News of the Weird M528, May 21, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

May 21, 2017, 8:58:51 AM5/21/17
WEIRDNUZ.M528 (News of the Weird, May 21, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story

* Officials in charge of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal
heritage site recently installed "speed bumps" (similar to those
familiar to Americans driving residential streets)--but on a
pedestrian walkway, with row upon row of risers, to resemble a
washboard.  A Western travel writer, along with editors of People's
Daily China, suggested that officials were irked that "disorderly"
tourists had been walking past the ancient grounds too rapidly to
appreciate its beauty or context.  [Daily Telegraph (London), 5-4-

The Job of the Researcher

* "Marine mammologist" Dara Orbach's specialty is figuring out
how bottlenose dolphins actually fit their sex organs together to
copulate.  When dolphins die of natural causes, Orbach (a post-
doctoral fellow at Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University) is sent their
genitals (and also those of whales, porpoises, and sea lions) and
fills each one with silicone to work from the mold in understanding
the sex act's mechanics.  Dolphins' vaginas are "surprising" in their
"complexity," she told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News
in April, for example with the ability to twist inner folds to divert
the progress of any sperm deposited by undesirable mates.  [CBC
News, 4-26-2017]

Bright Ideas

* Compared to busy coastal metropolises, "Indiana" may evoke
repose, and entrepreneur Tom Battista is suggesting the state's
largest city capitalize on the sentiment by reserving a destination
site on a low-lying hill overlooking the chaotic merge lanes of two
Interstate highways--affording visitors leisurely moments watching
the frantic motorists scrambling below.  He plans three rows of
seats and a sunshade for the relaxed gawkers to take in the "ocean"-
like roar and imagine overwrought drivers' rising blood pressure
(while their own remains soothingly calm).   [WTHR-TV
(Indianapolis, 4-25-2017]

* Several treatments are available to combat the heart arrhythmia
"atrial fibrillation," but all require medical supervision, which John
Griffin, 69, said he tried to acquire at the emergency room at New
Zealand's Waikato Hospital in April, only to be met with delay and
frustration.  Griffin went home that day, took notice of his
neighbor's 8,000-volt electric security fence, and, with boots off, in
a fit of do-it-yourself desperation, nudged it with his arm.  He got
quite a jolt, he said, but he walked away, and his heart returned to
natural rhythm.  The medical director of the Heart Foundation of
New Zealand said that Griffin was lucky and sternly warned
against the "procedure."  [New Zealand Herald, 5-2-2017]

Weird Science

* Medical researchers have been frustrated for years at failures in
getting certain cancer-fighting drugs to reach targeted areas in
women's reproductive tracts, but doctors in Germany announced in
April a bold technique that appeared to work:  sending the drugs
via sperm cells (which seem to roam unobstructedly as they search
for an egg).  The process involves coating active sperm cells with
an iron adhesive and magnetically steering them to their internal
targets.  [, 4-14-2017]
News That Sounds Like a Joke

* Sean Clemens, now awaiting trial in Liberty, Ohio, in the death
of an 84-year-old woman, allegedly confessed his guilt to a co-
worker after telling the man that something was bothering him that
he needed to tell someone about--but only if the co-worker would
"pinkie-swear" not to tell anyone else.  (The co-worker broke the
code.)  [WKBN-TV (Youngstown), 4-25-2017]

* In the course of pursuing claims against Alaskan dentist Seth
Lookhart for Medicaid fraud, government investigators found a
video on his phone of him extracting a sedated patient's tooth--
while riding on a hoverboard.  (He had apparently sent the video to
his office manager under the title "New Standard of Care.")
Lookhart had been indicted in 2016 for billing Medicaid $1.8
million for patient sedations unnecessary for the procedures they
received.  [Alaska Dispatch News, 4-21-2017]


* In April, Tennessee state representative Mike Stewart, aiming to
make a point about the state's lax gun-sales laws and piggybacking
onto the cuddly feeling people have about children's curbside
lemonade stands, set up a combination stand on Nashville's Capitol
Hill, offering for sale lemonade, cookies--and an AK-47 assault
rifle (with a sign "No Background Check," to distinguish the
private-sale AK-47 from one purchased from a federally licensed
dealer).  (In fact, some states still regulate lemonade stands more
than gun sales--by nettlesome "health department" and anti-
competitive rules and licensing, though Tennessee allows the
stands in most neighborhoods as long as they are small and
operated infrequently.)  [WKRN-TV (Nashville), 4-5-2017]


* (1) The Wall Street Journal reported in February that among the
most popular diversions when Syrian households gather to escape
the country's bombs and bullets is playing the Hasbro war board
game "Risk" (even though the game's default version contains only
five armies--not nearly enough to simulate the many Syrian
factions now fighting).  (2) The parliament of Australia's New
South Wales, entertaining a February citizen petition to cut societal
"waste," admitted that the petition's required 107,000 signatures
(already on a USB stick) would, by rule, have to be submitted in
hard copy (4,000 pages), even though the pages would immediately
be electronically scanned into a format for data storage.  [Wall
Street Journal, 2-16-2017] [Sydney Morning Herald, 2-26-2017]

People Different From Us

* In March, an electrician on a service call at a public restroom in
Usuki, Japan, discovered a crawlspace above the urinal area, which
had apparently been a man's home (with a space heater, gas stove,
and clothing).  Investigators learned that Takashi Yamanouchi, 54,
a homeless wanderer, had been living there continuously for three
years--and had arranged everything very tidily, including the 300-
plus plastic two-liter bottles of his urine.  (It was unclear why he
was storing his urine when he resided above a public restroom.)
[Rocket News, 4-2-4-2017]

Least Competent Criminals

* Not Ready For Prime Time:  (1) In March, WTTG-TV in
Washington, D.C., broadcast surveillance video of a 7-Eleven
armed robbery in the city's northeast sector--since some footage
offered a clear picture of the suspect's face.  Moments into the
robbery, the man peered upward, caught sight of the camera, and,
shocked, reached for his apparently-forgotten ski mask on top of
his head, where (better late than never) he pulled it into place.   (2)
In November, three teenagers were arrested after stealing superfast
Dodge cars in the middle of the night from a dealership in St.
Peter, Mo.  (After driving less than a mile, police said, the three
had lost control of their cars, crashing them, including "totaling"
two 700-horsepower Challenger Hellcats.)  [WTTG-TV, 3-28-
2017] [KTVI (St. Louis), 11-16-2017]

No Longer Weird

* News that was formerly weird but whose patterns more recently
have become so tedious that the stories deserve respectful
retirement:  (1) On May 5th, an elderly woman in Plymouth,
England, became the most recent to drive wildly afield by blindly
obeying her car's satellite navigation system.  Turning left, as
ordered, only to confront a solid railing, she nonetheless spotted a
narrow pedestrian gap and squeezed through, which led to her
descending the large concrete stairway at the Mayflower House
Court parking garage (until her undercarriage got stuck).  (2) Police
in East Palestine, Ohio, said the 8-year-old boy who
commandeered the family car and drove his sister, 4, to the local
McDonald's for a cheeseburger on April 9th was different from the
usual underaged drivers in that he caused no  problems.  Witnesses
said he followed traffic signals en route, which the boy attributed
to learning from YouTube videos.  [, 5-5-2017]
[WFMJ-TV (Youngstown), 4-12-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2013)

* Imminent Swirling Vortex of Damnation:  Land developers for
the iconic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo. (the inspiration for the
hotel in Stephen King's "The Shining") announced recently [2013]
that they need more space and thus will dig up and move the
hotel's 12-gravesite pet cemetery (another Stephen King trope).
Neighbors told the Fort Collins Coloradoan in September [2013]
that they feared the construction noise more than the potential
release of departed spirits (though an "Animal Planet" "dog
psychic" who lives in Estes Park volunteered her services to calm
the pets' souls).  (Update:  Apparently, it worked.)  [Fort Collins
Coloradoan via USA Today, 9-26-2013]

     Thanks This Week to Chuck Hamilton 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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