HARD-HITTING NUMBERS

Chuck Shepherd Thursday, May 14, 2015 0
HARD-HITTING NUMBERS

In March, offensive lineman John Urschel of the Baltimore Ravens added to his curriculum vitae by co-authoring the latest of his several peer-reviewed academic articles: “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians” in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. If Urschel can understand obtuse formulas, why is he a football player? On the Players Tribune website he wrote, “There’s a rush you get when you go out on the field . . . and physically dominate the player across from you.” He added, “I love hitting people.”

 

Great Art

— The National Gallery of Australia hosted “James Turrell: A Retrospective,” in which all guests were nude. The exhibit was staged by Australian artist Stuart Ringholt, who was nude for the Turrell show, though other gallery staff remained clothed. The post-tour cocktail reception was also in the nude.

— The Australian “abstract expressionist” Aelita Andre began painting professionally at age 9 months, said her parents. By 22 months, she had her own exhibit at Melbourne’s Brunswick Street gallery. By age 4, she had enjoyed a $24,000 sale. In April, the now-8-year-old told News.com.au, “I interpret my style of painting as a magic, abstract universe. It doesn’t sit in one tiny sphere in all realism; it goes out and it explores the world.” She acknowledged seeing things (for example, “rabbits”) that an 8-year-old might, but pointed out that she also sees “the cosmos.” “I just feel free. I don’t feel locked up in a tiny world.”

 

Wait, What?

— In March, two men serving time for anti-gay murders became the first same-sex couple allowed to get married behind bars in Britain, at the Full Sutton Prison in East Yorkshire. The romance blossomed after the two men (Marc Goodwin, 31, serving life, and pedophile Mikhail Gallatinov, 40) met at the prison library. The wedding party included four relatives of the two killers.

— In January, the principal of W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Ala., sent home a letter to parents with her suggestions on how to train students in the event a shooter breaks into the classroom. She asked each child to be armed with an 8-ounce canned food item to toss at any potential killer. The can is supposed to give the student a “sense of empowerment” in the face of extreme danger, the principal told WHNT-TV of Huntsville. He acknowledged, “This is a sensitive topic.”

— A Catholic priest in Taranto, Italy, who was not named, was removed recently after reports he arranged for online role-playing in which a man was Judas and the priest dispatched him to gay orgies to be punished by members of the Vatican security force.

 

World’s Greatest Lawyers

— A man in Mios, France, was fired from his job several years ago, and had been receiving unemployment benefits. But a tribunal of the national labor agency eventually ruled in the employer’s favor and ordered the man’s benefits paid back. The agency ordered the man’s current employer to garnish his paycheck for $160-210 per week. Then the man hired a lawyer whose name was not made public. The labor agency’s new order requires the current employer to garnish the man’s pay by 1 penny a month for the next 26,126 years.

— Kimberly Kitchen, 45, was a successful estate lawyer in Huntington, Penn. She had secured more than 30 clients for the BMZ Law firm. In her 10-year career, she had been so successful that she’d been promoted to partner and had served as president of the local bar association. Then there was a complication. In December, 2014, it was revealed that she was not a lawyer at all. Her diploma, bar exam results, and other documents were all forgeries, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, which filed charges in March of this year.

 

Bright Ideas

— Police in Malegaon, India, sought to reduce tensions between Muslims and Hindus over the theft and butchering of cattle. Hindus hold cattle sacred. Police requested that local farmers send them “mugshots” of their cows, along with other biographical information, so that they can build a database to improve bovine security.

— Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, 23, received free around-the-world plane travel just because of her name. Jordan Axani used to have a girlfriend of that name. He bought the couple world-travel tickets, but they broke up, and the tickets were not refundable. Axani decided in December to find a compatible Elizabeth Gallagher to use the ticket with him. The 23-year-old Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, student won out over 18 other “Elizabeth Gallaghers.” The trip was “strictly platonic,” he said, though he acknowledged that Gallagher’s boyfriend did not seem pleased.

— German high school student Simon Schrader, 17, was preparing for the Abitur advanced-level tests that identify top-performing students. He filed a formal request in April, under North Rhine-Westphalia state’s generous freedom of information law, for an advance copy of the test. “I just wanted to see what they would say,” he said.

 

Can’t Possibly Be True

Dan Kennedy of Salt Lake City was driving to work when a large bag fell off of the truck in front of him. To keep other drivers safe, Kennedy moved the bag from the road. He discovered it contained 75 pounds of U.S. currency (which turned out to amount to $22,000). The money was in a plastic bag marked with the name of the Brinks armored truck company. The bag remained sealed. Kennedy dutifully contacted state troopers and handed it over. He sounded perplexed when Brinks sent him a $5,000 gift check. “Why would I get anything for that?” “Almost anyone,” he said, would have done what he did.

 

Delicate Generation

In preparation for the National Union of Students Women’s Conference in Solihull, England, some attendees requested that clapping for the speakers be discouraged, but that approval from the audience be expressed by “jazz hands” — open hands, palms directed to the stage and fingers extended. They said using “jazz hands” would show compassion for attendees who have anxiety and other disorders, and for speakers who might be distracted by the din of approval.

 

Undignified Deaths

— Wayne Clark, 52, collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack seconds after walking into the Aldi grocery store in Edgewood, Mary., and announcing a robbery. At his home, police discovered evidence linking Clark to two earlier robberies.

— Anthony Stokes, 17, died from car-crash injuries as he was fleeing Roswell, Ga., police following a home invasion. Stokes drew national attention in 2013 when, in order to receive a heart transplant, he promised to turn around his criminal life. Soon after the surgery, though, he was posting thug selfies on Facebook, and in January 2015, was jailed for possessing stolen property.

 

Weird News Classic:  Sept. 2010 

In Ogden, Utah, in October, 2009, Adam Manning, 30, accompanied his pregnant girlfriend to the McKay-Dee Hospital emergency room as she was going into labor. According to witnesses, as a nurse attended to the woman, Manning began flirting with her, complimenting the nurse’s looks and giving her neck rubs. When Manning groped the nurse’s breast, she called security. Manning was arrested and taken to jail. Of course, he missed the birth of his child.

 

World’s Worst Sculptor

It seemed like a good idea when the town of Celoron, N.Y., agreed in 2009 to pay for a bronze statue honoring the village’s only celebrity. Lucille Ball, who had spent her childhood years there. The resulting sculpture was apparently a monstrosity, described in news reports as “frightening” and unrecognizable. The original sculptor first suggested a fee of $8,000 to $10,000 to make a better one. But after Mayor Scott Schrecengost started a fundraising campaign, the sculptor offered to make another one for free.

 

Leading Economic Indicators

The IRS’ supervisory revenue official for the Dallas region disclosed in April that his office had so few collectors that it would pursue only scofflaws who owe the government at least $1 million. “I have to say,” the supervisor told a reporter, “nobody’s ever going to knock on the door” of anyone who owes from $100,000 to $999,999.

 

Unclear On The Concept

At Australia’s sixth annual National Disability Summit in Melbourne, all the speakers except one were able-bodied. That person, who was in a wheelchair, had to be lifted up to the stage because there was no ramp. Disabled activists in attendance told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the disabled people’s table was at the back of the room; the food tables were elevated to accommodate standers; and one accessible toilet was being used as storage space.

 

People Different From Us

Venezuelan model Aleira Avendano’s signature feature is her 20-inch waist, which she says has been maintained by wearing an absurdly tight corset for 23 hours a day for the past six years. “I wash myself and rest for an hour, and then I put it on again. At first, it was terrible, then I got used to it and it became a necessity.”

 

Compelling Explanations

A jury in Atascadero, Calif., had convicted Mark Andrews, 51, of murder. The jury concluded that he was legally sane at the time he shot his neighbor to death. Andrews claimed his neighbor was a vampire and that he had been a werewolf for 20 years. A month later, a judge in San Francisco acquitted Santino Aviles, 41, of robbery and other felony charges after he claimed that the apartment he broke into was a spaceship that would take him to safety before the imminent explosion of the Earth. His lawyer called his condition a “meth-fueled psychosis,” and he was convicted only of misdemeanors.

 

Readers’ Choice

— No charges were filed in an incident in Lee County, Ga., even though a 74-year-old woman was shot by her son-in-law. Deputies accepted the explanation that Larry McElroy shot at an armadillo with his 9mm handgun, but that the bullet ricocheted; traveled 100 yards — first off a fence and then through the woman’s mobile home — and finally hit her in the back. She was not seriously hurt.

— Robert Abercrombie became the most recent practitioner of DIY tooth extraction when he yanked out a front tooth of his 8-year-old son, Jason, by tying the tooth to his Camaro and driving away. Jason was perfectly cool with the stunt, which was captured on video and posted on the Internet. “It came out!” Jason is seen shouting into the camera.

 

Another Weird News Classic: Nov. 2010 

In June, 2010, the roller coaster at the Funtown Splashdown in Saco, Maine, unexpectedly came to a halt, stranding riders for 15 minutes. A reportedly “furious” Eric and Tiffany Dillingham said that their 8-year-old daughter was so frightened that she had to be taken to a hospital and has had nightmares constantly. They threatened that a lawsuit was a possibility. Since the purpose of a roller coaster ride is to induce fright, it was not known whether a hospital visit and fury would also have ensued if the ride had been working perfectly.