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Sunday December 21st 2014

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News of the Weird

by Chuck Shepherd

Unclear on the Concept (and the Image): The Associated Press, reporting in August from Jerusalem, noted that the ultra-Orthodox community’s “modesty patrols” were selling eyeglasses with “special blur-inducing stickers” that fuzz up distant images so that offended men will not inadvertently spot immodestly dressed women. (The stickers apparently simulate nearsightedness, in that vision is clear in the near-field.) The “modesty patrols” have long tried to shame women dressed in anything other than closed-neck, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts, but may be losing that fight. A columnist for the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz praised the eyeglasses for shifting the responsibility to men for their priggishness.

NOTE: Once again, have a look at some recent weird news that sounds a lot like old weird news (our “Recurring Themes”), plus updates on some all-time-favorite weirdos.

• Periodically, News of the Weird reports on foreigners’ cuisines that most Americans find “undelectable.” A June Wall Street Journal story featured a hardy, fun-loving group of New Yorkers (the “Innard Circle”) who dine monthly at out-of-the-way ethnic restaurants in order to sample such dishes as camel’s eyeball (“way different from a goat’s eyeball,” said one member) and “crispy colorectal,” and had recently learned, from a non-English-speaking waitress, that they had just consumed bull’s diaphragm. Another member admitted “an element of showing off” to the exercise, and acknowledged that not all rookie members return for a second meal. The one body part that no one seems to recall having tried yet: uterus.

• The way it usually happens is Mom and Dad start a road trip with their children, but after a rest stop, they fail to notice that one of the kids is not on board, and they may be well down the road before they turn around. However, in June, the family member left behind at a Memphis, Tenn., rest stop was Dad, and for 100 miles, no one grasped that he was missing. The family was traveling in a van, and everyone presumed Dad was in the back. He was still at the gas station, calling his own phone (which was in the back of the van). Dad finally reached Mom in the van by posting to Facebook.

• In June, inmate Michelle Richards, 33, was about to begin her sentence at the Albany County (N.Y.) jail when guards discovered a  hypodermic needle and seven packets of heroin inside her vagina.  (She had been arrested for possessing a needle and heroin in her bra.)  Richards’ arrest came about a week after inmate Andrea Amanatides was caught at the very same jailhouse using the same hiding place to sneak in heroin and 256 prescription pills (reported in News of the Weird eight weeks ago). (Amanatides’ stash was discovered when the baggie holding it became dislodged and broke open on the floor.)

• Stores and transportation carriers are, after all these years, still unsure about which “assistance animals” they must allow without violating the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. Under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest draft guidelines for airlines, released in February, miniature horses and pot-bellied pigs are allowed on board under certain conditions, but not ferrets, rodents, spiders, snakes or other reptiles. Apparently there is a North American Potbellied Pig Association, whose vice president pointed out to CNSNews.com that swine can be trained to open and close doors and to use a litter box.

• Another Absent-Minded Musician: The most recent musician to carry a rare, expensive instrument on public transportation but then forget to take it with him was the person who in July left a borrowed Stradivarius violin on a train when he got off in Bern, Switzerland.  Initially, the musician panicked, but the violin was eventually turned in by a good Samaritan. (The last News of the Weird report of such a Stradivarius was the one accidentally left in a New York City taxicab in 2008. That instrument, reported as worth $4 million, was also returned.)

• Several inventors have attempted over the years to transport bodily sensations over the Internet so that couples separated by distance can simulate personal affections to each other. Now comes Hooman Samani of the Singapore company Lovotics, introducing his “Kissenger” at a design conference in Newcastle, England, in June. Kissenger is a large, soft ball with human-like lips and many pressure points, connected in tandem by the Internet, so that the unique lip movements by one lover are received precisely by the other as if their mouths were actually working the kiss. (In May 2011, Kajimoto Lab in Tokyo introduced a machine with a straw-like device that, when rotated by one lover’s tongue, theoretically rotated one in the partner’s device, thus simulating a “French kiss.” That simulator, though, lacked the pillow-like facial feel of the Kissenger.)

• Attendance is still strong in tiny Shingo, Japan, where villagers are certain that Jesus Christ is buried. About 500 tourists joined the celebration on June 3 (an event first held in 1964), in honor of Jesus’ relocation there (presumably a voluntary journey from Calvary after the crucifixion). According to legend, he lived out his life in Shingo uneventfully, and a festival with dancing girls marks the anniversary. {in}