Monday, July 11, 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
July 11, 2011
(datelines July 2-July 9) (links correct as of July 11)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

One Grand Prosperity Gospel, plus High-Tech Dive-Bombing and . . a Zedonk

From Yr Editor

Ehhhhh . . . halfway-back issue. Getting there. Keep expectations low for News of the Weird (which by the way is now the world's only English-language news source with the acronym NOTW)

★ ★ ★ ★!

The Day Pastor Creflo Dollar Foamed at the Mouth: The foremost practitioner of the "Prosperity Gospel" (i.e., God measures his servants' goodness by their wealth) was surely struck constipated after learning last week that one Hindu temple in southern India contains at least $22,000,000,000 worth of gold, diamonds, and other jewels, collected by the priests as offerings over the years. Imagine, Pastor Dollar might have thought . . every priest . . each with his own personal private jet! NPR News Blog [referencing Associated Press, The Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, and BBC News] /// Creflo Dollar

Won't You Please Be Generous to the Severely Afflicted?: Michigan inmate Kyle Richards sued the state for its ban on porn in prison, citing his disability of "chronic masturbation syndrome." Detroit News /// Macomb Daily [mugshot after the January bank robbery that put him in the slammer]

Way-Inconvenient Truths: (1) Global warming by man-made greenhouse gases is real, acknowledged a Boston University researcher, but countervailingly real is global cooling by sulfur particles (which reflect sunlight back into space) from all those Chinese coal-burning power plants. (Bonus: "Cooling" may be winning.) (2) Surveys led by a Cornell researcher demonstrated, over a wide range of "Government Social Programs," that 25% to 64% of beneficiaries either don't know or refuse to believe that what they're getting is a "government social program" benefit. The Independent (London) /// [source available at link]

Sounds Familiar . .: An Air Force plane crashed on Wednesday just south of . . Roswell, N.Mex., and the local commander issued a statement reminding all the paranoids considering trekking to the area that they should "cooperate with military and civilian authorities." Of course. Associated Press via Fox News


Taiwan celebrates the "lower gods." The Electric Flower Car is a traveling strip show that plays funerals, celebrating the deceased while entertaining their families in song and dance (formerly nekkid but now in tasteful bikinis). It is chronicled in a recent documentary.

The founder of the Guess fashion house sued IRS to force an audit of his books, but--who would've known?--there's no right to an IRS audit! TaxProf Blog [law citation at the link]

Sadly, people still can't legally shoot their own cars in most jurisdictions--even Arizona!. Kingman Daily Miner

Artist Cy Twombly died, leaving behind a collection of oversized child-like scribblings and paint smudges that have, for decades, sent connoisseurs into tizzies of awe. New York Times [obit] [a gallery is available high up on a Google search for cy twombly]

"Three Squares a Day": At New York City's Coney Island, the Parks Department is rationing toilet paper for visitors . . that is, female visitors . . because the men's room has none at all. New York Post

Australia's Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency circulated a paper proposing, as one way to reduce greenhouse gases, culling the country's 1.2 million [whoa!] camels . . because each one emits 45kg of methane a year. Australian Associated Press via


Jonathan Schwartz (911 call): I just killed my mom! Jonathan Schwartz (upon reflection, as cops arrive): My mom just killed herself! New York Daily News

Skinhead tough guy Daren Abbey, 28, confronted a black man in an Idaho bar (no, no, seriously--black, in Idaho) and punched him. Black man, 46, put a bigger hurting on Abbey. It was dark in the bar, and Abbey apparently couldn't make out the man's T-shirt, which read "Spokane Boxing Club champion." KREM-TV (Spokane) via Northwest Cable News

Rednecks At Large: Three guys were charged with stealing a big stuffed alligator, strapping it to their pickup, and joy-riding it though the mud. From the mugshots, it's not clear that these particular gentlemen had any better opportunities to have fun than this. Flint Journal

Sean Ogden, 19, Durango, Colo., was badly burned when he attempted to create bigger fireworks from the innards of smaller ones . . by using a coffee grinder to rip the smaller ones open. Associated Press via Denver Post

Did Frank Pence really try to extort $22,000 from his former employer via an elaborate "drop the money in a bucket out in the woods" scheme, or is he (as he says) just a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, reeling in the wrong bucket? WLWT-TV (Cincinnati)

Oh! Dear!

According to a research paper presented at a Glasgow conference last week, pigeons' facial-recognition software is so sophisticated that they'll correctly dive bomb an old human enemy even if you try really hard to disguise that enemy as a friendly.

A More Honorable Profession: British banking consultant Thomas Heathfield, 32, got out just in time, entering an endurance training program in South Africa to become a sangoma, an herbal-cure witch-doctor sort who reads bones and goes by the name Gogo Mndawe. Daily Telegraph (London)

Run for Your Life! At the Xiamen Haicang Safari Park in China, a donkey was born with the legs of a zebra. The zoo's three adult male donkeys aren't talking, and neither is the female zebra. [link from Nothing to Do with Arbroath]

Cliche Come to Life: The latest well-hung female CEO is apparently the screeching Nancy Silberkleit, former head of Action [CORRECTION: Archie] Comics, who has been trespassed from Action Archie headquarters as a menace. Among her legacies: the time she burst into an office yelling "Penis, penis, penis, penis!" and the time she told a subordinate, "I need to adjust my balls." New York Daily News

The Pervo-American Community

David Castricone, 62, is a legendary high school wrestling coach at Massachusetts's North Andover High School, but his recent legend includes lurking in the girls' locker room at least nine times in a recent month. New York Daily News

Usually a perv who compulsively snaps photos in a restroom is a male perv, and almost never an actual working member of the judiciary. However, meet Plantation, Fla., traffic magistrate Rhonda Hollander, 47. (Bonus: She kept clicking, even as cops hauled her away.) South Florida Sun-Sentinel via Orlando Sentinel

Caught in a closet in the MVC Late Night adult shop in Woodbridge, Va., getting familiar with a blow-up doll, was Mr. Justin Dale Little Jim, 28, clearly guilty of something under the Three First Names protocol. Inside

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

Ryan Grunewald, 35, might be innocent of stealing that truck, i.e., perhaps he's telling the truth that he bought it with money sent to him by Ms. Paris Hilton when they fell in love telepathically and he set out from Madison, Wis., aiming for Hollywood and wedded bliss. La Crosse Tribune via

Weird 2.0

A Southampton University (England) professor verified that too many mothers smoke during pregnancy for the primary purpose of having smaller babies that will be easier to deliver. Daily Telegraph

S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s!: The worst big U.S. bank? Obviously, that's Bank of Amer-- . . no, wait, Chase . . yeah, Chase . . no, no, Bank of America . . no, Chase, yeah, Chase. This poor schmuck, Mr. Ikenna Njoku, actually did jail time for Chase's error . . and lost his job . . and his car. (Update: Chase apologized . . a year later!) [Full Disclosure: Yr Editor may have an ax to grind; see Editor's Notes] KING-TV (Seattle)

Below The Fold

Manure News: (1) Norfolk, Neb., is expecting at least 1,200 this coming weekend for the 2011 North American Manure Expo, with 53 vendors and panels of manure-management experts (i.e., people who do know jack sh*t). (2) Someone stole a female Sulcata tortoise (70 lbs.) from The Animal Store in Lincolnwood, Fla. (Threatened the store owner, "The first time it takes a dump in your bedroom, you're going to be sorry.) Associated Press via KLKN-TV (Lincoln) /// Orlando Sentinel

Updates and Recurring Themes

Philip Contos died last week. He was part of a bikers' protest of New York's mandatory-helmet law, and he was riding helmetless. Something went wrong, and he crashed to the pavement, head first. Doctors were certain he'd still be alive if . . .. WSYR-TV (Syracuse)

Editor's Notes

I hate to be the one to have to tell y'all, but in two recent instances, the U.S. legal system was not weird. In fact, it worked perfectly. The New York D.A. (Cyrus Vance, not Jack McCoy) correctly arrested Dominique Strauss-Kahn on the fly and then correctly made prompt disclosure of troublesome aspects of his case. (As far as I know, I have no readers in Frawnz, but if I do, and you sense DSK vilified by CV, well, KM[US]A.) As well, the Casey Anthony jury reached the only possible verdict justified by the ordinary meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt" (given that there was no serious proof of exactly how the little girl died--without even exploring too closely the mystical nature of the forensic evidence). But there was one little imperfection: According to state law (which is similar to the laws in other states), Anthony will have to pay "court costs" . . six hundred dollars . . when the actual costs to which she put the court, just by virtue of her lies during the investigation, were exponentially higher.

Alas, however, the Anthony case continues to provide succor, such as the certainty by central F-Staters that it was divine disapproval of the verdict that caused the lightning strike that tore the bark off a tree at the child's makeshift memorial site. (That is, an estimated 200 children are murdered by their parents every year [not counting "fetuses" as children] . . so, did the Lord have a thing going on for Caylee?) (Bonus: Defense lawyer Jose Baez was basically a moral bottom-wallower who barely clawed his way into the bar association [sort of like Donald Trump becoming President of the United States] . . and now he's the toast of the town!. Orlando Sentinel /// Criminal Report Daily /// Miami Herald [citing several Orlando Sentinel reports]

Disclosure regarding J.P. Morgan Chase: Yr Editor has a mortgage with Chase, and is and has always been in full compliance, including annually renewing my contractually-required flood insurance. Nonetheless, nearly every year, a month after the flood insurance has been renewed, Chase mails me a formal threat that it is about to be "forced" to sell me a (ridiculously overpriced) flood insurance policy because, gee, it has no record of my renewal. My agent faxed it. We don't have it. I then faxed it. Oh, it's smudged, and we can't read the renewal date. I then mailed a hard copy. Oh, dear, we can't seem to find that. I try to win over the poor 800-operator but once again draft my lawsuit for damages in my head. (Obviously, based on what happened to Mr. Njoku, a mere threat is useless.) Miraculously, Chase finds my document and won't be forced to write me a new flood insurance policy after all! It surely bothers me that Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is (properly) treated with suspicion on behalf of his company but that Jamie Dimon, for all Chase's many continuing missteps in the mortgage business, retains respectability as J.P. Morgan Chase CEO. Dimon is easily the most morally overrated executive in America.

Newsrangers: Gerald Sacks, Sandy Pearlman, Bob Pert, Nathalie Shein, Sue Clark, and Peter Hine, and the waves and waves of readers who noticed the biker-helmet protester's passing, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors