News of the Weird M530, June 4, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

Jun 4, 2017, 9:08:15 AM6/4/17
WEIRDNUZ.M530 (News of the Weird, June 4, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story

* A country-and-western radio station in Benson, Ariz. (near
Tucson), owned by Paul Lotsof, has periodically run "public
service announcements" about one of Lotsof's pet peeves:  the
harsh sentences usually given to mere "collectors" of child
pornography.  Many, he believes, are non-dangerous, day-dreaming
hermits--but often imprisoned for long stretches.  Thus, his PSAs
publicize tips for avoiding the police, such as saving child porn
only on an external computer drive (and hiding the drive securely).
Despite recent community outrage (causing Lotsof to retire the
announcements), he remains defiant that, since he personally
avoids child porn, he is merely exercising a free-speech right.
[Washington Post, 5-11-2017]

Can't Possibly Be True

* The inexplicable ease with which foreign hackers attack U.S.
computers and security systems is finally grabbing the attention of
officials.  In a March Washington Post report, a technology expert
from Britain's King's College London told a reporter of his
astonishment to realize that the "security chips" on Congressional
staff members' identification badges are fake:  The badge "doesn't
actually have a proper chip," he said.  "It has a picture of a chip."
Apparently, he added, "It's [there] only to prevent chip envy."
[Washington Post, 3-31-2017]
* Suzette Welton has been in prison in Alaska for 17 years based
almost solely on now-debunked forensic evidence, but the state's
lack of a clemency process means she cannot challenge her life
sentence unless she proves "complete" innocence. Evidence that
the fire that killed her son was "arson" was based not on science
but on widely-believed (but wrong) folklore on how intentional
fires burn differently than accidental ones.  (The bogus arson
"trademarks" are similar to those used to convict Texan Cameron
Todd Willingham, who suffered an even worse fate than Welton's:
Willingham was executed for his "arson" in 2004.)  [Alaska
Dispatch News, 5-14-2017]

* Reverence for the lineage of asparagus continues in epic yearly
Anglican church festivities in Worcester, England, where in April
celebrants obtained special blessing for the vegetable by local
priests as a costumed asparagus pranced through the street praising
the stalks as representing "the generosity of God."  Critics
(including clergy from other parishes) likened the parades to a
Monty Python sketch, and "an infantile pantomime," with one
pleading plaintively, "Really, for [God's] sake," can't the Church of
England offer "more dignified" worship? [Daily Telegraph, 4-25-

Leading Economic Indicators

* (1) Andrew Bogut, signed as a free agent by the NBA's
Cleveland Cavaliers in March and expected to be a key player in
the team's quest to defend its league championship, checked into
his first game and played 58 seconds before crashing into a bench
and breaking his leg.  For that 58 seconds, the Cavs owe Bogut
$383,000.   (2) Jose Calderon signed as a free agent with the
Golden State Warriors in March, but the NBA-leading Warriors
changed their mind (for unforeseen reasons) two hours after the
deal and released Calderon.  For his 119 minutes as a Warrior
(6:06 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.), Calderon was paid $415,000.
[, 3-7-2017] [San Jose Mercury News, 3-2-2017]

Police Report

* In May, as Taunton, Mass., police were about to arrest Amy
Rebello-McCarthy, 39, for DUI after she left the road and crashed
through several mailboxes (with the crash causing all of her tires to
deflate), she, laughing, told officers there was one other thing:  She
had a bearded dragon in her bra (where it was riding while she
drove).  (The lizard was turned over to animal control.) 
[Providence Journal, 5-16-2017]

* Felicia Nevins complained to reporters in May that the Pasco
County (Fla.) Sheriff's office had improperly drawn attention to her
on a matter purely of a personal nature--that she had called for
help, concerned that the sperm she was storing for in-vitro
fertilization (kept under liquid nitrogen in a thermos) might
explode.  Deputies had placed the details (but not her name) on the
office's Facebook page (but the Tampa Bay Times deduced her
name from public sources). [Tampa Bay Times, 5-20-2017 ]

Fine Points of the Law

* In a legislative battle waged since a 1979 state court decision,
some North Carolinians tried once again this year to change a state
law that explicitly states that once a person (almost always, of
course, a "female") has "consented" to an act of sexual intercourse,
that consent cannot be withdrawn--even if the encounter turns
violent.  (The violence might be prosecuted as an "assault" but
never the more serious crime of "rape.")  Said state Sen. Jeff
Jackson, whose bill to change the law failed in April to get a
legislative hearing, "We're the only state in the country where 'no'
doesn't mean 'no.'"  [WRAL-TV (Raleigh-Durham), 5-2-2017]

Bright Ideas
* Learning Useful Skills:  (1) In May, the British tribunal dealing
with student cheating rejected the appeal of a law student who was
caught taking an in-class exam with her textbook open (OK--
permitted) but containing hand-written notes in the margins--not
permitted, but written in invisible ink legible via the UV light on
her pen).   (2) On testing day in March for Romania's 14- and 15-
year-olds, administrators of the country's popular DEX online
dictionary, acting on suspicion, changed the definitions of two
words likely to be improperly looked-up by cheaters during the
exam.  "[H]undreds" of school searches for the words took place
that morning, but administrators were still mulling an appropriate
punishment for the cheaters (who were, of course, easily identified
by their mis-application of the suspect words). [NBC News, 5-6-
2017] [BBC News, 3-16-2017]

* With limited trade, investment, and ownership rights, Many
Cuban producers are forced to improvise in order to bring products
to market--like Orestes Estevez, a Havana winemaker, who finds
condoms indispensable, according to an April Associated Press
dispatch.  The "most remarkable sight" the reporter saw was
"hundreds of [open] bottles capped with condoms," which inflate
from gases as the fruit ferments.  When fermentation is done, the
condom goes limp.  (The AP also noted that fishermen use
condoms to carry bait far from shore and which also increase
tugging resistance when nibbling fish fight the line.)  [Associated
Press via Virgin Islands Daily News, 4-4-2017]


* India's Supreme Court approved an order recently that forced
bars and liquor stores to close down if they were located less than
500 meters (1,640 feet) from state or national highways.  India
Times reported in April that the Aishwarya Bar in North Paravoor,
Kerala, is still (legally) operating at its old location even though it
is clearly within the 500-meter restricted area.  The owner
explained that since he owns the land behind the bar, too, he had
constructed a "serpentine" wooden maze in back and front that
requires any entering customer to take the equivalent number of
steps it would take to walk 500 meters.  (A tax office official
reluctantly accepted the arrangement.)  [India Times, 4-8-2017]

* Canadian Anton Pilipa, 39, who suffers from schizophrenia, was
discovered--safe--in the Amazon rainforest state of Rondonia,
Brazil, in November 2016, which was the first sighting of him
since his disappearance in March 2012.  He was unable to
communicate well and had no ID or money, but his family has
actively been searching for him and believe the only way he could
have traveled from the family home in Scarborough, Ontario, to
Brazil (6,300 miles) was by hitchhiking or walking.  (Bonus:  The
area in which he was found is noted for alligators and snakes.)
[CTV News, 2-9-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (November 2013)

* Secrets of Highly Successful Business Owners:  When Michelle
Esquenazi was asked by a New York Post  reporter in September
[2013] why her all-female crew of licensed bounty hunters (Empire
Bail Bonds of New York) is so successful at tricking bail-jumpers
into the open, she offered a (five-letter-long) euphemism for a
female body part.  "It's timeless," she counseled.  "Of course he's
going to open his door for a nice piece of [deleted]."   "The thing
about defendants is no matter who they are [of whatever color],
they're all dumb.  Every single last one of them is stupid."  [New
York Post, 9-27-2013]

     Thanks This Week to Zach Riipinen and Ellen Lockhart,
and to 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, Bob McCabe, Steve
Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Sandy Pearlman, Bob
Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Peter Smagorinsky, Rob Snyder, Stephen
Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

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