News of the Weird M510, January 15, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

Jan 15, 2017, 10:17:20 AM1/15/17
WEIRDNUZ.M510 (News of the Weird, January 15, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story                                  
* Leading Economic Indicator:  The salary the Golden State
Warriors pay to basketball whiz Stephen Curry may be a bargain at
$12 million a year, but the economics is weirder about the prices
Curry's fans pay on the street for one of his used mouthguards
retrieved from the arena floor after a game.  One used, sticky,
saliva-encased teeth-protector went for $3,190 at one August
auction, and SCP Auctions of California is predicting $25,000 for
another, expelled during the the NBA championship series last
June.  ESPN Magazine reported "at least" 35 Twitter accounts
dedicated to Curry's mouthguard. [ESPN Magazine, 10-31-2016]

Cultural Diversity

* In parts of Panama, some men still fight for access to women with
the ferocity of rutting male elks.  The indigenous Ngabe people
mostly keep to themselves in rural areas but have surfaced in towns
like Volcan, near the Costa Rican border, where in December a
reporter witnessed two men fist-fighting to bloody exhaustion on
the street in a typical "Mi Lucha" ("my struggle"), with the loser's
wife following the winner home.  As the custom loses its cachet,
only about a third of the time does the wife now comply, according
to the website Narratively.  (Bonus:  It's an often-easy "divorce" for
the Ngabe--for a fed-up wife to taunt her husband into a losing
fight, or for a fed-up husband to pick a fight and take a dive.)
[, 12-30-2016]

The Continuing Crisis

* Over a five-year period (the latest measured), drug companies and
pharmacies legally distributed 780 million pain pills in West
Virginia--averaging to 433 for every man, woman, and child.
Though rules require dispensers to investigate "suspicious" over-
prescribing, little was done, according to a recent Drug Enforcement
Administration report obtained by the Gazette-Mail of Charleston--
even though nearly half of the pills were supplied by the nation's
"big three" drugmakers (whose CEOs' compensation is enriched
enormously by pain-pill production).  Worse, year-by-year the
strengths of the pills prescribed increase as users' tolerance
demands.  (West Virginia residents disproportionately suffer from
unemployment, coal-mining disabilities, and poor health.)
[Gazette-Mail, 12-17-2016]

* University of Kentucky professor Buck Ryan disclosed in
December that he had been punished recently (loss of travel funds
and a "prestigious" award) by his dean for singing the Beach Boys'
classic "California Girls" for a lesson comparing American and
Chinese cultures--because of the song's "language of a sexual
nature."  The school's "coordinator" on sexual harassment issues
made the ruling, apparently absent student complaints, for Ryan's
lyric change of "Well, East coast girls are hip" to "Well, Shanghai
girls are hip."  [Lexington Herald-Leader, 12-17-2016]

* Because the 2015 San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack that
killed 14 and seriously wounded 22 was a "workplace" injury (in
that the shooters fired only at fellow employees), any health
insurance the victims had was superseded exclusively by coverage
under the state's "workers' compensation"--a system largely
designed for typical "job" injuries, such as back pain and slip-and-
fall's.  Thus, for example, one San Bernardino victim with
"hundreds of pieces of shrapnel" still in her body even after multiple
surgeries, and is in constant pain, must nevertheless constantly
argue her level of care with a bureaucrat pressured by budgetary
issues and forced to massage sets of one-size-fits-all guidelines. 
[New York Times, 12-2-2016]

Wait, What?

*  (1) The Las Vegas Sun reported in December that Nevada slot-
and video-machine gamblers left almost $12 million on the floor
during 2012 (i.e., winning tickets that remain uncashed for six
months, thus reverting to the state), running the five-year total to
nearly $35 million.  (2) The pre-game injury report for football's
December 31st Citrus Bowl included two University of Louisville
linebackers, Henry Famurewa and James Hearns, who were out of
action against Louisiana State because of "gunshot wounds."  [Las
Vegas Sun, 12-26-2016] [Sports Illustrated, 12-31-2016]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

* Latest in Vending Machines:  (1) Passengers awaiting trains in 35
stations in France now find kiosks dispensing short stories to pass
the time.  A wide range of selections (even poetry!), in suggested
reading-time lengths of one, three, and five minutes' length, can be
printed out for free.  (2) The only U.S. vending machine for
champagne is now operational in the 23rd-floor lobby of the
Mandarin Oriental hotel in Las Vegas.  Moet & Chandon bubbly
can be purchased with $20 tokens sold at the front desk. [Daily Mail
(London), 10-4-2016] [Las Vegas Review Journal, 12-28-2016]

New World Order

* Recent Awkward Apps:  (1) The Kerastase Hair Coach (a "smart"
hairbrush with wi-fi, monitoring brush strokes "on three axes" to
manage "frizziness, dryness, split ends, and breakage"); (2) The
still-in-prototype "Kissenger" (with a "meat-colored" rubbery dock
for a smartphone that the user can kiss and have the sensation
transmitted to a lover's receiving dock over the Internet); (3) The
Ozmo smart cup (to "effortlessly" "empower you with a platform
for better hydration choices" in your water and coffee--with
software for other drinks coming soon!) (Bonus:  Old-school users
can also just drink out of it.); (4) The Prophix toothbrush (with a
video camera so you catch areas your brushing might have missed);
(5) Spartan boxer briefs (stylishly protecting men's goods from wi-fi
and cellphone radiation). [The Register (London), 1-4-2017] [Boing
Boing, 12-30-2016] [Boing Boing, 1-6-2017]

Unclear on the Concept

* In December the European Union's 28 nations reached what
members called an historic agreement to thwart terrorists:  a ban on
private citizens' possessing semi-automatic weapons--but exempted
terrorists' firearm of choice, the Kalishikov assault weapon.
(Finland vetoed inclusion of the AK-47 because of concerns about
training its reservists.)   [Reuters, 12-28-2016]

Least Competent Criminals

* A December post on the Marietta, Ga., police department's
Facebook page chided a shoplifter still at large but who had left his
ID and fingerprints (and inadvertently posed for security cameras).
The police, noting "how easy" the man had made their job, "begged"
him to give them some sort of challenge:  "Please at least try to
hide."  Suspect Dale Tice was soon in custody. [Gwinnett Daily
Post, 12-28-2016]


* In January, tireless convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau, who
pitched magical remedies for countless ailments on late-night TV
for almost 20 years (dodging investigations and lawsuits until the
feds caught up with him in 2014) was turned down in what some
legal experts believe might be his final judicial appeal.  Still, he
never gives up.  From his cell at a federal prison in Alabama, he
continued to solicit funding for appeals via his Facebook fans,
promising donors that they could "double" their money. Also, he
said he would soon share "two secrets" that would allow donors to
"vibrate frequencies . . . to create the life [they] want." [Chicago
Tribune, 1-3-2017]

The Passing Parade

* (1) Steve Crow of Point Loma, Calif., near San Diego
International Airport, told a reporter he had given up--since no relief
had come from the 20,068 complaints he made during 2016 about
airport noise.  (2) A six-point deer head-butted the owner of a fur
company in Willmar, Minn., in November and broke into the
building where thousands of recently-harvested deer hides were
being dried (and largely wrecked the place).  The owner was slightly
injured, and the vengeful buck escaped.  [San Diego Union-Tribune,
1-1-2017] [Forum News Service, 11-18-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2013)
* Leaders of the ice-fishing community, aiming for official
Olympics recognition as a sport, have begun the process by asking
the World Anti-Doping Agency to random-test its "athletes" for
performance-enhancing drugs, according to a February [2013] New
York Times report.  (The chairman of the U.S. Freshwater Fishing
Association said, "We do not test for beer" because "everyone
would fail.")  Ice-fishing is a lonely, frigid endeavor rarely
employing strength but mostly guile and strategy, as competitors
who discover advantageous spots must surreptitiously upload their
hauls lest competitors rush over to drill their own holes.  [New York
Times, 2-24-2013]

     Thanks This Week to Bruce Alter 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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