News of the Weird (January 5, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M352, January 5, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

People With Too Much Money: During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney caught criticism for his proposed California home with parking on an upper floor, requiring a car elevator. Much more elaborate elevator access will be available in the new Porsche Design Tower near Miami (opening in 2016 and already 80 percent sold out, according to a December report by The 132 oceanside units (in square footage from 4,300 to 17,000 and in price from $5.3 million to $32.5 million) include glass-walled, elevator-accessed spaces for two or four cars (for people who would rather admire their Bugattis and Maseratis than the Atlantic Ocean). [, 12-11-2013]

Can’t Possibly Be True

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: Equality Under Law: (1) In December, Fort Worth, Tex., judge Jean Boyd sentenced teenager Ethan Couch to probation with no jail time for drunkenly killing four people in a car crash--apparently accepting Couch’s “defense” that his affluent, permissive childhood had taught him irresponsibility. (WFAA-TV turned up a 2012 case in which Judge Boyd sentenced a 14-year-old black kid to 10 years in prison for punching another boy who then fell, bumped his head, and died.) (2) New York City prostitute murderer Rasheen Everett got a 29-year-sentence in December, despite his lawyer’s “defense” that the was merely a transgendered prostitute. (“Shouldn’t [29-year-sentences] be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain [higher] classes of individuals?”) [KRLD-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth), 12-10-2013] [WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth), 12-13-2013] [New York Post, 12-6-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Tension over digital security is such that an alarming disclosure made in 2004 (and largely ignored) can resurface on a website in 2013 and appear even more astonishing. At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s (and largely because of Pentagon-White House contentiousness), “safeguards” were installed to prevent rogue generals from launching nuclear war on their own. What today would be a “PIN” number was assigned to each missile, but Strategic Air Command generals mocked the PINs by setting each one to “00000000"--a code that today would be ridiculed as naive. (Furthermore, “00000000" was then written out on each missile’s instructions, according to the former launch control officer who disclosed it in 2004.) [Huffington Post, 12-5-2013] [Center for Defense Information, 4-4-2004]

Many medical professionals are certain that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, 70, is a quack, treating cancer patients with expensive, FDA-unapproved substances, giving false hope to the terminally-ill and in some cases diverting them from better-regarded treatments. However, according to a December USA Today investigation, Dr. Burzynski enjoys enthusiastic support from a small but dedicated group of patients, and neither regulators in Texas (where he is licensed) nor two juries (who turned back indictments against him) have been able to stop him. FDA regulators have been inconsistent toward him but appear to be gaining aggressiveness following recent inspections of his facilities. (Dr. Burzynski manufactures his own proprietary drugs, charging around $10,000 a month to patients who can pay.) [USA Today, 11-17-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: One Rule Fits All: Jim Howe, father of two boys at South Cumberland Elementary School in Crossville, Tenn., was handcuffed and briefly detained by a sheriff’s deputy in November after mistakenly believing that he could walk his kids home when class let out at 2 p.m. Actually, the school allows 2 p.m. departure only for kids being picked up in cars; pupils who leave on foot must wait until 2:35. (Howe assumed that the waiting period was only to protect young pedestrians from pick-up traffic.) Deputy Avery Aytes said a rule is a rule and that if Howe failed to cooperate, he would be jailed. [WATE-TV (Knoxville), 11-18-2013]

David Friehling, who was identified as Bernard Madoff’s accountant soon after Madoff’s 2008 confession to running his notorious Ponzi scheme, provided evidence in November that a certain Madoff associate knew all along that Madoff was running bogus numbers on his books--testifying that he dutifully certified all such falsified documents that the associate showed him. In 2009, Friehling, in pleading guilty for his personal role in the scam, revealed that somehow he had actually blown $4.3 million of his own money in the swindle (on behalf of his children and other family members). [New York Post, 11-13-2013]

Overcompensation: Mr. Kelcey Nicholas, 28, was arrested, along with Lataura Jarrett, 21, in Mt. Nebo, W.Va., in September and charged with having incestuous relations. Thus, West Virginia--a popular target for jokes about cultural tolerance for incest and inbreeding--appears to be boldly reversing course, since Jarrett is merely Nicholas’s step-daughter. [WV Metro News (Charleston, W.Va.), 9-20-2013]

Unclear on the Concept

Police finally arrested William Footman, 55, in October as the person who somehow managed to swipe inside-front-door mats from at least 37 New York City banks between March and May 2013. No money was ever taken, and some banks were slow to realize the thefts--unobservant that they had even had front-door mats in the first place. “I sell them to bodegas,” Footman told a reporter. “Their floors get wet.” [New York Times, 10-26-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Rodney Rotert of Tulsa, Okla., filed a lawsuit recently against Philadelphia Insurance Companies demanding the return of “his” classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, supposedly worth about $100,000. His case is complicated by the fact that he also recently pleaded no-contest to possessing stolen property, i.e., that very same car, stolen from an Arkansas dealer in 2007. (Rotert claims he bought the car legitimately, but he also changed the Vehicle Identification Number to obtain a false title.) Rotert said his legal claim, especially with the “current” VIN, is superior to the insurance company’s claim. [KOTV, 11-18-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: While many educators lament the mediocrity of American universities in encouraging study of science and engineering, U.S. colleges are surely among world leaders in one area: sensitivity to students questioning their gender. In the current school year, Bellevue (Wash.) College and Mills College (Oakland, Calif.) have offered students unprecedented choices of self-identification. “Male/female” is no longer useful at Bellevue, which offers among “feminine, masculine, androgynous, gender neutral, transgender, and other.” At Mills, students identify themselves as “agender, bigender, third-gender, or gender-fluid,” and select the pronoun they wish to be referred to with (he or she or ze or sie or ve, or the agrammatical “they”). [, 12-2-2013; Associated Press via Yahoo News, 11-30-2013]

The Continuing Crisis

PREVIOUSLY: When a pickpocket shared a taxi ride with him recently in China’s Hunan province and somehow managed to lift Zou Bin’s iPhone, Zou was frightened that he had lost all of his beverage-industry business contacts and began text-messaging desperate pleas to the thief. Several days later, in the postal mail, Zou received a list of his contacts, apparently carefully copied from the phone, totaling 11 handwritten pages of names and numbers, and as the story broke on Chinese social media, the earnest thief was referred to as “the conscience of the [robbery] industry,” and compared to a model member of the People's Liberation Army that the Chinese should aspire to. [BBC News, 11-25-2013]

News That Sounds Like a Joke

PREVIOUSLY: Iowa lawyer Robert Allan Wright, Jr., was suspended for a year by the Attorney Disciplinary Board in December for mishandling client funds. One client had received a “Nigerian inheritance” letter in 2011, and Wright apparently jumped at the opportunity to receive “$18 million,” seemingly unaware of what almost everyone else in the developed world knows about unsolicited Nigerian business deals. By December 2013, Wright had looted accounts of other clients in order to pay the “fees” necessary to free up the $18 million. He was spared a more onerous punishment only because the Board concluded that Wright “honestly” “continues to believe” that the inheritance is real--that “one day a trunk full of . . . one hundred dollar bills is going to appear upon his office doorstep.” [, 12-6-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Tough Sell for the French, Even at Discount: The Petite Syrah café in the city of Nice, France, began pricing its coffee differently in December, to introduce greater politeness among the notoriously brusque French. If a patron orders by saying, “Bonjour, un café, s’il vous plait” (i.e., with “hello” and “please”) the price is 1.40 euros (about $1.90). “Un café, s’il vous plait”--not quite as polite, 4.25 euros (about $5.80). The price for “Un cafe!”--apparently the usual way of announcing one’s need for coffee--7 euros (about $9.50). [ (Paris), 12-10-2013]

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jan 05, 2014


Can't possibly be true (2)
"...despite his lawyer’s “defense” that the was merely a..."

Shouldn't there be a 'victim' in there?
Posted by crc on 01/05/14 at 08:27 AM
@CRC: Why is everybody always concerned about the victim? What about the horrible childhood that was inflicted upon these poor individuals who are want to perpetrate these crimes. Really!

Oh :red: you were just correcting an omission in the text.... sorry.

Porsche Design Tower A concept, built on sand, is doomed to go under when the icecaps melt in 2017.

W.Va. Incest Yesterday I could commit it but today I don't even know what it means?

William Footman Obviously a bank robbing felon.

How come I don't remember most of those marked PREVIOUSLY?
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/05/14 at 09:47 AM
Iowa, like TN and GA, apparently keeps justice both blindfolded and handcuffed when investigating that criminal family's attorneys, politicians, and bureaucrats, most all of them specialists in multiple forms of lootery. The Nigerian defense, though, is a new low even for this pack of skilled liars.
Posted by Angie unduplicated on 01/05/14 at 02:37 PM
Money/cars- Two words here homeless PEOPLE.

judge bigot- white\black inequity in sentencing, what a brand new concept. He should go to jail for the amount of the difference in sentencing time.

Cancer Doc- Just another snake oil salesman.

step incest WVA- Trying to turn around that stereotype.

mats- Reminds me of the story about the security guard and the stolen wheelbarrows.

vin & insurance- Good luck, you're doing good to collect if you have a valid claim anymore.

gender ambiguity- Higher education is becoming more and more of a scam to collect government money and leave young people owing more money than they have the earning power to repay. Its the next economic bubble.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 01/05/14 at 09:30 PM
Now that legalized marijuana and same-gender marriage are here to stay, it's time to get rid of archaic laws on incest, polygamy, and prostitution. Don't people know that you can't legislate morality?
Posted by RobK on 01/07/14 at 12:27 PM
"...or the agrammatical “they”..."

Come on, Chuck, you ought to know better than that.
Posted by mathew on 01/08/14 at 03:29 PM
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