Monday, December 19, 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
December 19, 2011
(datelines December 9-December 17) (links correct as of December 19)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

[NOTE: Yr Editor descends to his annual Holiday Stupor today and will not return with a fresh Pro Edition until Tuesday morning, January 3rd. Next Monday, I shall post the standard News of the Weird column of December 25th (with links enabled). You will have seen some of those stories previously in Pro Edition.]

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast, plus More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Antidote to Our Frenzied World: A British outfit is planning a world championship for competitive watching-paint-dry. Send them a photo of yourself in "action." They'll pick a short list. There'll be a final wall-stare-down of the six most promising human slugs. Metro (London) ///

A woman doing the "Valsalva" Pilates maneuver [ed.: which sounds a lot like a potty-sitting maneuver of Yr Editor's if I've eaten too much cheese] looked down and realized one of her breast implants had disappeared. Actually, doctors reported later, it had migrated between her ribs and into the space between her lungs, which could only have happened because recent surgery had left the tissue vulnerable. Still, she reported zero pain. New England Journal of Medicine

The Hon. Marion Barry (unofficially, the king of Washington, District of Calamity; officially, city councilman) made it 9-for-12 (years he has failed to file U.S. or D.C. income tax returns and for which he always, always, receives a sentence of probation and a stern warning not to screw up again). As of 2007, he was down $195,000 (and having his Council paycheck garnisheed, though he kept his seat on the Council's finance and tax committee). (And speaking of people who are still being kept down by the confusing tax policies of The Man, Al Sharpton's constantly having trouble explaining himself, too.) Washington Post /// New York Post

We have a winner for the Least Explicable News of 2011: The girls varsity basketball team at Kenmore (N.Y.) East High, composed this season of a bunch of white gals and one A-A, for some reason has this as its solidarity locker-room huddle-breaking cheer: "One, two, three, [n-word]s!" They explained truthfully that the girls' team has been doing the cheer for years, as a tradition, that no one had ever complained about it, and that this year's A-A didn't, either, until she got into some trouble on the side. Buffalo News


Civilization in Decline: (1) OnlineGamblingPal dot com has purchased a lock of Michael Jackson's hair and will turn it into a working (not souvenir) roulette ball. (2) And Ellen DeGeneres and her wife are reportedly beginning the long evolutionary road to wean dogs off of meat, specifically, marketing vegan dog food. (Can dog-Pilates replace ball-retrieving?) (3) And Kim Kardashian landed in Haiti to, you know, help out there. AOL /// Mother Nature Network /// Us Magazine

The dark side for the happily married Alabama politico Bill Johnson involves helping lesbians bear children, using his fabulous sperm. Apparently knowing that his hysterectomied wife might object, he didn't tell her that he had "supplied" nine women (three already pregnant) in New Zealand, where he's been TDY in his job as earthquake-relief contractor. Inseminating, he said, is "a need that I have." (Mrs. Johnson, on learning of all this from a reporter, said there'll be a reckoning at some point.) New Zealand Herald

Hon. Kyle Bower, campaigning for the town council in Alburtis Borough, Pa., confessed that he has a rap sheet (he drinks, he breaks things, he beats people up, he stalks his ex-girlfriend) and said he'd probably drop out. However, there were four candidates for four open seats, and he won. ("Drop out?" No, no, I changed my mind.) (Bonus: He's 19 years old.) Morning Call (Allentown)

Chutzpah! Trenton, N.J., school guard Logan Alexander pleaded guilty in 2007 to inappropriately touching two elementary school girls, and settled a molestation lawsuit with a third pupil for $12,500. Now, since there were no criminal charges on the third, he and his union say it's the school system's responsibility to pay off the settlement, because the alleged no-no's "arose from his employment." The Times (Trenton)


Nice Piece of Detective Work: Adam Hall, 34, was arrested for vandalizing the car of the girlfriend who dumped him. "Mr. Hall, please write, "You are a slut." [He wrote, "You are a sult."(sic)] "Guess what, Mr. Hall? That's how the vandal spelled it out on the car hood, too." ABC News

Funny Old World*

Man Urinates Hair After Botched Operation: The old way to repair tissue causing urine retention was to transplant skin from the scrotum. Nowadays, they use mouth skin, one reason for which is that scrotum skin may still have hair follicles in it! The Times of India

There's the Million-Man March and the March Against This-Here or That-There, and now some British women supposedly marched last Saturday against labiaplasty and hairless vulvas, which are of course dictated by male sexual hegemony. (A leader of the protest called it the Muff March.) The Guardian

The cat "Tommassino" became the world's third-richest pet when Maria Assunta, 94, passed away in Italy and left her $15.5 million estate to him (to be administered by her nurse). (Ahead of him, if they're even still alive, are the dog "Gunter" Liebenstien, $140 million, and the chimpanzee "Kalu" O'Neill $62 million; "Trouble" Helmsley trails at $9.3 million) Daily Mail (London)

Recurring Theme: You already know this if you pay attention to News of the Weird [NOTW 971, 9-17-2006]--that in some parts of China (say, Jiangsu province), the belief endures that a well-attended funeral portends a successful afterlife, hence, a dad wants the best for his dear, departed son, so, hey, there'll be strippers at the funeral! Times have changed in Jiangsu; the father was arrested. Reuters via Yahoo News

Updates & Recurring Themes

Amongst the fallout from North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab screw-ups (covering at least 34 cases): Michael Peterson gets a new trial. He was convicted of murdering his wife and subsequently concocted the theory of the killer rogue owl. They can't say for sure that the crime lab didn't find an owl feather at the scene (although it could have just been a household speck of down) [NOTW M078, 10-5-2008]. MSNBC

Ewwwwww . . no-no-no-no-no . . not so soon. Here's another totally icky, creepy, repulsive, revolting, disgusting x-ray of a cocaine smuggler's abdomen, with 89 capsules in and below his rib cage. The previous one [Pro Edition, 9-19-2011] was in vivid color. The Sun (London) /// The Irish Independent (Dublin) [previous]

No Longer Weird: We may not be quite as nervous as we were right after September 11th, but it's still highly effective, if you want to postpone something in your life, buy some time with a bomb threat, like the Loyola (New Orleans) student unprepared for an exam, or the guy in Anchorage whose pee wasn't quite clean enough for his drug test. WWL-TV (New Orleans) /// Anchorage Daily News

Readers' Choice: Sometimes shoplifters get in trouble talking amongst themselves about their crimes . . after their cell phones have accidentally been sat on . . and the phones have auto-dialed (butt-dialed) 911. (Bonus: Cops say they get butt-dialed calls all the time, just not from perps in the act.) WISC-TV (Madison, Wis.)

Below The Fold

The upscale British seller Harvey Nichols has the perfect Christmas treat: cans of "Arctic" reindeer meat paté (about $23). Daily Mail

Los Angeles Crime Wave: tuba theft! Not that they're that popular, but they retail for $5,000 ($2,000 used). KCBS-TV

Who better to demonstrate the push-up-iness of Mega Push-Up bras (up to two cup-sizes bigger!) from the Dutch department store Hema than, well, a man? Daily Mail (London)

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

Theresa Warner and fiancé Christopher Dimaio are charged in a three-state, 91-store shoplifting spree. New York Daily News [12-2-2011; last week, the Kmart in Ross, Pa., announced it was donating the pair's take from its store to charity]

They say Michael Pratt, 27, went on a date to a movie, tricked the woman into handing over her keys, then stole the car and laughed at her when she reached him by phone. St. Petersburg Times

Editor's Notes

Starting tomorrow, Yr Editor revives Weird 2.0 for day-after-Pro-Edition-release. (Of course, after tomorrow, I'm promptly taking two weeks off.)

Newsrangers: Bruce Strickland, Craig Cryer, Jeffrey Norman, Bruce Leiserowitz, Jeff Hagge, Eric Selje, and Russ Jernigan, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

(* stolen from Private Eye; [ed.: Stolen? Chuck, you're better than that] [Chuck: No, I'm not, actually . . ..]

Monday, December 12, 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
December 12, 2011
(datelines December 3-December 10) (links correct as of December 12)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Don't Tax Me and Don't Tax Thee But Tax That Fella Behind That Tree, and More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

But . . . No "Individual Mandate"! The government can't expand health insurance coverage unless everyone kicks in . . unless of course any objectors could just opt out altogether (no kick-in, no coverage). That would make health insurance like fire protection in South Fulton, Tenn. Rather than force everyone to kick in, the $75 annual fee is voluntary (although, no kick-in, no coverage). But then the home of non-kicker-inner Vicky Bell caught fire. Oh . . firefighters rushed to the scene, still, but only to keep the fire from spreading to Vicky's neighbors, who had kicked in; Vicky, though, now owns a pile of ashes. Kingsport Times-News

Good to Know: Centers for Disease Control's latest newsletter warned (via a case report from a sheep ranch) that you could get a C. jejuni infection (and we all know how bad that is!) if you castrate the little buggers by biting off their testicles (the elastrator-band method being too slow and the Burdizzo emasculatome maybe too expensive). Wall Street Journal

What Year Is This? According to Lisa Nassef's lawsuit, there was still at least one "recovered memories" clinic operating in 2010 (Castlewood Treatment Center, suburban St. Louis), trying desperately to convince unhappy women that their problem was that it had completely slipped their minds that they had been raped by their daddies and in satanic cults (that is, when the cultists weren't busy eating babies) and that such trauma would take hundreds of billable hours of therapy to overcome. Nassef said she tried suicide, even--not, of course, during her original unhappiness (over anorexia), but only after Castlewood convinced her what a disaster her life was. Associated Press via Fox News


The regional commission charged with administering homeland security in 13 Michigan counties (with a grant from state homeland-security funds) recently bought each county an Arctic Blast Sno-Cone machine. "The purchase raised some questions at a recent Montcalm County Board of Commissioners meeting," The Daily News of Greenville drolly reported. (Don't forget, the regional commission said, that sno-cone machines make ice, which can be important during emergencies!) The Daily News

Unclear on the Concept: (1) Little Emanyea Lockett, 9, said all he did was tell a classmate that their teacher was "cute"--and got suspended for inappropriate "sexual" comments. (Update: The principal who ordered the suspension was allowed to "retire.") (2) Little Mark Curran, 7, is in deep trouble for alleged "sexual harassment" of a classmate . . for kicking the boy in the stones. (Bonus: The guy was bullying Mark at the time.) WSOC-TV (Charlotte, N.C.) /// Boston Globe

"Every year I go somewhere to get some mistletoe to decorate the house. [T]he best way to get it is with a shotgun." That was Bill Robinson, 66, of Decatur, Ga., describing the local custom of shooting mistletoe from trees out in the woods. This year: The "tree" was in the parking lot of a mall and set nerves a-flutter. "I guess I assumed that everybody knew what I was doing." WGCL-TV (Atlanta)

Mr. Long Hoang caused a red alert in San Jose, Calif., as he stuck a package in a drive-by postal box downtown . . while dressed in a gas mask and body armor. Panic ensued, first-responders responded. (Bonus: He was just out jogging in his special "CrossFit" weight-loss uniform.) Mercury News


If you try to buy a car from a dealer, paying with 90 Visa gift cards with $100 each on them, the seller will be suspicious, and the sale will not go through. KVUE-TV (Austin, Tex.)

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) An HSBC bank in New York City survived a robbery attempt with just a ceiling repair bill. The perp had fired a shot in the air as a show of seriousness . . but then cringed at what he had done and high-tailed it out, empty-handed. (2) Anthony Miranda, 24, tried a street robbery in Chicago, but (a) the victim was an Ultimate Fighter guy who beat the crap out of him, and (b) Anthony accidentally shot himself in the leg in the process. New York Daily News /// WLS Radio (Chicago)

Alisha Halfmoon, 45, was arrested in a Walmart in Tulsa, Okla., while making methamphetamines. Not "after buying ingredients for amphetamines," but "making methamphetamines" . . in the store's restroom. Tulsa World

The former Prince George's (Md.) County Executive Jack Johnson was sentenced to 7-plus years in prison for "a long path of 'kleptocracy'" (according to prosecutors). His wife Leslie got a year, herself. (She had been arrested last year in the midst of a police raid, trying to smuggle $80,000 cash out of her house stuffed in her bra and panties.) Washington Post

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

Anita Harris was charged with assault in Heflin, Ala., but there was no apparent motive, so she's probably innocent, right? WBMA-TV (Birmingham)

Michael Selleneit was charged with shooting a neighbor in November, but he might be mentally ill. Still, his wife, Melony, is the one who bought him the gun (according to police) so maybe she thinks he's sane. Michael's motive was that the neighbor raped Melony . . via telepathy. Salt Lake Tribune

Maryann Scott, 49, Vero Beach, Fla., accused of prolonged testicle-squeezing (she wanted her ring back). (Stuart, Fla.)

Updates & Recurring Themes

More Body-Shaping Failures (Another Day, Another Unlicensed Silicone-Injector): A 22-year-old man died full of hope that the infusion he had received would produce a larger penis. And in Raleigh, N.C., a woman on probation for causing kidney failure with butt injections in 2008 was back at it again, and arrested. Said a detective, "From what I'm told . . the money is very good so it's hard [for perps] to get away from." Star-Ledger (Newark) /// Associated Press via CBS News

Update: In nearby Durham, N.C., the delightful Ms. Crystal Mangum (instigator of the Duke lacrosse team rape fiasco) was ruled mentally competent to stand trial for stabbing her boyfriend to death in April. Raleigh News & Observer

Update: Henry Fitzsimmons, 54, a Virginia Beach restaurateur, pleaded guilty finally to sexual battery after denying it for six months [NOTW M220, 6-26-2011] following his arrest. He was a devotee of the "Spencer Plan" of discipline and hired college women as employees at his bar and grill, requiring Spencer contracts whereby they would agree to get spanked if they broke any workplace rules. Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk)

Editor's Notes

What's the difference between this South Korean architect's design for a skyscraper . . and a microscopic view of canker sores? Gizmodo

Readers' Choice: You'll either laugh or cry--no indifference allowed--at this pileup of totaled Ferraris. Associated Press via Yahoo News

Kopi Luwak is reputedly the most expensive coffee in the world, supposedly because the beans have already been digested and excreted by a certain species of Indonesian civet (cat). News of the Weird first addressed this in 1993 [NOTW 301, 11-12-1993] ($130 a pound back then), but every year or two, another entry-level reporter somewhere "discovers" it and is unable to catch his breath until he "breaks" the story anew. OK, but how does it taste? BoingBoing's Maggie Koerth-Baker put it to the test.

Newsrangers: Jon Etkins, Stannous Flouride, Scott Christiansen, Cassidy Hunter, Charley Butterfield, Larry Seltzer, Richard Bungiro, Keith Pundt, Steve Jones, and John Ellwood, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, December 05, 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
December 5, 2011
(datelines November 26-December 3) (links correct as of December 5, 2011)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Attorney-Client Confidentiality in the F State, plus More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

"Assistance of Counsel": Lawyers are of course entitled to visit their clients locked up in the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Fla.(say, lieutenants of cartel drug dealers), and sometimes by the complexity of the case, it helps if they bring along their paralegals. According to "multiple attorneys," reported Miami New Times, the interview rooms have been "taken over" by friendly lawyers bringing "strippers" and "pole-dancers" with them as they "discuss legal strategy." Clients get shows and feel-ups. "Any lawyer can sign a form and designate a legal assistant." Miami New Times

What? You Think It Was My Fault? (1) Bicyclist-marathoner Sabine von Sengbusch, 46, filed a lawsuit in New York City against pedestrian Meghan Rohan, 28, whom she had rammed in Central Park, alleging that Rohan caused her "painful and permanent" injuries that kept her out of work (but not out of her next scheduled marathon, in which she finished 2nd). von Sengbusch was inside the bike lane, but New York law gives pedestrians the right of way, period. (2) Jesse Dimmick filed a $235,000 lawsuit in Shawnee County, Kan., against Jared and Lindsay Rowley for breaching their "contract" to help Dimmick in exchange for money. The "contract" was "agreed to" while Dimmick held the Rowleys captive in the Rowley home, following his escape and with police surrounded the house. Because the Rowleys failed to help him out, a police officer eventually shot Dimmick in the back, and that hurts, and Dimmick wants the Rowleys to pay him. (He's in prison, of course, but still . . ..) New York Post /// Capital-Journal (Topeka)

Readers' Choice: The year's nastiest downfall occurred in Arapahoe County, Colo., when Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. was charged with trading methamphetamines to male addicts in exchange for sex and was booked into the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Center, named for him after he retired as sheriff in 2002. Denver Post

Point Taken: Mark Wach's defense to charges that included aggravated domestic assault and shooting at his lawn mower and various other targets in his backyard in Palm City, Fla. (according to the police report): "He then stated that he shoots in the yard all the time and that fighting is what redneck people do." (Stuart, Fla.)


Recurring Theme: Once again, a rape victim is thrown in prison (in Afghanistan), but this time she's pardoned by the country's big cheese himself (Hamid Karzai) because she has decided of her own "free will" to marry the rapist. Honor preserved; sanctity of marriage achieved; tribal harmony kept. BBC News

Update: In Pro Edition, 7-18-2011, Yr Editor informed you that the most-highly-paid California bureaucrat last year was a prison surgeon who can't operate because his bosses think he's incompetent, but whom they can't fire because personnel officers think not enough T's were crossed and I's dotted to fire him. Last week, the Los Angeles Times said there were 29 more prison medical workers in the same condition (thus wasting $8 million over the last five years). Los Angeles Times

Fine Points of the Law: Alleged New Jersey mobster Alfonso Cataldo owns beaucoup assets and a handsome spousal income stream, but technically, he qualifies for a public defender. (Actually, it's his phony income stream that prosecutors will lay out in his trial.) Philadelphia Inquirer

Nicolas Cage on the cover of a 1998 8th-grade biology textbook in Serbia? Daily Mail (London)

The U.S. Air Force Academy has opened an $80,000 "outdoor worship center" (i.e., rocks and a fire pit) for all of its pagans, druids, witches, and Wiccans. This year, that's "3." [ed.: And the appeal to a practicing Wiccan of a career in the U.S. military during a time of war would be . . .?] Los Angeles Times

Can't Please Everybody: Condemned murderer Gary Haugen has demanded a speedy execution. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says no one will be executed on his watch, and unless he resigns soon, Haugen will just have to go on suffering a while longer, like the rest of us. Associated Press via Yahoo News


Rookie Mistake: Tyechia Rembert, 33, robbed a Burger King in York, Pa. Police know it was she because they tracked her cell phone location when she called the BK back to see if anyone had copied down her license plate number. (They hadn't.) York Dispatch

The Aristocrats! (1) Hey, y'all, look at my hemorrhoid!! Arthur Andrews was arrested for flashing in Orland Park, Ill. (2) Mercedes Donahue was angry that her neighbor was taking incriminating pictures of her dog pooping in his yard: I'll give you something to take a picture of! She dropped trou and showed her 'roid (if she has one). Orland Park Patch /// (Stuart, Fla.)

A 36-year-old man in Monroe, Ore., watched a squirrel run up his leg while he was holding a .22-caliber rifle. So he pointed it at the squirrel and fired--missing (except, of course, for hitting his foot). Associated Press via Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.)

He was proclaimed "Germany's dumbest bank robber." Siegfried K., 57, knocked over a physiotherapy studio in Osnabrueck. He thought it was a bank, and he acted like it was a bank, but the bank had moved out of the building. (Bonus: 17 years ago) Agence France-Presse via Google News

Oh! Dear!

The perils of pre-purchase of cemetery plots: By the time you die, they may be running out of space. Agnes Zimmick's family is suing St. Stanislaus cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pa., because the casket was too big for the space, requiring employees to jump up and down on it to force it into the hole. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Perfectly Synchronous Retaliation: So, the snail-slow Indian government refuses to act on Mr. Hakkul's applications for property to raise and caretake venomous snakes. Hence, Mr. Hakkul releases "dozens" of them into the lobby of the government office presiding over the delay. BBC News

The Pervo-American Community

Peter Bower of Shelby, Ohio, is one of your harder-core dog lovers, but he may skate for some in-the-act bestiality because the state doesn't quite yet have an anti-bestiality law. (Hence, prosecutors must prove actual "abuse" of the dog, and Bower does seem quite solicitous of his bitch's welfare.) In a previous law enforcement visit, animal porn and a blow-up sheep doll were discovered. WBNS-TV (Columbus) /// WOIO-TV (Cleveland) via KLTV (Tyler, Tex.) [6-20-2011]

The blog made reference to "Subcutaneous Penile Insertion of Domino Fragments by Incarcerated Males in Southwest United States Prisons" in Journal of Sexual Medicine. Conclusions: (1) Prisoners thought it would feel good. (2) It doesn't.

A female teacher in Shawnee, Okla., had her third-grade girls over for a Christmas pizza party and had them model underwear for her camera. Highlight: underpants reading "Santa's Little Ho Ho HO." Apparently a man was also involved, by phone. The Smoking Gun

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

Four selections from The Smoking Gun's weekly collection: hairstyling on a probation violator /// beard-styling for a disorderly conduct guy /// Could he possibly be guilty? /// Ya think he respects our traffic laws?

Below The Fold

A factory in Rhea County, Tenn., went up in flames. Before the fire, they had been making firewood. WRCB-TV (Chattanooga)

Charged with vandalizing the Hope Valley Barracks mailbox in Richmond, R.I.: the 27-year-old Mr. Wanker Rene.

Renaissance man Thomas Ackerman, 24, must've been quite a disappointment to his mother, what with being charged with arson on a laundry in Oklahoma City. After all, Ackerman said he has seven college degrees, is an architectural engineer, phlebotomist, stuntman, mixed-martial artist, and sex toy engineer, and designed the Green Goblin's hoverboard in three "Spider-Man" movies. (Oklahoma City)

Updates & Recurring Themes

Samir Chowhan [Pro Edition, 10-26-2009] received only a one-year suspension from the Illinois Bar Association for his help-wanted ad on Craigslist, seeking a legal secretary who would also put out regularly for him and his partner. ABA Journal

Editor's Notes

Time-Wasters: (1) Well, here's a pig born without back legs, but never mind, because he's learned to walk on the front ones. (2) A video'd last will and testament with granddad disbursing the family property boringly until he gets to his crown jewel: Who will get his precious, extensive collection of dildos? Might even be real. Well, possibly. OK, outside chance. [NSFW language]

Newsrangers: R.L. Rittmaster, Kathy Kelly, Perry Levin, Charles Landau, Douglas Boyle, Matt Korth, Karen Bledsoe, Chris Schulman, David Swanson, John Ellwood, Seth Chernoff, Sharon Corbett, Telaraj Webster, and Jim Weiss, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors