Tuesday, September 06, 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
September 5, 2011
(datelines August 27-September 3) (links correct as of September 5)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Inadvertent Performance Art--The Pro Se Defendant at Trial . . Plus Many More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Nothing's more fun for a lawyer than the grandiloquent perp trying to defend himself in court. Here, Mr. Fool For Client, charged with kidnaping, beating, and raping a 69-year-old woman, told the jury it was self-defense because he feared for his life, seeing as how the lady appeared to be a gang member. (Bonus: His explanation was so bad, the judge told the jury to try to forget it when they get back in the jury room.) Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)

Since Heather Mattingsly gave birth at home with the help of an unlicensed midwife, the Quebec government bureaucracy could not be certain that her brand-new baby was not trafficked in from somewhere else. Until last week, they thought the only way they could be sure whether Heather was on the level was to examine her vagina. [You're right, it won't.] Montreal Gazette

The sum-total of all public knowledge of alleged CIA "renditions" seemingly about doubled last week, stemming from a petty business dispute in upstate New York. A small aviation company, flying a Gulfstream IV, had been contracted by a brokerage service to ferry various "government personnel and their invitees" to and from black holes with bogus paperwork and no questions asked. The aviation company sued the brokerage service for shorting payment, and for some reason, the CIA chose the strategy of "ignore," hoping no one would ever learn about the lawsuit. The strategy failed. Court records supplied dates and destinations that confirmed previously suspected missions and included home and cell phone numbers of CIA contacts. Ouch. Washington Post

The sum-total of public knowledge of Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi was not similarly advanced by secret police recordings in July--because expectations were so low. Nonetheless, he is now on the record as referring to his beloved Italy as a "shitty" country that "sickened" him and that his enemies haven't a thing on him except that "I screw" [which is the curious English translation supplied by London's venerable Guardian, even though "screw" looks like a word of choice]. The Guardian

Absurdities

Street-racing, bumping cars at 100 mph, but one driver is 78, the other 82. Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader

A "masseuse," on the witness stand in a sex trafficking case, threw the trial into turmoil when she happened to notice that one of the defense lawyers used to be a client. Chicago Tribune

Good idea: government subsidizing baby-sitting for families in poverty. Bad idea: government failing to vet baby-sitters (so that the Chicago Tribune found many cases of convicted rapists, molesters, and other violent felons with access to kids). Chicago Tribune

Mom, you failed to buy me enough toys, or birthday gifts, or packages of cookies in college (and committed a host of other trivialities). Hence, this Son and Daughter vs. Mother lawsuit, whose filings have reached a height of about a foot. Last week, finally, the judge tossed it. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

Losers

A private UK security firm fired two guards. They had affixed an ankle monitor to a perp they were watching--but didn't notice that they had put it on his prosthetic leg (which he removed and thus was able to frolic at will). Daily Telegraph

You're driving down the street, hauling five kids, and notice your car engine is on fire. What to do? Pull into the first gas station you see Actually, you pull into almost anywhere that doesn't dispense gasoline. Times Free Press (Chattanooga)

Juror: Surely when the judge said not to discuss the case, he couldn't mean not to post my thoughts on Facebook. Surely he couldn't mean that I can't "friend" that cute chick in the courtroom. (Bonus: Cute chick is the defendant. Contempt!) KTXA-TV (Dallas)

Oh! Dear!

So Near, Yet So Far (The Brutality of Priapism): His erection hurt so bad that David Miller, 30, needed to rob his father, they say, for painkiller money. New York Post

Bad: Beauty pageants for kids. Worse: This one (from a series on The Learning Channel). Mom Lindsay Jackson dressed her little Maddy, 4, as Dolly Parton--anatomically correct Dolly Parton. New York Post

With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Edwin Tobergta has always had a "fascination with plastic," his grandmother said, after the 32-year-old was arrested in an alley in Hamilton, Ohio, attempting to have sex with an inflatable swimming pool raft. Cincinnati Enquirer

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


David Senk, charged with animal cruelty for . . taking two chomps on a pet python. KCRA-TV (Sacramento)

From The Smoking Gun's weekly collection, this lady might be guilty of causing injury to a family member. The Smoking Gun

Below The Fold

Somewhere, A Crotch Is Bare: 1,700 panties found on the side of the road in Lancaster, Ohio. Associated Press via Cleveland.com

Domestication of Bruno: a prison's knitting circle. TV3 (Auckland)

Secondary Explosion: A paintballer chick took a direct hit in the boobal area, triggering her implant. (Seriously.) Los Angeles Times

Sounds Familiar: He's a college professor and a meth trafficker. Los Angeles Times

Embarrassing: An airport worker in Phoenix got trapped by a baggage conveyor belt and had to be rescued. Arizona Republic

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: Bodies are lost at sea, and who knows what happens to them as they disintegrate, except that we know where the (shoe-clad) feet wind up. Vancouver! The 11th one showed up last week. CNN

Update: Change of plans, said Donna Simpson, who no longer wants to be the fattest cow in the Guinness Book and make PPV money from customers watching her eat. Now, time for a diet. Motivator: She and her boyfriend just broke up (so, yes,she's available, guys, all 540 pounds!) (Bonus: Ya have to wonder about ex-sweetheart Phillipe Guoamba and what caused trouble in paradise. Just a feeling . . that his story is as interesting as hers.) [Warning: Do not click the "Anatomical Wonders" link that AOL has so helpfully provided at the bottom of the story. Do not. Not Safe For Stomachs--Not Nearly Safe.] Huffington Post

Update: The clock ran out on Brooklyn's Prospect Park "Vagina Tree"--done in by Hurricane Irene, passing through. The Brooklyn Paper

Miscellaneous Sh*t

Unclear on the Concept: An interview with Japan's oldest living kamikaze pilot. [That was the question in an old "Carnac, The Magnificent" routine. The answer, divined in advance by Carnac: "Chicken sukiyaki"] JapanProbe.com

Breaking Redneck News from The Daily News of Northwest Florida): In Okaloosa County, a 19-year-old woman was arrested for domestic battery after her husband complained of being hit on his package when she threw a flip-flop at him. NWFDailyNews.com

Weird 2.0

The top 10 Congressional districts that have been gerrymandered into shapes that resemble animals, e.g., the salamander. The New Republic

In recent years, the number of UK households in which no one has ever held down a job had increased to 297,000, but supposedly the number's coming down a bit. Daily Mail

Small Issue, Large Debate: If the government can persuade more dropout-prone kids to stay in school, future social costs (crime, welfare, overpopulation) will be lower, but, then, if government does it the old-fashioned way (i.e., pays them cash to show up) . . .. NewJerseyNewsroom.com

The California legislature is preparing a game-change for the babysitting industry, well, babysitting market. Minimum wage (except for family members) for anyone 18 and older, plus a relief worker so that the sitter doesn't toil more than two hours at a stretch. Seriously. The Union (Grass Valley, Calif.)

If a principal goal of the $800bn 2009 federal "stimulus" was to spend lots of money, and spend it fairly across the land, was there a precedent? Might have been the various Homeland Security contracts our terrified government let after 9-11. "Safety" was priceless, and bright ideas abounded. The Los Angeles Times revisits the issue problem and likes for its top prize the Zodiac boat to keep safe that lake in Keith County, Neb. (Al Qaeda kills about as many Americans a year in the U.S. as drown in bathtubs.) Los Angeles Times

Editor's Notes

I got laid off by Washington City Paper last Thursday. News of the Weird was born there on February 12, 1988, and a year and a half later, I had a mainstream newspaper syndicate contract. A few surviving weeklies run the column, in somewhat smaller towns (Austin, Milwaukee, Tampa), but the weeklies now beg for local reporting and economize down even from the few farthings they cough up to Universal Press Syndicate every month. Symbolically, this happened one week after the laying off, by Slate.com, of the editor who first thrust NOTW upon the world at WCP, Jack Shafer. And last Monday, the venerable Jim Romenesko closed down his ObscureStore.com, the granddaddy of daily weird-news blogs. Oh, Lordy. Does this mean I need to wither down, too? Nah! I could, but you need me too much.

Time-Wasters: (1) Latest x-ray making the rounds (pruning shears through an eye socket). (2) Intelligent Design (a 44-lb. frog) (a calf with two heads). (3) The Most Toxic Spots in the world (and the filthy Ganges River can't even make the list!). (4) A photo spread on how demoralizing it must be on the way up Mount Everest, having to pass by some of the 200 failed-climber' corpses lying around. (5) A tribute to the Museum of Bad Art in Boston (which needs help, since they obviously aren't even close to having it all). Associated Press via Arizona Republic (x-ray) /// Sin Chew Daily (Selangor, Malaysia) (frog) /// KTUL-TV (Tulsa, Okla.) (calf) /// Wonders-World.com (toxic) /// Buzzfeed.com (corpses) /// The Independent (London) (bad art)

Newsrangers: Bruce Leiserowitz, Albert Clawson, Larry Seltzer, Brian Wilson, Steve Dunn, Michael Lake, and Kathryn Wood, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors