Chuck Shepherd Thursday, August 6, 2015 0

One Major Flaw In The Plan

Gary Elliott, 19, was arrested shortly after someone had ripped a hole in the ceiling of Al’s Army Navy store in Orlando, Fla., and — expertly shimmying down a rope, then back up — made off with about 70 guns in a bag. (“It must be Spider-Man,” was proprietor Neal Crasnow’s first thought.) However, minutes after the burglary, Elliott came to a police officer’s attention on the street, bleeding, carrying the large bag — and pedaling away on his “getaway” vehicle, which was a genuine tricycle.

Latest Religious Messages

— Jihadists governing ISIS’ Euphrates province recently outlawed the popular hobby of breeding pigeons and threatened violators with flogging and imprisonment. The ban was initially thought to be aimed at frustrating pigeon-messaging to the outside world, but the published prohibition mentions other justifications — the hobby’s frivolity (wasting time that could better be spent praying) and the special offense to God (because pigeons are “uncovered,” with exposed genitals).

— In a June YouTube video reported by various news sites, Tempe, Ariz., pastor Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist Church) prayed for God to “rip out the heart” of Caitlyn Jenner, for whom Anderson expresses “a perfect hatred” for announcing she was no longer Bruce.

— On his “700 Club” TV program in June, Pat Robertson patiently explained to a grieving mother why God could have allowed her 3-year-old son to die of illness — that God saw the big picture and knew, for instance, that the kid could have become a serial killer or contracted a hideous disease, and that she should be relieved that God took him early.

Can’t Stop Myself

Esteban Rocha, 51, was arrested in June in Placerville, Calif., and charged with exposing himself to a woman — about 25 minutes after Rocha had left the Placerville Police Department, where he had dutifully gone to register his location so that police could keep track of him.

It Pays To Fail

The enormous compensation CEOs of large corporations receive is justified in part by their bringing prosperity to their shareholders. But last year (an excellent one for most investors), two of the nation’s best-paid chief executives “earned” handsome raises despite presiding over losses: Philippe Dauman of Viacom (paid $44.3 million, stock lost 6.6 percent) and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (an 88 percent raise to $37.3 million, stock lost 6.7 percent). CEO Steven Newman of Transocean earned only $14.2 million, according to a June Wall Street Journal report. But that was a 2.2 percent boost — for stewardship that resulted in one of 2014’s biggest flops — Transocean’s 59.9 percent loss for its shareholders.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Japanese report a decline of intimacy among the young. A Kyoto research institute developed a huggable, human-sized, featureless pillow (resembling Casper the Friendly Ghost), with skin-like texture, to serve as an embraceable intimacy substitute. For people with actual lovers, the “Hugvie” (retailing for the equivalent of $80) has a mouth slot for a cellphone to enable running sweet talk with a remote “companion.”

Redneck Marketing Challenges

— Scotty and Beverly Franklin of Springfield, Mo., are trying to tempt cowboys to actually wear leather boots retrofitted to be open-toed sandals. KHOU-TV (Houston) reported that the Franklins would sandal-up your favorite pair for $75.

— One of the more reviled consumer products of 2015 is a gun-shaped iPhone case, which so alarms police that it suddenly became hard to find in early July, even at the online Japan Trend Shop, which previously offered models from $5 to $49. Asked one officer, “Why would you want to make yourself look like a threat (to cops)?”

Family Values

In a recent BBC documentary, the son of renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking (Tim, now 36) revealed that his dad is “hugely competitive” and showed him “no compassion at all” when he was growing up. Tim said two of his few avenues of coping with such a famous, oblivious father were when he used to race around in his dad’s specialized (and expensive) wheelchair (pretending it was a go-kart) and, for those deliciously awkward moments, adding cuss words to his father’s synthesized speech software.

Recurring Themes

— Adam Hirtle, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colo., checked into a hospital on June 10 after intentionally shooting himself in the foot with a .22-caliber handgun — twice, “curious” to see how it felt (with and without his boot to compare pain levels).

— Jeremiah Raber, 38, recently commenced a crowdfunding campaign for a kids’ sports version of his “Nutshellz” jockstrap — according to Raber the strongest such apparel in the world, made from breakthrough “Dyneema” (supposedly half the weight of Kevlar but twice as strong). Recently, using a “.22 long rifle,” Raber had business partner Matt Heck shoot him directly in the delicate area, but according to Raber, he felt just a “tap.”

Aerobatic Drivers

— A 79-year-old woman in Markgroeningen, Germany, hit a ditch coming down a hill and flipped through a wall into the second floor of a storage depot, resulting in only minor injuries (June).

— A woman driving 100 mph on a freeway near Leicester, England, lost control of her car, which somehow wound up in a tree about 20 feet above the roadway. She and a passenger climbed down and walked away (May).

— A car speeding over a ramp sailed off a road in Durban, South Africa, crashing back-end-first through the roof of a one-story home, resting with the front end pointing straight up. Neither driver nor resident was hurt (July).

The Lunatic Fringe

— While a custom fitting is being prepared, Alyeska Pipeline is “servicing” a leak in the trans-Alaska Pipeline by sending an employee twice a day in June to mop up the oil with rags.

— A man was spotted and photographed on a riverbank in Nanyang, China, carefully (and oblivious to onlookers) bathing his inflatable doll.

— In May, at the very moment police in Akron, Ohio, had begun (with a warrant) searching the home of Andrew Palmer, 46, for evidence of drug-dealing, a UPS driver appeared at the door to make a routine delivery — of four pounds of marijuana.

A News Of The Weird Classic (July 2010) 

Fine Points of the Law: Things looked grim for Carlos Simon-Timmerman, arrested by U.S. border agents in Puerto Rico for bringing a child-sex video home from a holiday in Mexico. The star of “Little Lupe the Innocent” looked very young, and federal prosecutors in April (2010) called an “expert witness” pediatrician, who assured the jury, based on the girl’s underdevelopment, that she was a minor. However, Simon-Timmerman’s lawyer had located “Lupe” via her website, and she cheerfully agreed to fly in from her home in Spain with her passport and other documents to prove, at a dramatic point in the trial, that she was 19 (and “legal”) when the video was made. Simon-Timmerman was acquitted.


California inventor Matt McMullen, who makes the world’s most realistic life-sized female doll, the RealDoll (with exquisite skin texture and facial and body architecture, and which sells for $5,000 to $10,000), is working with engineers experienced in robotics to add animation — but according to a June New York Times report, faces a built-in problem. As a pioneer Japanese robotics developer observed, robots that become too humanlike tend to disgust rather than satisfy. Hence, the more lifelike McMullen makes his RealDolls, the more likely the customer is to be creeped out rather than turned on — perhaps forcing the virtuoso McMullen to leave enough imperfection to reassure the customer that it’s just a doll.

Government In Action

— The federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force obtained indictments of 243 people in June in a variety of alleged scams and swindles, and among those arrested was Dr. Noble U. Ezukanma, 56, of Fort Worth, Texas, who once billed the government for working 205 hours in a single day (October 16, 2012). Other indictees were similarly accused of inflating the work they supposedly did for Medicare patients, but Dr. Ezukanma clearly had the most productive day of the bunch.

— Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina, who with her husband earned $2.5 million last year, disclosed that the U.S. tax system required her to file not just a federal return but returns in 17 states, as well — and a June New York Times report chose one state (Michigan) to highlight the Fiorinas’ plight. Ultimately, the Fiorinas determined that they owed Michigan income tax of $40, but they had no way of knowing the exact amount until they had completed 58 pages of documents (to rule out various Michigan attempts to collect more because the tax they owed was more justly payable to other states and could thus be excluded).

— Canada’s naval vessels stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, currently lack supply-ship services, according to a May Canadian Press report. One of the two supply vessels has been decommissioned, and the other, 45 years old, is floating limply because of corrosion, and work on a replacement will not begin until 2017. Consequently, according to the report, the navy has been forced to order repair parts for the ship by advertising for them on eBay.

Cultural Diversity

— A low-caste minor girl was beaten up by several higher-caste women in the village of Ganeshpura, India, in June (in retaliation for the girl’s having disrespected a male relative of the women — by allowing her shadow to partially cover the man). The girl’s family managed to get to a police station to file charges, but in some remote villages like Ganeshpura, higher-caste aggressors can intimidate the victims into silence (and in this case, allegedly threatened to kill the girl and members of her family for the shadow-casting).

— Yunessan Spa House in Hakone, Japan, recently began offering guests supposedly soothing, skin-conditioning baths — of ramen noodles (elevating to health status what might be Japan’s real national dish). The pork broth that fills the tub is genuine, but because of health department regulations, only synthetic noodles can be used, and it is not clear that the artificial ramen achieves the same (allegedly) beautifying collagen levels as actual noodles.

Oh, Dear!

The New York Court of Appeals ruled in June that, when a body is taken for official autopsy and organs are removed (including the brain), the deceased’s family does not necessarily have a right to receive the body with organs re-inserted. “Nothing in our common law jurisprudence,” the judges wrote, mandates “that the medical examiner do anything more than produce the … body.” The family had demanded the entire body back for a “proper” Catholic burial.

Sounds Like A Joke

In May, police in Anglesey, North Wales, called for a hostage negotiator to help with two suspects (aged 21 and 27) wanted for a series of relatively minor crimes and who were holed up on the roof of a building. However, the building was a one-story community center, and the men (whose feet were dangling over a gutter about 8 feet off the ground) had refused to come down. Even as a crowd gathered to watch, the men managed to hold out for 90 minutes before being talked down.

Least Competent Criminals

Marijuana is purported to make some heavy users paranoid, and the January arrest of alleged Bozeman, Mont., dealers Leland Ayala-Doliente, 21, and Craig Holland, 22, may have been a case in point. Passersby had reported the two men pacing along the side of Golden Beauty Drive in Rexburg, Idaho, and, when approached by a car, would throw their hands up until the vehicle passed. When police finally arrived, one suspect shouted: “We give up. We know we’re surrounded. The drugs (20 pounds of marijuana) are (over there).” According to the Idaho Falls Post Register, they were not surrounded, nor had they been followed by undercover officers — as the men claimed.

News You Can Use

A brief Washington Post review in June heralded the new edition of the Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, covering “different types of ignorance” in a range of subjects by authors from various countries. Among the valuable conclusions in the book is that while “individual ignorance” may be rational in some cases, it is unlikely that “collective ignorance” advances the society. In any event, the author concluded, “The realm of ignorance is so vast that no one volume can fully cover it all.”

A News Of The Weird Classic (October 2010) 

Ingrid Paulicivic filed a lawsuit in September (2010) against Laguna Beach, Calif., gynecologist Red Alinsod over leg burns she bafflingly acquired during her 2009 hysterectomy — a procedure that was topped off by the doctor’s nearly gratuitous “name-branding” of her uterus with his electrocautery tool. Dr. Alinsod explained that he carved “Ingrid” in inch-high letters on the organ only after he had removed it and that such labeling helps in the event a woman requests the return of the uterus as a souvenir. He called the branding just a “friendly gesture” and said he did not know how the burns on Paulicivic’s leg occurred. (Update: In 2012, a court in Orange County, Calif., ruled that Alinsod’s regimen did not constitute malpractice.)