News of the Weird M513, February 5, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

Feb 5, 2017, 9:55:48 AM2/5/17
WEIRDNUZ.M513 (News of the Weird, February 5, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story                                  
* "Field work is always challenging," explained Courtney
Marneweck of South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal in a
recent journal article, but studying the sociology of a white rhino's
dung meant developing a "pattern-recognition algorithm" to figure
out "smell profiles" of 150 animals' feces--after tracking them
individually to observe them in the act.  Wrote Marneweck, "I think
my record for waiting for a rhino to poo was 7.5 hours."
Conclusion:  Rhinos use feces to send distinct social signals on
genetic-compatible herds, mating access, and predator dangers.  (Or,
in the Los Angeles Times "clickbait" version of the story, rhino
dung "has a lot in common with a Facebook post.")  [Los Angeles
Times, 1-14-2017]

The Way The World Works

* "Retiring" the Herd:  Settlement of a class-action lawsuit against a
group of dairy co-ops was announced in January with milk
producers agreeing to offer $52 million on charges they had
conspired to fix dairy supply for years to get top-dollar prices.
Among the producers' primary tactics, allegedly, was using what the
industry calls "herd retirement," which is "retirement" only in the
sense that 500,000 healthy young cows were slaughtered--just to
drive up prices by eliminating otherwise-available milk.  The $52
million will be for consumers in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
[Washington Post, 1-19-2017]

* Wrist-Slapping:  (1) Rutgers University Athletic Director Pat
Hobbs, responding to the NCAA's announcement of violations
against the school's sports programs (including failure to penalize
16 football players who tested positive for drugs), told the Asbury
Park Press in January that he would immediately dismiss from
teams any player testing positive for hard drugs--upon the fourth
violation (if for marijuana-only, upon the fifth).  (2) In January, the
Russian parliament voted 380-3 to amend its assault law to allow a
spouse one punishment-by-"ticketing" (i.e., not "criminal")  for
domestic violence against his partner--provided the bodily harm was
not "substantial" and that it happens no more than once a year.
[Asbury Park Press, 1-11-2017] [USA Today, 1-27-2017]

Unclear on the Concept

* The "Virtuous Pedophile":  Gary Gibson, 65, of Chiloquin, Ore.,
admits he is sexually attracted to little girls but never acts on his
urges and therefore demands that people get off his case.  He
formed the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention, campaigning,
he says, to keep children safe from other pedophiles whose self-
restraint may not match his.  Gibson describes himself as a "normal,
everyday person," married to a British nurse (whom he met via a
Christian singles organization), and has three children and 10
grandchildren--none so far molested (though in an interview,
London's The Sun allowed him to explain his side of various edgy
events of his life, such as his having moved for a while to the South
Pacific, where little girls sometimes played naked). [The
Independent (London), 1-7-2016]

Wait, What?

* Surgery on a 16-year-old Japanese girl, reported in January by
New Scientist, revealed that her ovary contained a miniature skull
and brain.  Doctors say that finding rogue brain cells in ovaries is
not that uncommon but that an already-organized brain, capable of
transmitting electrical impulses, is almost unheard-of.  [New
Scientist, 1-6-2017]

* The neonatal intensive care unit of Texas Health Fort Worth
disclosed in January that the secret to keeping the most fragile
prematurely-born babies alive is to quickly stick them into Ziploc
Freezer bags, to create, according to a clinician, a "hot house
effect."  (It turns out that merely raising the temperature in the
delivery room had only marginal effect.) [KXAS-TV (Dallas-Fort
Worth), 1-11-2017] 

Leading Economic Indicator

* Doughnut lovers have legitimately mused for years how U.S. law
could condemn, say, marijuana, yet permit Krispy Kreme to openly
sell its seemingly-addictive sugary delights on America's streets.
Sonia Garcia, 51, realized a while back that residents of Ciudad
Juarez, Mexico, so much needed Krispy Kreme fixes that she earns
a handsome living running a black market from El Paso, Tex.,
bringing in 40 boxes at a time and re-selling from the trunk of her
car at a 60-percent markup, pointing out to a Los Angeles Times
reporter in January that her trafficking has already put one son
through engineering school.  (Mexico City now has Krispy Kremes,
but apparently the company's distribution system cannot yet
vanquish Sonia Garcia's car.) [Los Angeles Times, 1-6-2017]

Can't Possibly Be True

* Reporting from Mbyo, Rwanda, in January on the success of a
"reconciliation" program following the country's bloody genocidal
wars, London's The Guardian found, for example, Laurencia
Niyogira living peacefully and forgivingly alongside neighbor
Tasian Nkundiye--even though, 22 years ago, Nkundiye murdered
Niyogira's entire family (except for her and her sister, left barely
alive).  (Over a 100-day span in 1994, 800,000 ethnic Tutsis were
systematically slaughtered by Hutus.)  A survey by the country's
national unity commission showed that 92 percent of Rwandans
have come to accept reconciliation.  [The Guardian, 1-12-2017]

Least Competent Criminals

* Driver Joshua Concepcion-West, 27, was arrested in Apopka,
Fla., with an ingenious license-plate cover that he could raise and
lower remotely from his key chain (thus avoiding identification by
cameras as he passed through turnpike checkpoints).  On January
11th at a $1.25 toll plaza, he had neglected to check his rear-view
mirror before lowering the cover--and failed to notice that right
behind him was a Florida Highway Patrol car with a trooper
watching the whole thing. [WFOR-TV (Miami), 1-13, 2017]

* Lamest Criminal Defense Ever:  Substitute teacher Pete Garcia
Hernandez, 49, was arrested in Houston, Tex., in January and
charged with three counts of indecency with a child, involving girls
at Looscan Elementary School.  The girls had reported earlier that
Hernandez had kissed them each on the mouth, but police
investigators quoted Hernandez as calling it all an "accident," that
"he was speaking close with them and his tongue accidentally went
into their mouth[s]."  [KHOU-TV, 1-25-2017]


* Right to Be Grumpy:  Trader Joe's has gained popularity among
grocery shoppers in large part by having relentlessly sunny
employees, but now that the firm has expanded from mellower
California to more brusque New York City, it is learning that
cheerfulness is harder to find. The company fired Thomas Nagle
recently because, though he said he frequently smiled, he was told
his smile was insufficiently "genuine," and, backed by several
colleagues, he has filed an unfair labor practice charge (and union
organizers have taken notice).  The National Labor Relations Board
has already ruled (against another employer) that workers cannot be
forced to convey that all-important "positive work environment"
because they are entitled to have grievances. [New York Times, 11-

The Passing Parade

* (1) Jersey Shore, Pa. (pop. 4,300) rarely makes the news, thus
allowing it to avoid questions about its awkward name (since it is
(a) landlocked and (b) 100 miles from New Jersey).  (In January,
local residents were disturbed about the odor of a farm's
prematurely ripening radishes.)  (2) Scientists at Spain's University
of Barcelona announced they had reduced the fear of death in some
of their 32 research participants by exposing them (using artificial-
intelligence Oculus Rift headsets) to out-of-body experiences so that
they could see and feel themselves "alive" even when they are not
actually present. [WNEP-TV (Moosic, Pa.), 1-19-2017] [New
Scientist, 1-23-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (April 2013)
* Undocumented immigrant Jose Munoz, 25, believed himself an
ideal candidate for President Obama's 2012 initiative for children,
in that he had been brought to the U.S. by his undocumented parents
before age 16, had no criminal record, and had graduated from high
school (with honors, even).  Since graduation, however, he had
stayed at his parents' home in Sheboygan, Wis., jobless,
unenterprisingly "vegging," making it difficult to prove the final
requirement of the law:  that he had lived continuously in the U.S.
since graduation (since just lying around the house leaves no paper
trail). After initial frustrations, Munoz finally proved his residency--
by submitting his Xbox Live records documenting that his
computer's Wisconsin location had been accessing video games,
daily, year after year.  [Journal Sentinel, 3-24-2013]

     Thanks This Week to Caroline Lawler and to the News of
the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
                     ****, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O.
Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629
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