Monday, April 25, 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
April 25, 2011
(datelines April 16-April 23) (links correct as of April 25)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The Unleashing of the Unemployed Superheroes, Plus Hoarding Silver the Hard Way and Abortion Made Easy

★ ★ ★ ★!

An Idea Only a Bureaucrat Could Love: That big federal stimulus has to be spent somewhere, and Workforce Central Florida used $14,000 of its $73,000 buying 6,000 satiny capes that are supposed to draw the long-term unemployed ("superheroes") out of their funk. It's the "Cape-A-Bility Challenge"! It's mean ol' "unemployment" that is "Dr. Evil." Plus: If you have a program like this, there is a compulsion to publicize it ($24,000 on media, $15,000 for billboards, $5,000 on social media). [ed. I used to be . . .. I've seen worse. Actually, I've done worse. Government budgets are often doled out as "use it or lose it." Lots of pressure to buy things.] Orlando Sentinel

Wanted: Blemish-free, Stacked Chinese Virgins: It says here that an outfit in Gushi (Henan province) intends to start selling tea of the purest possible quality (according to some ancient tradition), with leaves picked entirely by the lips of C-cup-minimum virgins and dropped into little straw cups they wear around their necks. It further says here that in the "last century," a tea seller experimented with tea that had been placed on the breasts of young virgins overnight so that the pheromones could seep into the tea. Daily Mail (London)

Why People Hate Government-Employee Unions: Scranton, Pa., police chief Dan Duffy is the object of a police union's "unfair labor practice" charge against the city because he arrested a guy on March 20th. That violates the union contract, which guarantees that only union members can "apprehend" and "arrest," and the chief is management. Times-Tribune (Scranton)

Some Day, We'll Learn What the Federal Reserve Really Does, and We Won't Like It: What it did in the aftermath of the banking collapse of September 2008 was to give guaranteed-against-loss loans not just to U.S. banks, but to banks all over the world, whether they really needed the money or not, because they didn't want commercial and consumer lending to dry up. U.S. tax dollars (eventual tax dollars, that is, not any time soon) went to outfits like Central Bank of Mexico and the Arab Banking Corporation of Bahrain (which, by the way, was at the time 59-percent owned by, um, er, the Central Bank of Libya, reputed to be an ATM of Col. Gaddafi, meaning that some of the funding of his current mercenaries may have been facilitated by, um . . ..). Rolling Stone

Absurdities

Makes Sense Until It Doesn't: (1) NY state needed to reign in previously-unregulated "day camps" by defining them as regulated "summer camps," and the best way they could think of was to emphasize dangers in "camp" activities. Resulting specified "dangerous" activities: kickball, Wiffle ball, "rover, red rover," freeze tag. Bureaucrat: "There will be flexibility in how the law is implemented." (2) Aiming perhaps for a lifetime lawsuit achievement award, the Justice Department announced that it will keep on trying to resurrect the FCC's stern, overwrought TV "indecency" standards (Do you have any recollection at all of NYPD Blue?)--by heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. New York Daily News /// Wall Street Journal

Richard Ravitch, a wealthy businessman who was drafted by then-New York Gov. David Paterson as his lieutenant governor (when then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer's junk got caught in a cookie jar), volunteered to work for free, but the state as custom had a car and driver take him to meetings around the state, and, whoa, those are taxable "fringe benefits," and Social Security and Medicare taxes must be paid. Thus, Ravitch failed in his effort to work for $0; he actually worked for $ -723. New York Times

Losers

It's hard to replace the notorious golden boy of paint-huffing, Mr. Patrick Tribett. Here's the latest candidate: Kelly Gibson of Fort Wayne, Ind., who was caught in the act, for the 48th time. WANE-TV (Fort Wayne) /// KMGH-TV (Denver) [Tribett]

It was a classic cold case--an unsolved 2004 murder--until a police investigator flipping through gangbanger snapshots came across a dude who happened to have a detailed drawing of the 2004 crime scene (with key details) tattooed on his chest. Anthony Garcia was arrested (and now stands convicted). Los Angeles Times

Oh! Dear!

Bring Lots of Towels, Please: The Easy Gym in Arrigorriaga, Spain, needed a revenue boost, and the area was teeming with nudists naturists. Thus, naked workouts on the equipment! BBC News [sorta Not Safe For Work]

Oops! (1) An ill 73-year-old woman on a cruise off Norway had to be returned to shore, but the sea was rough, and the handlers accidentally dropped her between the boats. She suffered life-threatening hypothermia from her eight minutes in the drink. (Update: She didn't make it.) (2) They're soccer players; they don't use their hands much. Carrying around the King's Cup (Spain's primo soccer prize), one player dropped it, and it was crushed into tiny pieces by the team bus (video). MSNBC /// Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News /// YouTube [link from Nothing to Do with Arbroath blog]

The incoming president of the American College of Surgeons was pressured to resign because of a semi-serious ditty he wrote tracing the history of pheromones, concluding with the reasonable scientific hypothesis that sperm might be a mood-enhancer on its own and that therefore all this condom stuff actually stifles romance. [Some science hypotheses are regarded as provocative, even ground-breaking; other science hypotheses are useless, disgusting intellectual terrorism. Primary distinction: Is someone being offended? If yes, only perfectly proven science is allowed to be discussed.] Retraction Watch

Civilization In Decline

Do You Have a Better Idea How to Resolve Washington, D.C.,'s Gridlock? (You Do Not.): Officials in Kyrgyzstan's parliament sacrificed seven sheep last week in an effort to drive evil spirits out of the building and set the country back on course. The Guardian (London)

Anti-abortion people in Massachusetts are foaming about a sex-education website and campaign called MariaTalks.com, which either (a) educates newly-pregnant teenagers by demystifying the choice they face or (b) creates a booming market for abortions in the Bay State ("Abortion Made Easy" "So Easy, Even a Cave Woman). (Massachusetts has a unobvious state-law evasion of the requirement of parental permission for under-18s, and Maria'll tell ya exactly how to pull it off.) Boston Herald

The Pervo-American Community

USA! USA!: Kevin Theriault was arrested in Tempe, Ariz., for flashing and fondling himself (three times recently!) in front of Lady Liberty (as in, Statue of)--well, the woman working for Liberty Tax Service, whose hawkesses solicit customers streetside around tax time. Arizona Republic

In the Pervo-Anglo-American Community, student Joel Hardman (tee-hee!) was arrested in a ladies' room, where he had taken to posing as a mannequin in a fancy party dress in a rear corner so he could hang back unobtrusively and take in the thrilling (he said) sound of women on the toilet. Birmingham Mail

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


The F State: (1) She said/He said: Harry Gray, 67, either was stalking the woman with his electric wheelchair for three days, trying to knock her off her bicycle, or he wasn't. (2) They said/He said: They said Dennis Delisle, 48, hanging out at a skating park, pushed kids down, especially the girls so he could handle them while helping them up. He said he never touched em, that they were lying because they were jealous that he was such a stud skater. TCPalm.com (Stuart, Fla.) /// WKMG-TV (Orlando)

Mary Doolin was arrested for recidivist pimping in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Bonus: It's possible that there are pimps in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.) KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids)

Kevin Signalness is in trouble after ramming through a police crime scene in his car, scattering the officers. DUI? (Check!) Stolen car? (Check!) Pants open? (Check!) Porno magazine open in the passenger seat? (Check!) Guilty? (Depends on the mugshot.) KPTV (Portland, Ore.)

Silvestre Raigoza is the human neck canvas (but that doesn't mean he's guilty). KPHO-TV (Phoenix)

Not Safe For Stomachs [I warned you!] Alfred Shepard, arrested on drug and explosives charges in Phoenix. Jailbase.com

Below The Fold

Cavalcade of Rednecks: (1) A 26-year-old woman was charged with a grab-and-go at a convenience store in Crestview, Fla.--an 18-pack of beer stuffed under her shirt. (2) A 25-year-old man was arrested for trespass after, he said, he forgot exactly which strip club he had been banned from and accidentally wandered back into that one. (3) Sharon Newling was arrested in Salisbury, N.C., for shooting at her stepson (not at him, she said, but shooting toward him to make him stop working on his car). (4) Stephanie Preston married Bobby Duncan in Greensboro, N.C., at our lady of Jiffy Lube cathedral. (5) Carey Newman, 34, was arrested in Franklin County, Ill., charged with throwing a lawn mower at another woman. Northwest Florida Daily News /// Northwest Florida Daily News /// Salisbury Post /// WGHP-TV (Greensboro) via WTKR-TV (Norfolk, Va.) /// The Southern (Carbondale, Ill.)

Rabbits hop, of course, but do they hurdle? Can you race them? Why not? There's the Kaninhop circuit, with a presence in Europe (and, allegedly, the U.S., Canada, and Japan). They even high- and long-jump. (World records are about 39 inches, either way.) And are animal-rights people going nuts at this? What do you think? (Bonus: When the rabbits aren't on the course, they're leashed--and you know perfectly well why.) Spiegel Online

Updates & Recurring Themes

Of course the real Ganges River is ridiculously polluted [NOTW 536, 5-15-1998], but now the clueless Hindu immigrant population of New York City has found a home away from home: Jamaica Bay, adjacent to JFK Int'l Airport. It's a protected federal seashore, but getting harder to use as a seashore, given all the junk offerings Hindus make in the Bay. (Bonus: Unlike the Ganges, which at least flows, Jamaica Bay basically just sits there, and the trash bobs.) New York Times

Chutzpah! James Tesi is a "sovereign" [NOTW M199, 1-30-2011], except he's a variant, a member (caucasian, to boot) of the (black) Moorish National Republic, but he's nobody, he says, subject to nobody's law, but he has now sued in federal court to get the police in Colleyville, Tex., off his case. He's an indigenous person of Amexem and owns land near Colleyville, but that's not "property" like we think of it. Colleyville Courier

A drive-thru funeral home opened in Compton, Calif., one of a handful in the U.S. [NOTW 764, 9-29-2002], but especially important for gang funerals, since the viewing glass is bulletproof. Los Angeles Times

Houses That Hoarders (and Messy People) Live in: This is wa-a-a-y No Longer Weird . . . except for the photos . . . and except for the fact that a six-year-old was hiding out under his favorite piles because he thought he was about to get in trouble! Chillicothe Gazette /// Master-Cleaners.co.uk (34 Messy Houses)

Your Annual Reminder of Easter in Cutud, Philippines, which is for the seriously no-pain/no-gain'ers (followed by more photos from around the world in which Christians give Muslims a run for their money on how viciously they can punish themselves to get on God's good side.) (Those crosses are heavy!) Daily Telegraph (London) /// Daily Mail (London)

Miscellaneous Sh*t

Yr Editor continues to be fascinated with the reviewers' pre-pub excerpts of The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace because it is a tribute to boredom, which was a founding expression of News of the Weird way back at the time of the Nixon Administration. Sample deliciousness:
He felt in a position to say he knew now that hell had nothing to do with fires or frozen troops. Lock a fellow in a windowless room to perform rote tasks just tricky enough to make him have to think, but still rote, tasks involving numbers that connected to nothing he'd ever see or care about, a stack of tasks that never went down, and nail a clock to the wall where he can see it, and just leave the man there to his mind's own devices. New York Times [April 1]

The VA Gets Its Man: The Iraqi insurgents and the Afghan Taliban couldn't kill him, but Marine Clay Hunt finally met his match: U.S. Veterans Affairs bureaucracy (and its underfunding). He killed himself on March 31 after a two-year campaign fighting post-traumatic stress disorder with mostly shrugs from the VA, which at the end, had flat-out lost his paperwork. "He saw multiple doctors and got medication for his mental ailments. But he struggled to get disability payments after his paperwork was misplaced.," read the Washington Post obit. "You fight for your country, then come home and have to fight against your own country for the benefits you were promised," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2010. "I can track my pizza from Pizza Hut on my BlackBerry, but the VA can’t find my claim for four months." Washington Post

On a cheerier note, it was National Army Day in Iran, or maybe (second photo down) National 1980s-Style Floor Mop Day. UPI.com

Who Said It--Sheen or Trump? "We are all martyrs. Love is a martyr . . . I am a martyr. But I am also a victim. And I'm a performer." "I don't tell people what to do. They know what to do." [Answer: Charles Manson, but, be honest, you debated Sheen or Trump, didn't you?] Daily Mail (London)

Editor's Notes

An elementary school's shunning of "Easter" eggs for "spring spheres," as reported last week from KIRO-TV news in Seattle, still has not been authenticated. I am beside myself that someone might actually make up news! It could be true, though. We'll see. The Stranger (Seattle) [Warning: slo-o-o-o-ow loading page]

Newsrangers: Charles Smaistrla, Charla Claypool, Emily Lehrer, Thom Brooks, Richard Renno, Peter Hine, Neb Rodgers, Gerald Sacks, Ken Berkun, Joe Weckbacher, Kat Alessi, Michelle Jensen, Paul Walker, and Bruce Leiserowitz, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, April 18, 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
April 18, 2011
(datelines April 9-April 16) (links correct as of April 18)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

"I Brought You Some Funyuns, Your Honor" Plus Incendiary Porno and Cancer-Curing Tobacco

★ ★ ★ ★!

Next Up, the Crucial Question of 'How Long Since They Had 'em Some?': Researchers from Columbia University and Israel's Ben Gurion University examined trial judges' calendars over a 50-day period and found a remarkably proportional diminishing of criminals' chances for parole as the morning or afternoon wore on. That is, the researchers hypothesized, the louder that judges' stomachs growled, the lower the perp's chances for freedom. ABC News

Westboro Baptist Updates: The good news for the Phelpses is that there is now evidence that someone, anyone whose name is not "Phelps" actually appears to agree with them--specifically, Ms. Zoe Bethel, who is a high school student in Middletown, Ohio, and who was given a hard time by administrators for wearing a T-shirt bearing Westboro's signature slogan. The bad news for Westboro, though, came at one of their soldier-funeral protests, at Fort Meade, Md., in a deliciously ironic reaction by Margie Phelps-Roper (Pastor Fred's point person, daughter, and lawyer). As the Westboro message was quickly being drowned out by a large, wild "flash mob" of performance artists and rational Christians (and a revving-up biker gang), Margie just muttered, "What the heck's wrong with these people?" Dayton Daily News /// The Capital (Annapolis)

The Death Penalty Deters: Yr Editor knows that's impossible (P.C.-wise), but listen to jilted lover Dmitry Smirnov, who admitted tracking Ms. Jitka Vesel from British Columbia to Oak Brook, Ill., and then, he told police, killing her. According to the prosecutor, Smirnov had researched Illinois's death penalty (abolished by statute on March 9th, following numerous embarrassing misconvictions) and proceeded only when certain he would not have to walk the last mile for his crime. Chicago Sun-Times

No Cure For Cancer . . Well, Except for Cigarette Smoke: Indonesia is Big Tobacco's Promised Land. U.S. firms have subsidiaries there; most people smoke; and the 400,000 deaths a year from it are quickly attributed to other things. Enter Dr. Gretha Zahar, a healer who touts cures for autism and various cancers, and emphysema, with a therapy in which she actually blows cigarette smoke into the patient's lungs through a tube. (But they're "divine cigarettes," infused with "nanotechnology" that removes cancer-causing "free radicals" by manipulating mercury levels.) Big Tobacco having been very, very good to Indonesia over the years, Dr. Zahar's clinic is in good standing. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News

Absurdities

The Saudi Sheiks Sent Their Regrets: Pastor Marshall Mabry of the Beacon of Light Christian Center in Dublin, Ga., scheduled a prayer vigil for lower gas prices (to meet at the pumps down at the Kroger). Associated Press via Atlanta Journal-Constitution

You Thought We Were Over This: According to a high-school student volunteer, who was helping out in the community for upcoming Easter activities, a Seattle public elementary school (not identified) was about to name its Easter eggs the oh-so-correct "Spring Spheres." MyNorthwest.com (Seattle)

Oh, the authorities hated it last year in St. Petersburg, Russia, when graffiti-ists so juvenile-ly painted an outline of a huge male member on a big drawbridge facing the "FSB" (in a past life, KGB) building so that all the agents saw it when the bridge was raised. It was of course immediately scrubbed down. Now, the FSB is liking it even less since it, however brief its existence, just won (via photograph) the Innovation prize by an arts organization in Moscow. [ed.: Can that even happen? Putin's still around, isn't he?] The Guardian (London)

Our Most Creative Profession? NovelistsRabbis: Granted, those Sabbath rules can be a pain in the tochis, but do you realize the brainpower that goes into searching for loopholes that will allow the non-shellfish-eating to live normally on Saturdays? Here's a rabbi-professor in Germany who says just maybe, using an encephalography headset with 16 sensors measuring the brain's signals that are sent to a car-engine-mounted computer, an observant Jew could actually drive around on the Sabbath because it would only be his thoughts that were powering the car. The Local (Berlin)

Losers

Can't Possibly Be True: Harold Luken, 45, was picked up as perhaps the least-competent, least-suitable bank robber in New York City history. It started when he walked in to a Bank of America and yelled, "I am gonna rob the bank. I have a gun, but I'm gonna wait on line." And the siege (of laughter) ended a few minutes later when he said, "OK, I will go to Citibank. I will rob them instead!" New York Post

Oh, Dear!

The Singaporean soldier [ed.: I looked it up; they do have an army.] apologized (and was assigned "counseling") after a news crew saw him walking with his maid in tow, carrying his backpack for him. BBC News

And Margie Phelps-Roper Nodded, Knowingly: Details unknown, medical condition unknown (but life-threatening): A porno booth at the Golden Gate Adult Superstore in San Francisco burst into flames, sending the user to the critical care unit. KPIX-TV (San Francisco)

A letter carrier in Seattle was suspended, and a cleanup crew ordered to the scene, after a resident caught the man ducking into the resident's shrubs in the middle of the day and taking a dump. (Yes, of course there's video.) KGW-TV (Seattle)

Civilization In Decline

As Alabama legislators debated tougher penalties for cockfighting, it emerged that the state actually has a cockfighting lobby, led by the Alabama Gamefowl Breeders Association. (Bonus: They're powerful. They got their way!) AlabamaLive.com (Birmingham)

Yr Editor is confused: Is it always blasphemous to destroy a copy of the Quran--or only when infidels do it? Pastor Terry Jones presided over such a destruction in the F State three weeks ago, which caused all hell to break loose in Kandahar, with devout Muslims showing their fury by burning shops and a school (and thus, unavoidably, countless Qurans). Christian Science Monitor

A United Nations treaty is being drafted to give formal recognition to "Mother Earth" to put, y'know, trees, ants, bugs, etc., on the same footing, rights-wise, as humans. Post Media News via Canada.com [LINK CORRECTED]

In the good ol' F State, a jobs program emerged for the hard-to-employ: Homeless men have been agreeing to get smackdowns from dominatrices for S&M fetish videos, for $25 for 12 minutes of slaps and $50 for knock-downs (but zero if they tap out before 12 minutes). How was the scheme discovered? People noticed a lot of homeless men walking around with limps, black eyes, split lips. St. Petersburg Times /// SheFights.net [Shame on you for clicking! Shame!]

The Pervo-American Community

Daniel Bradshaw, 45, was charged with vehicular homicide (AWI), and, given the condition the cops found him in when they arrived at the scene, it might be said that he finds deadly traffic collisions a turn-on. KTVX (Salt Lake City)

Former prominent United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter was jury-convicted of online-sex-solicitation from an "underage girl" (aka "cop"). (Bonus: His wife was in the courtroom as the jury watched him wag his personal weapon on webcam.) Reuters

Rabbi Gavriel Bidany, 47, is Israeli but under arrest in New York for in-flight groping of the "groin area" of a sleeping female. His explanation: "It's a mistake. I'm asleep." Problem: He then used almost the same explanation minutes later when she caught him again, copping a feel higher-up. Latest defense, according to his lawyer: totally innocent. (Contrast: Here's an American who last week actually accepted responsibility for his wandering in-flight hands [ed. although Yr Editor is not familiar with the significance of moving "napkins around inside of his pants"].) The Smoking Gun /// WNBC-TV (New York City)

Below The Fold

Cavalcade of Rednecks (I): At a traffic stop near Ottawa, Ontario, a 33-yr-old driver was arrested on a warrant violation, with an additional citation because his front-seat passenger was relaxing on a living-room rocking chair not bolted to the van's frame. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News

Cavalcade of Rednecks (II): In Clayton County, Ga., Robert Hohenberger admitted shooting his neighbor's dog (with a BB gun) because he got tired of the dog messing up his lawn. Neighbor Leticia Mendoza said the dog couldn't have pooped that time because he had, according to the police report, "relieved himself before she let him out of the house." [emphasis added] WSB-TV (Atlanta)

Somewhere in desolate southern Mexico (for people en route to Cancún the hard way), two really old guys are the last two on Earth who speak the Ayapaneco language, and academic linguists are becoming overwrought. (Bonus: The two guys don't even much like each other.) The Guardian (London)

If you're under age 35 or so, get an elder to explain this to you, but last week the California Highway Patrol arrested an (alleged) drunk driver named Eric Estrada. North County Times (Escondido)

Recurring Themes

According to the drop-dead-authoritative The Smoking Gun, the Suk Kim Ho, 46, who was busted for prostitution in Columbus, Ga., last week is the same woman who was busted for prostitution in Tampa in 2009 [NOTW M104 (4-5-2009)], though her rap sheet on that one read Ho Suk Kim. (Yr Editor is pretty sure she'll need a better name change if she expects to get out in front of these raids.) Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus) /// The Smoking Gun

Afghanistan's national game is the sorta-hockey-ish buzkashi [NOTW 67 (5-19-1989); NOTW 734 (3-3-2002)], played on horseback passing a goat's head instead of shooting a puck, but the big news is that Western influence has pumped up the game's commercialization (product endorsements, big contracts with the warlords, "signing up" star players). Wall Street Journal

Founder/curator Sigurdur Hjartarson's life's calling is Iceland's Phallological Museum, which makes world news every time a door opens there [NOTW 607 (9-24-1999)], such as the recent addition of the very first human penis to the 275-schlong collection of whales', seals', bears', etc. (Remaining mystery: What's so damn special about Pall Arason's, anyway?) Associated Press via New Zealand Herald /// Phallological Museum

Editor's Notes

NOTW Stylebook (an occasional musing): Twin brothers Edward and Edwin Berndt, 48, of Houston, Tex., made the news last week when authorities found their mom's body on the floor of the family home. Turns out that she had spontaneously collapsed on January 10th (during the college football championship game) and that the brothers had merely continued on, watching the game. She spoke to them from the floor for a day or two, then probably died on January 13th, but the brothers said they got scared and left her there (despite the olfactory signals that were alerting all the insects on the block). And, as several of Yr Editor's correspondents suggested, the brothers are good-quality "jury duty" material, especially since their barber (i.e., mom) was no longer able to tend to them. But here's the thing: From the very first news report, the brothers were described as, y'know, mentally challenged. I realize that probably a good many of the subjects that I write about are at least borderline mentally ill and/or "developmentally disabled," but such authority is usually not obvious or clear from the first reports, and I will not assume that if a person appears crazy, it must be because of professionally-diagnosed craziness. (I've been around the block; I've seen too much craziness by otherwise-normal people . . even by, um . . well, me.) But, if early on in the story, the reporter has acquired the information that the perpetrator is mentally ill or "challenged," I drop the story. Thus, I do not regard the Berndts' adventure to be News of the Weird. KHOU-TV

Newsrangers: Ken Berkun, Peter Smagorinsky, Sandy Pearlman, Hal Dunham, Michael Bellesiles, Cameron McManus, Michael McDonald, Rick Popko, Bill Bishop, Michael Siemer, and Milford Sprecher, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

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

The New "Prosperous Afterlife" App, Plus Homicidal Cows, People Who Can't Count to 5, and "Uterus"

★ ★ ★ ★!

The Back-Facing Camera Will Be Especially Helpful: Chinese families of the, y'know, Something-Something culture have this tradition of supporting their deceased relatives by either (a) burning, or (b) burying with them, paper models of things that were valuable to the deceased or which will protect and nurture the deceased as he or she journeys through eternity. (News of the Weird was on this in, for example, NOTW M001, 4-15-2007.) Well, now, the latest hot item for the recently departed is the iPad 2, and, as with the real thing, the suppliers of the paper models can't keep up with demand. They have plenty of first-generation iPads, but settling for last year's technology is so disrespectful to the dead. (Dead Luddites get paper shoes and shirts.) (Bonus: Also plentiful in stock are iPhones and Galaxy Tabs.) Reuters /// CNN

Indonesian Men's Curious Half-Way Morality Code: There is no native Indonesian porn industry to speak of, but men do seem somewhat daring in their horniness. A cottage industry exists in movies that feature foreign porn stars but always clothed and in roles that are part of actual storylines. Said a Muslim film producer, "We're hypocrites. People know who they are, but they won't admit it." Unassuaged: the Islamic Defenders Front (the Indonesian equivalent of the famed Saudi Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, who crack down on even clothed porn stars). New York Times

"Rosebud" "Uterus": It started about three weeks ago when a Democratic Florida state legislator taunted Republicans by imagining that they'd stop trying to regulate abortions if only women would file incorporation papers for their uteruses--because Republicans abhor regulating businesses. Responded the Republicans, "Wha? . . Hey! . . Wait! You can't say 'uterus' on the floor of the House!" So now politically-conscious Democrats all over the state say "uterus" at every opportunity, almost Tourette's-like. (Bonus: If you sympathize, you can join "The Uterati.") Miami Herald

"Mommy, What's an 'Abstract Impressionist'?: Yr Editor has loved, several times, in fact, stories showing that possibly most people couldn't tell a Mark Rothko (who does high-end art about nothing but which brings in millions of bucks at auction) from, y'know, toddler Buzz Yaskot's splatters created by clapping his dripping-paint hands together as be plays near a canvas. Now, there's a definitive study by two psychologists at Boston College, who found that people can pick out the pro artist's work and that of course they find those works superior to the splatter art and whimsical squiggles of kids (and chimpanzees, who also do randomized art). (Inconvenient finding: Actually, they only identify the "real" art 60 to 70 percent of the time. There's still plenty of room for Corporation Buzz to grow.) Richmond Times Dispatch

Absurdities

Can't Possibly Be True: (1) The CEO of an association of organizations that provide help to vulnerable Jewish Americans in their old age is being fired. Reason: She's battling leukemia and chemotherapy, preparing for a bone-marrow transplant, and really needs to work at home for a while. No can do, her bosses say. (2) Evidence seemed pretty clear that Ronald Ellis, 70, assaulted a Seattle woman with a bucket of the Big 3 Disgusting Bodily Waste Fluids--but not clear to the jury, who acquitted him, and no one knows why yet. Washington Post /// Seattle Post-Intelligencer via KBOI-TV (Boise)

Why do people do this, and when will they stop? A small group calling themselves Conscious Men issued a blanket "apology" for the thousands of years of most men's boorish, abusive treatment of women. [Yr Editor hereby apologizes to the world for these men's abuse of the word "apology." Actually, it could get sillier: A woman somewhere could actually accept their apology.] The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Update: The New York Post visits Cindy Jackson, 55, with a rundown on how she feels now that her lifetime number of painful cosmetic procedures is up to "52." [Can you even think up 52 different ways that you could improve your looks? Cindy, for example, thought the fat behind her knees was unsightly.] New York Post

Prominent UK dog groupie Louise Harris announced that her favorite, Lola, will soon marry Mugly (a Chinese Crested graced with epic ugliness) in a lavish ceremony on which she says she'll spend £20,000 ($32,000). Daily Telegraph

Remember those Transocean guys . . whose ran BP's Deepwater Horizon operation in the Gulf of Mexico? It turns out that the "blowout preventer" (that failed to prevent) was somewhat overdue for routine maintenance, according to Transocean's own internal guidelines--with "somewhat" meaning "4 years." That didn't matter to Transocean executives up for "safety" bonuses for 2010 because statistically, company-wide, almost all their safety benchmarks were met, and they'll cash in. Bloomberg Business Week /// Sydney Morning Herald

The town of Lost Springs, Wyo., reported satisfaction with the results of its 2010 census (n = 4). In 2000, census counters reported 1 instead of the correct 5. [That miscounting's not even possible, is it?] Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News

Shark! Shark! In the 6-year period up to 2008, 108 people in the U.S. died from attacks by sharks cows (compared to only 4 from sharks). (Bonus: Almost all the cow fatalities were from "blunt force trauma.") [Obviously, all the summer scare stories are by the cow-oriented liberal media, which can't handle the truth.] Popular Mechanics [March 31]

Losers
Life on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve


Ryan Martin, 29, had his jaw broken by a friendly gunshot fired by his girlfriend. Basically, she was blindfolded, and they were playing "marco polo" with a gun. (Bonus: They've played before; they like the game.) WHTM-TV (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Looks Cool (Also Painful, Also Irreversible): "Elf ears" (aka "Dr. Spock ears") seem to be making a comeback, according to veteran NOTW-acknowledged body-mod authority Steve Haworth of Tempe, Ariz. ABC News

It was a bad week for perps trying to escape from their crime scenes. Eric Decatur, 22, allegedly stole two 12-packs of beer in Waikiki but then accidentally, fatally, ran in front of a tour bus). Wyman Sims, 36, allegedly made off with only one 12-pack, in Oakland Park, Fla., but then his getaway car smashed into a palm tree, and that was the end of that. Star-Advertiser (Honolulu) /// Associated Press via MSNBC

Recurring Theme: A 31-year-old man fell out of a bus in New Hampshire and was killed. This was not "fell out the back door which he mistook for the restroom." No. This was "fell out a window, during 'horseplay' with a buddy." (Obligatory Bonus: They were returning from a trip to a brewery.) Boston Globe

Uh-Oh!

At "career day" at Shady Grove Elementary (Henrico, Va.), there was a presentation on plastic surgery, and guess what "exhibit" got passed around so the little kids could look at it (and feel it up)? WWBT-TV (Richmond)

The Pervo-American Community

Eric Allison was picked up for violating his pre-trial release on child porn charges in Corpus Christi, Tex. He's to stand trial in May, and among his "issues," allegedly, is that he scours Dumpsters outside restaurants like Chuck E. Cheeses for used, discarded diapers, which he likes to wear. KZTV (Corpus Christi)

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


Samuel Santos, 18, is guilty. He admitted robbing that bank. He's here because of the photo, expertly captioned by a contributor to Fark.com: "Man charged with robbing bank shows camera the position his mouth will be in for the next 20 years." Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

The possibly-guilty David Wagner, stopped for DUI (and who then tried to light up a cigarette--only it was a hearing aid that he was holding that he tried to light). TCPalm.com (Stuart, Fla.)

Man without no chance to avoid conviction: Tony Kadyhrob, 68, is charged with trying to lure a woman into his car--while looking like Christopher Walken. Associated Press via WCBS-TV (New York City)

Below The Fold

Update: It's tough being the "Duke Lacrosse Accuser." Every time you try to set your house on fire, you make the news. Every time you stab your boyfriend, you make the news. Picky picky picky. WRAL-TV (Raleigh)

Readers' Choice: (1) Most people who make News of the Weird when they scavenge for copper wire do so because they disrespect "electricity" and thus are no longer with us. This woman is alive, but she cut a fiber optics cable by mistake and shut down Armenia's Internet access for five hours. (2) It's way, way "No Longer Weird" for a perp to accidentally drop his wallet at the scene of the crime. Not yet NLW: perp drops a personalized t-shirt emblazoned with a silk-screened photo of himself. (3) He was charged with harassing a K-9 cop. (Bonus: He was barking at the dog.) (Double Bonus: His defense is, "The dog started it.") The Guardian (London) /// Charlotte Observer /// Fox News

Newsrangers: Don Patton, Don Chapman, Sasha Oberheim, and Jan Lewis, and oh so many on the Readers' Choices. And time again to acknowledge the fabulous News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Monday, April 04, 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
April 4, 2011
(datelines March 26-April 2) (links correct as of April 4)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Yardwork Meets American Exceptionalism, Plus the New Gibberish and Push-Up Bras for Adolescents

★ ★ ★ ★!

Life Is Too Long: Formal, organized lawn-mower racing (there's an association and 140 races yearly in 37 states!) is best appreciated if you try to imagine Middle East Muslims on the fence about going Western or going jihad. Hark! Hear the Syrian, the Libyan: "America! Paradise! Some day, God willing, I, too, will race lawn mowers!" (Hard-to-believe reality, said this blogger: Lawn-mower racing is actually boring.) [ed. but that's because the rules require removal of the blades!] Mother Nature Network blog

Get Government's Hands OffHands On My Tasteful Color Scheme! If only Florida's unemployed and minimum-wagers were as well organized, and operatic in their lobbying, as the state's interior designers! The drapes-selection people descended upon the legislature in droves to beg to be free of onerous, employment-stifling regulationcontinue to be heavily regulated in detail (though the Republican legislature appears headed in the opposite direction). (Microeconomics 101 explanation: The fewer the licensed designers, the higher the prices they can charge, i.e., it's a cartel.) But, oh, my, that lobbying! Who knew that unregulated interior design would contribute to "88,000" deaths a year, or that unregulated carpet selection makes people dizzy and nauseous and dries up their salivary glands? St. Petersburg Times

Almost No Longer Weird By Now . . .: Abercrombie & Fitch introduced Smurf-branded dildos for toddlers last week . . no, no, no, not that, but, yes, padded bikini tops designed for girls as young as 8 (the "Ashley Push-Up Triangle"). Child psychologists went nuts, as usual [ed. Child psychologists being "aghast" and "appalled" are merely harbingers of more ridiculous fashions six months out. Recall the full-line, high-end makeup for 8-year-olds recently on sale at Walmart, mentioned in NOTW/Pro, 1-31-2011 ]. Fox News /// Makeup at Walmart

$47 Billion: That's the supposed value of America's "pet market," according to "pet stylist" Dara Foster, 39, who is omnipresent on TV advising owners guardians how to ratchet up their own status and self-esteem by purchasing things for animals. [ed. That's not really how she explains it, but . . ..] The latest in apparel is "a grunge movement in dog fashion," Foster said, and she pointed a reporter toward the dog bathrobes and denim jumpsuits, and the fluorescent styling gel and that synthetic dog mullet wig. New York Times

What's Causing the Recent Descents into Gibberish? London's Daily Mail signals to the paranoids that maybe, just maybe, the U.S. government is running mind-control experiments that have created four recent high-profile public gibberish meltdowns, with the latest being Judge Judy, who had to halt the taping of her show when she started spouting "undecipherable nonsense" (that was apparently a major step down from the usual). (You might recall the recent episodes of TV reporters in Toronto, Los Angeles, and Madison, Wis.) (Bonus: Speaking of which, Minister Farrakhan declared last week that Brother Obama attacked Brother Moammar only because Brother Obama was overtaken by demons and that a major earthquake is headed to America in retribution.) Daily Mail /// Chicago Tribune

And Still More Things To Worry About

Rachel Hachero, 17, who (mom said) had been accepted to several Ivy League colleges, was arrested for forcing mom at gunpoint to go co-sign a car loan for her. Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press

Chutzpah! Authorities in Farmington, Minn., are investigating several indignant complaints against the local EssayWritingCompany.com because, for $23 a page, the outfit was underperforming at helping students commit fraud. St. Paul Pioneer Press

Not EnoughToo Much Information: Briton Edith Braddow, 77, said her local National Health Service office has demanded "proof" (unspecified, though) that her incontinence is severe enough that she qualifies for free supplies. Nottingham Post

The United Nations Humanitarian Office reported that, indeed, some people in Kenya are having to wash out their condoms for re-use because of shortages. PlusNews.org (United Nations)

Chillicothe, Ohio,'s main fire station failed, er, fire inspection (they say because of serious budget cuts) and now will be required to have a person every hour inspect the entire premises (because the alarms don't work). Columbus Dispatch

Filipino Henson Chua was indicted in Tampa, Fla., for having illegally imported a "Raven" military unmanned aerial vehicle into the U.S. and offering it for sale on eBay ($13,000). TPM Muckraker

Livin' Large: Two county commissioners in Cleveland were indicted for allegedly accepting bribes (an artificial palm tree and a tiki hut, total value about $2,000) from a financial-services company. Plain Dealer

The March election for town trustee in the central New York village of Manlius was decided by one vote, and it turns out that an absentee ballot was counted even though the voter had died before election day. (A state court judge ruled last week that the challenge was too late.) Associated Press via Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator

The Aristocrats! (1) Rasheen Harrison (for some reason aka "Illuminati"), experiencing some domestic discord, stripped naked in his gal's building's elevator, took a dump, smeared some on her door, set it ablaze, and lit up his clothes. (2) Shane Chavis was discovered in the men's room at the Dollar Tree store in Phoenix, Ariz., naked, with blood nearby and a syringe, heroin, crystal meth, and bits of food--before leaving and spraying silly string over several displays. (He explained later that he had been under some stress.) WCBS-TV (New York City) /// KSAZ-TV (Phoenix)

The Montana House of Representatives has apparently agreed to strengthen the state's DUI laws, but it was a struggle, what with a slew of advocates begging the government to back off. Said one, "These DUI bills are destroying small businesses." Associated Press via Havre (Mont.) Daily News

The Washington Post reported that several hours before President Obama spoke to the nation on Libya on March 28th, he received an award from five open-records advocate organizations for running a particularly "transparent" administration, records-wise. How do we know? One of the five organizations leaked the news. The award presentation was in private, unannounced, and no mention of it exists on White House records--a total press and public blackout. (Ha-ha! April Fool's! Gotcha!) [ed. Oh, wait. Um, the story's true! Seriously.] Washington Post

Losers

We don't know his name yet, but he was one of a team of lottery players who hang out at Cook's Deli in Albany, N.Y. (and who pool their ticket purchases), who each won $16 million straight up in the Mega--except for that guy. He had told the others that he'd pass that week (because he wasn't "feeling lucky"). "I feel horrible for him," said one of his former (grateful) friends. New York Post

Melissa Willis, 30, apparently wanted a parental time-out but with no friend or relative available, she knocked on a total stranger's door and asked him. The stranger watched the toddler for a while, then called police, and two days later, as Melissa tried to return to parenthood, she was arrested. WWSB-TV (Sarasota, Fla.)

Criminals Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Charged with forging drug prescriptions, she showed up in court with a doctor's note requesting a postponement (forged, of course). (2) The incoherent shall inherit the earth, such as Joe Michael, 48, of Fridley, Minn., whose bank hold-up note read, "Give money / I gun." Associated Press via KCRA-TV (Sacramento) /// Star Tribune

Last Tuesday in downtown Montreal, a still-unknown miscreant pulled off a successful truckjacking but abandoned the vehicle minutes later, apparently when he realized that the only cargo was a quarter-ton of dirty diapers belonging to a cleaning service. Global Montreal

Undignified: A 19-year-old student was killed in a Pittsburgh suburb when, for some reason, he decided to get into a 3-point stance and then yee-hah it right at a fourth-floor window. WPXI-TV (Pittsburgh)

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


Actually, "guilty or innocent" is only one of several questions this mug shot raises. The Smoking Gun

Charged with assault and battery but surely guilty of being the world's Least Competent Shaver. The Smoking Gun

Below The Fold

Louis "Shovelhead" Garrett of Louisiana, Mo., sews quilts made of clothing donated to him, and by "clothing," I mean "panties." ("Classy" only--silk or nylon, he says.) Pitch Weekly (Kansas City) /// Hannibal Courier-Post

Recurring Themes: (1) David McCall, 72, reportedly confessed to arriving cops in Wakefield, Mass., that he had just shot his wife, and that she was dead, and that he wished she hadn't ridiculed him for missing with his first shot ("You can't even shoot" was apparently her final observation). (2) Occasionally, the best thing that can happen to you if you're choking on food is to, um, crash your car (a side effect of which might be an inadvertent Heimlich maneuver). Boston Herald /// Associated Press via Yahoo News

Is there anything orgasm can't handle? From New Scientist: "Masturbation Calms Restless Leg Syndrome" (True, it's an April 1st story, and the esteemed editors at New Scientist ought not to have allowed the practice to be characterized as the "five-knuckle shuffle," but otherwise they've journaled it up pretty well.) New Scientist /// Sleep Medicine (vol. 12, issue 4)

Destiny: Arrested for drug possession in Herndon, Va.: Mr. Kevin Cokayne. Washington Post

Newsrangers: Scott Raymond, Gil Nelson, Bruce Leiserowitz, Mark Boltz, Alfonso Peña, and John Ellwood, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors