Monday, October 31, 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
October 31, 2011
(datelines October 22-October 29) (links correct as of October 31)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Trial of the Century Pile (Steaming) of the Century, plus More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

In Fairfax County, Va., Kimberly Zakrzewski was found not guilty of violating the county's poop-scooper ordinance, in a citizens' complaint brought by her mortal enemies, the Cornell sisters, who introduced photos of little "Baxter"'s unscooped piles for the jury's edification. The dispositive evidence was testimony by Baxter's owner (Kimberly is just a walker) that the piles looked nothing like anything that had ever come out of Baxter. (Bonus: The owner had brought an actual pile to court that day to intro as evidence, but she decided to leave it in the car.) [ed: OK, OK, literary license on the word "steaming."] Washington Post

Student Loans' Perfect Storm: Like clockwork, college campuses continue to be recession-free zones: Tuition rises (at public schools because governments need revenue; at private schools because it can). Job prospects without degrees are more dismal than ever. Loans are floated like cocaine in front of worried, not-fully-formed adults. Proprietary schools convince marginal students they'll be superstars. Banks rake in low-risk money. But, Newsflash: Young adults can't pay it back right now. Banks: Great! More money for us in interest! (Newsflash: Maybe they can't ever pay it back. Banks: Wait . . what?) But . . why does tuition rise so faithfully? Here's one example: The University of California Berkeley has a new "vice chancellor for equity and inclusion," base salary, $194,000 (equal to 3½ new assistant professors), with his own "chief of staff" and 16 underlings. KausFiles via Daily Caller

Dictators Different From Us: Foreign Policy reminded us, apropos of Col. Gaddafi's fondness for Condoleezza Rice mementos, that other dictators had peculiarities, too. Saddam Hussein collected sleazy, tacky 1970s-style artwork (described by The Guardian's critic as "art for the barely literate, or the barely sentient"). King Farouk of Egypt had a million-dollar stamp collection, among other excesses. Michael Jordan had no greater a fan than Kim Jong-Il. The Shah of Iran was Rolls Royce's best customer. Gaddafi was sui generis, though, according to one BBC News reminiscence: "One day he was a Motown backing vocalist with wet-look permed hair and tight pants. The next, a white-suited comic-operetta Latin American admiral dripping with braid." Foreign Policy /// BBC News

Readers' Choice [story from "The (Suspend-All-Skepticism) Zone"]: It says here that Mr. Sunday Mayo, 28, claimed in court in Mandava, Zimbabwe, that he did not know he was having sex with a donkey--that it started out with him having sex with a female human prostitute. "Your worship, I only came to know that I was being intimate with a donkey when I got arrested."

If you happen to think America would have been better off merely (a) containing Saddam Hussein instead of (b) upending the country / spending a trillion dollars / and losing 4,400 American lives, then Scott Ritter was on your side, if you had listened to him. He was a no-BS United Nations inspector scouring Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and had concluded loudly by 2002 that Saddam was empty, that he had tried to make them, produced a few, then given up and destroyed his stockpile but continued to bluff his neighbors, i.e., he was no threat to America or Israel or anyone else outside Iraq. Cheney and Rumsfeld knew better, though: They thought Saddam was cunningly oozing WMDs--just that Ritter couldn't find them. By May 2003, as we now know, game-set-match to Ritter. In celebration, Ritter . . retired . . to resume his beloved pastime . . of masturbating for underage girls over the Internet, or rather, for cops pretending to be underage girls. He was sentenced last week to a year and a half in prison in Pennsylvania. Associated Press via MSNBC


Detroit may not have enough in the budget for all the cops, firefighters, and schoolteachers it needs, but it now has handsome wheelchair ramps at 13 intersections . . which have no sidewalks for the ramps to lead to. (A lawsuit settlement with the Paralyzed Veterans of America requires that when any street gets re-paved, it must get ramps, period.) Detroit News

Recurring [from Pro Edition, 9-26-2011]: Two more union lobbyists in Illinois got sweetheart deals, in 2007, based on a 1990s policy, to become state employees (for one day each), thus qualifying them for full state-worker pensions based on their union years rather than their state "years" ("years" here meaning "day"). (Seriously.) Chicago Tribune

On the Mississippi ballot in November: a constitutional amendment declaring that human embryos have full citizenship. Everyone knows what the drafters have in mind, but readers posed some of the many dilemmas that maybe the drafters hadn't thought much about, like "If I have a life-threatening pregnancy, can I use 'self-defense' to murder that little bastard?" Slate

Lt. Anita Van Buren [Law & Order] isn't even retired three months now, and already NYPD is tanking . . having locked up Takesha Griffin, 35, for five days before bringing her to a judge (required: within 24 hours, not five days). (Bonus: She got shot; the cops were holding her until she gave up the shooter, which they used-to could do in the old days, like 40-50 years ago.) New York Daily News


Brent Morgan, 20, was charged with trying to carjack a Corvette (foiled when, because of a dead battery, he couldn't start it nor operate the door locks to free himself, and was "trapped" inside until cops came). (Bonus: You're right; he could have flipped the lock up with his fingers.) Prince George Citizen (Prince George, British Columbia)

So Antoine Willis, 19, is still in intensive care in Dakota County, Minn., because his mother's boyfriend set him on fire in retaliation for Antoine's coming to help his mother during a domestic fight. So people in the community are donating to the Antoine Willis fund to help out. So the grateful mother, and her brother . . steal Antoine's donations and go gambling. The Aristocrats! Star Tribune

Accident Fund Insurance Company of America--sssssssss! The company handles worker compensation for an assisted living facility for developmentally disabled adults in Joplin, Mo. Mark Lindquist was on duty during the May tornado and tried to protect his three Down Syndrome charges. (A lesser man would've bailed out at first siren.) The home took a direct hit; they were killed; Mark, miraculously, survived, but is totally messed up, for life, to the tune of millions of dollars. Accident Fund's response: Um, well, we only pay for workplace kinds of things, not tornado kinds of things. (Reading Accident Fund's mind on this: There's no way Mark should even be alive. Just because a miracle occurred, why do we have to pay for it?) (Update: Whoa! They changed their minds last week--four months later!) Associated Press via Washington Post

Stephen Comrie, 20, was sent to the ER at a Manlius, N.Y., hospital after being shot at a campsite. He had been making strange animal noises in the dark to scare his friends gathered around a bonfire, and one fearful guy grabbed his shotgun and fired toward the bushes. Syracuse Post-Standard

Mr. Sandro Michel was killed in an auto crash in Florida . . which he caused by punching the driver (his wife). She survived. And a married couple fighting in their car near Pineville, N.C., were both killed when they got out and continued their battle in the middle of Interstate 485 and were hit by different cars. New Times Broward Palm Beach /// Charlotte Observer

The Pervo-American Community

Convicted sex offender Charlie Price, 57, pleaded guilty in Pittsfield, Mass., but with no enhanced penalty, since the victim of his breast-groping and face-licking this time was not a woman but a cardboard cutout of a woman, in front of a Rite Aid pharmacy ("disturbing the peace"). Berkshire Eagle

Police in Indianapolis are looking for the man seen on a day care center's surveillance video breaking in and trying on little girls' swimwear before re-dressing and leaving. MSNBC [photos!]

Thomas Davis, 63, has a different approach to guilt than other possessors of child porn. Say, if others were in the process of viewing child porn on a computer, they'd turn off the computer before answering the door, so cops couldn't glimpse the screen. Second, if the police were knocking, "normal" child-porn addicts would not answer the door completely naked. WLWT-TV (Cincinnati)

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

Adam Eubank, 26, is the brother of the man who was roasting that raccoon in a parking lot in Memphis, but raccoon-roasting is OK. Adam, though, is the one with the meth-making equipment. WMC-TV (Memphis)

From The Smoking Gun's weekly collection comes this fella, charged with disorderly conduct and having drug paraphernalia, and looking remarkably like what a youthful Keith Richards looked like at age 25 or so. The Smoking Gun

Oh! Dear!

Embarrassing: Fire rescuers in Ipswich, England, laboring for 20 minutes, managed to free a father (in front of his kids) stuck in the straw dispenser at a McDonalds. And a 21-year-old man in Vallejo, Calif., is sticking to his story that the reason he was trapped in a child's swing for nine hours was a bet gone south with friends, who decided to leave him twisting. Finally, in Laguna Hills, Calif., firefighters rescued a guy stuck in the hollow of a dead tree. (Rescuer: "Why he was in the tree, I have no idea.") East Anglia Daily Times /// Times-Herald (Vallejo) /// Orange County Register

Not Worried Yet? Ryanair admitted that, yes, it did duct tape a cockpit window just before takeoff from Stansted, England, headed for Latvia. (Still, the pilot aborted the flight after 20 minutes because the window was flapping too loudly.) The Sun (London)

Updates & Recurring Themes

The auction for a piece of Saddam's buttocks from the Baghdad statue pulled down in April 2003 [Pro Edition, 10-17-2011] failed to attract its reserve bid at auction (about $400k). BBC News

Performance artist Marni Kotak [Pro Edition, 10-10-2011] performed her childbirth last week, dropping little Ajax upon the gazes of 15-20 "art patrons" at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y. London's Daily Mail's New York stringer has good background, including an unflattering portrait of the Microscope. Daily Mail

Former judge Donald Thompson [ed.: an insignificant Oklahoma state court judge but who is a News of the Weird staple, as he is the famous "penis pump" judge] was ruled ineligible for his state pension. (Bonus: And if he even as much as stubs his toe in the future, you'll read about it here. "Penis pump.") /// Associated Press via USA Today [8-18-2006]

Newsrangers: Arpad Miklos, Andrew Hastie, Jeremy Taylor, Gerald Sacks, Telaraj Webster, Joe Kessler, Rand Eller, Christopher Lear, and Hal Dunham, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, October 24, 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
October 24, 2011
(datelines October 15-October 22) (links correct as of October 24)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Cooking with Blood (On Purpose, Not, Like, When the Chef Cuts His Finger), Plus More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

"You eat meat, so why not blood," asks The Globe and Mail, describing several Toronto restaurants' favorite sanguinary cuisines. Torta di sanguinaccio, a custard of dark chocolate and slow-tempered blood, cauliflower marinated in pig's blood, spaghetti al nero di maiale, with blood-blackened noodles. You get the picture. The Globe and Mail

A day earlier, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni had recounted various "loopy" instructions received over the years from self-puffed restaurant chefs on how their delicacies should best be enjoyed. The latest (at New York City's Romera) demands various ridiculously subtly-flavored waters to be paired up with various ridiculous dishes. New York Times

London's Daily Mail profiled nurse Melinda Arnold, 34, from Melbourne, Oz, who happened to be born without a womb and will soon get a transplant--donated by her own mother, which means that Melinda's kid will make him/herself at home in the very same uterus that Melinda once inhabited. Daily Mail

"Support Our Troops": The dirty secret is that, for want of $65 apiece, the Pentagon could've helped every male soldier avoid the catastrophic scrotal injuries inflicted by IEDs. There was enough in the budget for colostomy bags, but not for the double-Kevlar-enforced armored underwear. Recall that there were pallets of freshly-minted $100 bills literally thrown at Iraqi locals and opportunistic U.S. contractors, but $65 a head was not doable? Talking Points Memo IdeaLab


Recurring Theme (this time, Canada): An in-hospital injury could not be treated by the staff . . who told the woman who had just then fallen and broken her hip that she'd have to call an ambulance to pick her up and take her around back to their ER. Toronto Star

A plastic surgeon waxed rhapsodic about the intricacies of breast shape . . for professional reasons, of course, but you've got your "upper pole" (and "slope" thereof) of the breast and the "lower pole," and the angle at which the nipple points, at its "meridian," and the "convex lower pole"--. Contrasting View: You know it when you see it. Daily Mail (London)

Take a look at the delightful cover page of the Opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 10-14-2011, in the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif v. Obama. Oh, wait, it's not the cover page; it's the whole thing. Opinion [pdf] /// Law Fare Blog [background of case]

The Nigerian government suspected a popular actor, "Baba Suwe," of trying to smuggle drugs out of the country and detained him at the airport. Search turned up no drugs. He must've swallowed them. That was over a week ago. At press time, they're still hoping that bowel movement number 4 will turn up what numbers 1, 2, and 3 did not. If it doesn't, they'll wait for bowel movement number 5. Agence France-Presse via Google News

Real Buffalo Bills' fans won't be stopped from searching for free tickets . . just because a radio station promotion has placed them down in a vat of buffalo droppings--just to see how far real fans will go. Yahoo Sports


A court in Northern Ireland sentenced Paul Moran, 30, to three months in jail for setting a dangerous fire in his row house. He had burned some feces, which he was certain would produce . . gold. Belfast Telegraph

Dale Foughty, 56, was arrested in a robbery attempt at a convenience store in Jacksonville, N.C., despite his intimidating Spider Man mask. The clerk won by jabbing Spider Man in the gut with a broom. Associated Press via Alabama Live

The Pervo-American Community

Boo Boo, 38, was arrested in Chickasha, Okla., for being a weirdo, especially propositioning little girls while naked and slathered in cooking oil. Boo Boo is also known as Joseph Branom. KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City)

Martin Soto, 43, went to the aid of a woman who had fallen in Chandler, Ariz., but the "aid" consisted of licking her knee (and, subsequently, attempting to lick her face). Tucson Citizen

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

From The Smoking Gun's weekly collection: (1) Charged with domestic battery [ed.: and you know how I love hair-fashion risks]. (2) Arrested on a traffic charge [ed. probably on his combine!]

Oh! Dear!

The surveillance video inside St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Winson Green, England, was clear: The guy who stole that valuable church lamp was devout--in that he had crossed himself before he took off with it. Birmingham Mail

Arizona has water shortage. Thus, Arizona ski resort uses recycled sewer water to add to snow coverage. Arizona Hopi Indians: Bad enough the white man uses our sacred land for recreation but now he's putting poop water on it. BBC News

Headline: "Lingerie Football League Wants to Start a Youth League" KING-TV (Seattle)

Below The Fold

Ultra-Orthodox Jews on a rampage over immodesty in Jerusalem: One target is ice-cream shops that sell cones because girls and women go around in public, licking them! Reuters

A district in Maharashtra state in India had a ceremony that allowed girls to legally change their names. This was a big deal because these 285 girls were scourges of Indian society, according to their parents. (That is, the parents had all named the girls "Unwanted.") Associated Press via Yahoo News

In Chicago, an unnamed woman was charged with assaulting her husband by throwing cupcakes at him. (The Tribune's policy of not naming victims of sex crimes apparently also applies to baked-goods crimes.) Chicago Tribune

Cliché Come to Life: Frank Pence, 48, didn't really do this, did he? Really? He extorted money from a food store owner by having the owner leave the cash in a bucket out in an open field (No cops!). Then, hours later, lying-in-wait cops noticed that Frank was using a long, long, long rope that had been mostly buried, and was slowly dragging the bucket across the field. Cincinnati Enquirer

Updates & Recurring Themes

No Longer Weird: Thieves steal scrap metal. Still Weird: They dismantle and steal an entire, 15-ton steel bridge. (Bonus: By the time they got 'er done, steel prices had fallen; they only got $5,100.) Wall Street Journal

Too Soon! A California lady-lady couple has authorized hormone-blocking regimen for their son no, daughter well, boy, who wants to switch up. "Tom"'s 11 now, wants to be "Tammy." CNN [9-27-2011, but other versions appeared last week]

No Longer Weird: "Blind reliance on SatNav," when combined with "Not particularly brilliant at thinking on his feet to begin with," and you get an 18-wheeler driver who wedges himself into an alley (and must spend the night in the cab because he can't get a door open). Daily Mail (London)

Update: The most recent adult (diaper) baby we reported [Pro Edition, 5-23-2011] has theoretically been cleared by the Social Security Administration and does, indeed, qualify for his disability benefits (despite U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's skepticism, in view of the man's furniture-making skill, e.g., building his own adult-sized crib, etc.). Washington Times /// Washington Times [5-17-2011]

Editor's Notes

Time-Wasters: (1) A 6,810-bottle shelf-collapse at Superior Discount Liquors in Sheboygan, Wis. (2) A Siberian tiger, getting a root canal. (3) An evergreen video display (this one was posted in October 2010) of Mexico's "Island of the Dolls" WISN-TV (Milwaukee) /// AOL News ///

Good to Know: When a long-distance Continental flight suffered a triple-restroom malfunction in flight, passengers had a mighty unpleasant time, and Continental was apologetic. And then, it says here, the passengers were assisted in their criticism by Mr. Robert Brubaker, "of the American Restroom Association, a Baltimore-based advocacy group for toilet users." [Seriously?] Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Newsrangers: Chris Porter, Jeff Brown, Dan Clark, John Ayer, John Votel, Telaraj Webster, and Jonal McBrien, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, October 17, 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
October 17, 2011
(datelines October 8-October 15) (links correct as of October 17)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The Rich Africans So Callous They Make Wall Street Bankers Look Cuddly, plus More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Leading African Economic Indicators: (1) In Abuja, Nigeria, men are being tricked out of their sperm, which is captured by prostitutes in condoms and sold to witch doctors serving up good fortune and health to rich Africans who buy into the juju shtik. (2) Even worse, in Kampala, Uganda, aid organizations say the past three years have been hell because several hundred children are murdered annually in sacrifices--a service purchased by the rich to procure, they believe, even greater fortune. (BBC News, posing as a client, interviewed one witch doctor, who explained "two ways of doing this . . bury the child alive on your construction site, or we cut them in different places and put their blood is a bottle of spiritual medicine." £250, please.) Codewit World News (Helsinki) /// BBC News

American Mexican Ingenuity on Display: The smugglers tunneled, from out of sight in Nogales, Mexico, to get under the fence guarding Nogales, Ariz., and figured out how to come up precisely in a certain parking space on International Street. A van parks there (25 cents an hour on the meter), removes its floor, breaks through the pavement to meet the tunnelers. Drugs are passed up to the van. Street is returned to almost-new condition. Van drives away. Fabulous. ABC News via Yahoo News

Saddam in the News: (1) A dead-on lookalike for Saddam Hussein said he was briefly kidnaped in Alexandria, Eqypt, last week after turning down the equivalent of $330,000 to star in a Saddam-themed porn video. (2) On the auction block in Britain: part of the iconic Saddam statue that was pulled down by joyous Iraqis in 2003 (back when Iraqis were joyous). The portion retrieved by the British soldier: a buttock. via Huffington Post /// (Dubai)

Ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are getting nastier. In the town of Beit Shemesh, Orthos built a girls' school too close to the Ultra neighborhood, and now the Ultras taunt and harass the Ortho children daily as they walk to class, mostly with slutty insults, stones, and tomatoes (Bonus: at least once with feces). Ortho children apparently dress quite modestly but not nearly modestly enough for the Ultras. BBC News


America Has Its Problems, But--: In the UK, a church can't replace a high-ceiling light bulb without scaffolding (ladders are too dangerous!), and kids under eight can't blow up balloons (might swallow them). Daily Telegraph /// Daily Telegraph

After all, German arm-wrestling champ Matthias Schlitte only uses his left arm for competition so no wonder his "pythons" are just one python and a garter snake. Daily Mail (London)

In Pennsylvania, if you rear-end another car, then flee the scene because you're "confused," State Troopers won't even give you a ticket! (Offer applies only if you're a police chief.) Philadelphia Inquirer

Government in Action: In a September 30th legal decision, a hapless hazardous-waste handler won $1.7 million in a malicious prosecution case against a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency operative who allegedly manufactured charges against the guy solely so the agent could re-hook-up with a certain female-agent sweetie. The Volokh Conspiracy blog [link via]


Departed: (1) "Honest, Honey, it's not loaded, See?" said a 22-year-old, memory-challenged man in Seminole, Fla. (near St. Petersburg), before shooting himself in the head (critical condition). (2) Kenneth Fortson, 21, also shot himself (to death in his case). He and pals had just scored from a home-invasion and were fleeing in a pickup truck, when it crashed. Fortson happened to be holding the gun in his hand, and at some point in the rollover, it went off. Tampa Tribune /// Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Dr." Phillip Winikoff, 81, is in custody, but the Losers here are the two women who actually bought his pitch of being a free-lance door-to-door doctor performing life-saving breast exams. South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Miles Bennett accidentally dropped some marijuana outside a convenience store in Pittsburgh, Pa., and unfortunately, a cop saw it first and picked it up. No, Miles, he won't give it back to you, no matter how nicely you ask. Move along. WPXI-TV (Pittsburgh) via KSDK-TV (St. Louis, Mo.)

Oh! Dear!

Two of the ugliest things you'll see today: (1) a cyclops shark (seriously, one big, big eye), confirmed by a marine sciences center in La Paz, Mexico, and (2) a much-less-rare naked mole rat, pictured on to illustrate the completion of the naked mole rat genetic code, which reveals some promising curative thingies. National Geographic /// NPR

A (two-eyed) shark headline: "Killer Sharks Invade Golf Course in [Australia]" Water hazards at the Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane are the new home of a few (man-eating) bull sharks left over from the last time ocean floods swept inland. Sky News (London)

A video of a couple joining the mile-high club . . outside the plane, i.e., skydiving while hooked-up. Looks real. KGET-TV (Bakersfield, Calif.) /// [the actual NSFW video, dug up by a Newsranger]

A few male U.S. troops in Afghanistan thought they'd feel better about themselves if they had their Afghan barbers shape their eyebrows. And they do look fabulous! (The USMC wishes to inform you that "troops" in this case could not possibly refer to Marines.) Wall Street Journal

Fine Points of the Law: A federal judge in Detroit said his hands are tied--that federal law gives the government immunity from lawsuits over any loss of evidence they're holding for a criminal investigation . . such as that $750k Ferrari they totaled on a joyride. Sorry 'bout that. Associated Press via Fox News

The Pervo-American Community

The alleged perv arrested for sex with a 6-year-old child was a 50-year-old male social loser from the pathetic low caste of the U.S. female deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control. ABC News

Joseph Bartorillo, 60, was arrested--the most recent practitioner of the curious paraphilia of tricking others into eating or drinking products injected with the perv's semen. Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

The Aristocrat! Kenneth Sarsony was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., identified by police as the man who has taken dumps in front of a middle school classroom at least five times recently. Gainesville Sun

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

"Your mission, Ethan Hunt, should you choose to accept it, is to convince a jury that Delbert Huber didn't kill that man." WCCO-TV (Minneapolis)

Below The Fold

Another of those amazing X-rays: It says here that this 12-week-old puppy swallowed the 15-inch-long flagpole. NBC News via WPTV (West Palm Beach) [9-29-2011, but a better link than a Toronto Star story of 10-12-2011]

Great Moments in Mainstreaming: Among the August rioters in London was a wheelchair-bound man zipping himself away with his just-looted TV set in his lap. BBC News

In the traffic-anarchic Caracas district of Sucre, the mayor has enlisted volunteer mimes to wag their fingers at wayward drivers. (It's mostly working!) (Bonus: It's been done before!) Associated Press via CBS News /// Harvard Gazette [3-11-2004, link from Wikipedia]

Newsrangers: Perry Levin, Paul Langford, John Malvizzi, Gerald Sacks, and Sandy Pearlman, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, October 03, 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
October 3, 2011
(datelines September 24-October 1) (links correct as of October 3, 2011)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Why America Needs to Give South Korea a Wedgie, plus More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

South Koreans always stomp American kids in reading and math. In Seoul, they actually had to put a 10 p.m. curfew on coaching-school sessions, lest schoolkids study all night long, too. It's "the country's culture of educational masochism," writes Time. In fact, the government actually had to raid all-night study classes that cover their windows after 10. (Bonus: Even the coaching schools are selective, basing acceptance of students on test scores.) (Double Bonus: American reformers say U.S. schools ought to get tougher, like Asian schools, but Asian reformers say their schools ought to relax more, like American schools!) Time

For fashion week in London, Rachel Freire herewith presents her dress made with, um, 3,000, um, cow nipples. To resounding denunciation by animal-rights protesters, Freire asserts that she's just using "scrap[s]" that would be tossed out anyway, that she got from a tannery, that she's "recycling." "The people criticizing are clearly clueless about the amount of leather wasted on a daily basis." (Ignored in all the brouhaha: Why would someone make a dress out of nipples, anyway?)

One Russian lunatic in no danger of being put away by the government: Mother Fotina, 62, who believes she is Joan of Arc reincarnated and that Vladimir Putin is St. Paul, and she has quite a following. (Spiegel Online: "Polls show 57 percent of Russians notice 'signs of a Putin cult' in the country.") Says Mother, "God has appointed Putin to Russia to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ." Spiegel Online

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were announced in Cambridge, Mass., and we learned from research that people make either better--or worse (it depends)--decisions when they have to pee; that high achievers procrastinate like everyone else except that their distractions need to be more important than those of low achievers; and that certain kinds of beetles will mistakenly try to mate with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle. Pastor Harold Camping and five other sages shared the Mathematics prize for their complex historical calculations (mostly Biblical) assuring us that we shouldn't be here today. Huffington Post

As America's Apple is to consumer electronics, Japan's Toto is to crappers. Herewith is Toto's latest: a motorcycle that runs on the rider's doodoo. (It's a demo to show the stretch of sustainable, CO2-reducing technology.) Tokyomango blog [link from BoingBoing]


Chattanooga (Tenn.) Municipal Airport officials, seeking a catchier brand name, hired Big Communications of Birmingham for the huge bucks to come up with one. New, improved name: "Chattanooga Airport." Times Free Press (Chattanooga)

The Omnipotence of Social-Networking: A 19-year-old Brit used Facebook to trawl for kids for naked photos and propositioned one for sex. He was sentenced to three years' supervised probation and placed on the sex-offenders' list but the judge would not ban him from online networking because the kid needed the "social traffic" enjoyed by his peers. (Facebook, of course, booted him as a sex offender, but there are others.) Daily Mail

'Bama Justice: Death-Row Cory Maples at least has one chance for U.S. Supreme Court review . . or at least he had one chance but not anymore . . because his high-powered pro bono lawyers quit the case, and the state of Alabama never quite got around to telling Maples until it was too late to file. Now Maples has to beg the Court to listen to him, anyway. [Justice sucks, but the Crimson Tide football team is highly efficient!] Washington Post

Savoir faire: Wasatch County, Utah, deputies finally got the 20-year-old guy fleeing the traffic stop to give up--despite the guy's actually calling 911 to tell the deputies they "needed to leave him alone." KSL-TV (Salt Lake City)


The exceptionally unimaginative Charles Burnett, 29, was arrested after robbing the same midtown-Manhattan Sovereign bank branch for the third time in three days. (Bonus: Looks like he used first two days' loot to hire a limo service for the third job.) New York Post

OK For Me But Not For Thee: (1) The New Orleans Police Dept's "integrity control officer" for the division that reviews red-light tickets was (allegedly) caught making his personal license plate unreadable to red-light cameras. (2) KTRK-TV reports that one of seven Houston cops who was disciplined for deliberately covering up DUI evidence against a fellow cop has been promoted . . to supervising the DUI task force. WWL-TV (New Orleans) /// KTRK-TV

Not Even If Her Life Depended on It: Diane McCloud was looking at 27 months in prison but needed a heart transplant, and the judge let her skate, to try and work it out. Staying clean to save her life? Insufficient incentive. She stole from three drug stores, and the judge sent her back to the joint. New York Post

Pervs on Parade

Danny Parker, 41, won his case on appeal and was released from prison because it's not a crime in the F State to paste photos of little girls' faces upon photos of nude adult women. (Court: It's merely "loathsome.") In Arkansas, however, it can still be illegal harassment if a troll like Stephen Simmons, 49, hacks a family's Facebook photos by inserting a random nude person into the pictures. The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.) // KATV (Little Rock)

Update: Richard Osbourne, the guy from last week with the sex tape of himself working out on the Cabbage Patch dolls with widened mouths, awaits sentencing this week in Ottawa. One set of charges the judge did not go for: whether X-rated images of Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse constituted "child porn." No, said the judge . . on the ground that it was impossible to tell their ages with any certainty. Ottawa Sun

And at the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Northern Region of Ghana, doctors removed a safety pin from a man's stuff on September 12th and confronted him skeptically about his story that he must've accidentally rolled over on it at night (at which point he admitted the truth). [This is Pro Edition; I don't need to spell everything out.]

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

Amanda Rice Stevenson, 96, charged with murder (.357 Magnum). Broward Palm Beach New Times

Does this home-invasion suspect even want to be seen in public again? The Smoking Gun

Oh! Dear!

Girls' crooked teeth? In America, that's thousands of bucks for orthodontia. In Japan, it's a mating advantage! And now, one Tokyo "dental salon" specializes in supplying a kinda-vampire look for the incisors that apparently drives Japanese boys crazy. CNN

Bright Ideas: Demolition derby driver Clyde Gardner, tired of his old lady, engaged a hit man, who ratted him out to police, and Gardner got 5-to-15. The hit man was actually Plan B. Plan A was for Gardner to do it himself by (1) killing a bear, (2) skinning it, (3) donning the pelt, and (4) attacking the woman with the bear's claws. (Seriously.) Associated Press via Google News

Below The Fold

"300 Paintings Worth Millions Discovered in Polish Outhouse" (inside for 66 years, oldest from 1532) Daily Telegraph (London)

The former Alfred David of Belgium injured his hip in 1968, leading to a permanent waddle, which provoked "penguin" comparisons, which led David to go all-in, eventually changing his name to Monsieur Pingouin, creating a 3,500-item penguin museum, and dressing in public in his black and white penguin suit. (His wife bailed out about the time of the name change.) Reuters

GSA, the federal government's property manager, issued an out-of-order notice last week for its regional office building in Washington, D.C., after a toilet exploded, sending a woman to the hospital. WTOP Radio (Washington, D.C.)

Dangers of Smoking: A 44-year-old woman, moving from one side of a train platform in Needham, Mass., to another and mindlessly trying to light her cigarette as she walked, wandered too close to a speeding train. Head and clavicle injuries. Boston Globe

Updates & Recurring Themes

Indeed, the Arkansas foot-fetishist believed last week to be the legendary Michael Wyatt . . is the legendary Michael Wyatt. New York Daily News

As hundreds demonstrate right now against evil bankers on Wall Street, the protests in Bangalore, India, seem more likely to succeed (unburdened, as they are, with American notions of due process of law). The government has hired drummers to gather in front of the homes of tax scofflaws and drive them crazy until they pay up. (Previously, private bill collectors have used eunuchs to invade the workplace and demand payment.) BBC News

Editor's Notes

Here's the oldest surviving two-faced cat in the world, along with the extremely-unlikely-to-survive two-faced baby, in India. Reuters /// The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)

Time-Waster: A Newsranger sent this to me. I was entertained. Maybe you will be, too. It's hardly "news." It's a "Nu Thang." YouTube

Newsrangers: Geoff Egan, Tony Pappas, Gerald Sacks, and Peter Hine, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors