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Saturday October 25th 2014

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News of the Weird 5/9/13

by Chuck Shepherd

Frontiers of Parenting Caribou Baby, a Brooklyn, N.Y., “eco-friendly maternity, baby and lifestyle store,” has recently been hosting gatherings at which parents exchange tips on “elimination communication”—the weaning of infants without benefit of diapers (as reported in April by the New York Times). Parents watch for cues, such as a certain “cry or grimace” that supposedly signals that the tot urgently needs to be hoisted onto a potty. (Eventually, they say, the potty serves to cue the baby.) Dealing with diapers is so unpleasant, they say, that cleaning an occasional mess becomes tolerable. The little darlings’ public appearances sometimes call for diapers, but can also be dealt with by taking the baby behind the nearest tree. One parent even admitted, “I have absolutely been at parties and witnessed people putting their baby over the sink.”

Can’t Possibly Be True Washington, D.C.’s WRC-TV reported in March that a woman from the Maryland suburbs showed a reporter a traffic citation she had just received, ticketing her for driving in the left lane on Interstate 95 in Laurel while going only 63 mph—compared to the posted (“maximum”) speed of 65. The citation read, “Failure of driver … to keep right.” The station’s meteorologist noted that winds that day were gusting to 40 mph and that the woman might simply have been trying to control her car.

Democracy Blues The city council of Oita, Japan, refused to seat a recently elected member because he refused to remove the mask he always wears in public. Professional wrestler “Skull Reaper A-ji” said his fans would not accept him as authentic if he strayed from his character. Some masked U.S. wrestlers, and especially the popular Mexican “lucha libre” wrestlers, share the sentiment. (At press time, the issue was apparently still unresolved in Oita.)

Unclear on the Concept Passive possession of child pornography is not a victimless crime, authorities say, because by definition a child had been abused in the creation of the image, but that reasoning was no relief for New Zealander Ronald Clark, who was sentenced to three months in jail in Auckland in April for watching pornographic cartoon videos of short-statured elves and pixies. A child-protection activist acknowledged that no child was harmed in the creation of the Japanese anime artwork, but insisted that it was still injurious because “(I)t’s all part of that spectrum.” Clark said he wondered if he might also be convicted for viewing sexual stick-figure drawings.

Suspicions Confirmed California street gangs stage fights whose locations can be accurately predicted using the same algorithm that anthropologists use to predict where lions and hyenas will fight in the wild to protect their own territories. A UCLA researcher, using the standard “Lotka-Volterra” equation on 13 equal-sized criminal gangs in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in east Los Angeles, produced a table of probabilities showing how far from each gang’s border any fights were likely to occur. In the period 1999 to 2002, the formula correctly showed that about 58 percent of shootings occurred within 0.2 miles of the border, 83 percent within 0.4 miles, and 97 percent within 1 mile.

Least Competent Criminals Just Because It Worked Once: Carl Bellenir, 48, was arrested in San Luis Obispo, Calif., in February after he had successfully cashed in, at a Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, several rolls of pennies that had been stuffed into rolls labeled for dimes. Bellenir apparently did not realize that the rolls would be examined later in the day and so returned the very next morning to the same bank and tried it again. Police were called, and Bellenir fled, but he was captured down the street at a Bank of America trying the same trick. {in}