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News of the Weird – Cecil Speaks

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weird

 

> by Chuck Shepherd

 Cecil Speaks

The distress across the Western world in July over the big-game killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe was apparently misdirected, according to veteran “animal communicator” Karen Anderson of Elk, Washington, who told Facebook and Internet visitors (www.AnimalCommunicating.com) that Cecil and she had discussed his demise and that he was over it. Also, Cecil apparently speaks in formal, graceful English, as Anderson quoted him (according to London’s The Independent): “Let not the actions of these few men defeat us,” said Cecil, “or allow darkness to enter our hearts.” “I am,” he added, “grander than before as no one can take our purity, our truth or our soul.” (Anderson’s usual fee to speak with deceased pets is $75 for 15 minutes, but she did not disclose whether she had a client for Cecil’s tab.)

 

Chutzpah!

— In May, three Santa Ana, California, police officers who had just raided the unlicensed Sky High Holistic medical marijuana dispensary were caught on the facility’s surveillance video eating supposedly seized cannabis-infused chocolate bars, and an “internal affairs” investigation was opened. However, in August, the Orange County Register reported that the cops went to court to have the video suppressed. Their familiar legal argument is that the video violates their right to privacy — in that they had purposely disabled the cameras before they began munching the contraband and thus had the requisite “expectation of privacy” that triggers the right. (Possibly, they had missed a camera.)
— The mother of three children in Grandview, Missouri, suspected that Dameion McBride, 22, had sexually molested her two daughters (ages 4 and 8) and son (age 3), but McBride indignantly denied it, claiming that he is a child-abuse survivor himself, and booked himself on the national “Steve Wilkos” TV show in May to take a lie detector test to clear his name. However, he failed the test as to each child and was subsequently arrested. (The Associated Press reported that McBride insisted on a police lie detector test — and failed that, too.)

 

The Continuing Crisis

On Aug. 1, one of the world’s weirdest border disputes came to an end, as India and Bangladesh exchanged more than 160 “enclaves” — sovereign territory completely surrounded by the other country’s sovereign territory (in principle, making travel out of the enclaves impossible unless the enclave had an embassy or another office that issues visas). In fact, there was one Indian enclave (Dahala Khagrabari) completely within a Bangladeshi enclave that is completely inside an Indian enclave inside Bangladesh.

 

The Litigious Society

— The estate of Dr. Rajan Verma filed a lawsuit in July against the Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo, New York, after Dr. Verma fell to his death following a concert when he lost his balance sliding down the banister. The estate claims that there must have been a sticky substance on the railing. The estate’s lawyers said that since alcohol was served at the concert, the promoters should have known to take extra safety precautions for banister-riders.
— Who gets badly hurt playing musical chairs? Robin Earnest, 46, told an Arkansas claims hearing that she broke two fingers and was forced into “years” of surgery and physical therapy over a game that was part of a class at the College of the Ouachitas in 2011 and demanded at least $75,000 from the state. The July hearing was dominated by a discussion of the proper way to play musical chairs because the instructor had ordered three students to contest one chair — with Earnest asserting that everyone knows it would be two chairs for three people.

 

News That Sounds Like a Joke

— “Green-fingered residents” can show off their hard work each year at the Quedgeley Show in Gloucestershire, England, entering arrangements of colorful, plump garden-grown vegetables. However, attendance has been off in recent years, reported the Western Daily Press, leaving the show’s future in doubt — until organizers announced that this year, to increase the number of entries, supermarket-bought vegetables could be submitted.
— “Number Two, Turn to the Right and Growl”: Magistrates in Ceredigion, Wales, fined Edward Davies the equivalent of about $1,130 in June, finding that it was his dog that bit a teenage girl last October, sending her to a hospital with swelling and bruising. Aberystwyth authorities had set up a formal police lineup of dogs from the neighborhood, and the girl had made a positive ID of Davies’ dog as the perp.

 

Least Competent Criminals

Judge Roger Barto, of Waterloo (New York) Village Court, was convicted in August of staging a fake assault on himself to convince doctors to prescribe him pain medication. Officers arriving at the scene found Barto lying on the ground with a shattered porcelain toilet tank lid nearby from (he said) being smacked on the head by a mugger. However, doctors found an apparent flaw in Barto’s ruse: He had forgotten to actually hurt himself during the “attack” — as medical personnel had found no mark, cut or bruise anywhere on him.

 

Recurring Themes

— Once again during a police raid of a suspected drug house (this time, in Wood River, Illinois, in July), with cops swarming the home and yard, confiscating evidence and arresting occupants, officers had to stop briefly from time to time to answer the front door (10 times during a 90-minute period) — as the dealer’s regular (oblivious) customers continually arrived to buy more heroin.
— In the face of a declining military budget, the Defense Ministry of the Netherlands issued confidential instructions to commanders in July that during training exercises, to preserve dwindling ammunition, soldiers should simply shout “Bang, Bang!” instead of firing their weapons. Said a soldiers’ advocate, “Even if you have no bullets, you (still) have to train with your weapon.”
— Thinning the Herd: (1) When two men who had been drinking in the apartment of Brandon Thomas, 30, in Conyers, Georgia, on July 23 wanted to leave, Mr. Thomas objected. “If y’all are going to drink my alcohol, y’all are going to play my game,” he said, announcing that his “game” was Russian roulette. Minutes later, after spinning the revolver’s cylinder, Mr. Thomas lost the game. (2) Three days later in rural Bell County, Kentucky, John Brock, 60, asked the Lord once again to certify his righteousness by allowing him to safely handle a rattlesnake during services at Mossy Simpson Pentecostal Church. However exemplary Mr. Brock’s faith had been previously, on that day, apparently, it was found wanting, and he is no longer with us.

 

The Aristocrats!

(1) Wallace Berg, 81, was charged with public indecency in Stratford, Connecticut, in July after a neighbor showed police a video he had made of Berg, naked and (according to an Associated Press report) “performing a sex act with some shrubbery.” (2) “Where the sun don’t shine” is now a standard hiding place for contraband, including for Matthew Smith, 36, arrested in Greendale, Indiana, in July. After he drew attention with a long restroom session at a Shell station, police confronted him about the white powder on his nose, and Smith sheepishly handed over the minutes-ago-removed pills and cocaine — but he had also extracted, inexplicably, a fishing bobber, a screwdriver and an “open tire plug kit.”

 

News of the Weird Classic (April 2010)

Louis Woodcock, 23, testified at his Toronto trial in March (2010) that he was not involved in the 2005 shooting of a woman, despite being seen on surveillance video approaching the woman with his hand inside his jacket until gunshots rang out. He said his hand was not on a gun but that he often kept his hand inside his jacket to keep from sucking his thumb, which is a habit he picked up in childhood and which did not go over well on the street. (The jury, apparently not seeing him as the thumb-sucking type, convicted him of manslaughter.)

 

Thanks This Week to Dan Bohlen, Dan Wasserman, Bryce Jackson, and Charles Smaistrla, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

(Read more weird news at www.WeirdUniverse.net; send items to WeirdNews@earthlink.net, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)


News of the Weird: Pets of the 1 Percent

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weird

> by Chuck Shepherd

 

Pets of the 1 Percent

“The worshipful treatment of pets may be the thing that unites all Americans,” wrote an Atlantic Magazine blogger in July, describing the luxury terminal for animals under construction at New York’s JFK airport. The ARK will offer shower stalls for traveling horses, “conjugal stations” for ever-horny penguins, and housing for nearly 200 cows (that might produce 5,000 pounds of manure every day) — and passengers traveling with dogs or cats can book the Paradise 4 Paws pet-pampering resort. The ARK is a for-profit venture; said one industry source, quoted in a July Crain’s New York Business report, “You hear stories about the crazy money that rich people spend on their (animals) … they’re mostly true.”

 

Government in Action

— Officially, now, it is “unreasonable” for a federal agency (the Bureau of Land Management, in this instance) to fail to say yes or no for 29 years to a drilling permit application. (Before July’s federal court decision, BLM had been arguing that 29 years was not too long.) A company had requested to drill just one exploratory well in Montana for natural gas in 1985, but the bureau had delayed the proceeding six times since then. The judge ordered the bureau to set a deadline for deciding.

— Georgia, one of six states that make taxpayers shell out huge fees to access its databases of public records, tries so relentlessly to control its archive that, recently, in a federal lawsuit, it said opposition to its policy was basically “terrorism.” Activists (Public.Resource.org) have been establishing workarounds to free up some databases for citizen use, and Georgia demands that they stop. Georgia even claims “copyright” protection for one category of important legal documents that were initially drafted by state bureaucrats, audaciously calling them “original” and “creative” works.

— Mandatory Inaction: In July, the mayor of the town of Ador, Spain (pop. 1,400), officially enacted into law what had merely been custom — a required afternoon siesta from 2 to 5 p.m. Businesses were ordered to close, and children were to remain indoors (and quiet).

 

Police Report

— At a traffic stop in Rockingham, Vermont, on July 26, both driver and passenger were charged with DUI. Erik Polite, 35, was the driver (clocked at 106 mph on Interstate 91 and, according to police, with drugs in the car), and while he was being screened for intoxication, passenger Leeshawn Baker, 34, jumped behind the wheel and peeled off in reverse across the highway, nearly hitting the trooper, who arrested him.

— Nathaniel Harrison, 38, was arrested in July in a Phoenix suburb on several charges, including possession of a deadly weapon during a felony, but he escaped an even more serious charge when a second “deadly weapon” failed to engage. Harrison reportedly intended to retaliate against a “snitch” and arrived at the man’s home carrying a rattlesnake, which he supposedly pointed at the man, hoping it would bite him. However, the snake balked, and Harrison’s attempted payback failed.

— Lame Defenses in Lake County, Florida: (1) Daniel Baker, 40, and Robert Richardson, 19, were arrested in Altoona, Florida, in August after getting caught loading appliances from a vacant house. According to the arrest report, both men appeared incredulous to learn that items in a vacant house aren’t just “free.” (2) Six days earlier about 20 miles away in Tavares, Florida, Corey Ramsey, 23, was arrested for burglary when a police officer caught him sitting on a toilet in a vacant, for-sale house attending to a need. Ramsey’s extensive petty-crime rap sheet belied his explanation for being there — that he was contemplating buying the $299,000 house and wanted to try it out first.

 

Still More “Intelligent Design”?

Zoologists at the University of Basel in Switzerland, publishing recently in a prestigious British journal, reported the likelihood that a certain flatworm species has overcome the frustration of not finding a mating partner in its lifetime. The scientists believe the flatworm exploits its hermaphroditic qualities and injects its sperm into its own head, from which the sperm sometimes migrates to its reproductive facilities. (Flatworm researchers are aided on their projects by the species’ transparent bodies, facilitating the tracking of the sperm.)

 

Protest!

— About 200 protesters gathered in front of Hong Kong police headquarters on August 2 to denounce the 3 1/2-month jail sentence given to Ms. Ng Lai-ying, 30, who was convicted of assault for shoving a police officer with her chest. Women (and some men) wearing bras as outerwear chanted, “Breast is not a weapon.” (Ng was originally protesting the hardly sexy issue of import-export abuses between Hong Kong and mainland China cities.)

— The Joy of Protest: An August 1 demonstration outside Britain’s Parliament protesting legislation to curb until-now-legal psychoactive drugs drew about 100 people — consuming their drug of choice, nitrous oxide. As organizers distributed gas-filled balloons for demonstrators to take hits from, “the group erupted in fits of laughter,” according to The Guardian.

 

Perspective

— Construction on a $1.7 million therapeutic equestrian facility in St. Cloud, Florida, expressly for use by wounded U.S. service members, was delayed in August when a bald eagle nest was discovered on the grounds. Federal law requires at least 330 feet of clearance for the nest, plus additional monitoring to assure the birds’ tranquility. Said one neighbor, “The very animal that symbolizes freedom is delaying therapy for those who fought for it.”

 

Funny Old World

The Welsh language is such a severe mutation of the original English spoken in the Middle Ages that, to the inexperienced eye, it is barely distinguishable from, say, Klingon. In fact, in July, the Welsh government, responding to queries about a possible UFO sighting near Cardiff airport, playfully issued its galaxy-friendly response in Klingon — “jang vlDa je due luq,” meaning that further information will be provided. (In Welsh, for example, “I cannot understand Welsh” is “nad oes modd i ddeall Cymraeg.”) (Recently, in Swansea, Wales, alleged drug dealer Dwaine Campbell, 25, adamantly refused to leave his cell for a court hearing because he feared being judged in Welsh — until authorities promised to transfer the case to Campbell’s native England.)

 

Update

Despite repeated assurances by Olympic officials, it appears more certain than ever that 2016 boating and surfing events in Brazil’s Guanabara Bay and Rodrigo de Freitas Lake will be conducted in water so polluted with human sewage that every athlete will almost certainly be struck with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. An August Associated Press report revealed the waters’ virus levels (of fecal coliform and other viruses) are as high as 2 million times the level that would close down a California beach. (Olympic and local officials continue to insist that the water will be safe by next summer, but, as the AP pointed out, their protocols test only for bacteria and not viruses. One U.S. water-quality expert advised all athletes to move to Rio ahead of the games — to try to build up an immunity.)

 

News of the Weird Classic (May 2010)

In mid-April (2010), senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi warned that recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and elsewhere were caused by women’s loose sex and immodest dress. Immediately, Australian Jennifer McCreight responded on Facebook by urging women worldwide to dress provocatively on April 26 (2010), to create a “boobquake” and test the cleric’s theory, and at least 90,000 women promised they would reveal serious cleavage on that date. On April 26, following a several-day absence of earthquakes, a quake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit just south of Taiwan. (Slight advantage to the ayatollah, since a Purdue University seismologist observed that a 6.5 quake was not uncommon for that region).

 

Thanks This Week to Bruce Leiserowitz, Kathryn Wood, and Crystal Hipkins, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

(Read more weird news at www.WeirdUniverse.net; send items to WeirdNews@earthlink.net, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)


News of the Weird: There’s an App for That

Filed under: News
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weird

> by Chuck Shepherd

There’s an App for That

Among the health and fitness apps for computers and smartphones are sex-tracking programs to document the variety of acts and positions, degrees of frenzy and lengths of sessions (via an on-bed motion detector) — and menstrual trackers aimed at males (to help judge their partner’s fertility but also her predicted friskiness and likelihood of orgasm). Several have chart- and graph-making potential for data (noise level, average thrust frequency, duration, etc.), and of course, the highlight of many of the apps is their ability to create a “score” to rank performance — even encouraging comparisons across a range of populations and geography. (Sociologist Deborah Lupton’s app research was summarized in the July Harper’s Magazine.)

We Are Not Alone

(1) Scientists from Australia’s James Cook University told reporters in June that they had spotted an aggressive fish that can walk on land making its way toward the country from Papua New Guinea. The native freshwater “climbing perch” can live out of water for days and has survived short saltwater treks from PNG toward Australia’s Queensland. (2) In July, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department posted a warning photo of a so-far-rare Texas Redhead — an 8-inch-long centipede with gangly white legs tipped with venom-delivering fangs and which eats lizards and toads.

The Continuing Crisis

— Reuters reported in early July that a big loser in the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers was (since all negotiators have gone home to sell the deal) the brothel industry of Vienna, Austria, which hosted that final round. With so many (male, mostly) diplomats in town for two stressful months, business had been robust — especially compared to the previous round in notoriously expensive Lausanne, Switzerland.

— The Undernews From Wimbledon: The All England Club, host of tennis’s most hallowed tournament, is, formally, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, at which presumably Britain’s 11,900 croquet “regulars” aspire to play — although their British Open Championship is actually held at the nearby Surbiton Croquet Club, which this year hosted 50 competitors from four continents, according to a July New York Times dispatch. The leading U.S. player — Ben Rothman of Oakland, California, the “croquet pro” at Mission Hills Country Club near Palm Springs — is the reputed “world’s leader” in prize money ($4,500).

Profile in Leadership

Maryland state Delegate Ariana Kelly was charged with trespassing and indecent exposure in June after she arrived at her ex-husband’s home to drop off their kids and learned that his girlfriend was inside. According to police, she started banging on the door and ringing the bell repeatedly and, aware that her husband had a camera trained on the doorway, she faced it, exposed her breasts and shook them, one in each hand, toward the lens. Eventually, she dared an officer to arrest her. (The Washington Post reported that Kelly is a member of a legislative task force studying maternal mental health issues.)

Ironies

— An 87-year-old man, taking his license renewal driving test in Deerfield, Illinois, in June, accidentally crashed into the driver’s license office (based on brake/accelerator confusion). Neither he nor the examiner was injured.

— An 83-year-old man, driving around Cape Coral, Florida, in May, suffered a fatal heart attack at the wheel, and the uncontrolled car came to rest in shrubbery ringing the Florida Heart Associates building.

— Wrong Place, Wrong Time: (1) A court in Lincoln, Nebraska, which had already sent Paul Boye to prison for at least 10 years for shooting his girlfriend, ordered him in June to cover her resulting medical bills. The woman had taken a .22-caliber bullet, which left a scar cutting right through her tattoo reading “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” (2) A task force of Benton, Arkansas, police and U.S. Marshals tracked down Tieren Watson, 26, in June after he had spent several days on the lam as a suspect in a shooting. When arrested, he was wearing a T-shirt reading “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide.”

Wait, What?

Mine worker Joshua Clay claimed in a lawsuit that a foreman had twice taunted him for complaining about conditions — by restraining him and spray-painting his testicles white. Clay filed against Kielty Mine in Mingo County, West Virginia, in July, alleging that the company had forced him to work on the dirty side of a coal-dust conversion machine — a practice forbidden by federal regulations — and that when he complained, he was subjected to off-the-books discipline.

Inexplicable

A KPHO-TV news story in Phoenix featured a local doctor advising expectant mothers against “tweaking” the result of home pregnancy tests. Some women, apparently, had discovered the magic of “Photoshopping” the pink reading on the home test’s strip — to take a faint pink line (not a certified pregnancy) to make it bold (pregnant!). Although the doctor warns of the general hazard of “false positives,” the 415-word news story does not explain how Photoshopping a not-positive reading into a positive one improves the likelihood of conception.

Mangoes in the News

(1) Josefina Tometich, 64, was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida, in June, charged with shooting out the back window of Christopher Richey’s pickup. Richey had fetched a “perfect-looking” mango from the street in front of Tometich’s house, but Tometich insisted it was hers since it had earlier fallen from her tree. (An attorney consulted by WBBH-TV said wind-blown mangoes landing on public property is a legal “gray area.”) (2) In one of the most successful redresses of grievance in history, the Venezuelan government gave Marleny Olivo a new apartment in April. Only days before, as President Nicolas Maduro toured her neighborhood in Aragua state, she had hurled a mango at him with her phone number on it, hitting him just below the ear. The new president (a “man of the people”) called her, listened to her story, and ordered a housing upgrade.

Least Competent Criminals

Awkward: (1) A 26-year-old carpenter, trying to break open an ATM at an ICICI Bank in Delhi, India, at 2:30 a.m. on July 8, accidentally locked himself in the tiny space behind it (used to service the machine safely) and phoned police to come rescue him. (2) A carjacker in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 16 commandeered a car from a woman at gunpoint and climbed in. However, according to the woman, she is short and he was very tall, and after fumbling a bit trying to adjust the seat, he gave up (having driven only a few feet) and ran off.

Update

As News of the Weird has noted, some observant Jews are magnificently creative in devising workarounds to ancient ritual restraints. For instance, the KosherSwitch theoretically allows Jews to defeat the restriction on engaging electricity during Shabbat. By employing a laser circuit that periodically malfunctions, or delays, in connecting a switch to a power flow, it permits the user technically to not be the direct cause of the electricity. (The KosherSwitch is currently the subject of a crowd- funding project sponsored by the device’s patent holder.) Less ingenious, as News of the Weird noted in 2010, is the Yom Kippur workaround for “fasting” coffee addicts: caffeine suppositories.

A News of the Weird Classic (August 2010)

Time magazine reported in August (2010) that among the entries in “Detroit Hair Wars” (showcasing pieces by 34 stylists) were The Hummer (stylist: “Little Willie”), in which a mass of extensions is shaped to resemble the vehicle, including four large, rolled “tires” — with metallic hubcaps and front grid added; and Beautiful Butterfly (stylist: Niecy Hayes), featuring extensions thinned, teased and stretched so that four angelic “wings” arise from the model’s head. Both stylings appear to be at least 2 feet long, dwarfing the models’ heads.

 

Thanks This Week to Judith Cherry and Gerald Sacks, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Read more weird news at www.WeirdUniverse.net; send items to WeirdNews@earthlink.net, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.