"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"A little learning is a dangerous thing"—Alexander Pope
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.
The FBI, charged in 2001 with saving America from impending overrun by terrorists, set out to build a computer system that would at the least allow agents access to whatever is already known by federal and state governments agencies about potential suspects. You won't be surprised to learn that last week Director Mueller said the system is still not ready and won't be ready until 2011 at the earliest. As of 2008, for instance, the Bureau still could not pull up many suspects by ethnicity or religion. Now imagine a unit at Google or Microsoft or Apple telling its bosses in, say, 2005, that a system they had been working on for four years wouldn't be ready for another two years at the earliest. New York Times
Religious grift–er, I mean, preachers Anthony and Harriet Jinwright of Charlotte, N.C., will go on trial next week for tax evasion. The government fears they are conspiring with each other to align their explanations and wants them jailed pre-trial, to keep them apart. The judge acknowledged the problem but declined to jail them. However, he did tell them, Now, Y'all don't be talking to each other. Charlotte Observer
Like many states, Florida is running huge budget deficits–but not so huge that it can't sympathize with yacht-buyers. For them, the state's 6% sales tax is proposed to be capped at $18,000 (the amount due on a $300,000 boat). This bill is touted by its sponsors, of course, not as a gift to the rich but as something that will ease unemployment in the all-important yacht-building industry. Miami Herald
News of the Weird/Pro Edition "You're Still Not Cynical Enough"
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
March 29, 2010
(datelines March 20-March 27) (links correct as of March 29)
A "Red State" Sex Fetish, Plus the Dope Economy, a Chili Pepper Bomb, and Poop Week at Pro Edition
Who's in Charge of Making Up Fetishes?
How are we supposed to keep up with them if we can't imagine how people (well, men) could possibly get off that way? These men go all tingly-toed by ogling a shapely calf and well-turned ankle in sexy stilettos, pumping a gas pedal ("revving," "cranking"). The thrill is supposedly enhanced if the lady is in distress, e.g., trying to start an uncooperative engine. Of course there are chat rooms and videos. The Daily Beast
Bad News for People Who Seem to Prefer Health Care Doled Out by Insurance Companies' Accountants Rather Than the Government
(1) Mr. Houston Tracy, who is insured, has a major medical disorder, but BlueCross BlueShield of Texas said it will not cover it because it was a "pre-existing condition." This is interesting because Houston is now about two weeks old, and it's "pre-existing" only in the sense that it was spotted pre-natally, in the womb. Might the government be more sympathetic to Houston than an insurance company would? Paula Ortel wouldn't think so. (2) Ortel, on Medicare, has a brain tumor that was miraculously wiped out (9 years' remission!) by an experimental kind of interferon that's authorized for multiple sclerosis. Medicare had been paying $100,000 a year for her drug. But then Ortel moved from one county in Wisconsin to another, which triggered an automatic review of her records–and Medicare's realization that her drug was not authorized for brain cancer. The interferon was cut off; the tumor immediately returned; and she now knows she's doomed. KHOU-TV (Houston) /// Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via ABC News
California County Worried About Job Loss, Local Business Downturn
That might describe every county in California, but Humboldt (on the north coast; biggest city: Eureka), is special. "We have to recognize," said the county supervisor, that a "big . . .piece of our economy . . . is subsidized by being illegal," i.e., Humboldt is the marijuana-growing capital of America, and if any of the various legalization initiatives succeeds, dope prices are likely to drop, meaning fewer riches to be spent at Humboldt businesses. [ed. Suggested course of action: Embrace the brand right now, e.g., "Humboldt Weed–American Excellence"]. Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News
I'm Not the Messiah, Said Raj Patel (Oh, Yes, You Are! They Shouted)
Who determines Messiahhood–the alleged Messiah or the followers who breathe heavily at the very mention of his name? British-born food writer Raj Patel went on The Colbert Report, and a few people recognized the arc of his work and biography as matching the prophesies of a Scottish mystic, Benjamin Creme, and the religious cult Share International. "[H]undreds of people" are said to believe Patel is Maitreya, "the teacher." Patel's disavowal was worthless, in that (just as in Monty Python's The Life of Brian) Maitreya prophesied that the real Messiah would disavow. The Guardian (London)
There are plans for a Michael Jackson video game in the works. So, I wonder what the game will be about, perhaps 10 and 12 year old boys being chased by zombies (reference picture above) through an abandoned amusement park. Or maybe just M.J. Guitar Hero.
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.