News of the Weird (June 11, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M531, June 11, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

REMINDER: I am retiring in three weeks (but in reality, all
the columns are in the can already). My announcement is here.

Lead Story

If high-schoolers seem stressed by active lifestyles and competitive pressures, and consequently fail to sleep the recommended 9 to 10 hours a day, it must be a good idea for the federal government to give grants (including to Las Cruces High School in New Mexico) to purchase comfy, $14,000 "nap pods" that drive out the racket with soft music, for 20 minutes a shot during those frenzied classroom days. A May NPR report based on Las Cruces's experience quoted favorable reviews by students, backed by a doctor and a nurse practitioner who pointed to research showing that adequate sleep "can" boost memory and attention and thus "can" improve school performance (and therefore must be a great use of federal education dollars). [NPR Morning Edition, 5-17-2017]

Unclear on the Concept

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam argues that his "hands are tied" by "federal food laws" and that fresh, "all-natural" milk with the cream skimmed off the top cannot be sold in Florida as "milk" (or "skim milk") but must be labeled "imitation milk"--unless the "all-natural" milk adds (artificial) Vitamin A to the product. A family farm in the state's panhandle (Ocheesee Creamery) decided to challenge the law, and Putnam, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, said he would try to resolve the issue soon. [WTVT (Tampa), 5-12-2017]

News You Can Use

(1) Briton Fred Whitelaw, 64, who has bowel cancer, recently began working "therapeutic" breast milk into his diet (but only that supplied by his daughter, Jill Turner, who recently gave birth and said she is happy to double-pump to assure both Fred and baby Llewyn adequate supplies (although husband Kyle is trying it out for his eczema, as well). (2) Scientists writing in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology recently recommended that parents not discourage children from picking their noses because snot contains a "rich reservoir of good bacteria" beneficial to teeth and overall health (fighting, for example, respiratory infections and even HIV). [Metro News (London), 5-2-2017] [Daily Telegraph (London), 5-5-2017]


(1) It recently became necessary for Candace Frazee and Steve Levinsky to acquire a bigger home in the Los Angeles area because their 33,000 "bunny"-related items (stuffed bunnies, antique bunnies, bunny paintings, bunny dinnerware, etc.) needed more space. (2) The world's only museum devoted to the "house cat" allows self-guided tours in Sylva, N.C., where curator Harold Sims displays 10,000 artifacts including a genuine petrified cat (with whiskers!) pulled from a 16th-century English chimney. (3) Brantford, Ontario, realtor Kyle Jansink, speaking for unidentified sellers, said he accepted the challenge of selling the meticulously-maintained home "as is"--still packed with the sellers' clown-related items (dolls, miniatures, porcelain statues, paintings). [New York Post, 5-19-2017] [Charlotte Observer, 5-18-2017] [Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, 5-8-2017]

Compelling Explanations

They're "therapists," not "strippers," argued New York City's Penthouse Executive Club, creatively characterizing its dancers to avoid $3 million in back taxes, but the state's appeals board ruled against it in April. Penthouse had insisted that its performers were more akin to counselors for lonely men and that the club's "door charge" was an untaxable fee for therapeutic health services. [New York Daily News, 5-12-2017]

James Pelletier, 46, was arrested in Hollis, Maine in May after he fired a BB gun point-blank at his two sons, ages 9 and 11--but only, he said, as a "rite of passage" into maturity (perhaps thinking the experience would help them become as mature as their father). He said if the kids knew how it felt to get shot, perhaps they would not be so quick to fire their own guns. [Portland Press Herald, 5-6-2017]

The Continuing Crisis

You Mean Jethro and Abby, Too? In contrast to the exciting work of the TV series (near the top of broadcast ratings for the last decade), real agents in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have labored over computer screens eight to 10 hours a day for two months now employing their facial-recognition software--just to scour websites to identify victims of nude-photo postings of military personnel that came to light earlier this year. "[Y]ou get pretty burned out," said the NCIS director. A simple word search of "uniformed military nude" got nearly 80,000,000 hits, according to a May Associated Press dispatch from the Quantico Marine base, where the 20 investigators labor side-by-side. [Associated Press via NBC News, 5-6-2017]

Military Allies in Odd Places

(1) In April, three days after ISIS fighters reportedly executed 25 villagers about 50 miles south of Kirkuk, Iraq, the three murderers were themselves killed (and eight more wounded) when a pack of wild boars overran their position and gnawed them into martyrdom. (2) In April, a Russian naval reconnaissance ship sank in the Black Sea off of Turkey (likely op: Syria-related) when it collided with a livestock barge flying the flag of Togo. All aboard the Russian ship were rescued; the much-heavier Togolese vessel suffered barely a scratch. [USA Today, 4-25-2017] [New York Times, 4-27-2017]


Rights in Conflict: An elderly German man, unnamed in news reports, was fined the equivalent of $110 in May for "terrorizing" neighbors in the town of Hannef by violating a 2015 agreement to lower the sound of his pornographic videos. He demanded sympathy because of his hearing disability, arguing that if he wore headphones, he could not hear the doorbell, or burglars, and therefore would feel unsafe. (At his May hearing, he objected to the characterization that the "sex sounds" were from videos; on the day in question, he said, he had a prostitute in the room. "It was not porn," he insisted, confusingly. "It was live!") [Metro News (London), 5-6-2017]


In May Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley apparently mindlessly signed the proclamation designating a special day for the late Tre Hummons (submitted by his grieving father, to honor the son's "sacrifice"). Tre Hummons was killed in 2015 by a police officer--but only after Tre had just shot and killed another Cincinnati police officer. [WXIX-TV (Cleveland), 5-19-2017]

Winneshiek County (Iowa) Engineer Lee Bjerke said he had no idea how the driver of the loaded 18-wheeler had missed the "Load Limit 3 Tons" sign at the entrance of the small, rickety bridge near Cresco in May, but in seconds, the span was wiped out, and the tractor-trailer had become part of the Turkey River. The loaded grain truck weighed more than 30 tons. [KCCI-TV (Des Moines), 5-5-2017]

Armed & Clumsy (all-new!)

Still more incidents in which people (make that, "men") accidentally shoot themselves: a National Rifle Association staff member, 46, training on a firing range (Fairfax County, Va., April); a fleeing robber, run over by his victim, with the collision causing the robber's gun to fire into his own mouth (Hawthorne, Calif., March); two boys, 17 and 19, "practicing" loading and unloading a handgun, managing to hit each other (Houston, Tex., March); a homeless man, 45, in a now-classic waistband-holster-crotch malfunction (Lake Panasoffee, Fla., Oct.); U.S. Park Police officer, shot his foot in a confrontation with a raccoon (Washington, D.C., Nov.); man, 48, shot himself, then, apparently angry at how it happened and perhaps re-enacting his movements, shot himself again (Oceana County, Mich., July).[Burke Patch, 4-7-2017] [Daily Breeze (Torrance), 3-15-2017] [Houston Chronicle, 3-22-2017] [Citrus County Chronicle (Crystal River), 10-10-2016] [Washingtonian, 11-3-2016] [, 7-5-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (December 2013)

Just another October [2013] day in Kelso, Wash.: At the courthouse, a woman carrying a cake was approached by Robert Fredrickson, a stranger who was also in the building on business. Without warning, Fredrickson attacked--not the woman, the cake--grabbing it with both hands and stuffing his face. As he washed up a minute later at a drinking fountain, a deputy who witnessed the scene attempted to bring Fredrickson to justice, yelling, “[S]tand right there. Don’t move.” As soon as the officer looked away, however, Fredrickson returned to the cake and clawed at it again. Finally, several deputies subdued him and charged him with theft and resisting arrest. [KATU-TV (Portland, Ore.), 10-3-2013]

Thanks This Week to Laurel Bender, Michael Isquidsrus, Kathryn Vinson, William Carter, Michael Brozyna, Steve Passen, and Bruce Leiserowitz, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 11, 2017

Chuck, I'm going to miss your stuff a lot - I wish you could find someone to carry on with it, in your style.
Posted by Moses Lambert on 06/12/17 at 09:07 AM
Nap pods: adequate sleep does improve memory, attention and learning, and anything which improves sleep significantly is worth at least some money. But the best way to improve children's sleep is in the home. These things won't change much.

Whitelaw: reminds me of in the Rijksmuseum.

Load Limit: I'm not surprised. I've seen
Posted by Richard Bos on 06/14/17 at 11:26 AM
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