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News of the Weird 5/15/14

by Chuck Shepherd

Too Much Money Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp. (and the world’s fifth-richest person, according to Forbes magazine) is a big basketball fan and was reported in April to have an interest in purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. An Ellison associate told the Wall Street Journal, for example, that Ellison has basketball courts on at least two of his yachts and shoots hoops for relaxation on the open water. To retrieve his errant shots that go overboard, Ellison hires a ballboy in a powerboat to trail the yachts.

Latest Religious Messages Speaking on a popular Christian Internet podcast in March (reported by Houston’s KHOU-TV), Pastor John Benefiel of Oklahoma City’s Church on the Rock described how, in a 2007 blessing, he might have prayed “too hard.” He was attempting to help drought-stricken Texas and Oklahoma by using a specific prayer message (the “Baal divorce decree”), but that inadvertently resulted, he said, in “every lake” in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri rising above flood stage, causing thousands of people to lose their homes and 22 to lose their lives.

• In his March 23 sermon (according to Huffington Post), Phoenix, Arizona, pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful World Baptist Church explained in detail why women in the congregation must refrain from speaking during services. Citing 1 Timothy 2:11 and 1 Corinthians 14, Anderson said the woman should learn only “in silence.” “Now obviously, before the service begins,” he conceded, “there’s chatting and talking going on that’s perfectly legitimate. (And when) we all sing praises to God, of course the ladies should also lift up their voices. But when it’s learning time, it’s silence time (for females).” (Also, he said, since the comment “Amen” means “That’s true,” it would be inappropriate for females to utter it.)

• At one Hindu temple in India’s Kerala state, the religious gift of choice—both for offerings to the deity Lord Muruga and for distribution from the deity to devotees—is the chocolate candy bar, which visitors bring in cartons, according to a March report by the Press Trust of India. (Muruga is the son of the lord Shiva and was originally worshiped as a child, leading to speculation that he would respond to chocolates.)

• Details! After convicted murderer Loren Larson Jr. filed a federal lawsuit in Anchorage, Alaska, claiming that his prison wristband ID “defil(ed)” him religiously because it was a “mark of the devil,” a Goose Creek Correctional Center official lectured him on the Book of Revelation. Actually, wrote the official, we would be commanding the “mark of the beast” only if we ordered the ID either “in the right hand” or “in the forehead,” and neither is required by current wristband policy. (Hence, the double-murderer, serving 198 years, still qualifies to avoid hell.)

• An unnamed British inmate published a letter in a prison newspaper in April alleging continuous religious discrimination against him by guards and officials. The man claims he is a practicing Jedi (and of course cannot reveal his name because he fears retaliation “from the dark side”) and complains that Jedi-ism, though officially recognized as a religion in the UK (the 7th-most popular, according to the census, with more than 175,000 adherents) is nonetheless unacknowledged by the National Offender Management Service.

Inhumane Society Denmark’s Copenhagen Zoo aroused worldwide ire in February when it slaughtered and publicly dismembered a healthy young giraffe (“Marius”) in order to feed a hungry lion. Then, in March, the Zoo killed four healthy lions to make room for a new male. By contrast, reported Vice.com in April, Denmark has no law against humans having sex with animals (unless it amounts to torture). Animal rights campaigners have recently expressed alarm that Denmark will become a destination for “animal sex tourism” attracting horny “zoophiles” from around the world.

Questionable Judgments Manhattan’s New York Sushi Ko is only the most recent sophisticated restaurant to feature creative dishes made with Hormel Spam, and foodies and hipsters in fashionable neighborhoods have flocked to the foods. Spam is a well-known delicacy in Hawaii, and the New York facilities offer the island’s musubi (fried Spam, rice, seaweed) and other Spam fried rice bowls with seared ahi and flourishes of fresh pineapple, according to an April report on Gothamist.com. Sushi Ko’s chef playfully acknowledges that his contents are fresh—”fresh from the can” and sourced locally—”from the nearest bodega.”

• O Canada! Skylar Murphy, 18, happened to show up at Alberta’s Edmonton International Airport in September 2013 with a black-powder-loaded pipe bomb in his carry-on, ready to board an international flight. Agents confiscated the bomb but allowed Murphy to continue on his trip, and in fact police were not notified, nor were possible “terrorism” ties examined, until four days later. (Canada’s version of the Transportation Security Administration is not allowed to apprehend or detain passengers.) In December, the harsh hammer of justice finally slammed down on Murphy. He was fined $100 and sentenced to a year of probation.