August 31, 2009
News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 31, 2009 (news from August 22-29)
: Yr Editor will not publish Pro Edition next week (but will return Sept. 14) (and the standard News of the Weird column never skips a week). This will not be a "vacation." I will be working furiously, shaping up yet another attempt to glide this News of the Weird franchise into the digital age. The task is frustrating, but let's face it: After all these years, and despite a stellar résumé and two professional degrees, I'm no longer qualified for anything except
News of the Weird.]
Update: Looking More 'n' More Like Texas Executed a Slam-Dunk-Innocent Man
Cameron Todd Willingham got the needle in 2004 after jurors believed the expert who told them that the 1991 fire that killed his 3 babies just had to be arson. In the years since, a parade of prominent national fire scientists (the latest, last week), re-examining the evidence, have concluded that the Texas fire warden was fulla crap, that the fire was an accident. Sorry 'bout that, Cameron. (Fire marshals are not nearly the only Texas forensic "experts" to be found fulla crap.) Austin America-Statesman
"Yo, yo, yo, Shalom, y'all. 'Sup?"
Stand-up comic Sunda Croonquist (a black-Swede mix) married into a Jewish family in New Jersey and naturally started to weave the family circus into her act. Funny at first. No longer, they said. Ruth Zafrin and her daughter and son-in-law have actually filed a lawsuit against Sunda for defamation. [You're right; there're no lawsuits
in comedy!] Associated Press via ABC News
British Kids Can Legally Buy Porn for the Next 3 Months . . .
Seriously. The gov't forgot to include its 1984 child-porn regs on the list of laws it filed with the European Commission, and a Fine Point of the law means the statute can't be enforced until the EC has been "consulted" about it for 3 months. Reuters
Don't Say Yr Editor Never Publishes Good News
A study of scans on 16- to 19-yr-olds revealed that marijuana use actually reduces the brain damage normally done by binge-drinking. (On the other hand, the researchers were all from UC San Diego, and results on non-California dope-users may differ.) KTVU
Update: The Rubber Room
Quick, now, which is the primary function of the school system? (a) that every child gets diligently-applied educational opportunities or (b) that every teacher gets diligently-applied due process from a 100-page, single-spaced union contract? You say (a)? ROTFL! The New Yorker
checks in this week on the topic (addressed in NOTW a coupla times). It costs New York City more than $40m/yr to keep 600 teachers accused of terminable misconduct or incompetence on full salary awaiting hearings that by contract take 2 to 5 yrs to schedule and then typically last longer than capital-murder trials, plus $60m/yr more for 1,000 others whose schools closed but whom no other principal wants. The 600 "rubber-roomers" clock in every day and sit around getting even more pissed off (comparing themselves to Gitmo detainees). Their favorite victim phrase is "performance evaluations," as in "We don't need any." Said one rubber-roomer, "We can tell [by ourselves] if we're doing our jobs." The New Yorker
More in extended >>
August 30, 2009
August 29, 2009
Ernie Chambers, a Nebraska State Senator for 38 years, has an interesting new hobby. Twice in the last two years he has sued God. He apparently wants a court injunction against God for the death, destruction and terrorisation of all of the inhabitants of earth. I guess he's not concerned about what God does to inhabitants of other planets. He says the suit is just to highlight the fact that anybody can sue anybody. I thought we were all aware of that, but maybe not. I'm wondering how Senator Chambers is going to do in the next election. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7673591.stm
August 28, 2009
In the future, all people will smell this way! Well maybe not, but design house Genki Wear
has launched three Star Trek
themed scents for the trekkie who has everything, including B.O.
For the men there's a choice of Tiberius
or Red Shirt
. The former refers to the "T" of James T. Kirk, and presumably makes you smell like a womanising maverick. The latter an allusion to the numerous expendable extras from the original series; though why smelling like someone with a life expectancy of minutes is supposed to be a turn on is not explained. For the women there's Pon Farr
, named for the stage of a Vulcan's life where their emotions come to the surface and they become both aggressive and sexually receptive. Fortunately for Earthwomen (and their partners) the pointy ears and domestic violence are optional, and staging fights to the death with gardening implements
is not advised.
All three fragrances are available to buy from Genki Wear at $29.99 each.
(Images from social shopping network Kaboodle
August 27, 2009
Zhang Tingting has long wanted to cut off her metre long braid of hair but never could, because she used it to tow cars and buses as part of her popular kung-fu performances. But now she and her herculean hair have parted company forever as she has shaved her head and become a Buddhist nun. Tingting, now 52, has been practising martial arts since she was 17 (so was getting quite good), but is happy to have stopped performing her act at last. But for her hair at least, the show will go on as local authorities are deciding whether to exhibit the plait locally or send it on tour around Tibet. And so no-one will try to mess with this baddest Buddhist, Zhang has decided to change her name, henceforth she'll be known as Nun Chuck (Reuters
Okay, I made that last bit up, but here's something you just couldn't make up. In an effort to fill a $31 billion
budget deficit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is turning to eBay and CraigsList in an effort to drum up some quick cash. Schwarzenegger hopes to sell off some six thousand
surplus items, many autographed by the Governator himself (ABC-AU
In an effort to avoid border officers, cocaine smugglers resorted to two very unusual drugs mules, live turkeys. The turkeys had been cut open and 28 capsules of the drug had been hidden inside their insides. Unfortunately the crooks' greed was their undoing, the birds' stomachs were so bloated that the cops looked a little closer, and on finding a seam under the feathers, the birds were taken to a vet and opened up (STV
Uninhibited guests at Manhattan's Standard Hotel are using the building's design, specifically its full length windows, to give unsuspecting passers-by everything from a quick flash to an extended sex-show or, in one case, topless trampolining. Some pedestrians even claim to have seen a porn film being shot. Now the hotel, which once asked guests to share their intimate photos and advertised that those same windows “weren't just for the views”, says it will remind guest of their transparency (Daily Mail
More in extended >>
Even the briefest of glances through the news sites today turned up fruitloopy in such abundance that one post could not do justice to the weird output. So here then is just the first half what may well be the single weirdest day in WU history.
Visitors to London’s Science Museum had a chance to make their own gift items when a 3D laser printer made appearance this week. The printer, which uses a powerful laser to melt powdered metal or plastic, builds its objects out of hundreds of thin layers, creating the final three dimensional object at a cracking 15mm/hour (Silicon.com
Among the many maps in a new display at Manchester University, England is a testament to the seriousness of the Cold War in Europe. It’s a map of Manchester in Russian, prepared by the Red Army, and details routes to the main objectives of an anticipated invasion, which areas best avoided by tanks, what loads roads and bridges would withstand, etc (Mirror
A tip of the hat is due to Florentijn Hofman for having escaped the attentions of WU for so long, despite his long running art project to launch giant rubber ducks in the harbours and waterways of the world (Florentijn Hofman
Canadian billionaire founder of Cirque du Soliel is promising to bring a “comic touch” to his visit to the International Space Station. While I’m not sure a tin can surrounded by endless vacuum is exactly the best place to clown around, it does go to show that space tourism to the ISS has not yet gone beyond a joke (AFP
More in extended >>
It is surprising to think that less than fifteen years ago we knew of no planets but those in our own solar system. Now astronomers discover them with such frequency that it takes finding a potentially habitable one like Gliese-581d
to stir the public’s interest. But a British team at the Isaac Newton Telescope on the Canary Islands may have done something much more amazing than finding another planet in the Milky Way, they believe they may have just detected one in another galaxy. The object orbits a star in the Andromeda galaxy, more than 2.5 million light-years away from Earth, causing that star to wobble. Normally any motion would be invisible at such a distance, but by chance the distant solar system is acting like a lens in front of even more distant stars, and every wobble of the lens is magnified enough to be discernable (Scientific American
Closer to home, relatively, is the planet is known only as WASP-18b, but if it were ever to be given a proper name it would be “Icarus”, for this is a planet that has flown too close to its sun. WASP-18b is the 375th extrasolar planet discovered by astronomers, and is possibly the most extreme one yet. It is another gas giant like Jupiter, but ten times the size of our neighbourhood giant, yet it orbits its star in less than a day. This 22.5 hour long “year” would mean the planet is so close to its sun, and moving so fast, that tidal forces are almost certainly dragging the planet inwards to its doom. The team from Keele University that discovered WASP-18b, led by Coel Hellier, calculate that realistically the planet probably has less than a million years left (Nature
More in extended >>
August 26, 2009
In South Carolina a man was shooting at dragonflies in the woods near a hunting club. His friend crossed in front of him and got shot in the head. The friend was conscious and able to tell the police it was an accident before being taken to the hospital for treatment. Which is possibly why no names were released. Or maybe an ex-politician made the same mistake twice?? http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?Man_misses_dragonfly,_shoots_friend&in_article_id=726005&in_page_id=2
Think of every mother-in-law joke you've ever heard and Sunda Croonquist story is worse. As a comedian she has been making in-law jokes for fifteen years. There's plenty for her to work with as she's African-American and Swedish and her husband is Jewish. Up until recently her husband's family enjoyed her humor good naturedly, then she put up a web site that included references to the in-laws. References that the family now says makes it easy to figure out their identities. The family is suing her for monetary damages, amount unknown, and demanding she remove the offensive language from her routine and recordings of it and her web site. Croonquist is willing to change her routine and web site so as not to upset the family but bulks at a monetary settlement. Bonus: her husband's law firm is representing her. http://www.wftv.com/entertainment/20549398/detail.html
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