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News of the Weird 3/13/14

by Chuck Shepherd

Sobering Signs In February, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that David Bell could not avoid being charged with DUI merely because he had been sober enough to pass all six “field sobriety tests” administered during a traffic stop. It was enough, the court said, that he had admitted drinking that night. A few days later, the Austin American-Statesman reported on Texan Larry Davis’ struggle to clear the 2013 DWI arrest from his record—since he had blown a 0.0 alcohol reading that night and then had voluntarily undergone a blood test for other impairing drugs and come up clean on that. Davis had admitted to “one drink,” but allegedly failed a “field sobriety test” (in the opinion of the arresting officer, anyway). (Davis’ case is still unresolved, but since he has been declared an “indigent,” the state covers his legal expenses.)

The Continuing Crisis The firm 3D Babies has begun selling (for $800) 8-inch-long fetal sculptures developed from 3-D ultrasound images, computer graphics and 3-D printing technology (“printing” successive layers of material continuously, eventually creating a physical object). (Four-inch and 2-inch models are available for $400 and $200, respectively.) For celebrity hounds who are not planning imminent parenthood, the company sells one fetal sculpture off the shelf: the Kim Kardashian-Kanye West fetus (“Baby North West”) for only $250.

• Ms. Blondie Bennett (her recently acquired real name), 38, is not just a California model selling provocative “Barbie doll” photos of herself online (featuring her recently augmented 32JJ breast implants). She is at work on a longer-range project to remake herself completely as a human Barbie doll—to include the popular critique that Barbie represents not only bodily perfection but mindlessness. Bennett said she has had 20 hypnotherapy sessions to “help” her appear more confused and vacant, according to news reports. “I want people to see me as a plastic sex doll, and being brainless is a big part of that.” She said she is doing well, in that she recently got lost driving to her mother’s house.

Ironies As Americans know, Canada’s health care system, funded largely by taxes, is dramatically less expensive than America’s—well, unless you’re a dog. The Canadian news service CTV reported in February that increasingly, pet owners in Winnipeg, Manitoba, are making the 120-mile car trip to Grand Forks, N.D., because U.S. veterinarian prices are significantly lower than comparable services by Canadian vets. One Winnipeg family, facing a $650 teeth-cleaning plus blood work for Jackson, their Shitzu, took him on the road trip to Grand Forks, where the bill came to $205.

• The Internal Revenue Service might have second thoughts about suing William Berroyer to recover a $60,000 tax underpayment since, by the time Berroyer was finished with them, the federal government had been ordered to write Berroyer (now age 66) checks totaling nearly 15 times that much. Berroyer, who was on his way out of the IRS office in Hauppauge, N.Y., after his first meeting in 2008, tripped over a phone cord and fell against a filing cabinet, injuring himself so severely that he required a 17-day hospital stay and rehabilitation and alleged long-term confinement to a wheelchair.

• In February, after a 43-year-old rape victim in Cowlitz County, Wash., missed court hearings, prosecutors, needing her testimony, filed for a rare “material witness” warrant to assure her availability—by asking the judge to jail her. She acknowledged her anxieties, but promised to do better if the judge would dismiss the warrant. She pointed out that prosecutors were seeking to lock her up against her will—to force her to testify that a rapist had once locked her up against her will (in addition to committing other indignities). (The sympathetic judge dismissed the warrant, but the woman has since missed another court date.)

Perspective First-World Problems: The designer Giorgio Armani is one of the most recent one-day sponsors of a United Nations project to send safe drinking water to help some of the planet’s 768 million people without access to a clean supply. The Tap Project program signs up smartphone users with a reward: that it will donate one day’s clean water to a child for anyone who can manage to refrain from picking up his or her phone for 10 consecutive minutes. Tap Project screens even feature a 10-minute countdown clock to help do-gooders remain strong in the face of anxiety over the brief loss of access to Facebook, online games, et al.

Least Competent Criminals Unclear on the Concept: (1) Michael Williams, 53, was arrested in Sumter, S.C., in February after his debit card was rejected as payment at the Applebee’s restaurant. Police were called when Williams’ backup form of payment was a “U.S. currency” bill in the denomination of $1 trillion. (2) Dyonta Rose, 29, in police custody the night of Feb. 22 in Dallas for possession of narcotics, fled the police cruiser still wearing his handcuffs. Rose was tracked down a short time later when he called 911 to ask for an ambulance because his handcuffs were cutting off circulation in his arm. {in}