News of the Weird/Pro Edition "You're Still Not Cynical Enough"
Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
June 14, 2010
(datelines June 5-June 12) (links correct as of June 14)
Voodoo Economics, Plus World Cup Voodoo, Breast-Feeding Voodoo, and Los Angeles Dodger Voodoo
★ ★ ★ ★ ★!
RIAA on Law . . and Economics: Not many people [ed.: thank goodness!] earnestly believe that artists should lose control of their work just by presenting it. Thus, the Freddy-Krueger-like Recording Industry Association of America usually does well in court. Its number-crunching, though, tends to the cartoonish. In a notorious 2009 case, the hapless mother Jammie Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay RIAA $1.92 million for downloading 24 copyrighted songs (later reduced to $54,000). Now, RIAA is going for the gold against the LimeWire peer-to-peer file-sharing service, figuring that LW software has facilitated at least 200 million illegal downloads, and that at the bargain-basement estimate of just $750 per song (a generous 67% markdown from the final price Jammie was charged), RIAA is still due $1.5 trillion. (RIAA's fallback position: LimeWire goes belly-up, and we pick the bones.) (Bonus: For even screwier economics, see the page from Cracked.com regarding RIAA's 2008 lawsuit filing against the less-genteel file-sharing service The Pirate Bay.) Hollywood Reporter /// Cracked.com
Thank Goodness for Rich People's Divorces! So much great weirdness turns up in court filings! We learned last week, for instance, that the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Frank McCourt and his estranged Jamie) have had a Russian psychic healer on the payroll since at least 2008 to help the team. According to Jamie's attorney, Vladimir Shpunt made less than Manny Ramirez but more than the players' minimum. Los Angeles Times
We Make 'Em Naive in the F State: Was Florida teen Kayla Manson, 13, honestly so clueless that she had no idea her that that boy over there would savagely beat up her gal pal? Over a text message? Well, on the Today show last week, she was so clueless that she quoted the C-word (twice) when Meredith Veiera asked what was in the text. Veiera: "[Kayla] didn't know there are certain words you can't say on television." MSNBC
Netherlands Solves Female Unemployment: The common sense solution, according to three local government councils in northern dutchlandia, is to publicize commercial dating services that introduce unemployed single women to (employed) single men! Voilà! The Times (London)
It's Not All Bad News: Stanford undergrad Daniel Jacobson, working only for class credit, submitted what experts believe is a credible, professional, detailed, top-to-bottom working plan for a 2½-mile streetcar line through downtown Oakland, Calif., that would create more than 20,000 jobs. Took him 9 months (because, after all, he had other courses). Total cost of the study and plan: a $1,275 grant from Stanford (and he had $288 left over!). Amount Oakland paid in 2005 for a "feasibility" study for about the same thing: $300,000 (which produced nothing and was back on the drawing board this year–for a new $300,000, of course). San Francisco Chronicle
Close Enough for Government Work?: OK, ya got your almost-regulation-free Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling, and ya got your almost-regulation-free Wall Street casino-trading, but also: (1) The FBI set up the (Natalee Holloway) Aruban murder suspect with $25,000 for a sting, but dawdled 24 hours on the arrest, during which time he fled the country and killed yet another young woman. (2) Only after U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar gnawed their ankles for two years did the Army finally reverse itself and OK a $50,000 insurance payment for a soldier who got his leg blown off in Iraq (delayed because the Army "couldn't" come up with "consistent" medical "criteria") (and therefore the proper governmental course is to stand down and await divine inspiration). (3) National Public Radio and ProPublica found 115,000 troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were diagnosable with "mild traumatic brain injuries" but were being ignored–similarly because the Pentagon just "couldn't" decide on the proper "criteria" for diagnosis and thus just let the whole mess lie there. The Smoking Gun /// Star Tribune (Minneapolis) /// ProPublica
The tiny kitten, born Wednesday in Charelston , WVa, has a birth defect known as diprosopus. The kitten was abandoned by its mother and the owner brought it to the vet. The vet believes the kitty has an esophagus from each mouth to a common stomach. With a 50/50 prognosis we can only keep our fingers crossed for the little baby. The anonymous owner intends to keep the kitten if it survives.
Posted By: patty - Sun Jun 13, 2010 -
A neighborhood in Destin, Florida had some excitement Tuesday evening. Two people inspecting an empty house were overcome with breathing difficulties and burning eyes while in the residence. They called emergency services and a Hazmat team was deployed. People attempting to go home to the neighborhood were denied access and people in the homes were being asked to evacuate. Then the Hazmat team found the cause of the noxious fumes, a large barrel with a five gallon container of spoiled mayonnaise in it, courtesy of the last occupants. Maybe they were outed by foreclosure.
Posted By: patty - Sat Jun 12, 2010 -
The FAA has a program called NextGen Initiative which is planning ways to update the aviation infrastructure. One of the cutting edge ideas is to eventually have planes that fly themselves, no pilot required. It will be a while coming, but we are headed that way. Reason number 3,952 I'm glad I don't travel by air.
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.