Monday, February 28, 2011

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
February 28, 2011
(datelines February 19-February 26) (links correct as of February 28)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The Septuagenarian Porn Star, Plus Breast-Milk Ice Cream and Shoplifting Made Easy

★ ★ ★ ★!

Let Us Honor America's Cultural Giants [ed.: The following item has been purged of dozens of cheap double entendres by Cheez-B-Gone™ software] The pseudonymous Dave Cummings (actually, Connors), 70, has been selected for the video porn industry's hall of fame, and it's not an emeritus award. He's still a working pro. Dave entered the business at 54 after an Army career (Lt. Col., 4th Infantry) and "pride[s] [him]self on never using Viagra," except that maybe he'll drop a tab if working with difficult directors or actresses. "Believe it or not," wrote AOL News's hard-working David Moye, "much of what he learned in the military for dealing with soldiers in the [midst] of battle is transferable to dealing with young actresses . . .." AOL News /// XRCO Hall of Fame

If Ya Got 'Em, Light 'Em Up You're Under Arrest: Honduras knows how to really discourage smoking. In addition to all the usual indoor restrictions (public accommodations, government buildings, etc.), nonsmokers get a required six-foot smoke-free zone outside, and citizens can actually call police to deal with excessive smoking inside the smoker's own home. Associated Press via Yahoo News

Hollywood's Most PW'd Star: Canadian authorities in Vancouver have granted asylum to Randy Quaid and his lovely wife Evi, who believe that unnamed Powers That Be in Hollywood want them dead. Actually, from this Vanity Fair piece two months ago, it very much looks like it's Evi who believes all this and that Randy is just trying to keep access to what must be thrilling Space-Mountain-quality conjugal rides. (The DSM-IV medical term for Evi's precise disorder is, I believe, whack job.) Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News /// Vanity Fair

If They Were Atheists, They'd Still Be Alive: In Bamako, Mali, 36 people were trampled to death at a Muslim holy week ceremony. In California (70 miles east of Los Angeles), one person was killed when a bus plunged off the highway while returning from a religious retreat. In Brooklyn, N.Y., a woman died when the candles for a voodoo ceremony set a fire in an apartment. And of course the four yachters murdered by Somalian pirates were on a religious mission ("We seek fertile ground for the Word and homes for our [crates of] Bibles" they carried on board). /// Associated Press via Pasadena Star News /// CNN /// USA Today

News of the Weird Goes All Tea-Party: How much does government suck? Let us pause. (1) Right after 9-11, the CIA was so technologically gullible that when this fella Dennis Montgomery came by to demonstrate how he (and he alone, using his super-triple-secret software) could intercept al-Qaeda messages hidden in the pixels of ordinary web pages, the Company couldn't shovel money to him fast enough. (2) Matt (Goldman Sachs/"vampire squid") Taibbi wonders why it is that the U.S. Department of Justice is more interested in whether Roger Clemens lied about taking steroids in the ass than whether even one single Wall Street playa ever has to so much as write a personal check for a fine (much less do hard time). (In fact, the post-2008 behavior of Securities and Exchange Commission "enforcement" lawyers has made it more likely, not less, that The Boys Are Back in Town.) (3) On a more boring note, President Obama says America must be about "winning the future," that innovation is our key to success in a tough world, that we must invent green technology so we won't have to buy it from China . . . to which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yawns, as backlogs are such (1.2 million applications pending) that an applicant can't expect an initial ruling until two years after filing. (Bonus: The Office actually pays its own way with its fees, but Congress regularly confiscates about $40 million or more a year that could go to hiring more examiners to help "win the future.") New York Times /// Rolling Stone /// New York Times

And Still More Things To Worry About

Fine Points of the Law: What defendant William Melchert-Dinkel did was "abhorrent," "sick," and "creepy," said the prosecutor Melchert-Dinkel's own lawyer. Nonetheless, he said, it's not illegal to inform a series of depressed people how cool suicide is. St. Paul Pioneer Press

Fine Points of Tax Law; Congress lets you tax-deduct expenses that are "necessary" to do your job. By logic, TV news anchor Anrieta Hamper, 38, then of WBNS-TV, must have assumed she was the ugliest, stupidest, fattest, smelliest woman in Columbus, Ohio, because she tried to tax-deduct almost everything she bought, on the ground that the station wanted news anchors to be smart, slim, fit, clever, beautiful babes. Daily Mail (London)

They're just a tad behind humans genetically, but still . . researchers found that male capuchin monkeys urinate all over themselves because it seems to be a turn-on for the ladies. (Bonus: Monkey-urine researchers do MRIs of monkeys' brains.) BBC News

You Do the Math: (a) The chain Prime Healthcare Services specializes in buying troubled hospitals and turning them around financially. Two PHS facilities in California, are being turned around. (b) The two report that elderly patients need treatments for a certain nutritional disorder found mostly in third-world countries (found in PHS hospitals at 70x and 39x, respectively, as frequently as the California average). (c) Medicare famously is chintzy with its payments . . (d) except that it reimburses well for exotic disorders (like this one, called "kwashiorkor"). (San Francisco)

(Recurring Theme) The Country Afraid of Its Own Shadow: Britain's Oxfordshire County Council has banned goggles for school swimming lessons because they could snap back hard against kids' faces. And a primary school in Huyton, Merseyside, now requires soccer (y'know, "football") to be played only with foam balls. Daily Telegraph /// BBC News

He said he didn't mean any harm, but it was the way he was taught in school, so James Hersey, a high school teacher in Crawley, England, is passing it on to his students: A good mnemonic for remembering the colors in an electric resistor (black, brown, red, orange, etc.) is "black boys rape our young girls, but virgins go without." (Umm, "v" is violet.) (Bonus: BBC News covered the story but wouldn't repeat the mnemonic.) Daily Mail

Ignorance Tax: We all pay to keep our courts open for people like Ms. Arjana Xexo. She is suing the maker of the iRenew energy bracelets ($19.90 plus $15.90 S&H) because hers didn't seem to make her feel any better. (Bonus: She wants $5 million.) Palm Beach Post

Troublemakers: (1) The student newspaper at Queen Mary College (of the University of London) published a handy how-to for shoplifting, for students have trouble making ends meet (e.g., if you get caught, act scared so cops will think it's your first time). (2) Texas State University student Colby Bohannon raised some money locally (San Marcos, Tex.) to offer five $500 scholarships for minorities and females white guys (but the fine print says merely 25 percent Caucasian will qualify). Metro (London) /// Austin American-Statesman

The ice-creamista in London's Covent Garden supposedly started selling on Friday his latest "organic, free-range" treat--ice cream made from breast milk (15 mothers contributed, price £14 [$23], flavor name of "Baby Gaga"). Reuters via Yahoo News


Let's Go to the Video! Two cops enter convenience store, joining two other cops for coffee in one aisle. Then, two "unobservant" men enter, swipe some stuff, dash out (followed, of course, by four dashing cops, who arrested the apparently severely ADHD'd Jacob Wallace, 29, and Robert Martin, 19). San Gabriel Valley (Calif.) Tribune

Redneck Chronicles: Drivers in Waterville, Maine, spotted Shelly Waddell, 36, driving a van with her two kids, 10 and 13, riding on the roof, perhaps tossing the morning newspapers she was delivering. (She denies everything.) WMTW-TV (Portland)

Amos Ashley was arrested in Lawrenceburg, Ind., on an outstanding warrant. The trooper intended first only a traffic stop, but routine questioning did Amos in. (Write full name: "Rorth Taylor") (Pronounce it: "Robert Taylor") (Spell it again: "Rerert Tayloer"). WLWT-TV (Cincinnati)

(Recurring Theme) Immortal Words: Rodney Gilbert had been hyper-critical of girlfriend Kimberly Gustafson's drinking (though apparently takes one to know one). In front of witnesses, she pulled a gun. They continued arguing. Mr. Gilbert's departing words (uttered "repeatedly"): "Go ahead and shoot me." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Pervo Community

Michael Lallana, 32, went to trial last week on assault charges, filed by the Orange County (Calif.) prosecutor based on Lallana's admission that he achieved a happy ending by rubbing himself against the water bottle of a pretty co-worker--because her lips had touched it. He never thought she'd actually drink from it, and therefore, the "assault" thing is too much a stretch for him to plead to. Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)

If Tony Barnes ever has insomnia, he might think about removing the dirty diaper he said he always keeps under his pillow. (He's one of those people.) Daily Mail (London)

A recently filed FBI affidavit claimed that one target in a child-porn investigation had the subtle user name Pervymcperv. (No details, unfortunately) The Smoking Gun
[Note: Cite broken at press time; instead, go to TSG's Buster page and scroll down to February 18, 2011]

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

Attempting to abduct an 11-year-old girl? Apparently it's so simple that (according to this artist's sketch) even a cave man can do it. Tallahassee Democrat

Editor's Notes

Unfortunate Updates: Two News of the Weird staples may be in decline due to unexpected intelligent decision-making. New standards to go into effect in March limit "service animals" (animals allowed in no-animal establishments) to dogs (and trained miniature horses). No more "service iguanas," "service snakes," "service ferrets," etc. And Oregon legislators are moving to delete the "faith-healing" exception to its murder laws. Wall Street Journal /// The Oregonian

Time-Wasters: (1) From Drugs to Mugs, prepared by the county drug force in Portland, Ore., of how drugs really, really mess up your pretty face. (2) A series of photos from Mexico City's famous retirement home for prostitutes. [One of them looks so old, she could've been the one who gave Gen. Santa Anna his good-luck blowjob the night before the Alamo.]

Newsrangers: Geoff Egan, Gerald Sacks, Bruce Leiserowitz, Sandy Pearlman, and Jane Buttigieg, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, February 21, 2011

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
February 21, 2011
(datelines February 12-February 19) (links correct as of February 21)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

More Alternative U.S. History, Plus Rat Dandies, Semen Shots, and Dog Snitches

★ ★ ★ ★!

News You Can Use: Update--thanks to fired Florida homicide Det. Tom Laughlin, who (temporarily, he says) lost his mind claiming to be part of the intellectual runoff known as the "sovereign citizen" movement, we learn more: All Americans have a real account, called a "straw man" account, which contains your real wealth, owed to you from birth, if only the government would give you access to it! Clues to the locations of this wealth are found in the red numbers on original Social Security cards. Plus, it looks like secession is the only way to get the government's attention! It's not just our Kenyan president; they're all in on it! Who knew? Sarasota Herald-Tribune

It's Always Been a Quiet Country: Germany's government proposed a law to specifically exempt from its noise ordinances all shrieking and squealing, etc., uttered by children under six. As far as the government's concerned, the country's one big Chuck E. Cheese. Associated Press via WABC-TV (New York City)

Anthropomorphic Taxidermy: It's apparently the latest craze in the cooler neighborhoods of Brooklyn, N.Y. First, you find a dead rat that has stopped smelling so bad, then clean it out, then stuff it, then dress it in . . Victorian Sunday best . . and don't forget the ladies' bloomers. (Instructor: "I don't like rogue taxidermy. I want them to look classy.) New York Post

Recurring Theme: the negative-cash-flow robbery: The bad guy drops $40 on the counter to make a purchase but also to distract the clerk while bad guy pulls a gun to rob him. Clerk, though, notices gun is unloaded and pulls his own gun, which is loaded. Bad guy flees. $40 remains. (Problem from the beginning: It was a gun shop that he tried to rob.) KMBC-TV (Kansas City)

And Still More Things To Worry About

Beyond goat testicles (which of course taste like chicken), a New Zealand holiday festival offered horse semen . . semen shots . . vanilla, chocolate . . .. Agence France-Presse via Google News

Which is worse--ignorance or apathy? ("I don't know, and I don't-- . . Woof!): Homeowners in Annandale, Va., whose governing association has long been a festering hotbed of indifference, failed to notice that they had elected, fair and square, a president that happens to be a terrier. Management style: "[S]he delegates a lot." Washington Post

As with all repo men, Ken Falzini has lived an exciting life, though nothing quite like a recent Sunday morning when he came between a deadbeat Baptist preacher and his Lexus. (Bonus: You're doing 40 mph, with a repo man clinging to your hood. WWJD? Said Falzini, the preacher was "laughing at me" while he drove.) Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Can't Possibly Be True: Chinese magician Fu Yandong has this thing where he makes six goldfish do a synchronized swim, and animal rights people say he must be messing with them to pull that off (e.g., magnets). Fu: If it were magnets, they'd all get stuck together. (But he's not telling.) BBC News

Undignified Death: A 51-year-old Los Angeles County bureaucrat was found dead at her desk the Saturday before last, apparently having passed away the day before of the toxic illness of "government work." KTLA-TV

Egypt! Tunisia! Bahrain! Libya! . . Mexico City! . . which is where a woman is now on the 13th day of a hunger strike in front of the British embassy, fighting the oppressors . . vowing to do herself in unless . . she gets an invite to the royal wedding. Daily Telegraph (London)

70-year-olds occasionally get arrested in prostitution busts, but it's because they're the madams. And then, there's Elaine Pyzikiewicz, 70, busted with three other women in Port Charlotte, Fla., but the madam is the 37-year-old. Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Two schoolteachers were suspended for questionable reasons. A Philadelphia-area high school teacher is out because she wrote on her blog that her kids are "rude, disengaged, lazy whiners," who "curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire and are just generally annoying." [In fairness, as you can see, Yr Editor has drawn lines through everything she wrote that is false.] British nursery teacher Elizabeth Davies was canned over reports that she would routinely line up any Bangladeshi kids in her class who reeked of curry and spray 'em with air freshener. Christian Science Monitor /// The Guardian


Newfie Alert: It's really No Longer Weird, especially in Newfoundland, but if a snowmobile falls through thin ice, and you want to do a heroic rescue, you still probably can't drive your own snowmobile right up to the hole. (You'll fall in, too.) Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News

Unclear on the Concept: He did four years for dealing heroin and cocaine and got out, and the police put out a poster warning residents that he had settled back in the 'hood with his mother, but now he says the poster "humiliated" him and therefore violates his "human rights," which therefore means "lawsuit." (Mom: And he's a good boy.) Daily Mail (London)

Joel Dobrin, 32, was pulled over at a traffic stop in Moro, Ore., and as the deputy approached, a sock came flying out the window with a big dose of obviousness. It couldn't be that Dobrin was so transparently ditching the marijuana and hashish that was inside. And it wasn't. Dobrin, he told the deputy, had grabbed the sock, intending to safely hide it in a non-searchable area of the car (it was only a traffic stop), but his dog snatched it for a little Dog-Tug-o-War, which he eventually won . . but lost his grip, sending the sock flying out the window. Ta-daaaaa! KTVB-TV (Boise, Id.)

The Redneck Chronicles: A 48-year-old man was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Burlington, N.C., after hitting his head on the pavement. The man had been assigned by the car's driver to lie upon and hold down the two mattresses that were being transported on the car's roof. No sense wasting money on ropes. Burlington Times News

The Pervo-American Community

World's Greatest Lawyer: Alan Patton, 59, who inspired (you will remember) the new Ohio felony against collecting pee from public urinals and who was charged with its first violation in October, beat the rap. (Patton did get a misdemeanor criminal mischief conviction, but, c'mon, the lawyer got Alan Patton a walk for breaking the Alan Patton Law!) Columbus Dispatch

Prolific: Rip Swartz, 43, was charged with making heavy-breather phone calls to women concerning their pantyhose . . "sometimes exceeding 400 calls a day!" WGAL-TV (Lancaster, Pa.)

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

Dorothy Scalise, 70, living a quiet retirement in Fort Lauderdale? Or sitting in the second pew during Fr. Edward Konopka's services, "mak[ing] monkey faces" as part of her campaign of stalking him? WSVN-TV (Miami) via Fox News

Newsrangers: Anthony Cormier, Steve Melvin, Gil Nelson, Charles Morgan, and Steve Ringley, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, February 14, 2011

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
February 14, 2011
(datelines February 5-February 12) (links correct as of February 14)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Foliate-Obscured Psychosis, Plus Meat-Eating Furniture and the $4,000 Fanny Pack

★ ★ ★ ★!

Leaf Man: You might remember Matthew Hoffman, 30, from November for having killed a neighbor couple in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and kidnaped their teen daughter, who was rescued several days later in a basement after cops got around to investigating Hoffman, the neighborhood weirdo. Hoffman's safely locked up, and police last week released some investigation records. Hoo, boy! Photos of the Hoffman abode revealed (according to ABC News) "a living room stuffed with leaves, a bathroom lined with more than 100 bags of leaves," "mounds of leaves so high [the cops] feared that bodies could be buried underneath them." And since there were only two trees in his yard, and he rarely raked there, he actually had to haul all his leaves in from elsewhere. ABC News

"Ehhh, I Dunno, What Do You Want to Do with It?: The late outlaw novelist (literaraily-speaking) William S. Burroughs, whose best-known work was Naked Lunch, supposedly saw the butt-end of his last lunch on Earth epoxied for posterity, and now two ridiculously intellectually manic artists are about to make use of it. Except for the sophistication of the science, it sounds like a fraternity prank. They plan to take DNA from his feces and copy it, soak it in gold dust, load it into the kind of air pistol that's used to insert DNA into plants and animals for experiments, and shoot it into a mixture of blood, poop, and semen, to make "living bio-art." Either that, or these two guys (one a college professor in San Diego) are punking us something awful. AOL News

Time Flies: "You're not going to like this," said NPR's Robert Krulwich, as he introduced a wall clock that theoretically supplies its own power not by sunshine but by trapping houseflies and converting the carcasses into electricity, using flypaper and a razor-like scraper. Right now, the prototype's housing requires too much electricity to operate, but the clock itself runs for 12 days on eight dead flies, said the co-designer. (And Krulwich addressed the slippery slope toward carnivorous machines that might someday eat us, raising the point that self-sustaining robots at least ought to be vegetarian-only.) NPR

Big-Dog Chinese Businessmen Carry, er, Purses: It's a luxury designer's (Hermes, Coach, Louis Vuitton, etc.) dream market, in that both women and men are in a frenzy about upscale purses. Coach will have 53 stores in China by mid-year. And "upscale" means upwards of $1,000. (Why, yes--this is the same China that's number one in the world in knock-offs.) Meanwhile, on the runways in New York's current Fashion Week, a $4,675 fanny pack. Los Angeles Times /// Wall Street Journal

License Weird-News Columnists! A Wall Street Journal report on overregulated occupations, e.g., shampooers (100 hours of "theory and practice," including neck anatomy, required in Texas), barbers (1,500 hours' experience required in California), manicurists (750 hours' training required in Alabama), interior designers, tree-trimmers, kick-boxers, cat groomers, tour guides, casket makers, points out that the real deal is that incumbents in those fields use "licensing" to limit competition and squeeze prices upward. Yr Editor, too, would love to limit competition, to return to the good old days when I almost had a lock on the field, with no wannabes underpricing me with inferior goods. Plus, the way these licensing schemes work is that top-drawer incumbents (like me and Roland Sweet) would get grandfathered in. The others would have to do hundreds of hours of "training," and fill out forms, and get recommendations, and prove they're up to the job! Yeah, that's the ticket! Wall Street Journal

And Still More Things To Worry About

Apparently, all the important science projects in the world are fully funded and staffed, so these two guys at North Carolina State were forced to work on the problem of roses wilting--by splicing a celery gene into a rose plant. Eureka! [link from Mother Nature Network]]

First, the O.R. nurse stole nearly three-quarters of the surgery patient's anesthesia, but on top of that, when he screamed in pain during the operation, she dogged him to "[M]an up!" Star Tribune

It's a Recurring Theme that women in dysfunctional third-world countries sometimes try to encourage their men to stand up to power by denying them sex (the "crossed legs" movement) (like in Lysistrata). The latest dysfunctional third-world country to experience this in? Er, Belgium. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Questionable Campaign Strategy (I): Britain's Marie Stopes International, one of the world's best-known abortion and reproductive health providers, tried a new tack with a rock-music Internet video and catchy lyrics: "One up the bum and it's no harm done / One up the bum and you won't be a mum" Metro (London)

Questionable Campaign Strategy (II): Government and private aid organizations are forever appealing to underdeveloped countries to upgrade their defecation hygiene, including Cambodia (80% without toilets vs. only 60% without cell phones). Still, it was a little harsh for a sanitation team surveying the village of Sieng to publicly single out a certain farmer (in front of all his neighbors) as the local champion--for personally producing more caca than anyone else in the village. BBC News

Update: You thought the Catholic priest sex scandals had all played out, but the Los Angeles Archdiocese may still have a card or two left: One priest had not only been retained after admitting a long-term affair and sex addiction but then had been appointed to the Archdiocese's sex abuse advisory board. That's quite a concept--that "forgiveness" thing. New York Times

Update: We were onto J.P. Morgan Chase bank in the last Pro Edition, but another shoe fell this past week: It was revealed that Chase had terminated a voluntary program of deferring, for active duty military, any student loans it had written, for the period of deployment. (Bonus: Combined with last week's story, we can conclude that Chase--at the same time it was applying screws to military personnel on mortgages, decided to bring student loans up to the same screwage level.) (Up-update: After NBC News busted 'em again, Chase reinstated the deferments.) NBC News

Pump That Irony: The lifeblood of the teaching industry is evaluation (A, B, C, etc.). In the history of teaching, there have been about 10 million 10 billion complaints by students that the grading was unfair, and virtually every single complaint was rejected, usually summarily. Now, U.S. News magazine, and a higher-education advisory group are combining to evaluate the 1,000 U.S. teachers' colleges, and it seems there is no indignation quite like teachers' indignation at being evaluated. The criteria are unfair, they say, and not relevant to excellence. Their solution: All evaluators need to go away until they can come up with criteria that are perfect. New York Times

We don't know what name will be given to the new government center in Fort Wayne, Ind., but it won't be the one chosen by online voting--which was to name it after one of the city's most popular mayors of the 20th century, Harry Baals. (Harry's descendants pronounce it "bales," but Harry himself let the obvious pronunciation hang out.) Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne)


Robber Not Ready for Prime Time: Mask on crooked. Tried to carry the entire cash register away, even though it was still plugged in. Fell down when he yanked on the cord. Laid his gun on the counter as he reached to gather the spilled money. Lastly, barely outran the baseball-bat-wielding clerk who chased him out the door. WCNC-TV (Charlotte, N.C.)

Least Competent Smugglers (i.e., actually optimistic about their plans): (1) He thought he could bring 200 live animals (tortoises, squirrels, snakes, etc.) from Thailand home to Indonesia--inside three checked suitcases at Bangkok's airport. (2) The young woman thought guards would never notice if she taped 74 cell phones to her little sister's back as they went for a visit to a prison in Medellin, Colombia. MSNBC /// Time

Compelling Explanation: A guy sent a photo by cell phone of a couple on a couch engaged in oral sex, to a nine-year-old boy, and the boy's mother and grandmother raised hell back at the man. Hey, he said, he has advertised the couch for sale, and that was the only picture he had of it to show, and that's why it was on his cell phone. WBBH-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.)

The Pervo-American Community

Jason Jones, 38, was on trial last week in Hamilton, New Zealand, for flashing his stuff, but even if he's convicted, his punishment is already severe. One victim described the goods as a 2-centimeter "bubble." "I looked away, but it wasn't much of a penis." Waikato Times

A Chicago transit guard (contract worker) was arrested for improperly detaining a turnstile-jumping teenager and creatively interrogating him by removing the boy's shoes and rubbing his genitals over the boy's toes. Then he let him go. [ed.: That's what it says here. It sounds somewhat fantastical, but no more so than a murderer who collects bags of leaves.] WBBM-TV (Chicago)

As late as in the 1990s, there was a by-snail-mail organization called the Diaper Pail Fraternity, composed of . . just what you're thinking. It's the rare perv fetish group that actually has a lower profile in the Internet age. If the DPF were active today, it looks like Tony Barnes, 30, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, would be card-carrying. (Bonus: "Barnes told a probation officer he hopes to return to child care work when he gets out of jail.") QMI Agency via

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

If Nicole Scott, 27, is guilty of DUI, the key evidence will be either (a) her mugshot or (b) the fact that, in the course of a few minutes' interrogation by the police, she denied four times that she was driving the crashed car and named, each of the four times, different people as the driver. (She was alone.) Sandusky (Ohio) Register

Patrick Bencher, 55, might or might not be guilty of masturbating outside a school, but he is clearly guilty of having an ill-fitting piece of wildlife nesting on his head. Detroit News

Editor's Notes

No time-wasters this week. Just important video. [LINKS OUT OF ORDER: To get to the first site, click the second link; to get to the second, click the first link.] (1) a train's-eye view of a slow-moving, track-crossing pedestrian (and soon-to-be hospital patient) and (2) a slide show of phobias, most of which I'm fearful you've never heard of.

Newsrangers: Pete Randall, Hal Dunham, Brian Cunningham, Gil Nelson, Peter Smagorinsky, Sandy Pearlman, Bruce Leiserowitz, Andy Freeman, and Glenn Mitchell, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

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

Below The Fold
Prime Choice Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
February 8, 2011
(datelines January 29-February 5) (links correct as of February 7)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Undignified Deaths: Wade Westbrook, 26, fatally bitten by a copperhead because he was determined to ascertain its gender, and Jose Ochoa, 35, fatally stabbed by the leg blade attached to his fighting rooster. Reuters via Yahoo News /// Bakersfield Californian

We're So Old Now, Folks . . .: Alpha Cradle-Robber Mary Kay LeTourneau is now a grandmother (via her earlier son, not the two daughters she's had with her boy-toy/husband, who are now 12 and 13). Associated Press via WLS Radio (Chicago)

Otago University (Japan) scientists say Labrador retrievers are so heroic that they can detect colon cancer by smelling breath (95% success) and stools (98%). New Zealand Press Association via New Zealand Herald

The least popular kid in kindergarten three years ago just won $350,000 as a lawsuit settlement for his humiliation. (He has Asperger's syndrome, but his classmates and teacher just thought he was a screw-up, and voted him off the island. Still, humiliation continues to be an uncompensated activity in most schoolrooms.) South Florida Sun-Sentinel

We Have Too Much Federal Regulation? The sewer system of Gary, Ind., overflows a third of the year, every year, into the Little and Grand Calumet rivers. The feds say they have been meaning to do something about that. WBBM-TV (Chicago)

Virginia Has Standards! Del. Jackson Miller's bill (to permit machine guns to be carried as concealed weapons) failed to make it out of committee. Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk)

Sounds Like a Joke: Here's the password (before it was changed!) for the hard-up, job-seeking alumni of Lewis & Clark Law School (Portland, Ore.) to access the online employment board: fail8ure

Once again, the world has produced someone who accomplishes something it would never occur to the rest of us to accomplish. David Morice has written a 1,00010,000-page-long poem. (Bonus: The University of Iowa published it.)

They play hardball city politics in Raleigh, N.C. David Cox and his neighbors went beyond just asking for two residential neighborhood traffic lights; they petitioned, with maps, diagrams, and traffic projections. Their reward: The town's chief traffic engineer reported them to the state for "engineering" without a license (Seriously). News & Observer

Swedish Affirmative Action for Recovering Perverts: A convicted pedophile was discovered to be running three private schools in the Stockholm area. Oops, yaaa, our bad, said the country's education minister. The Local (Stockholm)

Not what you're thinking: [Headline in the The Press of Atlantic City: "Showboat Casino Hotel to Become First Dog-Friendly Casino in Atlantic City"] (Nope, they're still not allowed seats at the poker tables.) The Press of Atlantic City

Entry-Level Web Editor on Duty: This lady [mugshot] was arrested for drug-possession, and police apparently found additional drugs in her hoo-hah when she was booked. Then she made bail. Still, the headline could be something other than "Alleged Vagina Smuggler Leaves Jail." After all, she was smuggling drugs. WBBH-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.) [headline is at the video link]

Finally, the people at, showing their prowess at Search Engine Optimization, took a law, or proposed law, in Malawi that makes pollution a crime, and wondered whether police would be issuing fines to farters. Magnificent. Reuters

Monday, February 07, 2011

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
February 7, 2011
(datelines January 29-February 5) (links correct as of February 7)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Culling the School Herd, Plus Rednecks in Training and AIDS Drugs Gain Value

★ ★ ★ ★!

You're Still, Still, Not Cynical Enough: (1) An ex-Atlanta-area elementary school principal admitted that she dis-enrolled 13 of her problem kids for a few days so they wouldn't be around to take state tests--and afterward, enrolled 'em back in. (2) In Allen County Independent School District, north of Dallas, Tex., they (like like all school districts) have trouble avoiding cutbacks and layoffs, but in May 2009, at the height of the recession, voters OK'd borrowing $119 million for a new Allen High School football stadium. It's just about ready. Atlanta Journal-Constitution /// New York Times

People Still Pay for Internet Porn?: A California Court of Appeal ruled that sites that give away Internet pornography (as teasers) do not violate the state's "unfair competition" law even though it's extremely annoying to pay-as-you-go porn sites. [ed.: The judges appear not to understand that, unlike teasers on major Hollywood films, porn "teasers" are often all a viewer needs, or so Your Editor has heard.]

China's Mole People: Seriously, China may be way ahead of the U.S. in economic growth, but its income is horribly disproportionately divided: filthy-rich entrepreneurs . . and plain-filthy, barely surviving worker-servants (many of 'em college graduates!). In fact, hundreds of thousands of Beijingers live underground . . in civil-defense lockers built by Mao when he feared Soviet Union bombs: 30 square miles' worth, with some lockers as small as 6' x 9', at monthly rents starting at around £30 ($48). Daily Telegraph (London)

Update: Burmese Stork Girls: The main thing different since News of the Weird last brought the ring-necked girls of Burma into your eyeballs [NOTW 541, 6-19-1998] is that at least one large American company (a poultry producer) is recruiting among the Kayan tribe in Burma to bring kids to Texas (to debone chickens for a living), thus offering an alternative to the career field of having parents load up daughters' necks with 11-25 pounds of rings, smooshing down their clavicles so they'll grow into long-necked tourist attractions for Thailand entrepreneurs. (Isn't that painful, the tourists ask. [Real answer: Duh-uh!] Why, yes . . yes, it is, they answer politely, but it apparently beats having to live in Burma.) Global Post /// KTRE-TV (Lufkin, Tex.) [Jan. 12th]

Prisoners 29, IRS 0 Apparently IRS is still paying prisoners who make bogus claims on their income tax returns. The U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general reported that, in the first seven months of 2010, 12,910 taxpayers claimed, "erroneously," tax credits for electric and hybrid cars. (No, tax credit for golf carts is not what Congress had in mind.) That number included 29 people who were in prison the entire tax year. TaxProf Blog

This Is Why We Need Hatchets: "Some people are jealous" is how Ms. Sinkfield rationalizes the massive revulsion that she provokes among people who encounter her for the first time. Why their disgust? After all, she's merely making "a fashion statement" that she believes is appreciated by "most women." She is Ms. Jazz Ison Sinkfield, of Atlanta, Ga., and the subject matter is her 10 crooked, curling fingernails, whose individual lengths vary between 20 and 24 inches. WXIA-TV (Atlanta) [with recoil-provoking photo]

And Still More Things To Worry About

"[F]lare-ups by short-tempered parents" are part of the deal at National Kiddie Tractor Pullers Association meets, they say. (Just like full-grown rednecks, 3- to 8-year-olds competitively pedal "tractors" hauling hundreds of pounds.) (Yep, 3.) Columbus Dispatch

Fine Points of the Law: (1) Shouldn't there be, in Aspen, Colo., a Constitutional right to call a cop a "douche bag"? (2) The judge shouldn't have let that psychotherapist tell the jury that she knew, perfectly well, that the kid had been abused by his parents because the boy told her that--by telepathy. Aspen Times /// The Scotsman (Edinburgh)

Last week in South Africa, (1) a woman was arrested for allegedly hiring a man to rape her 24-year-old daughter--to impregnate her so she could be fulfilled as a grandmother, and (2) news reports emerged on the latest drug craze--"whoonga"--just your ordinary get-high mixture of detergent, rat poison, and marijuana . . and some unused anti-retrovirals lying around (since some medical authorities in the country still don't believe HIV is connected to AIDS). (Bonus: Some men consider HIV a blessing because it gives them greater access to the drugs.) Daily Mail (London) /// Fox News /// (Cape Town)

Those crazy Asians, willing to pay delicacy-type prices to munch on the "sea cucumber" (earthworm-resembling creatures that roam the ocean floor for anything predators leave behind--and which breathe through their anuses). The Independent (London)

It's almost time for Carnival in Brazil, and some legislators are moving to constitutionalize joy, i.e., adding the "right" to happiness (but everybody forced to live in those favela slums better already be happy because this "right" won't help them). Associated Press via Washington Post

Police in Christchurch, New Zealand, got slapped with a $150,000 NZ ($115,000 US) lawsuit for the aftermath of the arrest of a woman with piercings. She had removed most of them, as the law required of detainees, but one wouldn't come off, necessitating, um, bolt-cutters. (Bonus: It was on her you-know-where.) The Press (Christchurch)

The British immigration officer didn't want his wife back so, when she flew home to Pakistan to visit the folks, he put her name on a terrorist list. Problem solved. Daily Mail (London)


No Longer Weird (but with a twist): A burglar was busted in Silver Spring, Md., after he left his cell phone behind [ed.: so far, a yawner of a story], but the reason he left it behind was that the Giant Snowstorm had shut down electricity at his own home, and he needed to break into a house that still had power, to get a recharge. WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Can't Possibly Be True: (1) A Minneapolis woman tried to mail a puppy to Atlanta (didn't even put air holes in the box) (2) This guy called 911 (the one telephone number equipped with super-tracing technology) just to ask whether his pot plant was illegal. Star Tribune /// WTNH-TV (New Haven, Conn.)

Car thief James Brown of Sacramento was arrested after he hit-and-ran another car and escaped on foot. How they ID'd him: The collision had knocked out Brown's false teeth, which remained at the scene. KCRA-TV (Sacramento)

Armed-robber Edward Nathan, Jr., 50, who escaped from prison in 1983 and had avoided police all these years, finally slipped up and got caught in Atlanta the week before last . . arrested on a charge of peeing in public. WJXT-TV (Jacksonville, Fla.)

At the other end of the successful-fugitive spectrum, Anthony Darwin, on the run in Wisconsin for six years to avoid a bunch of charges, turned himself in in January . . well, because he has cancer and wants treatment on the government's dime. (Bonus: The sheriff, facing budget problems, stuck the warrant back in the drawer and sent Darwin on his way.) Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)

Loser school officials continue to up the ante on Zero Tolerance: (1) A 7-year-old boy brought a Nerf-type ball-shooting machine to school, which naturally led the school, in Hammonton, N.J., to call the police, who charged him with a misdemeanor. (Imagine parents, later showing off their scrapbook: "Oh, and look, here's page one of little Timmy's rapsheet . . ..") (2) A high school kid in Spotsylvania, Va., was expelled for hitting three kids with little pellets ya blow out of a small tube. [ed.: You and I went to school at the right time, didn't we?] WCAU-TV (Philadelphia) /// Washington Post

The Pervo-American Community

Last week's big day for high school football players left out hotshot lineman Christopher Carter of Cleveland (recruited by Ohio State), who was in jail because of his hobby, which apparently is taking (and recording in a notebook) all the inappropriate measurements of his girl classmates (under the ruse of helping fit them into uniforms for the Junior ROTC, of which he is a member). Plain Dealer

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

Joseph Kidd's lawyer has a point: He must be innocent, because ya can't successfully steal someone's identity, and use it for 17 years without getting caught, if you go around looking like Kidd. Sacramento Bee

And the latest fashion statements, from this week's collection in The Smoking Gun: charged with contempt of court (and that was before she showed up looking like that) . . who knew "eyebrows" were such a versatile style platform? . . . a hair style that nicely exploits a mental-patient forehead.

Editor's Notes

So . . I got a little extra time this weekend . . and the meds kicked in . . and I will produce a Tuesday post of 14 more stories that made me tingle. I'll send it to the Google Groups list, as well.

Newsrangers (including contributors of tomorrow's post): Mather Preston, Mike Mendenhall, Dave Shepardson, Don Boesen, Hal Dunham, Seth Chickering, Sandy Pearlman, Matt Stiglitz, Charles Morgan, Michael Meloth, Bruce Leiserowitz, and Don Peck, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors