News of the Weird (February 16, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M358, February 16, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

The semi-obscure Florida Statute 790.15 took center stage in January following a Miami Herald report of a resident of the town of Big Pine Key who routinely target-shoots his handgun in his yard, with impunity, to the consternation of neighbors. The statute permits open-firing on private property (except shooting over a public right of way or an occupied dwelling), and several cities have tried, unsuccessfully, to restrict that right, citing “public safety” in residential neighborhoods. (A 2011 lobbying campaign by the National Rifle Association, and a state supreme court decision, nixed any change in the law.) “Negligent” shooting is illegal but only a misdemeanor. Thus, even skillful shooting next door to a daycare center or in a small yard that abuts a high-trafficked pedestrian street is likely perfectly legal. One Florida legislator who was originally from Alaska noted that even in Anchorage people cannot fire at will in their yards. [Miami Herald, 1-26-2014]

Cultural Diversity

South Korea is a well-known hub for cosmetic beautification surgery, with a higher rate, per capita, than the U.S., but the procedures can be expensive, inspiring many young women recently to resort to do-it-yourself procedures for their professional and romantic upgrades. A December Global Post dispatch noted that some might try to force their eyes to stay open without blinking (using a novel $20 pair of glasses for hours on end) as a substitute for costly “double-eyelid” surgery. Also in use: a $6 jaw-squeezing roller device for the face to push the jaw line into a fashionable “oval” form. One teen told the reporter she applies an imaginative contraption to her face for hours a day, to pressure her nose into more of a point, which is considered a desirable Western look. [Global Post (Boston) via Denver Post, 12-19-2013]

Acquired Tastes: (1) In December, thieves in Wicklow, Ireland, raided a field at the Dominican Farm and Ecology Center, stripping it of its entire run of Brussels sprouts. A relative of the owner said the family was devastated to miss out on the lucrative market for high-end Christmas dinners. (2) In January, Walmart in China recalled its “Five Spice” donkey meat sold in some locations because the popular snack was found to be tainted--with fox meat. [Irish Independent, 12-5-2013] [Reuters, 1-2-2014]

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: Labor’s Influence in France: The French social security agency URSSAF initiated an enforcement action in December against the Mamm-Kounifl music-bar in the town of Locmiquelic for underpaying employee contributions--in that the tavern encourages customers to bus their own tables and thus reduces its need to hire more servers. The owner denied he was trying to save money. “It’s [just] our trademark. We want the customer to feel comfortable, a bit like he’s at home.” [The Local (Paris), 12-18-2013]

Questionable Judgments

Interesting Life Ahead: From the birth register of Elkhart (Ind.) General Hospital, reported by The Elkhart Truth, January 19, 2014: “Tamekia Burks, Elkhart, son (named La’Soulja Major La’Pimp Burks, 6 lbs., 8 oz.), 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, January 15, 2014.” [Elkhart Truth, 1-19-2014]

The makers of a product called Poo-Pourri garnered a “coveted” advertising award from USA Today in December as one of the five worst of the year. Toilet users concerned about smell are encouraged to spray Poo-Pourri on the commode, pre-use, and in the television ad, a British-accented female sits on the throne, extolling the product. Opening line: “You would not believe the mother lode I just dropped.” (Nonetheless, USA Today still found two other ads that upset its editors more.) [USA Today, 12-24-2013]

The Continuing Crisis

The Power of Prayer: Nelson Thabo Modupe threatened a lawsuit in January against South Africa’s Eskom electric utility, unless the company paid him the equivalent of about $2.3 million for “saving” the firm that amount during the weeks of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Modupe reasoned that he had joined the Zion Christian Church just before the event and had prayed (“successfully”) to God to spare the utility from blackouts and power reductions during that period (which would have cost Eskom millions more). Modupe, open to negotiation, said he would accept a partnership in the company as a compromise. [Independent Online (Capt Town), 1-24-2014]

PREVIOUSLY: World’s Laziest Dog-Sitter: Tyler Smith, 23, was charged in December with violating the city animal care ordinance in Greenville, S.C., after he posted a photograph on Facebook of his father’s dog being lowered by rope from the second-story balcony of an apartment. According to Smith’s post, it was time for the dog to make a call of nature, but it was raining, and Smith preferred not to go downstairs with him. [Associated Press via Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.), 12-17-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: Three million Americans are infected with Hepatitis C (as are millions more overseas), but a very recent drug, Sovaldi, completely cures it with 84 daily doses. However, its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, has somehow determined that a fair U.S. price for the drug should be $1,000 per pill ($84,000 for the total treatment). Shouldn’t Gilead reduce the price once it has recouped its expensive investment, asked an NPR reporter in December? “That’s very unlikely we would do that,” said Gilead’s Gregg Alton, “but I appreciate the thought.” (According to NPR, Gilead “developed” Sovaldi merely by buying Sovaldi’s actual developer for $11 billion. At $84,000 income per patient, Gilead would “recoup” that investment from the first 150,000 customers, leaving 2.85 million more U.S. patients to pay $84,000 each, for income of $209 billion.) [NPR, 12-30-2013]

People With Issues

Trevor Robinson, 67, of Skellingthorpe, England, was re-arrested in November for violating a previous Anti-Social Behavior Order by pushing a doll-carrying baby carriage in public. (He was also reportedly performing a sex act on himself.) The 2009 ASBO barred him from possessing dolls, baby carriages, and “any other” means in which children might be transported. Robinson has admitted a problem with dolls--due, he said, to his inability to father children himself. [Lincolnshire Echo, 1-24-2014]

Least Competent Criminals

It Pays to Know Your Rap Sheet: Jerry Pancoast, 42, was arrested on at least four charges after a high-speed chase through Iowa’s Polk and Jasper counties in January following an alleged shoplifting of tweezers and an eyebrow pencil--not even taken by Pancoast but by his companion. Pancoast drove at 100 mph, even on deflated tires and three rims that eventually caused his truck to catch on fire. The episode started as “a simple theft-theft case,” said the arresting officer, until Pancoast abruptly took off. He later explained that he panicked because he knew there were already arrest warrants against him--but a subsequent search turned up none. [Des Moines Register, 1-24-2014]

Recurring Themes

Stories That Never Get Old: (1) PREVIOUSLY: Following the early-January winter storm in East Kingston, N.H., emergency crews came to the aid of a 12-year-old girl who had a “what would happen” moment and tried to lick a metal flagpole in her front yard. (2) Police in the Los Angeles suburb of Harbor City were searching in February for the man suspected of stealing surveillance cameras from a home but not before he apparently failed to distinguish between the lenses (which he took with him) and the recording unit (which remained in the home and captured his face clearly as he removed the camera). [WMUR-TV (Manchester), 1-4-2014] [KNBC-TV, 1-24-2014]

A News of the Weird Classic (November 2010)

Can’t Possibly Be True: Kyle Johnson shattered his skull so badly in a high-speed longboard accident in June [2010] that ordinary "decompressive craniectomy" (temporarily removing half of the skull to relieve pressure) would be inadequate. Instead, doctors at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah, removed both halves, leaving only a thin strip of bone (after placing Johnson in a drug-induced coma) and kept the skull frozen to prevent brittleness. After the swelling subsided, they reattached both halves of the skull to his head and woke him up gradually over a week's time. Johnson admits some memory problems and cognitive dysfunction, most notably his inability to focus on more than one concept at a time--even when they are part of the same scene, such as two crayons on a table. Johnson said he probably won't go back to the longboard (but would try snowmobiling). [Fox News, 8-17-2010]

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Feb 16, 2014

Statute 790.15 But, what were the proposed changes coming out of Tallahassee?

South Korea Flags & bags work wonders in the facial department and don't hurt near as much.

Brussels Sprouts I've always liked them. Way better than liver!

Donkey Meat I'm 99% sure they used to serve at least one part of those critters to us in the Navy.

Elkhart, Ind. And, this ain't the only weird one!

Nelson Thabo Modupe I pray he wins & gives me half.

Trevor Robinson He needs to move to Japan.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/16/14 at 10:04 AM
Target shooting- That's extreme even for Florida. Wonder if the same is true in Texas.

The Brussel Sprouts Caper- Psst. Over here, I got some prime veggies for ya...

China- Hey, you got fox in my donkey meat! You got donkey in my fox meat! Two disgusting tastes that taste disgusting together!

names- The kids today think bizarre is unique. Between that and their inability to spell (thanx txting) baby names are becoming a nightmare, especially for the poor babies.

prayer- Prayer is a big money maker. This guy just has an original approach that does not include scamming little old ladies into poverty.

$84,000- They made a cure and released it?? No wonder they are charging so much, most drug companies won't release a drug unless it only treats the symptoms AS LONG AS YOU KEEP TAKING IT FOREVER. The whole thing is shameful and is the reason healthcare is crazy expensive.

dolls- The guy is creepy to the max and public masturbation is illegal so get him for that. If he uses the props to lure children then get him for THAT. But making it a crime for him to possess dolls? A bit over the top.

skull fracture- Rescued from earning his Darwin Award. He gets a second chance at screwing up the gene pool now.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/16/14 at 11:26 AM
Lead Story: I like to shoot old low power pellet rifles and pistols inside my garage at targets with a backstop. It harms nobody and also causes little if any noise others have to put up with. If I want to shoot real bullets I will go to the Sheriff range or a paid shooting range.
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 02/16/14 at 04:36 PM
P.S. Last time Patty was here she way out-shot her subby. :zip: :gulp:
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 02/16/14 at 04:48 PM
The 'high cost of drugs' is a recurring theme in NoTW - in this case the $84k cost vs. the cost of repeated hospitalization and early death seems a relative bargain. I'd recommend the following article from MIT technology review to help you understand why drug costs are so high:
Posted by Irene on 02/17/14 at 09:56 AM
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/17/14 at 03:02 PM
Florida has many strange laws. Stand your ground and the gun range in your yard. The moron state is fully controlled by the NRA. Kids with guns going off in schools, quick draw contests,show downs and shootings over sale items in Wal-Mart. Home-boys blowing off sex organs while grabbing their privates. Grandmothers blasting leg pissing poodles.
I can't wait till the state passes a open carry law and requires every homeowner own a assault rifle. Then the funeral home lobby will be very happy. At times I would feel safer in Lebanon or Syria.
Posted by Gator Guy on 02/17/14 at 09:07 PM
@Gator Guy: You need to move to Chicago where they have some SERIOUS gun laws.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/17/14 at 11:52 PM
Florida: *shakes head*. Ah well, the only thing they'll kill is Floridians.

Sprouts: love them. They need to be cooked properly, though - the standard English (and presumably Colonial) method of boiling them to a pulp does, indeed, produce something horrible. They need a bite. Or a sambal goreng. (And, Expat, I love liver, too. Had it yesterday, in fact. With on!ons, beans, and nam prik.)

Donkey meat: a proper salami used to be made of donkey, back when they were still common working animals.

Flagpole: that's what you get for not watching Mythbusters!

patty/skull: only if he manages to "focus", which may turn out to be a problem.
Posted by Richard Bos on 02/18/14 at 08:53 AM
Florida gun range - seems like properly defining "negligent" in this instance should remove safety concerns.

Sovaldi Hep C Drug - glad I own some drug company stocks, although I am wondering if they've priced it correctly. The goal is total profit = sales * price/sale - cost. Sales go down when price/sale goes up - need to find the maximum of the curve.

French Labor Union - "No, you cannot clean up after yourself. We have people to do that for you. And you have to pay them."

Poo-Pourri - TMI. TMI. Seems our mixed up world thinks that everyone wants to hear about things that should be private.

It Pays to Know Your Rap Sheet - Amen.
Posted by RobK on 02/19/14 at 01:51 PM
Considering that most of the ads I see during the local newscast are for ambulance-chasing lawyers, desperate politicians and huge drug companies hawking dangerous medications, that Poo-Pourri ad is like a breath of fresh air! Kind of.
Posted by Dave Plechaty on 02/20/14 at 04:17 AM
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