Hope you all have a delightful weekend. I’m making it a 5-day weekend and took the opportunity Thursday to sleep until 2:30 in the afternoon. I liked it. I liked it a lot.
News of the Weird from Chuck Shepherd’s column.
Rednecks on parade…
Roy Griffith, 60, John Sanborn, 53, and Douglas Ward, 55, were arrested in Deerfield Township, Mich., in July and charged with stealing a 14-foot-long stuffed alligator from a barn, dragging it away with their truck, and using it to surf in the mud (“mudbogging”). When the gator’s owner tracked down the three nearby, they denied the theft and insisted that theirs is an altogether-different 14-foot-long stuffed alligator. (Ward’s blood-alcohol reading was 0.40.) [Flint Journal, 7-7-2011]
Ronald Adams, 49, was arrested in June for assaulting an 8-year-old boy in his home in Ouachita Parish, La., after an argument over which TV program to watch. Adams allegedly threw a TV remote, hitting the child in the head, because the kid insisted on “cartoons” while Adams preferred “wrestling.” [The Smoking Gun, 6-6-2011]
Authorities in St. Lucie County, Fla., investigated an incident in May in which a woman allegedly fired an AR-15 rifle at a target inside her bedroom closet and in which the gunshots went through the wall and damaged a washing machine, springing a water leak throughout the residence. (Officials said the woman’s husband fired shots, too, and that it wasn’t the first time the couple had engaged in bedroom target practice.) [TCPalm.com, 5-24-2011]
When deputies in Monroe County, Tenn., arrested a woman for theft in August, they learned that one of the items stolen was a 150-year-old Vatican-certified holy relic based on the Veil of Veronica (supposedly used to wipe Jesus’ face before the crucifixion). The painting had been stolen from the closet of a trailer home on a back road in the Tennessee mountains, where a local named “Frosty,” age 73, had kept it for 20 years with no idea of its significance. [WVLT-TV (Knoxville), 8-4-2011]
Finer points of the law…
Of the 1,500 judges who referee disputes as to whether someone qualifies for Social Security disability benefits, David Daugherty of West Virginia is the current soft-touch champion, finding for the claimant about 99 percent of the time (compared to judges’ overall rate of 60 percent). As The Wall Street Journal reported in May, Daugherty decided many of the cases without hearings or with the briefest of questioning, including batches of cases brought by the same lawyer. He criticized his less lenient colleagues, who “act like it’s their own damn money we’re giving away.” (A week after the Journal report, Judge Daugherty was placed on leave, pending an investigation.) [Wall Street Journal, 5-19-2011, 5-27-2011]
Catch-22: NYPD officer James Seiferheld, 47, still receives his $52,365 annual disability pay despite relentless efforts of the department to fire him. He had retired in 2004 on disability, but was ordered back to work when investigators found him doing physical work inconsistent with “disability.” However, Seiferheld could not return to work because he repeatedly failed drug screening (for cocaine). Meanwhile, his appeal of the disability denial went to the state Court of Appeals, which found a procedural error and ordered that Seiferheld’s “disability” benefits continue (even though the city has proven both that he is physically able and a substance-abuser). [New York Post, 7-12-2011]
Jerry Prieto, 38, pleaded guilty in July in Benton County, Wash. (possession of methamphetamine and “malicious mischief with sexual motivation”), and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. Prieto had been arrested with the drugs in October 2010 in a stall at a highway rest stop. According to the prosecutor, Prieto had written sexual notes on the floor with a felt-tipped pen and drawn an arrow pointing directly to his stall. (As a condition of his sentence, Prieto is allowed in rest-stop bathrooms only for “traditional” purposes.) [Seattle Weekly, 7-19-2011]
Not to be outdone by the Yanks…
Bats’ Rights: In January, Alison Murray purchased her first-ever home, in Aberdeen, Scotland, but was informed in August that she has to relocate, temporarily, because the house has become infested with bats, which cannot be disturbed, under Scottish and European law, once they settle in. Conservation officials advised her that she could probably move back in November, when the bats leave to hibernate. [The Scotsman, 8-11-2011] [FFLOL-Editor’s note; another article sites that Ms. Murray is terrified of bats, and it was that she could not have them ‘evicted’ + her fear of them in her attic that = her relocation.]
A Southampton (England) University researcher told an academic conference in Stockholm in July that his work, demonstrating that women who stop smoking even after becoming pregnant will have healthier babies, is important because he found that pregnant women rationalize continued smoking, in part to have smaller babies that will be less uncomfortable to deliver. [Daily Telegraph (London), 7-7-2011]
Gee, What Do We Do With All This Stimulus Money? The Omaha (Neb.) Public School system spent $130,000 of its stimulus grant recently just to buy 8,000 copies of the book “The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change” — that is, one copy for every single employee, from principals to building custodians. Alarmingly, wrote a Omaha World-Herald columnist, the book is “riddled with gobbledygook,” “endless graphs,” and such tedium as the “cultural proficiency continuum” and discussion of the “disequilibrium” arising “due to the struggle to disengage with past actions associated with unhealthy perspectives.” [Omaha World-Herald, 7-11-2011]
Once hired, almost no federal employee ever leaves. Turnover is so slight that, among the typical causes for workers leaving, “death by natural causes” is more likely the reason than “fired for poor job performance.” According to a July USA Today report, the federal rate of termination for poor performance is less than one-fifth the private sector’s, and the annual retention rate for all federal employees was 99.4 percent (and for white-collar and upper-income workers, more than 99.8 percent). Government defenders said the numbers reflect excellence in initial recruitment. [USA Today, 7-20-2011]
Beginning in 2002, a man was reported sidling up to women on crowded New York City subway trains and rubbing against them until he ejaculated. Police were unable to identify him but were concerned enough that they obtained an indictment — “naming” the suspect only as whoever’s DNA it was who committed the subway crimes. In July 2011, they finally obtained a match, to Darnell Hardware, 26, who had been in the system repeatedly (drug and indecent-exposure charges) but not until July in offenses that obligated collection of DNA. [Metro (New York City), 7-12-2011]
I’m going to side with Team Denounce…
Berjuan Toys is already selling its Breast Milk Baby online ($70) and expects to have it in stores later this year. The doll works by the child-“mother” donning a halter top with flowers positioned as nipples, and when the baby comes into contact with the a flower, sensors mimic sucking sounds. Although dolls that demonstrate toileting functions are already on the market, breastfeeding activists are more enthusiastic about this one, hopeful that girls’ comfort with breastfeeding will result in decreased bottle-feeding later on. (Opponents have denounced the doll as forcing girls to “grow up” too soon and with choices too complicated for their age, which according to the manufacturer is as young as 3.) [Forbes.com, 7-13- 201; USA Today, 7-25-2011]
Stuck on stupid…
Frances Ragusa, 75, was back in court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June claiming child support she said was never paid by husband Philip Ragusa, 77, in their divorce settlement of 33 years ago. (The “children,” of course, long ago became adults, but the $14,000 judgment has grown, with interest, to about $100,000.) Frances told the New York Post in July that she called Philip several months earlier to discuss the amount but that Philip merely began to cry. “Don’t let this case go to trial,” she recalled telling him. “(I)f you think I’m going to forget it, Phil, you’re stuck on stupid.” [New York Post, 7-11-2011]
Wow, that is some spendy nookie…
Even though Michigan schoolteacher Marcie Rousseau was sentenced in December to at least four years in prison for having sex with a high school boy in Saginaw and Midland counties, the episode is not over. Now, the “victim” has filed a lawsuit against Rousseau and school officials for what his lawyer described as “not consensual” sex. The unnamed, then-16-year-old admitted to at least 100 acts of sexual intercourse, and 75 “other” sex acts, and asks at least $1 million for “physical, psychological and emotional injury.” (To use the “minimum” numbers, that works out to at least $5,700 per sex act, and since $1 million is sought on each of the seven federal-law claims and three state-law claims, the best-case scenario regards each sex act as a $57,000 burden.) [Saginaw News, 5-11-2011]
Unclear on the concept…
In April, Robert Williams conscientiously completed his San Diego police officers’ application, answering truthfully, he said, questions 172 (yes, he had had sexual contact with a child) and 175 (yes, he had “viewed or transacted” child pornography). Three weeks later, the police had not only rejected his application but arrested him. Williams’ wife, Sunem, said the police department has “integrity” problems because “telling the truth during the hiring process brings prosecution. …” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 5-17-2011]
Jonathan Schwartz called 911 in New York City in July to report that he had stabbed his mother to death. A few minutes later but before police arrived, Schwartz called back 911 to report a correction: “No, she committed suicide.” (The mother’s body was found with multiple stab wounds, and police, notwithstanding Schwartz’s “correction,” charged him with murder.) [New York Daily News, 7-4-2011]
What’s in a name?
Arrested (again) for prostitution (this time, Columbus, Ga., April; previously in News of the Weird, in Tampa, Fla., 2009), Ms. Suk Kim Ho, 46. Charged with conspiracy to commit child molestation (Woodstock, Ga., June), Mr. Patrick Molesti, 58. Arrested for lewdness for allegedly exposing himself (Howe Township, Pa., June), Mr. Handy H. Wood, 35 (not to be confused with the man arrested in Columbia, Mo., in July, on suspicion of the same thing, Mr. Willy Wood, 54). Charged with DUI in a crash into a library (Buffalo, N.Y., July), Mr. Jack Goff, 47. Suk: [Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.), 4-12-2011] Molesti: [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6-17-2011] Handy: [Patriot-News (Harrisburg), 6-21-2011] Willy: [Columbia Daily Tribune, 7-19-2011] Goff: [Buffalo News, 7-10-2011]
Trivia: I thought we’d have some fun with famous artists and paintings after reading the News of the Weird about “Frosty” who had that art piece stowed away in his mobile-home in Tennessee.
Name the artist and/or the work, bonus points if you can name both. 🙂
Answers: click the link to read about the individual artists and their style of painting.
1. S. Dali, Crucifixion
2. M. Chagall, The Praying Jew
3. L. Da Vinci, The Virgin on the Rocks
4. P. Klee, Fish Magic
5. H. Matisse, The Creole Dancer
6. C. Monet, Marine Near Etretat
7. P. Picasso, Three Dancers
8. PA. Renoir, Bathers
9. H. Rousseau, The Sleeping Gypsy
10. H. de Toulouse-Lautrec, At The Moulin Rouge