She doesn't seem to enjoy it as much when we have sex." (Hoax Code Yellow: Pacher's lawyer said that was just a joke and that Aventura police are way behind the curve on hip humor.) Miami Herald

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


It's up to you to decide: When Ms. Aset Magomadova of Calgary, Alberta, strangled her 14-year-old daughter, was it murder or self-defense? CNews.canoe.ca

Jesse Thornhill, 28, and who obviously has spent quite some time thinking about how to present himself to the world, was charged in Tulsa, Okla., with trying to run down his landlord. The Smoking Gun

That's Messed Up

Uncompelling Explanation: Lawyer James Mason, defending a murder client in Atlanta, told an "NBC Dateline" reporter that his man could not have done what the prosecutor said because it is physically impossible for a person to travel from the Atlanta airport to the La Quinta Inn three miles away within the 28-minute crime timeline. "I challenge anybody to show me," he said on national TV. "I'll pay them $1 million if they can do so." Enter Dustin Kolodziej of San Antonio, Tex., who, documenting everything, made it in 19 minutes. Mason: Ehhhh . . . that was just a figure of speech. Now in federal court in Atlanta: Kolodziej v. Mason. Texas Lawyer

God's Will: At the Rock Lake Methodist Church Bible Camp in Montcalm County, Mich., four teenagers were hospitalized after lightning struck their tent. WWTV (Cadillac, Mich.)

Kenneth Hoknes, 44, of Edmonton, Alberta, outsmarted himself, beating the rap for some "bizarre break-ins" on the ground of "Not Criminally Responsible," i.e., nuts. But then it dawned on him that that "NCR" thing would follow him around for a while and thus sought to have a court overturn it. Denied. Toronto Sun

Police in Beatrice, Neb. (pop. 12,400), acting on . . a . . complaint, made some adjustments to the front window of a store because the pants of an ordinary clothing-store mannequin had fallen down. In Beatrice, this constitutes at least a close call on whether the U.S. Supreme Court's "community standards" test for "obscenity" is met. Beatrice Daily Sun [link from Obscure Store]

U.S. Immigration Policy, Explained: Jose Madrigal-Lopez, 46, an illegal immigrant, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sexual exposure charge in Seattle (it had been for rape, but the prosecutors said they lacked enough evidence), and was released to go on about his business. Deport him? He's already been deported 10 times. Keeps coming back. Seattle Times

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: That $1.25 million for Arizona to build road crossings to save the Mount Graham red squirrels [NOTW M170, 7-11-2010]? Canceled. Apparently, officials actually got around to reading the public comments (required on federal projects), i.e., too many "WTF?"s. Eastern Arizona Courier (Safford, Ariz.)

Update: Luck ran out for Sheyla Hershey of Houston, Tex. [NOTW Daily, 2-9-2009], who says she's on about Plastic Surgery #30, a number which includes several breast augmentations in ever-increasing sizes, with her most recent (done in Brazil because no licensed doc in Texas would touch her) to "M" cups. She finally got a life-threatening staph infection. KRIV-TV (Houston)

Recurring: In other breast news, the issue of how long mom breastsfeeds is on the table again, this time in Melbourne, Australia, where biological parents are trying to wrest custody of their almost-age-7 son from the caregiver who has raised him. The biological mom is evidently trying every trick in the book during visitation, including pressuring him to suckle, and the kid doesn't like it a bit. Herald Sun

Recurring: Stuff still happens: Another dog shoots his owner. Someone else gets run over by his own car. A perp making a getaway accidentally runs into a police training class. Somebody gets screwed because he can't spell. New Zealand Herald /// Houston Chronicle /// KIRO-TV (Seattle) /// Naples Daily News

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


Bell, Calif. (pop. 36,000, mostly working-class Latinos, about 7 miles south of Dodger Stadium), runs the city on the cheap--except for executive salaries (city manager, nearly $800,000 a year, police chief, $457,000, council members, $100,000 each). (Council members for a typical California town that size: $400/month) (Police chief of Los Angeles, with 280 times more officers, makes $307,000). (Bonus: The city manager was defiant because . . he's not paying himself any more than he could be making on the outside.) Los Angeles Times

"In fact, given the [Fourth, of the First Armored Division] brigade's record at Fort Bliss [Texas] of suicide, murder, assault, drunken driving, and drug use, its troops are statistically at greater risk at home than while deployed in Iraq." Past year: 1 combat death. In last year of stats (2008) stateside, 7 died, 6 others committed crimes that took the lives of 4 more. New York Times

It's a good thing that the International Red Cross, the Clinton Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, etc., are providing relief to Haiti because the nations of the world, who pledged $5.3 billion in March, have come through with practically bupkis. Only four pledgers have actually given even a dime: Brazil, Norway, Estonia, and Australia. The U.S.'s $1.15 billion is, y'know, tied up in some Congressional committee. CNN

About that "Barefoot Bandit" that so captured the nation's headline writers last week: In the last three years, he stole five planes from airports in the U.S., which is five of the estimated 100 or so that have been stolen at U.S. airports since September 11, 2001. (But . . . Heyyyy, what's in that shampoo bottle?) AOL News

Tex-Ass Justice (continued): The good news is that a hotshot public defender is finally on the case, and hope reigns. The bad news is that deaf petty criminal Stephen Brodie is still in prison for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl--a crime he almost certainly did not commit. Said the late-learning Brodie, "If they find me not guilty, and I'm exonerated, I'm getting out of Texas." Associated Press via Washington Post

The Man with 100-Pound Balls: "But Leonard Jones, director of marketing at Lorillard Tobacco Company, said that 'ethnicity does not play a role' in marketing strategies for the Newport menthol cigarette [popular among black smokers, since forever]. 'We don't collect or retain information on ethnicity in our marketing data base.'" CNN

And for Further Review . . .

Lorraine Johnson of Toronto hardly seemed to mind the notoriety she's surely in for. Somehow, Toronto Star reporter Amy Dempsey got Johnson to go on the record in identifying the plentiful shade trees at Christie Pits Park. They're called "stink trees," "ghetto palms," or . . . "semen trees." Why is that, Lorraine? "There's no doubt. It smells like semen." Toronto Star

Newsrangers: Mitch Marcus, Gil Nelson, Russell Bell, Sid Sidner, Bruce Leiserowitz, Mark Dubbin, Daryl Bevivino, Gerald Sacks, Steve Dunn, Wes Jones, Mike Briggs, Don Tyler, Debra Taylor, and Eliza Strode, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, July 12, 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
July 10, 2010
(datelines July 3-July 10) (links correct as of July 12)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Florida's Limited Imagination About Sex, Plus Skinhead Remorse and Relatives Move Back Home

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

Fine Points of F State Law: One might assume it illegal to be sitting in your car outside a convenience store while ostentatiously licking and slurping a big dildo a few feet away from a passing child--while, out of plain view, playing your lap piccolo. However, a Florida appeals court acquitted David Lowe, noting that state law requires penetration of "another person" in order to be doing "sexual activity" in public. [ed.: with mugshot, demonstrating that David's finding "another person" will be unlikely]. WKMG-TV (Orlando)

Fine Points of Texas Law: Murderer-rapist Irving Davis, 27, has challenged his conviction on the ground that the jury improperly considered his religious devoutness during deliberations--improper because Irving is a Satanist. (Appeals judge: "You've got to be kidding me!") No one knew about Davis's religion . . until he insisted that jailers bring him a gong, candles, chalice, black robes, and a vial of blood. Austin American-Statesman

American Ingenuity Will Get Us Out of the Recession: Alvin Greene is that South Carolina Senate candidate that no one ever heard of but who won the Democratic primary. As if to demonstrate his unfitness for public life, he agreed to sit, overmatched, for an interview with a reporter from London's wise-ass Guardian. From his Sanford & Son campaign home-office, he volunteered his economic platform: "Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. [That idea]'s not something a typical person would bring up.") The Guardian

Recurring Theme, Except--: Jean Stevens, 91, is the latest to be caught living with room-temperatured relatives. She's different, though, because she actually had to go dig up her (then-recently-buried) husband and sister (instead of just leaving them in place when they expired), and also, according to this sympathetic report, she seems to really enjoy the (admittedly one-sided) conversations they still have. (Bonus: The authorities said she could keep the bodies at home if she builds 'em a crypt.) Associated Press via Hartford Courant

Losers

Skinhead Daniel Cowart, 21, from Jackson, Tenn., fell flat in his 2008 big-time plot to kill 99 black people and then Sen. Obama, and will be sentenced soon to serious time but is already begging jailers: Please, could someone please get these (swastika, iron cross) tattoos off me? (In the Big House, you only get one chance to make a first impression.) (Bonus: Yes, real skinheads don't beg, but Cowart was a probationary skinhead.) Jackson Sun

A man was killed in Houston, Tex., while smashing his big rig into a freeway pillar. He had an insurance scam going and was just trying to make it look real. (Bonus: His pal had been scheduled to drive, but chickened out, calling the plan too dangerous, so the now-late partner fearlessly took the wheel.) KTRK-TV (Houston)

Carlos Medina-Bailon, 30, jailed on a drug charge in El Paso, Tex., cleverly escaped, hiding inside the jail's trash pickup, and enjoyed an hour's freedom or so until he was fatally buried in a landfill. KVIA-TV (El Paso)

Kurt Johnson and Dale Heineman were accused a while back of running mortgage scams (back before mortgage scams were cool), making maybe $3 million with their nifty, foolproof legal dance-step that made homeowners think they were debt-free. Johnson and Heineman also employed nifty, foolproof legal dance-steps at trial, acting as their own lawyers and doing stupid things to build a case of "incompetent counsel" that they could use as the basis for appeal. Appeals court (last week): "The record clearly shows that the defendants are fools, but that is not the same thing as being incompetent." (Bonus: 20 years!) San Francisco Chronicle

Strange World

An Associated Press stringer in Zimbabwe found that locals use U.S. $1s and $5s so often (and store them in their underwear) that they turn putrid long before they disintegrate. Thus, they hand-wash the bills (and "wealthier" people use their washing machines). Associated Press via MSNBC

Researchers working out of a Falkland Islands facility has finally answered the question of how deep-sea squids (as opposed to shallow-water squids) mate. The shallows have kinda puny equipment but have evolved a special tentacle to clear a path to the ovaries, but in the darkness, it's harder for a deep-sea squid to do that, and there seems to be no designated tentacle at work. However, now they know: Deep-sea squid have evolved lo-o-o-ong penii (almost as long as their entire bodies when erect) and just plunge directly at the female, breaking through her "protective" architecture. (Bonus: Before this, speculation was that deep-sea squid must somehow use jet-propulsion to fire their sperm packets past the architecture.) (Double Bonus: There is an academic publication called Journal of Molluscan Studies.) BBC News

A female lawyer in her mid-30s in Puri, Orissa, India, decided to do a sex change--purely, she said, to avoid the arranged marriage being set up for her by her parents. The Times of India

As a kinda public service, a shopping mall in Shenyang, China, set up a recreation room with furniture and knick-knacks that shoppers who get angry can soothe themselves in, i.e., they can scream, beat things, throw things, break things. One restriction: women only. The Shanghaiist [citing People's Daily]

England mourned the death of a smoking-hot 30-year-old nanny who passed away of sudden heart arrhythmia . . while working out with her vibrator and a porn video on her laptop. (Seriously.) Daily Mail

That's Messed Up

If Convicted, A Special Rung of Hell: Terry Hyder was arrested in Orlando and charged with grand theft in a modus operandi based on attending dementia support groups, befriending vulnerable women, and selling them bogus tax certificates (thus cleaning them out). Associated Press via Miami Herald

The Pervo-American Community

Longtime (formerly-) respected North Carolina D.A. Joel Brewer got probation for basically being icky with a string of women going way back. (Bonus: He had a gold badge engraved with his name and title and used it to stop cars driven by women and hit on them.) Associated Press via Winston-Salem Journal

Brian Kluck, 34, was charged with peeping into windows and taking pictures of women naked (but pointed out that the camera he was carrying had no such photos on it). On the other hand, police did find a list of women he had seen naked and a to-do list of others, including showering times. Appleton Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wis.)

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


Dane Eisenman, 57, was arrested in Fairfield, Conn., after he had explained to a private gun-seller why he wanted the 30-06 rifle: to kill aliens! "[E]very 36,000 years, aliens who live under the sun come to Earth to kill humans [but they're not getting Dane]." [ed.: Oh, yeah, "jury duty" . . . the prosecutor said Dane's a felon and thus can't buy that gun.] Hartford Courant

From Central Casting, trying out for the part of "guilty": Jason Chad, Birmingham, Ala., accused of trafficking in MDMA and LSD. Raleigh News & Observer

And from The Smoking Gun's weekly pastiche of men's hairstyling, here's one man charged with assault and another with aggravated battery.

Updates & Recurring Themes

Recurring: If there's a bizarre medical condition somewhere in the world, London's Daily Mail is on it. Last week: (1) a photo spread on a Chinese woman who finally had corrective surgery for a 15-year-old auto accident that left her legs facing the wrong way. [Ewwwww!] (2) the "world's smallest mother," bringing three babies into the world while afflicted with Osteogenisis Imperfecta that has stunted her to 2-foot-4 (and the husband who enables her, from their lovely Dry Ridge, Ky., home). Daily Mail /// Daily Mail

Update: It's worse than it was last year [NOTW M113, 6-7-2009] for thin and average-weighted women in Mauritania, as the military leaders' pressure for "traditional" values means more girls are getting fattened up as the model of beauty, and also means there are now "professional force-feeders," whom parents pay $200 per tough-loved fat-camp daughter. Last year's report emphasized the role of the blubber in making the girl marriage material, but this report in Marie Claire sorta emphasizes how it, um, arouses men generally. (Bonus: The ultimate sign of beauty: stretch marks!) Marie Claire via Yahoo New Zealand

Alert the Daily Mail! A six-legged calf in North Carolina! A two-headed calf in Egypt! WGHP-TV (Greensboro) /// Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


Paul the prognosticating octopus certainly got "human interest" news coverage last week as Germany marched toward the World Cup. Paul "predicted" every German result, including its last loss. So Animal Whisperer Michelle Childerley was in her element, attributing all sorts of wisdom to Paul. Also in his element, sadly, was CNN reporter Paul Armstrong (no relation), who interviewed Michelle, treating her with the deference he might show Stephen Hawking. "Can an octopus really be psychic?" he asked Michelle. Of course!, she said, and there you have it. CNN [link from BoingBoing.net]

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is showing us how legal immigration is supposed to work--that it's far superior to that illegal immigration mess. Working with a home state developer, he helped arrange conditional green cards for 250 investors from 43 countries who are ponying up $500,000 each for a Vermont ski resort. Associated Press via ABC News

This is normal in America, yet-- . . .: The jury in the Ira Hatch trial for theft and racketeering in Vero Beach, Fla., began deliberating on Friday, after listening to the judge read to them . . 100 pages of jury instructions. And if the judge doesn't do it right, it's a certain basis for appeal for the trial's loser. If a juror misunderstands anything, well, that's "justice." [ed.: Granted--it's far-fetched that an average juror would misunderstand any item of legal mumbo jumbo in 100 pages, but still--, hypothetically . ..] TCPalm.com

Illinois just enacted a law requiring that all police "rape kits" be tested, in that 80 percent over the last 15 years had never been. (For those who don't watch TV, rape kits, taken at the hospital following a rape, in most cases contain evidence for finding the perp and then actually persuading a jury to convict the guy.) Shrugging off rape-kit testing is apparently a problem in other states, too. It's kinda expensive. Thus, it must be that in Illinois, and the other states, every single dollar must already be being spent on things more important than catching and convicting rapists. (Imagined victim response: "Excuse me? I was raped . . and I summoned the courage to report it . . and go through this degrading rape-kit procedure . . and you never tested? Excuse me?) New York Times

Newsrangers: Ivan Katz, Steve Dunn, Richard Schultz, Esteban Bazan, and Perry Levin, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, July 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
July 5, 2010
(datelines June 26-July 3) (links correct as of July 5)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Turbo Fatties, Plus Exalted Cyclopses, Antiquated Use of Whale Vomit, and Fish Pickle-Tickling

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

"Gainers Come Out of the Closet" (Recurring Theme): An ABC News reporter is persuaded that mega-fat people (and their fetishist admirers) are more numerous than imagined (or at least more articulate). (One was highlighted here [NOTW/Pro, 3-22-2010]: the 602-pound Donna Simpson of New Jersey, whose business model calls for her to eat while on streaming video so that admirers will pay to watch her ballooning before their very eyes.) Wrote one blogger, "Lately I've been infatuated with the physics of my belly. . . [I]t moves with me. . . . The more attention I pay to it, the easier it becomes to imagine sizes like 300, 400 [pounds]. I like to think I don't romanticize it, but I can't help lusting over those sizes." ABC News

Ambition of the Blind: In what will be viewed by "progressive" people as a great success, researchers and the National Federation of the Blind announced a prototype for a breakthrough car that will, they say, enable blind people to drive alone, using technology they call "nonvisual interfaces," meaning a bunch of sensors that tell blind drivers who's coming from the left / right / back / front / top / approaching top speed / medium speed / slow speed / big / medium / small / from way up high / little lower / little lower than that / real low, etc. It'd be so easy that anyone could drive! [ed.: "Safety," Your Editor believes, will be provided only by car apps to alert sighted drivers any time one of those cars is near, so the sighted drivers can all pull off the road until the two-ton death machine passes.] Associated Press via ABC News

Inexplicable: Colin Hall, Lord Mayor of Leicester, England, visiting the Southfields library for its Summer Showcase on global understanding, apparently at some point just had his pants fall down. His spokesman said, "He was not wearing a belt, and the trousers came loose and fell." He apologized. [ed.: Nothing sexual or exhibitionistic was reported; it was just that . . the mayor's pants fell down.] The Guardian

Foreclosed on? Lost Your Job? Underemployed?: From the Wall Street Journal, 6-28-2010: "More than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years, a sum so large that U.S. investigators believe top Afghan officials and their associates are sending billions of diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad. The cash–packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets, and loaded into airplanes–is declared and legal to move." [ed.: Still, it appears Afghans are far less advanced than Iraqis were in the early years of that war.] Wall Street Journal

Must've Had an Interesting Life So Far: Arrested for DUI in Massillon, Ohio: the 51-year-old Donald N. Duck. Canton Repository

Losers

The Prophet sisters of Detroit, both age 34, were sentenced (house-arrest only) for having sold their kids' social security numbers to scammers. They did it for just "a few hundred dollars," according to the Detroit News. Detroit News

In Mesa County, Colo., the motorist was not seriously hurt, but she was forced to drive her SUV off the road, into a canal, because, she said, a vampire suddenly appeared. KMGH-TV (Denver)

Getting a Head Start on the Holiday: In Blue Springs, Mo., a 21-year-old man blew his hand off while making an IED out of sparklers, and in south Chicago, a man was hospitalized in critical condition after his firework in a tube failed to go off, and he peered into it to check it out. Kansas City Star /// Chicago Breaking News

Strange World

Hiromi Ozaki's Menstruation Machine is featured at Britain's Royal College of Art summer show. Men strap it on, and it's painful, and it intermittently bleeds. Wired.co.uk

At Kenilworth Castle in England's Warwickshire, show-off chefs have replicated a meal supposedly once served to Queen Elizabeth (the original) in 1575. "Chefs Serve Whale Vomit Dish At Castle Feast." Sky News

Vietnam's Barry Scheck: Acupuncturist Pham Thi Hong has convinced authorities to erase the rape convictions of three men she is convinced are virgins, based on dots on their ears. Said she, "[The dots] should have disappeared if they had had sex." Associated Press via USA Today

The French parliament, taking a break from the makework task of saving the entire European economy, passed a law making it a crime to insult someone too viciously ("psychological violence"). BBC News

Good to Know: Archbishop Tutu revealed that, when lobbying for his native South Africa as World Cup host, he had insisted on making a bribe-free bid (contrary to continental custom). But then he also admitted that he promised two members of the committee "first class ticket[s] to heaven" if they chose South Africa. "No, no, it's not a bribe," he said. "A bribe is only when you give things to people who are alive. In order to get their first-class ticket, they must first die. That's not a bribe." Agence France-Presse via Google News

That's Messed Up

The big cheese in the Chicagoland town of Bellwood (pop. 20,000) is City Administrator Roy McCampbell, who took home $472,255 last year (lots of unused days' off, plus he said he does the work of 10 professionals, anyway, such as for human resources and finance, and thus saves the town money). Chicago Tribune

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma and other fine institutions, studying the Mexican male molly fish, declared they now know the evolutionary purpose behind its "moustache": Molly fish chicas go for it, perhaps in part because it tickles their you-know-whats. BBC News

At least late F Stater Wayne McLeod proved his stones. According to the SEC, he ran a $34 million Ponzi scheme in which all his victims carry guns (i.e., cops). But now, either he, or one of them, has put an end to the case. CBS News

Undignified Death: A 38-year-old motorist was killed near Okeechobee, Fla., when a portable potty being hauled on a truck broke free, sending a big chunk through her windshield. WPBF-TV (West Palm Beach)

Jammie Harms, 34, filed a wrongful-firing lawsuit against Omaha, Neb., homebuilder John Smith (who's big on spiritualisms and the afterlife), who said he could sense that the fetus Harms was carrying had "negative energy" and was "hostile" towards him. Associated Press via KMTV (Omaha) /// Courthouse News Service (6-17-2010)

The Pervo Community

In Australia, Catholic priest John Sidney Denham, 67, was sentenced to about 20 years in prison for molesting 25 children over the years and was kinda contrite about it, acknowledging himself as a "mere scumbag paedophile." BBC News

And a Buddhist monk: In Cambodia, Net Khai, 37, was charged with making secret videos of hundreds of women as they bathed naked in holy water at his temple. AOL News

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


A mugshot out of central casting: Robert Prosser, charged in Cincinnati with cultivation of marijuana. WLWT-TV (Cincinnati)

Judith Gerrian, 69, allegedly fired "get outa my yard" gunshots toward her ex-husband, who said he had permission to be there, mowing the lawn. Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.)

Jessica Dorval, 32, was charged with writing bad checks, but, c'mon, she's adorable. Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: Ex-Oregon National Guardsman Randy Pfleider, who got lots of press (including NOTW M168, 6-27-2010) about the Guard's garnishing his disability checks to pay for equipment that he failed to account for after being shot, might not have the story straight. He now says that's what they told him; the Guard says it's not true but that they can't give the whole story without Pfleider's waiving his privacy rights. He said he will, but he hasn't. KVAL-TV (Eugene, Ore.)

Update: NOTW took some leaps of faith to disparage the character of centerfielder-cum-entrepreneur Lenny Dykstra [NOTW M159, 4-25-2010], but now the court-appointed trustee in his bankruptcy case has my back: "Nails," according to the trustee, lies about nearly everything. The Smoking Gun

Recurring: Yet another election (primary ballot for county commissioner in Nye County, Nev.) ended in a tie and had to be resolved by drawing cards. (It was Nevada; they could've done it with dice.) Associated Press via Washington Post

Surreality

Crystal Mangum, the notorious Duke lacrosse accuser who's now a college graduate (major in criminal justice), was arrested in Durham, this time for setting an apartment on fire with her three kids and two cops inside (they having been summoned because Crystal and the boyfriend were fighting). Last Wednesday, she . . set up a press conference for herself . . to demand justice. News & Observer (Raleigh)

City Pages of Minneapolis has a long-form story about uninhibited, 24-year-old Jordan Kavoosi and his term-paper plagiarism business ($23 a page). You might think his business model would call for expressing a sense of irony, but, no, he's dead-serious and even offered the reporter a 20% cut of the referrals if the City Pages story turned out OK. City Pages

Stanford neuroscientist Patrick House took only minor liberties with the generous data showing how powerful that "cat virus" Toxoplasma gondii is, to conclude that you could have picked up some nice swag if you'd bet on the World Cup countries with the higher human Toxo infection rates. (In fact, he says, since Toxo is associated with rising testosterone, perhaps Toxo should be included in doping tests.) [ed.: Your Editor's mainly interested in whether "cat ladies" are "cat ladies" because they have too much Toxo in their brains. Hey! Needin' some serious research over here!] Slate.com

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


The Lake Como Park pool in Fort Worth, Tex., has a brand-new parking lot (16 spaces), built with $37,000, but there'll be little use for it until next year (at the earliest) because the pool is closed indefinitely for cost-cutting. Said a neighborhood advisory council official, "Maybe that money should have been invested in doing something to the pool to keep it open." (Answer: No, the contract was for building parking lots.) Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Congratulations are in order to the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis, which, according to this report, from February 2009 until March 2010, managed to keep all of its dental patients free of hepatitis and HIV infections–except possibly for 1,812 of them (the number exposed to protocol violations by personnel who didn't clean the equipment right.). Associated Press via Fox News

Massachusetts legislators once again genuflected at the altar of senior citizens by failing to enact proposed common-sense driving measures based on the mountain of evidence that people's attention span suffers dramatically as they age. [ed.: For example, AARP uses way-misleading statistics to "prove" that seniors aren't so dangerous (e.g., lauding seniors' safety by defining as seniors those as young as 50 or 55; damning the comparison group of dangerous non-seniors, a group top-heavy with speeders, assholic teenage daredevils, and people with higher blood-alcohol levels). Legislators may be skeptical of those stats, but they're not skeptical of exit polls, i.e., seniors damn sure find their way around on election day.] Boston Globe

And for Further Review . . .

The passing of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd raised once again the question, not so much why was he once a Ku Klux Klansman as why are some people attracted to secretive groups of any kind with weird organizational structures? KKK'ers aspire to be things like Exalted Cyclops, Council of the Centaurs, Grand Giant, Grand Dragon, Grand Wizard, Grand Magi, Grand Monk, Grand Exchequer, and Grand Turk. Although the Klan has long been in decline, we still have . . Scientology, where they spell out in soporific detail everything they think you need to know, backed by an organizational structure whose graphic display seems as complicated as the graphic display of the air-conditioning system at the Pentagon. Your Editor, obviously, lacks the gene for understanding this. Slate.com

Newsrangers: Joe Weckbacher, Sandy Pearlman, Chris Paone, Bryce Jackson, Jason Boucher, Paul Mahoney, and Jan Lewis, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle)