Monday, June 13, 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
June 13, 2011
(datelines June 4-June 11) (links correct as of June 13)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Egos Out of Control, Plus Amputee Porn and Pierced Gal Adds a Ring

From Yr Editor

. . . being the second of four consecutive weeks in which Yr Editor knows for sure that, due to time constraints, he has left some good stories on the floor (but promises they'll eventually make their way into the regular News of the Weird).

★ ★ ★ ★!

Arriving, Inevitably, at No One's Destination: It turns out that the town council and the board of education in Wethersfield, Conn., spent at least $634,140 over 18 months (likely much more) to deal with an ethics dispute involving a $400 course that the then-chair of the board of education charged to the government. (The course, taken by the chair's son, would have been authorized if the kid had been a student, but he had already graduated high school a month or two before and apparently wanted to re-take the course to get a higher grade.) As you might guess, most ($407,000) was for lawyer fees. Hartford Courant

We've Been Doing It the Hard Way: China's Agricultural University in Beijing says they've genetically modified a herd of 300 cows to give . . human breast milk (sweeter than cow milk and with all the urchin-enriching strength as if it came from our own lovely flesh-and-blood milk machines). Sky News (London)

Least Competent Legislature: A couple of weeks ago, Tennessee passed an overbroad law that would criminalize sharing any of your paid passwords (no cheating! buy your own subscription!), and last week the legislature made it illegal to Internet-post any image likely to "frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress" to anyone, including people you never even heard of and never wanted to see your stuff, anyway. ArsTechnica.com

Absurdities

A UK woman who is a leading support-grouper for "limb deficient" people, campaigning to buck up their self-esteem, announced her dismay last week that her Internet postings were also gaining popularity . . among sexually-delirious amputee fetishists. BBC News

You've heard of South American prisons where certain inmates get privileges (appliances, conjugal visits, etc.), but you've never seen anything like the San Antonio prison on an island off Venezuela, where the country's drug traffickers do hard time: four swimming pools, barbeque and drinks poolside, air conditioners, DirecTV, an armory ("I've seen guns in here that I've never seen before," said a former British soldier-smuggler), regular cockfights for gambling, and drug sales (to prisoners but also to visitors, who go there to buy, knowing that guards search going in but not coming out). New York Times

Chutzpah! A Virginia inmate (the former Michael Stokes) had the balls to sue his prison for "forcing" him to castrate himself (and botch it, since he didn't know what he was doing) because he couldn't get taxpayers to front his gender-reassignment surgery. Stokes has actually been Ms. Ophelia De'lonta for a while now, but is not totally what he wants to be. New York Daily News

It's one thing to fire an employee for, say, trying to stop a shoplifter or for goofing off on security detail. But Rice University fired its police officer David Sedmak for rushing off-campus to an armed standoff with a man holed up after shooting two Houston Police Department officers. Could have counseled him, given him probation, etc., but no. Houston Chronicle

Losers

LAPD finally figured out what happened last Thursday night at an 11 p.m. car crash. A man was giving his daughter driving lessons, and when she lost control and bowled over a few things, he apparently tried to teach her the crucial art of "evading police after a traffic accident." Los Angeles Daily News

Oh! Dear!

"[Q]uite happy" led observers' descriptions of Ned Nefer, 38, arriving in Watertown, N.Y., on foot (65 miles) from Syracuse accompanied by his wife of 24 years. ("We both really love the outdoors.") Mrs. Nefer is a 6-ft-high mannequin that Ned built, by himself, from the neck down. Police, detecting neither a danger nor a crime, shrugged. Watertown Daily Times

Strained Eulogies Are in Order: "Our beloveds . . who were killed by a flying bear . . .." On a Quebec highway last week, two people, minding their own business . . saw a collision . . and the bear landed on them. Toronto Sun

Great Moments in Architecture: The county Common Pleas Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio, was built with snazzy all-glass stairs. Said Judge Julie Lynch: "If you wear dresses, you're on notice . . . to take the elevator." (For now, security guards are merely watching out for people craning their necks underneath the stairways.) Columbus Dispatch

The main problem causing all this turmoil and hubbub in the Muslim world is . . insubordinate wives, according to the 800-member Obedient Wives Club in Kawang, Malaysia. (Previously, the same organizers had established a Polygamy Club.) Associated Press via Yahoo News

The Aristocrats!

Store manager Richard Moore of Aaron's in O'Fallon, Mo., just cost the company $95 million (reduced to $39 million) after a jury concluded that he not only serially-sexually-harassed a woman while she worked there but once placed his junk on top of her head while she was seated on the stockroom floor. Belleville News-Democrat

Brent Kendall apparently had a sour breakup with a former squeeze (unclear who dumped whom), but he was arrested for breaking into her home, slicing up 25 pieces of clothing, and wee-weeing on her bed and computer. Iowa City Press Citizen

Divorced couple Heather and William Davis were charged in Stillwater, Okla., with trying to arrange William's fake death so he could escape arrest warrants and start all over again . . as a woman . . after both lost custody of their young daughter because (while Heather might not have been a great parent, either) William was caught by the kid having sex with a blow-up doll. KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City)

From Tippecanoe County, Ind., judge Loretta Rush, recounting why handing an abused child over to relatives might not always be the best thing:
"I had a case where a child was born with drugs in his system. Both parents were using. We were looking for relative placement, but both sets of grandparents were using. So great-grandmother's in the courtroom, and I asked her if she would pass a drug screen, and she said she would not . . .."
Journal & Courier (Lafayette, Ind.)

What's Wrong with These People?

The bride was Elaine Davidson, with 7,000 body piercings; the groom was Douglas Watson, a government bureaucrat in his 60s, no piercings. Daily Telegraph

Brandon Bishop, 24, was arrested for beating the bejeezus out of the 2-year-old daughter of his finacee, over a 3-month period. However, he thought he had a good reason: Her mother treated her like a princess, and she needed toughening up. Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Redneck Chronicles: Ronald Adams, 49, was arrested after he tossed the TV remote at an 8-year-old boy (not Adams's son) in a Louisiana home, thumping him in the eye. Explanation: Adams wanted to watch "wrestling," the kid, "cartoons." The Smoking Gun

The Pervo-American Community

Trevor Harwell, 20, was arrested in Fullerton, Calif., and charged with [what Yr Editor believes is the most insidious of all white-collar crimes:] planting spyware while fixing your computer. Allegedly, he even taught a sucker the virtues of exposing the computer to "steam," such as, oh, y'know, in your bathroom while you're showering. Los Angeles Times

The highly oppressed Joseph Gerber got vindication from a California court of appeal, which agreed with him that he has a right (since there's no valid law against it) . . to Photoshop his 13-year-old daughter's face onto adult pornography. San Francisco Chronicle

Pervo-Anglican Community, in Orlando: Briton Alan Buckley, 44, killing some time while his sick child was being treated at Orlando's Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, wandered over to a Target store . . and (according to police) upskirt-photographed a woman in the bakery department. Orlando Sentinel

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


With the release of the mug shot, the Vegas line turned steeply against John Simister, 51, beating the 2-DUIs-in-10-hours rap in Lafayette, N.Y. Syracuse Post-Standard

Editor's Notes

The founding documents that eventually led to News of the Weird were heavy with references to boredom as a natural human condition. We're on our own in a constant flight to outrun it. The secret, though, is to disguise what we're doing. Convincing ourselves that we are important and engaged in vital things will stave off the inevitable realization (for all but a handful of us) that, except for raising our replacements, none of us is doing much worthwhile. That's as true of the busywork and fanny-protecting and hair-splitting that goes on in Washington, D.C., as it is of . . planking, which seems to have caught on with that group of people who are not easily embarrassed. Wall Street Journal

Recommendation: A USA Today analysis last week found that we Americans have made promises to pay out $62 trillion that we don't have (which is $534,000 per household). Next week, Yr Editor turns 66 and begins drawing Social Security, and actuarial tables say I'll live to be 83. So if y'all can just keep Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill hatin' on each other for the next 17 years, Yr Editor should be able to pull a dine-and-dash on This Life and be on to the Next. Of course, by then, the promises will be around $150 trillion (assuming that Congress keeps making nickel-and-dime cuts here and there, and maybe with nickel-and-dime tax increases), meaning that (given population patterns, unless we just open the borders, all-in) maybe 130 million households will be around to share it, which will be way over $1 million per household. Happy trails! Keep ideology alive, please! USA Today

Newsrangers: Danya Rutter and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors