News of the Weird (August 24, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M385, August 24, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

[ED. NOTE: Last Week in Weird will be published this week in only one Part, tomorrow. I blame the summer malaise. Probably only one Part next week, too.]

CORRECTION: Last week’s column cited a London Daily Mirror compilation of foods from around the world. It appears not only that “Squeeze Bacon” was merely an April Fool’s joke from 2009 but that, sadly, in the ensuing five years food science has not yet been able to make a real squeezed bacon.

Lead Story

It’s Facebook’s World Now: (1) Up-and-coming Sicilian mobster Domenico Palazzotto, 28, was outed in August by Italy's L'Espresso magazine as the owner of an ineffectively-pseudonymous Facebook page showing off his muscled, bare-chested body and perhaps recruiting members. One fan asked, "Do I need to send a [resume]?" "Yes, brother," came the reply. "We need to consider your criminal record. We do not take people with clean records." Palazzotto operates out of Palermo and listed among his "likes" as the singer Kenny Loggins. (2) Similarly young, body-obsessed Egyptian jihadist/gym member Islam Yaken, according to his postings on Facebook-type social media sites, is a law school graduate fluent in English, French, and Arabic, allowing him to describe the particular viciousness that he and his brothers and sisters will wreak upon infidels. [Daily Telegraph (London), 8-3-2014] [Daily Telegraph (London), 8-6-2014]

Can't Possibly Be True

A jury's murder conviction, and the 15-to-life sentence it carried against Daniel Floyd in Brooklyn, N.Y., for a 2008 killing went for naught in July when the state's highest court ordered a retrial (with witnesses forced to testify all over again). The sole reason the court cited was a decision by the trial judge on the first day--to seat the potential jury pool and not Floyd's mother, who, because she was temporarily left standing that first day, argued successfully that her son's right to a "public" trial had been violated. [New York Post, 7-28-2014]

I (Heart) Strangers: Two age-30ish men knocked on the door of a Raymondville, Tex., woman at 12:30 a.m. on August 3rd, asking for water and if they could please come inside to charge their cellphone--and the woman apparently cheerfully invited them in, and later offered them use of her backyard shed to grab some sleep. She did not learn until a short time later, when a law enforcement manhunt widened into her neighborhood, that they were wanted for murdering a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Officers arrested the pair inside the shed. [KRGV-TV (Weslaco, Tex.), 8-5-2014]

A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington announced recently that they had developed a prototype of a wind turbine that might deliver electricity in tiny bursts to devices like smartphones--since it is about half the size of a grain of rice. (Tiny solar backpacks already exist.) [National Geographic, 6-19-2014]

The New Normal

(1) The ubiquitous "sexting" phenomenon continues to flourish. A Washington state agency suspended the license of anesthesiologist Arthur Zilberstein in June after finding that he had exchanged sexually explicit text messages--during surgeries. (2) One of the emerging occupational skills for Emergency Medical Technicians, according to first responders interviewed in a June Wall Street Journal feature, is merely holding up blankets at accident scenes--to block onlookers from their apparently uncontrollable urge to take gruesome photos to send to their friends. [KIRO-TV (Seattle), 6-9-2014] [Wall Street Journal, 6-24-2014]

Anger Management Needed

(1) A 40-year-old man's throat was fatally slashed in August in Billings, Mont., in a fight with an acquaintance over which military service--Army or Marines--is better. (News reports failed to identify the "winning" branch.) (2) A 37-year-old man survived, but with five bullet wounds, in New York City in August after a 1 a.m. dispute during the making of a rap music video. (The dispute was over who, exactly, would be the "star.") (3) Roger Harris, 63, and Bryan Bandes, 42, brawled in August on 7th tee at the Springdale Golf Course near Uniontown, Pa., while arguing the rule for playing a ball in a rain puddle. Harris apparently 3-wooded Bandes in the head; Bandes landed punches causing a swollen jaw, a fat lip, and a scratched eye. [Billings Gazette, 8-4-2014] [New York Daily News, 8-2-2014] [KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh), 8-7-2014]


In Multnomah County, Ore., in July, a Romanian princess pleaded guilty to cockfighting. Irina Walker, 61, was born in Switzerland where her father, King Michael I, lived after abdicating the throne, and came to Oregon in 1983, where, in a second marriage in 2007, she fell in with former deputy sheriff John Walker, who had moved on to the gambling and cockfighting business, and, according to a USA Today report, she was assisting him. [USA Today, 7-16-2014]

Solutions to Non-Problems

(1) Chung-Ang University in South Korea announced in April that its traditional-sport Department of Sport Science would begin accepting--as legitimate “student athletes”--video gamers. (2) Also in April, Berlin’s Lutheran Georgen Parochial cemetery inaugurated a 4,300-square-foot area of its grounds as reserved exclusively for lesbians--for women who, said the cemetery’s spokesman, “want to be buried among other lesbians.” [AsiaOne (Singapore), 4-3-2014] [Associated Press, 4-1-2014]

New World Order

Japan is noted (as News of the Weird has reported in 1997 and 2008) for several traditional fertility festivals and theme parks at which explicit, oversized male genitalia are revered by joyous visitors, including children. In July, on the other hand, police quickly arrested the artist Megumi Igarashi after she scanned her vulva and then distributed the data online to allow others to create 3-D printed reproductions. That effort was the most conspicuous of several attempts she has made as an artist/designer to call attention, she said, to the underrepresentation of female genitals in Japanese society compared to males’. [, 7-15-2014]

Who Knew? Researchers from England’s University of Lincoln revealed in July that red-footed tortoises are not only “inquisitive” but make decisions in their brain’s “medial cortex” region, associated with “complex cognitive behavior” (because they have no “hippocampus,” which is a typical decision-making area). The tortoises thus pecked-out (and learned) touch-screen decisions (for rewards of strawberries), and in fact, said researcher Anna Wilkinson, learned as quickly as rats and pigeons and faster, actually, than dogs. [, 8-1-2014]

Movies Come to Life

(1) In July, officials at the Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham, England, broke up an attempt by five students (aged 11-14) attending a daytime-locked-down school to escape by tunneling under a security fence. They had discovered the boys’ metal cutlery hidden at the scene. (A World War II tunneling escape from a Nazi prison was partially successful and became the story for the 1963 movie “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen.) (2) In a deadly ending reminiscent of scenes in several crime movies, a 22-year-old man fleeing police in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June crashed his car at a high speed into the back of a flatbed truck and was decapitated as the body of the car (but not the part above the dashboard) continued on under the truck. [BBC News, 7-7-2014] [New York Daily News, 6-25-2014]

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) A 40-year-old man (not named by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) was arrested in that city on July 31st after a several-hour, epically inept, crime spree. Attempting to rob a restaurant, he was turned down by employees and customers, then turned down by two potential carjack victims (the latter of whom added insult by pulling out her cellphone camera and shooting video), and then failing to swipe another woman’s car keys, before giving up just as police arrived. (His only take was the $15 he had swiped from the restaurant’s tip jar.) (2) Joshua Pawlak, 27, entered a total of four businesses in Woodbridge, N.J., on July 27th and similarly met resistance and/or indifference to his money demands--and came away from the four with only $2, also from a tip jar. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8-1-2014] [ (Newark), 8-6-2014]

Readers’ Choice

Ironies: (1) An airborne banner being towed by an airplane came loose in Fremont, Calif., in July and floated down, landing on a house, frightening the residents. The sign advertised GEICO insurance. (2) A 10-foot-tall pine tree in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park, dedicated in 2004 with a plaque to the late musician George Harrison, was recently destroyed by an infestation, and another will be planted in its place, according to a city councilman. The infestation was by beetles. [KNTV (San Francisco), 7-23-2014] [CBS News, 7-22-2014]

Thanks This Week to Kyle Payton, Gerald Sacks, Ron Weir, Mel Birge, Robin Daley, and Kathryn Wood, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Aug 24, 2014

resume- Don't you think someone who's never been caught is the better criminal?

conviction- Put the death penalty in play this time and promise mom a front row seat for THAT!

tiny turbine- They could double as fans too.

sexting doc- SOMEBODY had to graduate at the bottom of the class, at community college, on a football scholarship, with a tutor assigned to do the work...

gawking pics- First have two cops with walkies, one at the scene and one at the bottleneck right before the road opens up. On scene radios the plate numbers of pic takers to bottleneck guy who then tickets the macabre gawker AND erases the pics from the cell phone. Or offers the option to erase pics or lose license for a year.

anger management- Sounds a bit like Darwinism to me.

Princess- I believe in always being kind to cocks. 😊

sports- Thumb wars and hotpocket-eating-between-levels as preseason workouts then?

lesbian cemetery- Oh that's never gonna get vandalized ever.

turtles- Smart yes, but so slow .

the great escape- At least they were paying attention in history class.

criminal- If you take to a life of crime then you've really lost your head!

GEICO- How cool would it be if the plane was insured by Jake at State Farm?! :lol:

beetles- Like Alyssa Morrisette said, "isn't it ironic..."
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/24/14 at 11:39 AM
Alanis Morissette I meant. My apologies for the mistake. :red:
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/24/14 at 11:47 AM
patty ... Gawking pics- Here you can get a fine and negative points if you use your phone while driving. The accident last week was just a truck having too tall a load for the under pass. The cops issued sevaral fines and the bonus of one DUI.
I don't know if they used your method?
Posted by BMN on 08/25/14 at 12:22 AM
Facebook Law enforcements last, best hope.

Floyd Trial Hang the judge along with him!

I (Heart) Strangers Never heard of harboring a fugitive?

Tiny Turbines P.E.T.A's going to be all over that outfit for endangering fire ants! These should work well in The District of Calamity.

Holding up Blankets This is a 'skill'?? College degree required? Just asking 'cause I've been holding up beach towels for Whatshername at the beach for years.

Billings, MT According to the Daily Mail the Army won that fight. (Probably not by honorable means though. I mean, really some ground-pounding, mud crawling grunt took a Marine?)

Video Gamers WHOA!!!!! First we need to get mens synchronized swimming recognized!

Megumi Igarashi When did Volvo move to Japan?

Smart Turtles Damn! Now I have to rethink the world again.

Decapitated Could we have a moment of silence for the car. It looked like a good one.

GEICO Isn't their motto, "We've got you covered"?

Q: What do you call a rapper with only 5 bullet holes in him?
A: A poor start.

Q: What do you call a golfer with a 3 wood upside his head?
A: A wasted stroke.

Q: What do you call the guy that graduated 1st in his class at Med School?
A: Doctor.

Q: What do you call the guy that graduated last in his class at Med School?
A: Doctor.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/25/14 at 04:28 AM
Yep, instead of MD they should have to put their class ranking after their names- 34/300 or 299/300 who would you pick?
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/25/14 at 08:31 AM
# 300 did graduate. I would check for what school.
Posted by BMN on 08/25/14 at 06:05 PM
BMN: Quite. I know very well that I myself would drop out of med school. The really scary thing is that you need no qualifications whatsoever to run either branch of the GOP - and that the guy who hacked together the OS you're probably reading this page on dropped out of law school.

As for the main article...
Correction: wot, agin?

Wind turbine: powered by the hot air coming from the phone.

Army or Marines? Navy, of course!

Video gamers: no more dumb than the very concept of "athlete graduates" is in the first place.

Tortoises: I call bull. Reproduce it elsewhere, then I'll pay attention. (Pigeons smarter than dogs? Pull the other one.)

Great Escape: I'm on their side. Make them do lines for leaving the school during hours, fine, but don't lock them up.
Posted by Richard Bos on 08/26/14 at 08:32 AM
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