"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, July 18, 64 A.D.
March 2, 2010
(datelines February 20-February 27) (links correct as of March 2)
Homeland Security's cheerleader captain, Janet Napolitano, loves the "E-Verify" system that, lickety-split, tells an employer whether a worker's social security number is valid. Said she, "E-Verify is absolutely where we're going" in security. Problem: 54% are false positives, in that the SSN was real but had been stolen. Associated Press via Yahoo News
FEMA continued to do a heckuva job even after Hurricane Katrina. For instance, it needed a facility in Brentwood, Tenn. Guys with flashlights drove around the Nashville area, inspected a property without electricity, with an intermittently-operating boiler, and without potable water. Deal! $122,000 rent for three months. Quickly, worker sick leave became a problem because of sewage leaks and chemical contamination, so they had it repaired (adding $607,000 in expenses). That's all according to Homeland Security's inspector general (but FEMA blamed it all on the General Services Administration). Politico.com
Last August, "compassionate" Scotland's officials released the Lockerbie bomber, terminally ill, so he could pass his last days at home in Libya. Now, his "three months to live" are six and counting, and he's pretty comfortable, according to this report. Daily Telegraph
The National Security Agency, checking out the computer system of the Secret Service, found it worked at a lightning-like "60 percent" capacity, with a 1980s-style mainframe. It'll cost $187 million to update, and Homeland Security has allocated a whole $33 million. ABC News
Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that schools are not to require gender-specific clothing styles, such as making younger girls wear skirts. That's because of the few kids who have decided already that they're transgenders and thus might be made to feel uneasy. We can't have uneasiness. The Times
Yes, once there was a dance (or game, or contest) stupider than the macarena: the limbo. An excuse for uptight suburbanites to get loose. And, in 1961, Wham-O made a kit to facilitate doing the limbo. Read about it here.
It’s an old excuse, whenever a man is caught eyeing-up another woman by his partner we’ll often claim that it’s not our fault, it’s just the way we’re wired. Well not according to neuroscientists at Gwinnett College in Georgia. Researchers there monitored the brain activity of 14 men while showing them pictures of women’s behinds taken before and after surgery designed to give them Beyonce like curves. The scans showed ‘reward areas’ of the men’s brains more commonly associated with drugs or alcohol lit up more in response to the redesigned rumps. In other words, we do it because we like it (Orange).
But if what most attracts men is a great set of lady bumps, what would top women’s list of desirable traits in their perfect man? That’s what online matchmakers UKDating wanted to know, so they analysed the responses of 83,000 lovelorn women to find the top ten most wanted male characteristics. And number one was… a salary over £50k ($75k). Bizarrely, being good looking came in at number 9, just above being 5’11” tall and five places below owning an Audi TT. But do girls really only like cars and money, or does this finding perhaps explain why these particular girls had to resort to a dating service in the first place (News:Lite)?
The economics of relationships also features in the new book from Karyn Langhorne Folan. In Don’t Bring Home A White Boy, Folan describes today’s black women as being stuck in “market failure”, with college educated black women outnumbering their male counterparts by 3 to 1. This severely restricts the women’s options unless they look outside their own race. “In this case, we are the commodity and the new market is men of other races,” states Foley, who is herself a Harvard-educated lawyer, “it’s Econ 101 for the single, educated black woman” (STL Today).
Mind you, women aren’t always a commodity, sometimes they’re the consumer. At least that’s what Cuban cigar maker Habanos is hoping. In an effort to boost sales in a market hit hard by anti-smoking legislation the world-over, Habanos have produced what they’re billing as the first Cuban cigar specifically for female smokers. Their new Julieta brand is smaller and milder in hopes of being more appealing to women, but still manages to keep that phallic edge to its image (Sky News).
News of the Weird/Pro Edition "You're Still Not Cynical Enough"
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines February 20-February 27) (links correct as of March 1)
Wrong Place Right Time, Plus a Tanned Pig, a Gassed Thief, and God Bless My Huge, Naked Body
Told Ya! Ya Wouldn't Listen!
Mr. Koua Fong Lee, serving 8 years for vehicular homicide in Minnesota, may have a reprieve. He told us all along that his Camry had accelerated all by itself—that it was impossible to stop it from killing those three people. Actually, he was driving an unrecalled 1996 model, but he's in play if the problem is cruise-control electronics. Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle
Truly . . Only in America
The saga of the most calamitous split-second glimpse of areola in the history of the world continues. The U.S. Court of Appeals, acting on Supreme Court instructions, agreed to formally reconsider its 2008 decision to reject the FCC's half-million-dollar fine against CBS for the Janet Jackson episode at the 2004 Super Bowl. 2004! (Then, back to the Supreme Court? Then . . .?) Bloomberg News via Business Week /// Not Safe For Work Original Video
Tex-ass Justice: End-Running the U.S. Supreme Court
If you're on trial, and your prosecutor is secretly banging your judge, that might be important. Charles Dean Hood, who ultimately got the death penalty, tried to prove such an affair for over 15 years, but the small town kept it quiet. Finally, in 2008, the judge confessed. Hood asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to at least take the death penalty off the table, but the most-defendant-unfriendly tribunal in America ruled that Hood had "waited" too long to raise the issue. He "waited"? With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to take the case, the Texas court re-thought it and came up with an altogether-different (though overrated) justification for removing Hood from death row. SCOTUS may still take the case, though. New York Times
From time to time, a reporter discovers that a few old-line nudist camps conduct on-premise church services on Sunday mornings (something about how God didn't make you born wearing clothes). Here's a TV news report from the White Tail Resort (near Petersburg, Va.). [Ed.: No money shots, but still probably not safe for work, and definitely not aesthetically safe.]WVEC-TV (Virginia Beach)
Did a Certain Ex-Governor Get an Abortion Before Conceiving Trig?
Virginia state Delegate Bob Marshall, speaking at an anti-Planned Parenthood photo-op, helpfully informed us that kids "born . . . with handicaps" are God's revenge for an earlier abortion. Richmond News Leader
Professor Dooley of New South Wales University in Sydney, Australia has come up with a formula for the optimum age for a man to propose marriage. Just plug your numbers into the above formula and calculate yourself right on into marital bliss!
Posted By: patty - Sun Feb 28, 2010 -
In celebration of my recent minor literary milestone, I have decided to share a bit of weirdness from one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett. For those of you familiar with the Discworld series, I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. The very first novel in the Discworld series, which takes place on the back of a giant turtle floating through space, was made into a live action movie. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the official trailer to 'Colour of Magic.'
Posted By: MohawkWarrior - Sat Feb 27, 2010 -
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.