April 13, 2010
[datelines April 3-April 10; links correct as of April 13]
"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.
A Florida state senator introduced her "Jay Leno bill," to stop promoting middle schoolers to high school if they're as dumb about civics as the people Jay discovers on his "Jaywalking" segments. Inexplicable: why we tolerate that most naturalized citizens know more (because of the citizenship test) than many born-here Americans know. [ed.: Still, even the naturalization test is largely trivia.]Miami Herald
The Government's Gaming Gap: the constantly increasing inability of smart lawmakers to write regulations that smart industry lawyers can't render useless (or worse). Take, for instance, the FTC's recent "fix" of the deceptive (and annoying!) "Free Credit Report" troubadour TV ads. FTC Fix: If you offer free credit reports that come with a catch to them, you must disclose that credit reports are not totally free except at the FTC-authorized AnnualCreditReport.com. Game: Experian's "Free Credit Report" started charging "$1," donated to charity, and thus continues to exploit the catch while avoiding the disclosure. New York Times
A Worse Gaming Gap: Massachusetts's near-universal health-care system's penalties for not buying insurance are much smaller than the cost of any treatment, encouraging people to sign up when they need something and then drop out a few months later). [ed.: A second stimulus program–tax breaks for small businesses to encourage hiring–has been stalled for months, in large part because they can't figure out how to outsmart companies that would've hired without the break and companies that fire temps and then claim the break by hiring replacements.]Boston Globe
Discovered still on the books in California: a 1949 law that requires health officials to seek "cures" for homosexuality. Los Angeles Times
Discovered on the British police's surveillance video network (designed to protection against criminals): up to 14,000,000 cars photographed–and images stored!--every day (including views of the driver and front-seat passenger). The Times
Local governments responding poorly to severely slashed budgets: In Chicago Heights, Ill., a new $200 "crash tax" for any 911 call in which emergency personnel are dispatched, irrespective of circumstances. In Ashtabula County, Ohio, Judge Alfred Mackey, when asked what citizens should do in view of the loss of 63 of the county's 112 deputies (and with many of the remaining force tied up with law-required duties such as prisoner transfers): "Arm themselves. [We]'re going to have to look after each other." Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio is as tough as they come in incarcerating bad guys . . unless the perp has a significant health condition that might require expensive medical care–in which case, miraculously, Joe turns all-"have a nice day" on him. WBBM-TV (Chicago) /// WKYC-TV (Cleveland) /// Courthouse News Service
Editor's Note: Later today, Your Editor will be posting this week's Pro Edition versions, plus more, in a new format (1) on http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com/ and (2) for e-mail delivery to those signed up for Pro Edition at Google Groups. Briefer story summaries, but the overall post is longer, and it will be known as (at least for this week) Good To Know . . .
[Weird 2.0 is a kinda-upmarket rendition of News of the Weird / Pro Edition. No perverts, no drunks, no stupid criminals. Just scary important stuff.]
When I learned that the fabled exploits of Herbie Popnecker were finally going to be reprinted, I rushed to place my order for the first two volumes, and was not dissatisfied.
But somehow, I neglected to order the concluding third volume for almost a year. It arrived this week, bringing more pure comics weirdness. It's hard to convey the essence of Herbie, but just check out the sloppy scan below.
Herbie goes time-traveling to the era of the Pilgrims and meets--Beatnik Indians!
Think of the brain that could conceive of Beatnik Indians--and stand in awe! (Click image to enlarge.)
Twist your ankle? Break up with your boy/girlfriend? Any kind of pain at all, no matter the source, try counting money to ease the discomfort. Experiments done at Carleton School of Management indicate that handling money causes both physical and mental pain to be less acute. Perhaps it is some sort of placebo affect, just thinking you have money makes you feel better, like just thinking you've been given medicine helps with illness. Oh to be a bank teller!
The Daily Mail profiled the British countess who is pushing to legalize drugs (and who has been a practicing trepaner for over 40 years [ed.: She drilled a hole in her head to increase oxygen intake, and therefore creativity], and who talked the Count into it, too). Daily Mail
A parable for our times: David DeVore gave up an Actual Job (real estate) to become an Internet Nothing (making six figures by marketing his David After Dentist YouTube video of his 7-yr-old son [also David] in a goofy daze after a drug-aided tooth removal) (Bonus: $20 T-shirts and other D.A.D. memorabilia are selling in 20 countries). Washington Post
The district attorney in a podunk Wisconsin county formally warned the school board that he'd arrest teachers who follow the state-authorized sex-ed curriculum–because they are contributing to the delinquency of minors. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Intellectually-challenged TV actress Heidi Montag bragged that she has had 10 cosmetic surgeries, including a "back scoop"–something which, when queried, she admitted that she never really knew what it was. [ed.: The procedure's not that bad, but still– . . ..]San Francisco Chronicle /// TheStir.CafeMom.com/ [a surgeon explains]
Fine Points of the Law: Canadian judge John Douglas, rendering a decision: "If [the defendant] was charged with being a colossal asshole, I would find him guilty. Of assault causing bodily harm, I find him not guilty." Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News
An architect in Brazil has come up with a new version of an old idea. A skyscraper structure that supports movable homes. Shaped like trailer homes we see in trailer parks, these rectangular boxes can be moved within the structure or removed to a different site. The designer even touts the idea of taking your own home on vacation to stay in. Check out the pictures, it looks a little like a giant Jenga game to me and we all know what happens at the end of Jenga!
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.