News of the Weird M527, May 14, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

May 14, 2017, 8:35:00 AM5/14/17
WEIRDNUZ.M527 (News of the Weird, May 14, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story

* Sweet, Sweet Revenge:  It is legal in China to sell electric
"building shakers" whose primary purpose apparently is to wreak
aural havoc on apartment-dwellers' unreasonably noisy neighbors.
Models sell for the equivalent of $11 to $58--each with a long pole
to rest on the floor, extending, ceiling height, to an electric motor
braced against the shared ceiling or wall and whose only function
is to produce a continuous, thumping beat. found
one avenger in Shaanxi province who, frustrated by his miscreant
neighbor, turned on his shaker and then departed for the weekend.
(It was unclear whether he faced legal or other repercussions.)
[, 4-14-2017] [Oddity Central, 4-17-2017]

Can't Possibly Be True

* Mats Jarlstrom is a folk hero in Oregon for his extensive research
critical of the short "yellow" light timed to the state's red-light
cameras, having taken his campaign to TV's "60 Minutes" and been
invited to a transportation engineers' convention.  In January,
Oregon's agency that regulates engineers imposed a $500 fine on
Jarlstrom for "practicing engineering" without a state license. (The
agency, in fact, wrote that simply using the phrase "I am an
engineer" is illegal without a license, even though Jarlstrom has a
degree in engineering and worked as an airplane camera
mechanic.)  He is suing to overturn the fine.   [The Oregonian, 4-

* Last year, surgeons at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
(CHOP), for only the second time in history, removed a tumor
("sitting" on the peanut-sized heart of a fetus) while the heart was
still inside the mother's womb--in essence successfully operating
on two patients simultaneously.  The Uruguayan mother said her
initial reaction upon referral to CHOP's surgeons, was to "start
laughing, like what, they do that?"  (The baby's December birth
revealed that the tumor had grown back and had to be removed
again, except this time, through "ordinary" heart surgery. [KYW-
TV (Philadelphia), 3-30-2017]

* The word "Isis" arrived in Western dialogue only after the 2003
invasion of Iraq, as an acronym for the Islamic State, and the
Swahili word "Harambe" was known to almost no one until May
2016 when the gorilla "Harambe" (named via a local contest) was
put down by a Cincinnati zoo worker after it had dragged an
adventurous three-year-old boy away.  In April, a Twitter user and
the website Daily Dot happened upon a 19-year-old California
restaurant hostess named Isis Harambe Spjut and verified with
state offices that a driver's license (likely backed by a birth
certificate) had been issued to her.  ("Spjut" is a Scandinavian
name.)  [, 4-12-2017]

News You Can Use

* Earn $17,500 for two months' "work" doing nothing at all! 
France's space medicine facility near Toulouse is offering 24
openings, paying 16,000 euros each, for people simply to lie in bed
continuously for two weeks so it can study the effects of virtual
weightlessness.  The institute is serious about merely lying there:
All bodily functions must be accomplished while keeping at least
one shoulder on the bed. [The Guardian, 4-4-2017]

Government In Action

* Sidewalk Wars:  (1) Thirty-four residents of State Street in
Brooklyn, N.Y., pay a tax of more than $1,000 a year for the
privilege of sitting on their front stoops (a pastime which, to the
rest of New York City, seems an inalienable right).  (The property
developer had made a side deal with the city to allow the tax in
exchange for approving an architectural adjustment.)   (2) The
town of Conegliano, Italy, collects a local tax on "sidewalk
shadows" that it applies to cafes or awninged businesses but also to
stores with a single overhanging sign that very slightly "blocks"
sun.  Shop owners told reporters the tax felt like Mafia "protection"
money.  [New York Post, 1-23-2017] [The Guardian, 1-17-2017]

Finer Points of the Law

* "Oh, come on!" implored an exasperated Chief Justice Roberts in
April when the Justice Department lawyer explained at oral
argument that, indeed, a naturalized citizen could have his
citizenship retroactively canceled just for breaking a single law,
however minor--even if there was never an arrest for it.  Appearing
incredulous, Roberts hypothesized that if "I drove 60 miles an hour
in a 55-mile-an-hour zone," but was not caught, and then became a
naturalized citizen and years later, the government "can knock on
my door and say, 'Guess what?  You're not an American citizen
after all'?"  The government lawyer stood firm.  (The Supreme
Court decision on the law's constitutionality is expected in June.)
[New York Times, 4-27-2017]

Wait, What?

* Emily Piper and her husband went to court in January in
Spokane, Wash., to file for a formal restraining order against a boy
who is in kindergarten.  Piper said the tyke had been relentlessly
hassling their daughter (trying to kiss her) and that Balboa
Elementary School officials  seem unable to stop him. [KXLY-TV
(Spokane), 1-9-2017]

* A private plane crashed on take-off on April 15th 150 feet from
the runway at Williston (Fla.) Municipal Airport, killing all four on
board, but despite more than a dozen planes having flown out of
the same airport later that day, no one noticed the crash site until it
caught the eye of a pilot the next day. [Gainesville Sun, 4-17-

Least Competent Criminals

* Didn't Think It Through:  (1) Edwin Charge Jr., 20, and two
accomplices allegedly attempted a theft at a Hood River, Ore.,
business on April 23rd, but fled as police arrived.  The accomplices
were apprehended, but Charge took off across Interstate 84 on foot,
outrunning police until he fell off a cliff to his death.  (2) Police
said Tara Cranmer, 34, tried to elude them in a stolen truck on the
tiny Ocracoke Island, N.C., on April 22nd.  Since it is an island,
the road ends, and she was captured on the dunes after abandoning
the car. [KPTV (Portland), 4-25-2017] [Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk,

The Aristocrats!

* Variations of the Semen-Weaponization Fetish:  (1) Timothy
Blake, 28, faced several charges in January after admitting to a
spree of semen incidents at a Walmart in Marietta, Ohio.  The
liquid was his semen, he finally admitted, but he squirted it at his
female victims only from a syringe rather than the old-fashioned
way.  (2) Brian Boyd, 27, was charged in January with squirting
women from a syringe in a similar series of incidents at a Tampa
Target store.  However, though Boyd had simulated masturbation,
the syringe itself contained only white liquid "hair conditioner."
[Marietta Times, 2-28-2017] [The Smoking Gun, 1-18-2017]


* Italian Surgeon Sergio Canavero (notorious as the world's most
optimistic advocate of human brain transplants), now forecasts that
a cryogenically frozen brain will be "awakened" ("thawed") and
transplanted into a donor body by the year 2020.  His Turin
Advanced Neuromodulation Group claimed success in 2016 in
transplanting a monkey's head, with blood vessels properly
attached (though not the spinal cord).  Canavero promised such a
head transplant of humans by 2018, though problematic because,
like the recipient monkey, the recipient human would not long
survive.  Of the subsequent brain transplant, one of the gentler
critics of Canavero said the likelihood of success is
"infinitestimal"--with harsher critics describing it in more colorful
language.  [Daily Telegraph, 4-27-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (September 2013)

* The question in a vandalism case before the U.S. Court of
Appeals in July [2013] was whether Ronald Strong's messy bowel
movement in a federal courthouse men's room in Portland, Maine,
was "willful" or, as Strong claimed, an uncontrollable intestinal
event.  Three rather genteel judges strained to infer Strong's state
of mind from the condition of the facility.  A cleaning lady had
described the feces as "smeared," but Judge Juan Torruella took
that to mean not "finger smears," but "chunks," "kind of like
chunky peanut butter."  Two other judges, outvoting Torruella,
seemed skeptical that feces could have landed two feet up the wall
unless Strong had intended it.  (Torruella countered by imagining
himself as perpetrator, that surely he would sully the mirrors, but
that all mirrors were found clean.) [, 7-26-2013]

     Thanks This Week to Pete Randall, Liz Baer, Don Cole,
and Steve Dunn, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial

                     ****, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O.
Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629
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