Monday, January 30, 2012

Chuck's Weekly Cite-Seeing Tour
The Crème de la Crème, Every Monday

January 30, 2012
(datelines from January 20 or later) (links correct as of January 30)
© 2012 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Port au Prince: If you donated money to Haitian relief, it's fortunate if even a quarter of your dollar has ever found its way to the poor . . two years later. The only exception: the sainted Doctors Without Borders. (Best jobs to have in Haiti: U.S. contractor, Haitian SUV dealer.) World's Greatest Newspaper

South Carolina: In the town of Norway, a trooper pulled over a speeder, who happened to be the mayor, who happened to disagree with the trooper, so when the trooper drove off, the mayor turned on his own blue light, and pulled the trooper over. Nyah- nyha-nyah-nyah-nyah. Associated Press via WIS-TV (Columbia, S.C.)

London: Can't Possibly Be True (I): If the eBay auction holds (he'll know today), Christopher Herbert will be £2051 ($3,225) richer because he offered (as a goof) a blob of dried glue that sorta resembles Homer Simpson. Daily Telegraph

Frankfort, Ky.: The president of the Kentucky Senate, making a big political (photo-op!) deal out of honoring the Newport Aquarium with a ceremony in the Senate chamber, was then faced with the problem of what to do when the on-loan penguin crapped on the floor. Leadership! Lexington Herald-Leader

Shelby, N.C.: Misty Kullman, 25, was busted for prostitution . . in which she supposedly performed some unnamed act for a guy for . . six bucks. (Bonus: He paid with 3 $1s, a $2, and some coins.) Shelby Star

Suriname: A long research project by Conservation International, in a pristine South American area, yielded among other new species a "great-horned beetle (Coprophanaeus lancifer" . . which is a dung beetle the size of a tangerine, with evolved horns because . . apparently ya got to fight for your fair share of dung. LiveScience via Yahoo News

Colombo, Sri Lanka: There's a Sri Lankan Eye Donation Society that supplies many of the world's transplant eyeballs. EDS is glad to have eyeballs upon death, but it also gathers some from the living, from people who believe that giving up their spare eye (who needs two?) will ensure a good afterlife. What a country! World's Greatest Newspaper

Hong Kong: Hotshot Chinese army special forces showed off in public their patented training drill of passing a live explosive from man to man, counting down until detonation, with the unlucky last-man-catching responsible for tossing it into a nearby hole just as everyone dives for cover. This time, everyone survived. Daily Telegraph (London)

Oklahoma City: State Sen. Ralph Shortey introduced a bill to stop that awful practice that food companies have, y'know, using human fetuses to flavor up their foods. Well, just because no company actually does it is not really the point. They might, Shortey seriously explained, because that's what it said on the Internet. Associated Press via Wichita Eagle

Los Angeles: "LAPD Cracks Down on Drone Aircraft Use by Real Estate Agents" and so . . wait, what? Los Angeles Times

Lynn, Mass.: Tina Cafarelli admitted she bought $64 worth of soda, then immediately fed the cans into a nickel-a-can redemption machine at a supermarket, just to get the cash. (OK, she stole the welfare card to buy the soda, but, still . . ..) Associated Press via Fox News

Winter Garden, Fla.: Can't Possibly Be True (II): A mentally-challenged, totally unsophisticated college-educated mother of two who owns a business wound up paying $135,000 in cash, jewelry, and gift cards to a psychic because the psychic said the lady had a curse that needed to be removed. (Note to Federal Trade Commission: Explore ways of bringing down the cost of curse-removal.) Orlando Sentinel

New York City: A judge (male . . he should know better) declared it common knowledge, as a matter of law, that circumcised and uncircumcised organs look the same when erect (and thus, the fired flasher-cop remains fired even though he's cut, and the alleged flasher wasn't). New York Daily News

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

In Wheaton, Ill., Robert Lyons, 39, convicted of murder, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but there's always the appeals court. Rodney Cook, 58, presumed innocent of purse-snatching in Austin, Tex. WLS-TV (Chicago) /// KTBC-TV (Austin)

Thanks to Sandy Pearlman, Marty Braun, Perry Levin, and MaryAnne Anderegg, and the mighty NOTW Board of Editorial Advisors.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chuck's Weekly Cite-Seeing Tour
The Crème de la Crème, Every Monday

January 23, 2012
(datelines from January 13 or later) (links correct as of January 23)
© 2012 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Seattle: Michael Bertsch is nuts certain that Rupert Murdoch is stalking him. Sample evidence: In the Fox film Donnie Darko, Donnie's sister is Elizabeth, same as Michael's. The X Files go-to number is 1013; the first three, and the last four, digits of Michael's SSN total "10" and "13." And so forth. Case closed. Hollywood Reporter

Winter Haven, Fla.: He shot the laundromat's change machine four times with his semi-automatic, but the brave, stoic machine still would not give up the cash. Winter Haven News Chief

Buffalo, N.Y.: Why Does Buffalo Pay for Its Teachers to Have Plastic Surgery? Actually, even the union wants that benefit to be killed, but the way collective bargaining works, it just keeps hanging around. Last year, 500 teachers exploited it. The Atlantic

Atmore, Ala.: U.S. Supreme Court justices Scalia and Thomas, dissenting to their colleagues' sympathy for a death-row inmate whose appeal got lost in the system, renewed their deeply-held belief that, under the Constitution, "actual" innocence in the face of conviction is irrelevant--even if the actually-innocent person is facing the needle. Wall Street Journal

Meghalaya, India: Women rule, at least in inheritances; men are left to become alcoholics. Now, the ones whose testicles haven't yet been bred out are demanding equality. BBC News

Seoul: Eight smugglers were arrested for a 2010 scheme to avoid paying import taxes in Japan. Their bright idea: hide the gold in their rectums. Associated Press via Yahoo News

Hudson, Fla.: David Belniak, slam-dunk-convicted of DUI manslaughter in 2007 and serving 12 yrs, belatedly has figured out that it was the victim's fault for getting run into from behind. Lawsuit! Tampa Bay Times

Monterey, Calif.: Licensed California marine biologist Nancy Black was indicted for violating the 1972 Marine Mammal Preservation Act, i.e., taking glorious, one-of-a-kind pictures of whales feeding. Max penalty: 20 yrs in prison and a half-million dollar fine. (Your government knows best.) The Economist

Waynesboro, Va.: Pathetic (I): Keith Brown, 54, fleeing police for the second time in six weeks, crashed his car and tried to make a run for it . . and by "run," I mean scurrying as fast as his walker would take him. News Leader (Staunton, Va.)

Albuquerque: Pathetic (II): Two alleged home burglars were arrested fleeing in their getaway car . . shopping cart. KOAT-TV

San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain: Every January 16th (with roots back to the Eighth Century) villagers have ridden their horses through ceremonial street fires, to purify the animals and bring fertility and good health. A Christian priest supervises. ABC News (photos!)

Chicago: Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. fired receptionist Sharon Smiley because she took too long on her lunch break continued to work during her lunch break (in violation of office rules). ABC News via Yahoo News

Your Weekly Jury Duty [In America, you're presumed innocent . . until the mug shot is released]: (1) Jerad Arnold, Boone, N.C. (Either buy a magazine subscription from me or do drugs or sex with me--your choice). (2) David Peters, Streetsboro, Ore. (oh, yes, child porn). (3) Roger Rouland, Waco, Tex. (oh, yes, yes, yes, child porn).

Thanks to Gerald Sacks, Kathryn Wood, Daniel Raymond, Dave Shepardson, Peter Smagorinsky, Perry Levin, and the mighty NOTW Board of Editorial Advisors.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chuck's Weekly Cite-Seeing Tour
The Crème de la Crème, Every Monday

January 16, 2012
(datelines from January 6 or later) (links correct as of January 16)

Karnataka state, India: The December food-rolling ritual was once again panned by religious leaders. (By century-old tradition, lower-caste people wrap themselves in leftover food from upper-caste people and roll around in it . . to improve the skin. Charming. BBC News

Calabasas, Calif.: The state-of-the-art fertility company PlanetHospital was revealed to have a package for wannabe mothers who are really, really impatient. For an extra fee, they'll up your odds of conception by implanting your eggs into two Indian women at the same time. Downside: Both may work, and it's rude to abort.

Athens, Greece: The Labor Ministry beefed up official disability-benefit categories . . to include luckless unfortunates such as kleptomaniacs, exhibitionists, and pedophiles.   Associated Press via Washington Post

Texas City, Tex.:  An auto accident victim spent 4 hours in the Mainland Medical Center's ER (exam, diagnostic tests) before being released, with the probable bill of $4,850, which is obviously ridiculous but expected.  That was before the hospital found out that there would be litigation associated with the accident. New bill: $20,211. Galveston Daily News

Jerusalem:  At a big-time world gynecology conference last week, all female doctors had to sit together on one side, and only males were allowed to address the audience (because there's that ultra-Orthodox thingy going on).    The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Kermanshah, Iran:  A 21-yr-old man got a bad tattoo on his penis (the inker pricked too deep) and now has a permanent semi-hard.  (Doctors tried a shunt to drain excess blood, but it didn't work.  "[T]he patient has declined to undergo further therapies and lives with his condition.")  Journal of Sexual Medicine via ABC News

eBay:  [Not clear whether it's a sale or an auction, but] A seller is offering an 8-oz. bottle of swimming pool water swum in by Tom Cruise and family on 7-16-2011 in Miami Beach.   Around $100.  Jonathan Turley blog

Las Vegas:  NOTW readers know about teledildonics (remote sensoring of your woman's vibrator as if you were right there), and now one TD firm is giving away 1,000 kits to wives of deployed U.S. military.  PC Magazine

Washington, D.C. (Why voters love government!):  All motor fuel companies will pay a big-bucks statutory penalty this year, and next, because they failed to add a certain mandated biofuel to their gasoline . . even though said mandated biofuel does not yet exist.  (That's interesting, said EPA, but irrelevant.)   New York Times

Coventry, England:  An aggressive, malignant mouth tumor was removed by surgery the patient's coughing it out of her mouth. She's now cancer-free. (Such a result, said her doctor, is "uncommon.") World's Greatest Newspaper

Dayton, Ohio:  Bullets are valid holdup weapons only if they're inside a gun.  Dayton Daily News

Southwark, England:  British justice lowered the boom on a guy with 1,000,000 child porn images. He got one year (suspended), plus treatment and registration as a sex offender. [F State punishment for a million images would include razoring out his eyeballs followed by death in a fire.] World's Greatest Newspaper

Jacksonville, N.C.:  [ed.: not sure about this one] Police in Jacksonville, N.C., say the suspect must've smuggled the .22-caliber pistol into jail inside his wazoo (since, after all, we strip-searched him). However, the gun is 10 inches long, and his wazoo wasn't particularly torn up. He said he found the gun in a cell, which, along with "poor strip-search," would be things cops would rather not cop to. Jacksonville Daily News

Osaka, Japan:  Trouble ensued when The Galerie shop tried to play around with the Japanese word for "lucky bags" ("fukubukuro," designating the country's after-New Year's sales), designing posters for its English-speaking customers. Hilarity ensued! World's Greatest Newspaper

Grants Pass, Ore.:  After the slightly-smaller Roseburg, Ore., installed locally-funded bus shelters for $11k each.  Grants Pass installed five, but because it used federal and state funds, with the usual strings attached (for labor, environmental, due-process, etc., mandates), it will pay $106k each. The Oregonian

Thanks to Geoff Egan, Judith Hicks, Gerald Sacks, and the mighty NOTW Board of Editorial Advisors.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yo, Weirdos and Weirdettes,
Something has come up.  Nothing really serious.  It's just that I have to end Pro Edition.  I'll still be publishing, but the scope for Pro Edition requires too much from me.  The News of the Weird column is about all that I can handle, and it will continue.  (The last time the world was without a News of the Weird column, Ronald Reagan was President.) 
However, I believe I can manage to write up a list of my favorite 12-15 news links every Monday, unstructured, without much ado.  I'll try that tomorrow morning.  We'll see what happens.
I'll soon be getting around to cleansing all my promotional materials so that you won't see Pro Edition referred to anymore (except those of you who have signed up for the Google Group "ProWeird," which will continue to be the name of the group that gets my Monday morning hit parade).
You might even prefer the hit parade to Pro Edition.  I know I will.

Monday, January 09, 2012

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
January 9, 2012
(datelines December 30-January 7) (links correct as of January 9)
© 2012 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Warren Jeffs Prescribes Hell on Earth (Rather Than Kool-Aid), plus Other Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Sex Alert for Texas, Utah, Arizona! Horny, Mormonish Women Increasingly Climbing Walls! Prophet Warren Jeffs has issued an encyclical from his prison cell: no sex for anybody . . because all marriages are void until he can return to "seal" them (which won't be for a while because his sentence is life plus 20). (Bonus: Jeffs has so far filed two kinda-amicus petitions in court from the Lord, himself, commanding that Jeffs be set free, but the judge has failed to grant them. Must be that they, y'know, were mis-formatted or in the wrong font, something like that.) (Double Bonus: Reportedly, many followers have fled the sect, but many continue to observe his every word.) World's Greatest Newspaper

NPR's Robert Krulwich possesses a perpetual supply of fascination about ordinary but complicated things, for example, how scientists learn about famously reclusive pandas. He has a screen shot of researcher Robert Schaller's notes on a particular panda in the wild and the tracking of its every bowel movement. Lots of bowel movements. Of course, the samples must be collected, catalogued, and analyzed, and inferences made. Yr Editor stands in awe of Krulwich's level of fascination, but Schaller's is more worrisome. NPR blog

Sweden's Missionary Church of Kopimism (whose mission, mainly, is to encourage computer file-sharing irrespective of things like "copyright") issued a press release last week, uncontradicted so far, announcing that it had fulfilled the legal requirements to be a religion and had been granted that status by the government. Torrent Freak via NPR


Arrested in Madison, Wis., on weapons and drug charges: Mr. (legal name) Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, age 30. WISC-TV (Madison)

A gull was trapped in a tree in Norwich, England, and a fire engine crew was . . two fire engine crews were . . three fire engine crews were sent to rescue it. BBC News

Jakadrien Turner, 14, ran away from home in Dallas over a year ago, and authorities finally found her . . in Colombia, via deportation (even though she is a U.S. citizen, speaks no Spanish, is 8 years younger than the woman Immigration thought she was--and has different fingerprints than that woman, if only Immigration had bothered to check them before shipping her off). Officially, Immigration is "studying" its boo-boo. WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth)

The U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general revealed that IRS last year granted 331 currently-serving prison inmates status as federal tax preparers, including the estimated one-fourth who actually mentioned that, by the way, they are in prison. USA Today via ABC News

The city of Pittsburgh, Pa., issued a $287,000 tax assessment valuation for Richard Milesky Jr.'s choice downtown riverview condominium apartment parking space. KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh)


Dan Johnson Jr. and two others allegedly burglarized a home in Corbett, Ore., making off with silver and jewelry, and also a coin collection worth at least "several thousand" dollars . . which they promptly turned into $450 by mindlessly dropping the coins into a store's automatic sorting machine. (Bonus: Owner of the coins: Dan Johnson Sr.) KPTV (Portland) [with explanatory mugshot]

Not Ready for Prime Time: The man robbing the Halifax bank in London last week apparently got flustered. The robbery ended when the suspect, intending to hand the teller the bag to fill up with money, instead absent-mindedly handed him his gun. Daily Telegraph

Funny Old World*

The owner of a two-story house in Chelmsford, England, was having a tough time selling it. Perhaps it was the fact that it was completely covered in ivy, like a Chia-house. Gave it a haircut. Before-and-after photos. Daily Telegraph

A Scottish trust announced it would build a statue honoring a six-foot bear that "fought alongside" Polish freedom fighters in World War II. "Wojtek" was valuable in transporting ammunition. He lived out his days in an Edinburgh zoo and died in 1963. (London)

Also in Scotland: Feuding (but still cohabiting) spouses Anthony and Dorothy Cameron were in court in Perth, where Dorothy complained that Anthony had called her a "prostitute." His felicitous punishment: He is banned from talking to her for six months. Daily Record (Glasgow)

The orang minyak ("oily man") is back in the area around Kampung, Malaysia--a "human black magic practitioner who rapes virgins to increase his evil powers," wearing "nothing but underwear and a thick coating of black oil," according to the io9 blog's rendition of reports from The Star. There were two recent sightings, but one was of a bald oily man and the other a curly-haired oily man. [citing The Star (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)]

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: Sarah "The Human Barbie" Burge, 51, is once more in the news with the latest bit of mothering, which consisted of a Christmas gift to her daughter, Poppy, 7: a £7,000 ($10,780) liposuction voucher. After all, she had already given Poppy a voucher for (whenever she's ready) her first gazonga-augmentation. (Sarah has already spent £500,000 sculpting her own self.) World's Greatest Newspaper

Recurring: It's time for the annual bluefin tuna auction in Japan (whose economy is evidently in fine shape). A 593-lb. fishy sold for the equivalent of $736,000, which works out to $1,238 a pound. Associated Press via WXIA-TV (Atlanta)

Update [from Pro Edition, 6-6-2011]: In a check-up, high school student Rain Prince reports that still, still, his embarrassing dad Dale accompanies him to his American Fork, Utah, school bus stop and waits with him so that all of Rain's friends can see them together . . with dad always dressed in his goofy costume-du-jour. Several examples. (Surely Rain got beat up at first, but obviously they've cut him some slack lately.) World's Greatest Newspaper

Below The Fold

Fine Points of the Law: Can there be cat litter that, within 24 hours, totally dissipates the caca smell? Some marketing genii working for Clorox "proved," in a formal "test" involving scientists with degrees that the company's Fresh Step did the trick. A competitor sued on the ground of, well, impossibility, and a federal judge agreed. (Bonus: The adjudicator is the famous New York judge now renowned for, almost single-handedly, giving Bank of America, Citibank, and the Securities and Exchange Commission recent grief.) New York Times

Cry for Help: A 28-year-old man in a Uniontown, Pa., parking lot chained himself to himself (looped around his car seat) while dressed and made-up as a woman, because he was suffering anxiety at the thought of getting out of the car and going inside to shop. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's good enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.

If you have a job that leaves you with $654 a week to spend after taxes, kudos! You're in the 1 percent! . . of the world, not of the U.S. (That's per capita, not per family or even per adult.) CNN

Secretary Gates said no, Secretary Panetta says no. The Joint Chiefs say no. But that doesn't matter. If Lockheed-Martin says we need F-22 fighter jets, then, by God, we need F-22 fighter jets.

Catch-22 in Medical Expenses: Until "Obamacare" kicks in, hospitals are still only required to perform life-saving procedures on uninsured people (especially, undocumented uninsured people. However, various state laws also say that, once a hospital "admits" someone, it cannot discharge him unless he has a safe place to go. Thus, Yu Kang Fu, 58, a visa-overstayer in New York City, was dropped off by his employer at a hospital five years ago and treated in the intensive care unit, and he recovered in a few days, but was released only last year . . when various government agencies finally exaggerated some legal and contractual fine print to place him at a private facility. New York Times

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

Rudy White, 48, charged in Nelson Township, Ohio, with using a high-powered pistol to threaten a man. Innocent? Akron Beacon Journal

Mr. Exulam Holman, 32, charged in Joliet Township, Ill., with, umm, gouging out his uncle's eyes during a spat over control of the remote control. Couldn't be true. Herald News (Plainfield, Ill.)

Scott Crawley, Palm Bay, Fla., charged with running off-the-books medical testing of synthetic marijuana, i.e., forcing his two autistic kids to show they do better stoned. CFNews13 (Bright House Cable News Orlando)

Alleged machete-ist Ricky Leer, 53, charged with getting riled up and beheading a man who might have knocked over the grill at a homeless camp near Sarasota, Fla. Awesome. Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel

Jose Correa, charged with car theft and attempting to ruin a cop's Christmas morning. Can he possibly be innocent? Connecticut Post

Editor's Notes

Everyone knows that old people "fall" but that buses "plunge." Here is an actual bus plunge in Bolivia along the 38-mile Camino de la Muerte), and may the driver r.i.p. The passengers had already off-loaded and walked along the ridge to safety. World's Greatest Newspaper

Do not even pretend that you're sociopathic enough to shrug your shoulders at this Not Safe For Stomachs report. Do Not Click. It's none of your business what a 200-lb. tumor looks like. Australian Associated Press via Evil Empire (

Newsrangers: Sasha Oberheim, Jim Scott, Peter Smagorinsky, and Gerald Sacks, and the 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).

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

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

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
January 2, 2012
(datelines December 23-December 31) (links correct as of January 2)
© 2012 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Yet Another Distinction Between Jennifer Lopez and Chuck Shepherd, Plus Other Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Who can possibly be surprised that if security access can be restricted by fingerprints, eyeballs, or facial-recognition, it could not also be done by "ass"? Professor Shigeomi Koshimizu of Japan's industrial technology think tank has created a car-theft prevention system to disable the engine if the driver's booty doesn't match the owner's (using 256 sensory points). [Pause for Oneal Ron Morris jokes] via Slashdot /// Oneal Ron Morris

Don Aslett's Museum of Clean has opened in Pocatello, Id., with interactive exhibits and historical devices on, y'know, window-washing, bedmaking, vacuuming, etc. Aslett said he knew he was different from an early age. "I love to clean." And you may recall Kyle Krichbaum, 12, of Adrian, Mich., celebrated in News of the Weird M019 (8-19-2007) for his kinda-obsessive-compulsive-disordered vacuuming. Now comes Dustin Kruse, 4, who is well on his way to serious abnormality with his fetish for dual-flush toilets. The Kohler company has bestowed one on Dustin (from Santa Claus). Supposedly, Dustin loves to explain toilet mechanics to strangers. Daily Mail (London) /// press release

Slime grown in petri dishes is "intelligent," Japanese scientists say, in that it can "navigate" its way out of a maze. Scientists previously found slime that could organize itself as well as whoever designed the railway system in Japan's Kanto region could organize that. [Yr Editor hasn't the slightest idea how slime "navigates." This must be one of those discrediting stories planted by anti-science politicians.] Daily Telegraph (London)

Further evidence that "science" took a beating in 2011: If it's not Professors Bachmann (HPV vaccine causes mental retardation) and Snooki (oceans are salty because of whale sperm), it's serious, peer-reviewed work concluding that, for example, pigs love mud, fashion magazines glorify youth, parents don't think their own kids do drugs, and [ahem!] you waste time when you're online. Reuters via Huffington Post ///

Great Moments in Legal Liability: (1) A drunk, speeding, un-seat-belted 20-year-old (now a paraplegic) sued the tavern for not saving her from herself earlier that night. (2) The City of Los Angeles said it wants to recoup the $2.35 million that the Occupy LA crowd has cost them and may sue (sue protesters who, if they had $2.35 million, wouldn't be protesting). (3) A 58-year-old woman injured by a flying body (a man that had just been hit by a train) was allowed to sue the corpse's estate. (4) A car insurance company, though, is balking about paying off injuries to a bystander from a carjacking because the car was actually being "driven" by a dead man (i.e., the owner shot the carjacker, and the careening car scared the bystander). Courthouse News Service /// Los Angeles Times /// Chicago Tribune ///


An Indiana state senator introduced legislation to stop people from singing The Star-Spangled Banner in any not-"normal" way (at state-funded events, anyway). (Bureaucrats would have to decide what's not normal.) Indianapolis Star

"José" is no longer the most popular baby name in Texas (after a 15-year run). (Bonus: There are parents in Texas who name their kids Aabida, Aa'den, Z'yun, A'Miracle, Dae'Gorgeous, Gorgeousg'zaiya, Praisegod, Divinefavour, Nazaret, and Dallas Cowboys.) Houston Chronicle

One fella spent a real $16,000 to buy a make-believe sword so he could use it in a game that hasn't been released yet. Gizmodo

Might Grow Back: Double-amputee Evert Stefansson finally got his powered wheelchair from the Swedish health authority, three weeks after initially being turned down for lack of evidence that his condition is "permanent." The Local (Stockholm)

People Different From Us

In a box under the Christmas tree of Ruby Medina, 31, and Javier Gonzalez, 37, of San Juan, Tex.: their 7-month-old aborted fetus. (Police found it after an anonymous tip.) So far, cops have come up explanationless. San Antonio Express-News (12-14-2011)

Funny Old World*

The people of Chumbivilcas, Peru, settled scores two weeks ago, as they do every December, with bloody fistfights that supposedly eliminate all existing grudges. Then, they danced and drank and raised hell. Happy new year. Reuters via CBS News

What's more valuable per ounce than gold, platinum, and perhaps cocaine? Rhino tusks. And why not, since South Africans believe they can be shaved down into potions that cure cancer. MSNBC

OK, tough guys, deal with this Papua New Guinea species that grows to about 40 lbs. and is affectionately (and accurately) known as the Ball Cutter fish. Daily Telegraph (London)

The Pervo-American Community

Patrick Lott, 54, a former assistant principal in New Jersey and now high school volunteer, was arrested as the one who set up the secret camera in the boys' shower room. His first reaction: "No one's perfect." WNBC-TV (New York City)

Music teacher Kevin Gausepohl, 37, of Tacoma, Wash., said he had this intellectual curiosity about whether teenage girls can actually lower their vocal range an octave or two simply by stripping nude and fondling themselves. It wasn't sexual, he protested! The News Tribune (Tacoma)

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

Is Robert Wilson, 39, a "plainly dangerous offender"? If so, he'll be doing seven years in prison, because he might have bitten off his girlfriend's nose. (But never mind; the victim now wants that lovable ol' sweetie pie back.) BBC News

Accused of assault on a chihuahua, Robert DeShields can't be all bad--oh, wait, it was sexual assault. Los Angeles Times

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: California is still nearly broke but is still spending valuable money trying to move that humongous granite boulder from the desert to an L.A. County museum, through heavy traffic over nine days because what's really important to Californians is going to a museum and seeing a big rock. However, movers are still also discovering how hard it is to get local traffic permits. New York Times

Update: It's official: Donna Simpson is tired of weighing over a quarter-ton and of running her website in which fat fetishists paid per view to watch her eat. MSNBC

Recurring: Religious retailers sell sex toys, too (well, to married heteros). But no porn, no anal, no salacious packaging. The Daily Beast

In Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox clerics once again fought with Armenian clerics about church boundaries (this time at the Church of the Nativity; previously, it was at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). Local police (likely Muslims, mostly) had to be the grown-ups. BBC News

Below The Fold

Divorce after 77 years (for an affair 50 years ago?)

Needs to Work Out More: "This is a robb--" [sound of robber being cold-cocked in the schnozz by the clerk--who then makes the robber mop up his own blood]. WYFF-TV (Greenville, S.C.)

Two British designers' dresses made from parts of a Ford Focus. USA Today

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's good enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.

Government Accountability Office occasionally tells us what financial shape the federal government's in--really in, like, if the feds had to keep their books like publicly-held U.S. corporations do. "Officially," the federal debt is a little over $15 trillion (which freaks out a lot of people, but which, based on how large the economy is, isn't all that freakish). But "really," "actually," "playing by the rules," "not cooking the books," GAO says the debt is more like $46 trillion. (Hmmm, somebody's not gonna get paid.) Washington Post

Good Enough for Government Work: GM recalled more than 4,000 2012 Chevrolet Sonics because the quality-control people aren't sure whether they put on brake pads. Associated Press via Washington Post

After all the guff it caught for bailing out U.S. banks, surely the Federal Reserve wouldn't dare bail out European banks! Chairman Bernanke promised it wouldn't. Oh, but renting the European Central Bank some dollars? That's different. Gee, hope Europe doesn't go bust, or the Fed will have as much chance to get those dollars back as Flanders has of getting his tools back from Homer. Wall Street Journal

The recession, thank goodness, has spared federal workers (auto mechanics still average $46k plus benefits; prison cooks, $66k plus). USA Today

Editor's Notes

And for your Time-Wasting pleasure, here's a 70-mugshot gallery posted by the New York Daily News (but I can't swear that it hasn't been around for a while elsewhere).

Newsrangers: Matt Scholtes, Tricia Currie Hunt, Jim Weiss, Joshua Levin, Jim Colucci, Geoff Egan, Sandy Pearlman, and Peter Swank, 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]