This reminded me of the urban legend of the "killer in the backseat." Except, in this case, it would be the lazy hitchhiker sitting in the backseat.
The Vernon Daily Record - Jan 11, 1951
Woman Qualifies for Laziest Hitchhiker Title
Syracuse, N.Y. Jan. 10 (AP) — A woman qualified today for the title of laziest hitchhiker.
Syracuse police found the woman sitting in a parked car. They said she told them:
"I often sit in parked cars hoping the owners will come back and give me a ride downtown. You see, I hate buses."
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M480, June 19, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
In May, the Norwegian Counsumer Council staged a live, 32-hour TV broadcast marathon--a word-for-word reading of the “terms of service” of Internet applications Instagram and Spotify and more than two dozen others, totaling 900 pages and 250,000 words of legal restrictions and conditions that millions of users "voluntarily" agree to when they sign up (usually via a mouse-click or finger-swipe). A Council official called such terms "bordering on the absurd," as consumers could not possibly understand everything they were legally binding themselves to. (The reading was another example of Norway’s fascination with “Slow TV”--the success of other marathons, such as coverage of a world-record attempt at knitting yarn and five 24-hour days on a salmon-fishing boat, mentioned in News of the Weird in 2013.) [Wall Street Journal, 5-25-2016]
Government in Action!
The Defense Department still uses 1980s-era 8-inch floppy disks on computer systems that handle part of America's "nuclear umbrella," including ballistic missiles. Also, according to a May report by the Government Accountability Office, systems using 1970s-era COBOL programing language are still used for key functions of the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service, among others (including Veterans Affairs, for tracking beneficiary claims). Agencies have reported recruiting retired employees to return to fix glitches in operating systems long since abandoned by Microsoft and others. [CNBC, 5-25-2016]
In April, police in Boise, Id., told KAWO Radio that they will not relax the year-old ban on dachshund "racing" that was traditionally families' entertainment highlight at the annual "Arena-Weina Extravaganza"--because all dog-racing in Idaho is illegal. The station had argued that the law intended to target only greyhound racing; that an exception had been carved out for popular dogsled racing (reasoning: individual dogs were not racing each other); and that in any event, the "race" course was only about 40 feet long--but reported that the authorities were "dead serious" about the ban. [LoweringTheBar.net, 4-25-2016]
Can’t Possibly Be True
A watchdog agency monitoring charities revealed in May its choice for “worst” among those “helping” U.S. veterans: The National Vietnam Veterans Foundation raised more than $29 million from 2010-2014--but wound up donating about two cents of every dollar toward actual help. The other ninety-eight cents went to administration and fund-raising. (Similarly troubling, according to the watchdog, is that the CEO of NVVF is a staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.) [Fox News, 5-17-2016]
More Adventures of the Easily Offended
(1) A March video featured a black San Francisco State University woman angrily confronting a white student, accusing him of "cultural appropriation" because he was wearing his hair in dreadlocks. (2) A March fitness club ad pitch in Sawley, England, picturing an extraexterrestrial with caption, "And When They Arrive, They'll Take the Fat Ones First," was denounced by an anti-bullying organization as "offensive." (3) A May bus-stop ad for a San Francisco money lender ("10% Down. Because You're Too Smart to Rent") was derided for "ooz[ing] self-congratulatory privilege." [SF Weekly, 4-19-2016] [BBC News, 4-3-2016] [SFGate.com, 5-24-2016]
Unclear on the Concept
Gainesville, Fla., performance artist Tom Miller planned a public piece in a downtown plaza during May and June as homage to the music composer John Cage’s celebrated “4'33" (which is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of purposeful silence by all musicians who “play” on the piece). Miller said his project would consist of local artists “installing” sculpture at 15-minute intervals for five days--except that the “sculpture” would have to be imagined by observers, as (in the tradition of Cage) nothing otherwise perceptible would be there. [Gainesville Sun, 5-31-2016]
The Continuing Crisis
Tex-ass Justice! Convicted murderer Charles Flores was on Texas’s death row for more than 16 years (until June 2nd of this year) before the state’s highest criminal appeals court finally ruled that the execution might not be justified if the most important evidence was provided by a witness whom the police had hypnotized. The trial judge, and the jury, had accepted that “hypnosis” could lead to “recovered” memory (a popular hypothesis in the 1980s and 1990s but largely discredited today). There was no physical evidence against Flores, and the trial court was ordered to re-think the validity of hypnosis. [Fusion.net, 5-27-2016]
(Government) Crime Scenes: (1) The Massachusetts attorney general disclosed in May that state crime-lab chemist Sonja Farak (who was fired in 2013) worked "high" on drugs "every day" in the lab in Amherst, beginning around 2005. Among her preferred refreshments: meth, ketamine, ecstasy, and LSD. (Farak worked at a different Massachusetts crime lab than Annie Dookhan, imprisoned in 2013 for improvising damaging lab results on at least 20,000 convicts.) (2) The U.S. Justice Department revealed in April that in the 20-year period ending about 2000, most FBI forensic unit examiners overstated hair-sample "matches" in criminal-trial testimony--helping prosecutors 95 percent of the time. [Boston Globe, 5-3-2016] [Washington Post, 4-18-2016]
Robert Williams, 38, was arrested on June 1st in Calhan, Colo., after challenging his daughter to a duel with handguns. Williams had pointed a gun at his daughter, then demanded that she grab one, too. The daughter's age was not reported, but police said she and Williams both got off shots (that missed). [KDVR-TV (Denver), 6-2-2016]
Erick "Pork Chop" Cox, 32, in an angry construction-site clash in DeBary, Fla., in June, used his front-end loader to dump two heaps of dirt onto his boss, Perry Byrd, 57, burying him up to his waist before co-workers intervened. Cox said Byrd had taken the first swing and that he had only accidentally engaged the loader when trying to turn it off, but Byrd claimed that Cox was laughing during the episode. Cox was arrested. [Orlando Sentinel, 6-2-2016]
Least Competent Criminals
Suspected drug possessor Darius Dabney finally confessed after a protracted confrontation with the judge in a Cincinnati courtroom in May--a showdown initiated when the judge noticed an “overwhelming” smell of marijuana accompanying Dabney as he entered the room. Upon extensive questioning (according to a transcript provided by WXIX-TV), Dabney swore that he had no drugs--though the penalty for lying would be immediate arrest but producing the drugs voluntarily would result only in their being confiscated, without charge. One more chance, the exhausted, super-patient judge implored, just to be sure. Dabney then sheepishly pulled out a bag of marijuana. “Finally, you come clean,” said the judge. “Are you sure [now]?” Dabney then pulled out another bag. “Oh, my lord,” said the judge, who still kept his word and added nothing to the one day in jail Dabney was already facing. [WXIX-TV (Cincinnati), 5-12-2016]
In the most recent instance of a landlord ordering a resident to make his home safe for burglars, Kevin Sheehan of Abingdon, England, was told by his housing association in May that he would be evicted unless he removed his above-ground backyard fish pond (and relocated the 80 koi carp and goldfish). The landlord was concerned that if a trespasser jumped the property wall, he could not anticipate that he would land in the pond and might hurt himself. [BBC News, 5-26-2016]
News of the Weird Classic (June 2012)
Chinese media reported that in , at the Xiaogan Middle School in Hubei province, high school students studying for the all-important national college entrance exam worked through the evening while hooked up to intravenous drips of amino acids to fight fatigue. A director of the school's Office of Academic Affairs reasoned that before the IVs were hung, weary students complained of losing too much time running back and forth to the school's infirmary for energy injections. After the media reports, the public backlash was less against China's placing so much importance on the exams and more complaining that the government was subsidizing the cost of those injections. [South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 5-9-2012]
Thanks This Time to David Lawrence, R.Moore, and Dan Bohlen, 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).
Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 19, 2016 -
Now you can turn your cat into a wino and never drink alone again with kitty wine! The ingredients do not include actual alcohol, just catnip, water and beet juice. But considering the company is based in Colorado who knows what kind of weed is in there.
March 1937: A tricked-out payroll satchel foiled would-be robbers. From Newsweek (Apr 3, 1937):
In Harrison, N.J., bandits last week held up a messenger and seized his satchel containing a $2,700 pay roll. They didn't notice their victim pull a wire in the bag's handle as he handed it over. Ten seconds later revolver blanks inside the satchel started exploding and clouds of sulphur smoke belched from holes in the bottom. In terror the gunmen dropped their loot and fled.
Quite ingenious, but seems like it would work only once, since after that everyone would know what the trick was. So how did they protect the payroll subsequently?
(Chuck channels the spirits of his landmark 1980-1996 zine)
June 17, 2016
Won't Someone Please Think of the Disadvantaged? Oh, wait. The porn juggernaut Pornhub.com is audio-ing up some of their stuff . . . to serve the blind! . . . way beyond the "Ooooooo baby! Ooooooo yeah!" to actually having the scenes described (bodies, breast size and shape, degree of erection). Said a Pornhub vice president, "It's our way of giving back." [Huffington Post]
The WeirdUniverse News Quiz: Take a look at the first-pictured mug shot in this story (uncaptioned but one of the 5 perps named in the story). If you are trying to figure out which of the 5 he is, here's a hint--the 5 perps' first and middle names: Antonious Charblye, Dionne Cherrell, Tatarian Stantourn, Rantavious Antenudu, James Leon. [al.com (Birmingham)]
Week before last, God trolled the Apocalypse-predictors again, punking them once more with "codes" in the Bible (this time on June 3rd-4th). [ed. or at least I think the Apocalypse didn't occur. It could just be a glitch in our Computer Simulation] [India Times]
Chuck's Law School: A court in Canberra, Australia, found Wesley King not guilty of burglary despite his DNA being at the crime scene for no good reason. So, DNA at the crime scene . . . found in the fresh caca smears in his underwear and nearby on paper. Wrote Chief Justice Helen Murrell: "There is a reasonable possibility that the burglar was someone else who was wearing unwashed underpants that had previously been worn by the accused." [Australian Broadcasting Corp.]
Cartoonist Roz Chast, a New Yorker, on relocating from the city: "[T]here's no shortage of material for cartoons in Connecticut. It's plenty weird. Did I tell you I recently went to a napkin-folding seminar?" [Wall Street Journal]
The Gubment has a tough job. We have a No-Fly list, which seems like a good thing, even though the Gubment sometimes gets it wrong, but still, you can get off of it with enough evidence of mistake (the news cycle reports the really ridiculous No-Fly errors), but without that evidence, and spittingly demanding your "rights," just sends you to the end of a long line at TSA hdqtrs). However, sometimes TSA knows things and doesn't want you to know (as part of a larger investigation), so you don't get off the list. Last yr, Amir Meshal got "trespassed" from two Mpls-St.Paul mosques by the imams because he was trying to "radicalize" young people. Minnesota gave him long-haul trucking and school-bus licenses but took them back because of the trespassing orders, and TSA put him on the No-Fly list. Problem: Enter the ACLU, on Meshal's side.Hey, he hasn't been convicted! Not even arrested! Stop harassing him! This week, sounds familiar. The Gubment has a tough job. [Fox News]
Back on Monday. [WeirdUniverse.net comments not monitored, but if you find an error of fact, please write WeirdNews at the domain earthlink dot not.]
In 1971, it was widely reported that a girls' high school in Johannesburg, South Africa had banned peanut butter due to a concern that peanuts were a sexual stimulant.
This news, of course, was met with incredulity by the American press, but given the lack of details in the story (the school, for instance, was never named) I suspected it might be an urban legend reported as news. However, in a New Scientist article published two years later (Nov 1, 1973) I was able to find some more information which suggests that the story apparently was true, and that the ban was inspired by local African folk belief about peanuts:
"This command has been traced by local health officials to a traditional taboo among the native tribal population which regarded both peanuts and eggs as sex stimulants and therefore forbade their consumption by the young and unmarried."
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.