News of the Weird (October 25, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M446, October 25, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

In October, a Harvard University debate team (three-time recent champions of the American Parliamentary Debate Association) lost a match to a team of prisoners from the maximum-security Eastern New York Correctional Facility. Prison debaters “are held to the exact same standards” as college debate teams, according to the director of Bard College’s Prison Initiative, which coaches the inmates. Prisoners took the “pro” side of public schools having the right to turn away students whose parents had entered the U.S. illegally (though team members personally disagreed). The Bard trainers pointed out that the inmates perfected their presentation despite (or perhaps because of) the prison prohibition on Internet access. [Washington Post, 10-7-2015]

Compelling Explanations

A black alleged gang member, Taurus Brown, 19, under arrest in Clearwater, Fla., in September for having a marijuana cigarette casually tucked behind his ear as he talked politely to a white police officer, tried to flee on foot but was quickly taken down. Asked why he ran, Brown replied (according to the police report), “I don’t like white people touching me. White people do weird stuff.” [The Smoking Gun, 9-4-2015]

Unclear on the Concept

The Merit Systems Protection Board is (wrote the Washington Post) “a personnel court of last resort” for federal employees unfairly punished by demotions or firing--which is just what employee Timothy Korb needed when his federal agency suspended him in 2013, allegedly for revealing at a staff meeting that the agency’s actual case backlog was much worse than it was letting on. Korb’s employer, ironically, is the Merit Systems Protection Board, and in September 2015, an administrative law judge upheld his claim of unfairness. [Washington Post, 10-2-2015]

Philosophy professor Anna Stubblefield (Rutgers-Newark University) was convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a severely disabled man she was discovered having sex with on the floor in a locked office, but at trial in September, she testified that the man had “consent[ed]” and that the two were “in love.” The victim, 34, has cerebral palsy and other ailments, wears diapers, requires assistance for nearly all activities, is intellectually disabled, and does not speak, “except for making noises,” according to a brother. Stubblefield had been working with him on the controversial practice of “facilitated communication,” in which a facilitator reads a patient’s mind via subtleties such as eye movement and articulates the words for him. However, a jury failed to appreciate that facilitated “consent” and quickly convicted her. [NJ Advance Media via, 9-25-2015; Inside Higher Ed, 10-5-2015]


In rare bipartisan action, the U.S. Senate is preparing a bill to ban taxpayer funds for those military salutes at sporting events. Teams (the legislators believe) already benefit from the fan-friendly staging of heartwarming patriotic displays. (The Pentagon had paid $5.4 million just to the National Football League over the last four years.) An NFL spokesman, finally playing catch-up, said in September, “[N]o one should be paid to honor our troops.” [NJ Advance Media via (Newark), 9-30-2015]

Legislators in Action

In a recent resolution, Blount County (Tenn.) Commissioner Karen Miller called for her fellow commissioners and state officials all the way up to the governor to prepare for “God’s wrath” for recent national policies (same-sex marriage, etc.) she disagrees with. Though other states might be in for a smiting, Miller’s resolution calls on God to spare Blount County (by the “safety of the Passover lamb”). In October, the commission tabled the resolution, 10-5, but she promised to reintroduce it. [WBIR-TV (Knoxville), 10-7-2015]

By September, Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser were finally out of the Michigan legislature--Gamrat by guard-escorted removal after her formal expulsion and Courser by pre-emptive resignation--following the pair’s months-long “secret” sexual affair and clumsy handling of its revelation. Courser’s original defense strategy was to plant a bogus story of a gay-sex scandal, hoping to discredit as hysteria any news about his actual affair, but when that failed, he issued a 1,900-word plea, liberally quoting the Bible, acknowledging his hypocrisy and hoping for salvation from his colleagues (who failed to come through). [Associated Press via New York Times, 9-11-2015]

The Weirdo-American Community

“Officially” declaring onself as not subject to the laws of any jurisdiction (i.e., a “sovereign”) opens a wide range of career choices. The FBI and Las Vegas police say that, in Rick Van Thiel’s case, once his porn industry career ended (because someone stole his video equipment), he “decided to go into the medical field,” becoming “Dr. Rick” with expertise performing dozens of abortions, circumcisions, and castrations (plus cancer treatments and root canals). Proudly avoiding actual licensing, Van Thiel promoted “alternative” remedies, with an office in a Nevada compound of trailers that one hesitant “patient” described as something out of a horror movie. Van Thiel, arrested in October, nonetheless staunchly defended his ability (acquired, he said, by watching YouTube medical videos). (Bonus entertainment: In court, he will be acting as his own lawyer.) [Las Vegas Review Journal, 10-9-2015]


In June, Tennessee’s much-publicized program to kick drug users off of welfare rolls (and only from welfare rolls, among all people receiving any type of state subsidy) wound up its first year cutting off fewer than 40 people out of 28,559 on public assistance (“temporary assistance to needy families”). Nonetheless, the sponsoring legislators said they were pleased with the program and planned no changes. The state paid a contractor $11,000 to conduct 468 tests but did not disclose staff costs of processing applications, deciding who to test, and managing cases. [WMOT Radio (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 10-6-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: It was at 7:30 a.m. on October 8th that, according to Dallas, Tex., police, Kristopher Jones, 18, and a buddy decided it would be Joy’s Donut shop they should rob. As they exited the store (one carrying the shop’s cash register), a uniformed, off-duty officer (who apparently had pulled up to the store--for donuts) saw the whole thing and arrested Jones (though his partner was able to flee). [WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth), 10-8-2015]

I’m Da Man! John Morgan, 28, and Ashley Duboe, 24, were charged in September with robbing the Savings Bank in Ashville, Ohio--with their apprehending made easier by Morgan’s Facebook photos of himself riffling through (and with a mouthful of) his newly-acquired stack of bills (a “McStack,” he wrote) and describing his current elation: “I got six bands bra . . . I’m doing rrree=aaaalll good.” (Police were quick to find the Facebook page because Morgan was already on parole from a 2010 bank robbery.) [The Smoking Gun, 9-24-2015]

Armed & Clumsy (All-New!)

More Men Who Accidentally Shot Themselves Recently: A 16-year-old boy, in the leg--for the second time in three months (same leg) (Tulsa, Okla., September). A road-rager waving a gun at a motorist, jarring his trigger finger as he subsequently crashed (Estero, Fla., September). Christen Reece, 23, shot in the head demonstrating to friends the gun’s “safety” (Navajo County, Ariz., September). A man celebrating his 21st (and, alas, final) birthday (Dallas, Tex., July). A 49-year-old man who failed the “removing the magazine does not clear the chamber” test (Mims, Fla., June). Martin Hoyer, 51, who failed the “waistband is not a holster” test (Wenatchee, Wash., September). Thomas Javier, 26, trying to hide his gun (after being caught urinating in the street) and fumbling it, accidentally shooting himself in the vicinity of the organ in question. (Brooklyn, N.Y., September). Donald Watson, 43, slipping a for-sale gun into his pocket and somehow firing on his penis (Sioux Falls, S.D., September).
[Tulsa: Tulsa World, 9-14-2015]
[Estero: WINK-TV (Fort Myers), 9-16-2015]
[Reece: White Mountain Independent (Show Low, Ariz.), 9-3-2015]
[Dallas: New York Daily News, 7-18-2015]
[Mims: WTVJ-TV (Miami), 6-15-2015]
[Hoyer: Wenatchee World, 9-24-2015]
[Javier: New York Daily News, 9-27-2015]
[Watson: Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 9-25-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2009)

The Power of Love: Before Arthur Horn met his future bride Lynette (a "metaphysical healer") in 1988, he was a tenured professor at Colorado State, with a PhD in anthropology from Yale, teaching a mainstream course in human evolution. With Lynette's “guidance” (after a revelatory week with her in California, searching for Bigfoot), Horn resigned from Colorado State and began seeking to remedy his inadequate Ivy League education. Lecturing at a conference in Denver, Colo., in September [2009], Horn said he now realizes that humans evolved from an alien race of shape-shifting reptilians that continue to control civilization through secretive leaders. [Rocky Mountain Collegian, 9-28-2009]

Thanks This Week to Joan Condell, John Baker, and Bruce Leiserowitz, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Mon Oct 26, 2015

Unclear on the concept.

Having worked directly for or as a contractor for the US government for 37 years I found similar situations where the guilty were rewarded, The innocent blamed and the messenger hanged. Got a sexual discrimination complaint thrown at me for hiring a woman for a supervisors job when both applicants were women? I of course was assumed guilty from the start even before the formal hearings. I escaped with only a lecture on a lack of sensitivity of women's issues.

Gods Wrath: Glad I don't live there. In Miami-Dade County the divine protection is needed to protect us from misguided presidential candidates, we currently have three in the race. Donald does not live here, but his biggest donors do. Jeb and the doctor do.

Armed and clumsy: The problem of men in particular, shooting their private parts off seems to be a growing national trend. Perhaps congress should enact a law requiring armored jocks for all males having hand guns.

The Professor: A Ivy league education is no indication of possessing any sort of common sense, (I did graduate from Colorado State). I am intrigued about his theory of us descending from reptilian shape shifting aliens. I can think of any number of past, current or aspiring politicians from both parties that have reptile sized brains.
Posted by Gator Guy on 10/26/15 at 07:22 PM
Ivy League vs School of Hard Knocks- Not too surprising that life experience can trump book learning.

gang banger- How racist of him.

facilitator- Well if she could read his mind...

teams- The NFL, greedy bastards!

the south- So are all small time politicians in the south crazy??

Gamrat/Courser- See, crazy!

Jack of all trades- Master of none.

welfare- Somehow I think it might be more productive to spend that time and money investigating political malfeasance and corruption.

donuts- What kind of an idiot tries to rob a donut shop?? Might as well try to rob the police station! (kidding) 😉

bank robber- He's going to jail, unless the germs he picked up from putting that filth money in his mouth doesn't kill him first. YUCK!

guns+stupidity=natural selection

Love struck- He's the devolving professor.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 10/26/15 at 09:27 PM
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