News of the Weird (July 26, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M433, July 26, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

The iconic movie “Groundhog Day”’s whimsical premise (that someone can wake up every day believing it is the previous day) has largely come to life for a patient of a British psychologist writing recently in the journal Neurocase. Dr. Gerald Burgess’s patient, following anesthesia and root-canal treatment, was left with a memory span of only about 90 minutes and awakens each day believing it is the day he is to report for the same root canal. He has been examined by numerous specialists, including neurologists who found no ostensible damage to the usual brain areas associated with amnesia. The patient is able to manage his day only by using an electronic diary with prompts. [University of Leicester press release, 7-14-2015]

Can’t Possibly Be True

Apparently, “uncooperative” child dental patients (even toddlers) can be totally restrained on a strait-jacket-like “papoose board” without parental hand-holding, even during tooth-pulling, as long as the parent has signed a “consent form” (that does specifically mention the frightening practice). A recent case arose in Carrollton, Ga., but a Georgia Board of Dentistry spokesperson told Atlanta’s WSB-TV that such restraints are permitted (though should have been accompanied by an explicit warning of potential physical or psychological harm). The father of the “screaming” girl said he was initially barred from the exam room and was led to believe, when he signed the consent form, that he was merely authorizing anesthesia. [Georgia Newsday, 7-2-2015]

Wait, What?

(1) A shortage of teachers led Howard S. Billings high school in Chateauguay (in the French-sensitive province of Quebec, Canada) to announce that 11th-grade French classes would this year be conducted using only the Rosetta Stone computer program. (2) Among the new rules proposed by California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards agency in May was one to require actors in pornographic movies (whose male actors OSHS has already ordered to wear condoms) to wear goggles--lest bodily fluids splash into their eyes during scenes. (Further, all equipment and surfaces of sets must be decontaminated after each scene and at day’s end.) [CTV News (Montreal), 2-24-2015] [Washington Post, 5-29-2015]

Compelling Explanations

(1) The mayor of Whitesboro, N.Y., defending to a Village Voice reporter in July the 19th-century-based town seal that features a white settler appearing to push down an American Indian man, denied any racism and said the image is “actually” a typical “friendly wrestling [match] that took place back in those days.” (According to Whitesboro’s website, the Native American supposedly uttered, after the “match,” “UGH. You good fellow too much.”) (2) In April, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to stop relocating whistleblowing employees to “offices” that were abandoned jail cells. The Bureau had insisted that the transfers were not punishment for reporting agency misconduct--even though the “offices” had no desk, computer, or phone and required the employees to walk past prisoners’ cells to get to work. [Village Voice, 7-7-2015] [Washington Post, 4-3-2015]

The Continuing Crisis

Lindsey Perkins pleaded guilty in June in Newport, Vt., for an incident in which she joy-rode on the roof of a station wagon with her 5-year-old son while a 20-year-old man drove at 50-55 mph on the state’s scenic Route 14 near Coventry. [Associated Press via WCAX-TV (Burlington), 6-22-2015]

In February, the Office of Residential Life at Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.), intending to tout its dedication to inclusiveness and the creation of a “safe space” for minority students, posted a notice on its website inviting applications from the “LBTTQQFAGPBDSM” communities. The probable translation: the lesbian/gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, flexual, asexual, [vulgar word], polyamorous, bondage/discipline, and sadism/masochism communities. [The Week, 2-25-2015]

Police Report

Cosbying 2.0: A court in Castrop-Rauxel, Germany, fined a 23-year-old man in July after he admitted that, one evening last year, he put “four or five drops” of a sedative into his girlfriend’s tea without her knowledge--so that she would doze off for the evening and not bother him while he played video games. She had come home after a hard day at work, expecting peace and quiet, but began complaining about the boyfriend’s machine-gun-fire game. [The Local (Berlin), 7-8-2015]

The Washington Post’s running tally counts more than 400 people shot to death in the U.S. by law enforcement already this year with five months to go, but 2014 figures from Norway reveal that officers there only shot at people twice all year. Proportionally (64 times as many people live in the U.S.), American police would still have fired only 128 rounds last year if they showed Norway’s restraint. (Bonus fact: Norway’s cops missed their targets both times.) [Washington Post, 7-8-2015]


Pharmaceutical companies justify huge drug price markups on the ground that the research to develop the drug was, itself, hugely expensive. In February, a Canadian company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, decided to raise the price of two heart-saving drugs (Nitropress, Isuprel) by 212 percent and 525 percent, respectively, even though it had conducted no research on the drugs. That was because, reported the Wall Street Journal, all Valeant did was buy the rights to the already-approved drugs from another company (which of course had thought the drugs--research and all--had been fairly priced at the lower amounts). Said a Valeant spokesperson, “Our duty is to our shareholders and to maximize the value” of our products (even, apparently, if it owned the product for less than a day before jacking up the price as much as five-fold). [Wall Street Journal, 4-26-2015]

Too Much Information

At a charity event in Philadelphia in July, in the course of attempting to set a Guinness Book record for pogo-stick workouts, Jack Sexty, 25, bounced 88,047 straight times (over a 10-hour, 20-minute session)--to add to his several previous Guinness records. Sexty, who said he was physically uncomfortable at times during the 10-hour ordeal, suggested that he may have “inadvertently” set yet another pogo record--as maybe the only person ever to answer a “number two” call of nature while pogoing. He explained that one guy had offered to hold a pot underneath him as he jumped and did his business--but Sexty confessed, “I couldn’t be very accurate [aiming for the pot].” [Bristol Post (Bristol, England), 7-4-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

But A Successful Parent: Scott Birk, 31, was arrested in New Berlin, Wis., in July, thanks to a big boost the police got from his 6-year-old daughter. A Walmart security guard noticed, on video, someone breaking into a jewelry case and pocketing earrings, and approached Birk as a suspect, in time to overhear the girl tell her dad “several times” to stop breaking into jewelry cases. Officers running an ID check found no driver’s license and asked how he had gotten to the store, and he said they walked. But Daddy, she said, we came in our car, and she cheerfully pointed it out to police. A search turned up more items stuffed in Birk’s shorts, and he was charged with theft and violating a previous bail condition. [WISN-TV (Milwaukee), 7-3-2015]

Recurring Themes

Summer is state-fair season, i.e., the time of sugar- and fried-fat-based comfort snacks that rarely appear anywhere except at state fairs. Recent samplings: caviar-covered Twinkie (Minnesota), mac-and-cheese cupcake (Minnesota), deep-fried Oreo burger (Florida), deep-fried gummy bears (Ohio), deep-fried beer (Texas)--and old favorites such as chicken-fried bacon (Texas), spaghetti ice cream (Indiana), Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich (California), and the hot-beef sundae (Indiana, Iowa). [Yahoo Food, 6-29-2015;, 6-24-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2010)

Playboy magazine has long published an audio edition, and the Library of Congress produces a text edition in Braille. However, as a Houston Chronicle reporter learned in August [2010], a Texas organization (Taping for the Blind) goes one step further, with volunteer reader Suzi Hanks actually describing the photographs--even the Playmates and other nudes. "I'd say if she has large breasts or small breasts, piercings or tattoos," said Hanks. "I'll describe her genitalia. I take my time describing the girls." "Hey, blind guys like pretty, naked girls, too!" [Houston Chronicle, 8-12-2010]

Thanks This Week to Kenny Saxe and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jul 26, 2015

Groundhog Day 50 First Dates comes to mind too.

Dental Torture Marathon Man comes to mind.

French & Sex Didn't Mark Twain write a story about getting jumped by a frog in California?

Whitesboro, N.Y. That name is totally offensive! I demand that it be changed.


Big Pharma It's their ball and bat and if you want to play you have to play by their rules. Anyhow, insurance companies and government is going to be paying the bills so no one's the taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

Guinness Records They're getting out of hand and have, IMHO, become next to meaningless.

Scott Birk From the mouths of babes.

What's on for this summer, Chuck? Going to Epcot Center to relax?
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/26/15 at 09:40 AM
root canal- Not the worst thing that could happen. A patient I cared for at the nursing home had been in a persistent vegetative state for some 20 years due to telling the dentist that he took no other meds legal or illegal before being put under for a root canal. He lied about it as he had used cocaine and paid with his life. No, he did not immediately die but he may as well have been dead.

papoose boards- They are used when a child has to be conscious for a necessary procedure. It is the lesser of 2 evils, a small amount of emotional trauma verses not getting a medical treatment the child must have. Nobody believes in toughing it out anymore.

Quebec- If they do not have enough French speakers to teach the language then perhaps the should not be so French sensitive. If it was that pervasive the kids would grow up speaking it.

California- I guess they want to drive ALL business out of the state. Porn purveyors will just move somewhere else and spend their money while producing their product.

jail cell/office- The people responsible for the offending office assignments in each cash should either be fired or have to use the jail cell/office themselves.

gun violence- In the United States police face armed assailants the majority of the time so they have to respond in kind. They have a right to go home in one piece too. Oh and, gun control here in the US is a fantasy. The Genie has been out of the bottle for far too long. Tired as the cliché is it is no less true, if we criminalize guns then only criminals will have them. btw, not allowing our service people to be armed at all times is treasonous in my opinion.

Big Pharma- Until we do something about the whole medical business (yes it is just another business) gouging everyone healthcare will remain unaffordable. Obama care is a miserable failure for most Americans, meaning those of us who live hand to mouth. Just another bill for something that is unusable due to ridiculously high deductibles.

But daddy- Tattle tail! 😜

Fair food- Its just getting disgusting now.

Playboy play-by-play- No worse than phone sex really.

Great week Chuck!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 07/26/15 at 01:13 PM
Patty, while I agree with your assessment of Big Pharma and Obamacare, Obamacare is the only insurance I can get (I'm insulin-dependent and live in Georgia), and I can afford the outrageous premiums (more than I could gross at minimum wage), so in my case, it's a resounding success. As I have been known to point out, OK, so We, the People are funding Obamacare. But tell me, if I go bankrupt over my medical bills due to having no insurance and I wind up on Medicaid, who pays for my healthcare then?
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 07/27/15 at 05:53 PM
Wonder what John and Charles would think about their namesake?
And, are there really vulgar words anymore? Especially in an article about LBTTQQFAGPBDSM?

Only 400? American police are showing extreme restraint. 30,000+ are killed in car accidents.

Socialized medicine doesn't appear to prevent Canadian pharmaceuticals from raising prices. Public awareness is the best way to combat price gouging. People can then choose where to spend their money.

Way to go Californicatia, protect all workers.
Posted by RobK on 07/29/15 at 11:49 AM
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