News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M331, August 11, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd
PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: The National Security Agency is a “supercomputing powerhouse,” wrote ProPublica in July, with “machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second”--but apparently they have no ability to bulk-search their own employees’ official e-mails. Thus, ProPublica’s Freedom of Information Act demand for a seemingly simple all-hands search was turned down in July with NSA claiming that the best it could do would be to go one-by-one through the emails of each of the agency’s 30,000 employees--which would be prohibitively expensive. (ProPublica reported that companywide searches are “common” for large corporations, which must respond to judicial subpoenas and provide information for their own internal investigations.) [ProPublica.org, 7-23-2013
PREVIOUSLY: To commemorate its 500th “deep brain stimulation” surgery in May, UCLA Medical Center live-Twittered its operation on musician Brad Carter, 39, during which he was required to strum his guitar and sing so that surgeons would know where in his brain to plant the electrical stimulator that would relieve his Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Carter had developed hand tremors in 2006, but the stimulator, once it is properly programed and the surgery healed, is expected to reduce his symptoms, restore some guitar-playing ability, and reduce his medication need. (And, yes, patients normally remain conscious during the surgery.) [Daily Mail (London), 5-24-2013
Firefighters are not infrequently called on to extricate adventurous men from sex toys, but one “armor-plat[ed]” device, six inches in diameter, into which the 51-year-old German entrapped himself in July in Ibiza, Mallorca, was especially challenging, according to the Diario de Mallorca newspaper, and took two hours and a dose of anesthesia toward the end. The saw blade the emergency workers used wore out during the rescue and had to be replaced, along with two sets of batteries. The man was kept overnight at Can Misses hospital but was otherwise OK. [The Local (Madrid), 7-5-2013
PREVIOUSLY: Americans stage dog shows, and Middle-Easterners stage camel beauty contests, and in June, the annual German Holstein Show took over the city of Oldenburg, with the two-day event won by “Loh Nastygirl,” topping bovine beauties from Germany, Luxembourg, and Austria. The event is also a showcase for the cow hairdressers, who trim cows’ leg and belly hair (to better display their veins). Said one dresser, “It is just like with us people--primping helps.” Groomed or not, cows with powerful legs, bulging udders, and a strong bone structure are the favorites. [The Local (Berlin), 6-14-2013
PREVIOUSLY: Fruit of any kind retails for outlandish prices in Japan, but some, such as Yubari cantaloupes, are so prestigious that they are often presented as gifts to friends or colleagues, and it was only mildly surprising that a pair of the melons sold in May for the equivalent of about $15,700 at auction at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. The melons appeared to be perfect specimens, with their T-shaped stalk still attached. The record melon-pair price, set in 2008, is about $24,500 measured at today’s exchange rate. [Agence France-Presse via Global Post, 5-24-2013
Still Unclear on the Concept: Briar MacLean, 13, of Calgary, Alberta, was reprimanded by school officials in May (and then also lost an appeal) after he stepped between two students because one, holding a knife, was bullying the other. The vice-principal appeared to regard Briar’s action as equal to that of the bully, telling Briar’s mother later that the school does not “condone heroics,” that it was “beside the point” that Briar might well have prevented a slashing (that could have occurred if he had left the boys behind to go find a teacher). [National Post (Toronto), 5-31-2013
Some crime-scene investigative techniques seem far-fetched, as News of the Weird has reported, but police use of “earprints” might be approaching the mainstream. Britain convicted its first burglar based on an earprint in 1998, and in May 2013 investigators in Lyon, France, tied a 28-year-old man from the Republic of Georgia to a string of about 80 burglaries--by taking prints from doors the man had leaned against while listening for activity inside the home. [Expatica.com (Amsterdam), 6-3-2013
First-World Crises: It is not quite to the level of the $15,700 Japanese melons, but the behavior of women descending upon New York City stores in June for the annual “sale” on designer shoes is nonetheless a spectacle. The event makes the city’s upscale commercial district look like “an insane asylum of very well-dressed women,” reported the New York Times. The shoes’ everyday prices require, wrote the Times, “the willful suspension of rational thinking.” The average transaction at Saks Fifth Avenue (39,000 square feet of shoes) is $850, still far below, for example, a pair of wicker-basket-like sandals ($1,995 by Charlotte Olympia) or a certain Christian Louboutin pump ($1,595--$4,645 if in crocodile). Prices are so unhinged, according to the Times, that standards from the iconic “Sex and the City” designer Manolo Blahnik are now price leaders, holding at about $595. [New York Times, 6-19-2013
Among the oldest classic stories in News of the Weird is of the hapless burglar or bank robber who inadvertently incriminates himself at the scene of the crime. Recently, (1) Korey Harris, a defensive lineman for West Virginia University’s football team, was arrested in July for a home invasion he allegedly committed while wearing his practice sweatpants with his jersey number (“96") emblazoned. (2) Police in Boston are confident that Zachary Tentoni is the man who robbed a woman in the yard of Harbor Middle School in June because, as he grabbed her purse and fled, he dropped two bags he was carrying. Among the contents: Tentoni’s birth certificate and a letter from his mother. [Yahoo News, 7-22-2013
] [Boston Globe, 6-25-2013
Zero-Tolerance Alive and Well: Second-grader Josh Welch’s two-day suspension in March was upheld on appeal in June by Park Elementary School officials of Anne Arundel County, Md., even though his offense was that he had nibbled a pastry into the shape of a gun, which he then waved around. Said Josh’s attorney, “If this [school system] can’t educate a 7-year-old without putting him out of school, how are they going to deal with 17-year-olds?” [Baltimore Sun, 6-10-2013
PREVIOUSLY: It took a year and a half of legal wrangling over a technicality, but Marshall University was finally dropped in June as one of the defendants in Louis Helmburg III’s lawsuit for his injuries when fellow party-goer Travis Hughes shot bottle rockets out of his posterior in 2011. Helmburg, some will recall, was so startled by Hughes’s stunt that he fell off the rail-less deck at a fraternity party staged by Alpha Tau Omega of Marshall University. Hughes and the fraternity remain as defendants in the January 2012 lawsuit. [West Virginia Record (Charleston), 6-12-2013
The Mexican economy has improved markedly since News of the Weird first mentioned the EcoAlberto theme park in the central state of Hidalgo in 2005, which offers an attraction simulating the rigors of border-jumping. In 2005, it was thought that many of the attendees were using the setup to improve their chances of sneaking into the U.S., but now park officials believe nearly all are being discouraged, with the improving economy (and stepped-up U.S. enforcement) helping. The ordeal is played out as a three-hour game, with “U.S. Border Patrol” agents using sirens, dogs, and verbal threats, and chasing the players into the night. [PBS.org, 6-24-2013
Final Chapter for America’s Most Overconfident Murderer: Anthony Garcia, 25, was convicted in July for a 2004 murder he had apparently gotten away with. He had been subsequently arrested in 2008 for driving on a suspended license, and a cold-case Los Angeles detective, perusing arrest reports, noticed Garcia’s unusual chest tattoo, which depicted a scene that reminded the detective of the crime scene in the cold-case murder, with Garcia (street name, “Chopper”) having labeled himself as the shooter. Garcia, previously home-free, was arrested in his cell and now faces life in prison. [ABC News via KERO-TV (Bakersfield, Calif.), 7-18-2013
Thanks This Week to Annie Thames, Hallie Webb, Sam Scrutchins, Brenda Myers, Lynne Adams, and Storm Sermay, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
* * * * *
http://www.WeirdUniverse.net, WeirdNews at earthlink dot net, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679.
In 1709, the German legal scholar Dr. Heinrich Klüver published the following important work (which, amazingly, is available in its entirety on Google books): Kurtzes Bedencken über die juristische Frage: Ob eine schwangere Frau wenn sie wärender Reise auf dem Wagen eines Kindes genesen, für selbiges Fuhr-Lohn zu geben gehalten sey?
Translation: Brief consideration of the judicial question: whether a pregnant woman, bearing a child while traveling in a stagecoach, is obliged to pay a fare for it or not.
Substitute Greyhound bus for stagecoach, and you have a question still relevant for present-day weird news scenarios.
Dr. Klüver's answer was: No, the woman doesn't have to pay an extra fare for the newly arrived baby.
His reasoning was that: 1) the baby wouldn't take up an extra seat if the mother held it in her lap.
And 2) The driver must have seen that the woman was pregnant when she boarded the coach, so he should have been aware of the possibility of her giving birth and charged her extra at that time, if he felt it was necessary.
I don't know why stuff blowing up is so fascinating, but this Russian (?) video shows how curious people stick around to watch. Someone said there are 39 explosions, but I didn't count. There are some strange video game sounding alarms, too!!
The translator for Google says this video is titled "Explosion gazelle with a canister on the Ring Road".
Spoiler alert! At about 7:05 we get a clue about what is blowing up. Maybe propane tanks?
UPDATE from tadchem!!
Great pre-explosion footage from inside one of the cars on the same road. This guy pulls over for the speeding truck, but I can't figure out what the truck hits.
At least this guy is smart enough to start backing up!!
Rich tells us in the comments that the "Gazelle" in the title refers to the type of truck. Gotta love WUvies!!
This video and others from Russia make me wonder if all cars are equipped with cameras? Might not be a bad idea -- where can I get one?