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] PhysOrg.com 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) /// Kohler.com 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 /// LiveScience.com

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 /// LoweringTheBar.net

Absurdities

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?) UPI.com

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]