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News of the Weird 1/23/14

by Chuck Shepherd

Self-Appreciation Everyone’s Above Average:  Ask Americans how they stand compared to their fellow countrymen, and in survey after survey, the vast majority rank themselves “above average” in such areas as driving skill, sexual prowess, and general honesty. A recent study of English prisoners, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, revealed that those miscreants think they, too, are in the upper half. They rate themselves above average (whether compared to Britons in prison or in society at large) in compassion, generosity, dependability, trustworthiness and honesty. In fact, the only trait on the University of Southampton survey on which the criminals failed to rank themselves as better than the typical Brit was “law-abidingness.” On that trait, the inmates rated themselves merely as “average.”

Compelling Explanations Pastor Ray Scott Teets, 66, of Fallen Timbers Community Chapel in Springhill Township, Pa., arrested in November for alleged “inappropriate contact” with an 11-year-old girl (daughter of parishioners) on at least three occasions, denied to police that the meetings were inappropriate. The girl, he said, requested counseling with him and suggested that the sessions take place in the storage shed in back of the chapel. (The girl said there were six meetings, lasting about 15 minutes each, and denied initiating them.)

• Robert Bourque, 55, was convicted of DUI in Sarnia, Ontario, in October, but continued to deny the charge. He admitted he had four beers on the day of the traffic stop but said the Breathalyzer result was misleading because he had recently poured alcohol into his ears to test his theory about how Jesus healed the sick. (Bourque was acting as his own lawyer.) Toronto Sun, 10-11-2013]

Ironies Celebrity Ironies: (1) In December, a California appeals court endorsed actor Tippi Hedren’s victory suing the lawyer who had earlier failed to win compensation for her from a 2006 studio accident. In Hedren’s most famous movie role, she was attacked by birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic film, and in 2006 had been clobbered by falling scenery caused by birds nesting in an attic over a stage. (2) A man who won a Hollywood raffle to watch the finale of “Breaking Bad” with cast members was arrested in Fort Myers, Fla., in January and faces his own intent-to-sell drug charges. Two weeks earlier, unrelated to the show or the raffle, a man with the same name as the show’s protagonist (Walter White) was sentenced in Billings, Mont., to 12 years in prison on drug charges.

•Officials in Taiji, Japan, announced in October they would build a tourist attraction to publicize a nearby annual dolphin cull in which thousands are killed. Park planners hope to attract visitors to swim and cavort in pools among the lovable, captured dolphins—and also to dine on dolphin meat (and rare whale meat) scored from the culls. Conservationists are of course disgusted by the project.

Perspective For nearly 30 years, until 2007, the U.S. national symbol, the bald eagle, was endangered and protected, but officially they (along with golden eagles) are now so insignificant that the government is willing to endure dozens of them being chopped to death annually in the blades of “clean energy” wind turbines. An Associated Press investigation in December revealed that the federal government is purposely ignoring the eagles’ attrition out of fear that outraged conservationists’ campaigns will hinder development of wind power as an alternative to coal-produced electricity. (Another recent AP investigation revealed a similar painful choice in the continued commitment to ethanol as a cleaner alternative fuel even though that cleanliness is being increasingly questioned, and even though ethanol production requires the massive diversion of corn that could inexpensively feed millions of hungry people worldwide.)