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Sunday August 18th 2019

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News of the Weird 6/8/17

By Chuck Shepherd

The New Power Nap If high-schoolers seem stressed by active lifestyles and competitive pressures, and consequently fail to sleep the recommended nine to 10 hours a day, it must be a good idea for the federal government to give grants (including to Las Cruces High School in New Mexico) to purchase comfy, $14,000 “nap pods” that drive out the racket with soft music, for 20 minutes a shot during those frenzied classroom days. A May NPR report based on Las Cruces’ experience quoted favorable reviews by students, backed by a doctor and a nurse practitioner who pointed to research showing that adequate sleep “can” boost memory and attention and thus “can” improve school performance (and therefore must be a great use of federal education dollars).

Unclear on the Concept Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam argues that his “hands are tied” by “federal food laws” and that fresh, “all-natural” milk with the cream skimmed off the top cannot be sold as “milk” (or “skim milk”) but must be labeled “imitation milk”—unless the “all-natural” milk adds (artificial) vitamin A to the product. A family farm in the state’s panhandle (Ocheesee Creamery) decided to challenge the law, and Putnam, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, said he would try to resolve the issue soon.

News You Can Use (1) Briton Fred Whitelaw, 64, who has bowel cancer, recently began working “therapeutic” breast milk into his diet, but only that supplied by his daughter, Jill Turner, who recently gave birth and said she is happy to double-pump to assure both Fred and baby Llewyn adequate supplies (although husband Kyle is trying it out for his eczema, as well). (2) Scientists writing in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology recently recommended that parents not discourage children from picking their noses because snot contains a “rich reservoir of good bacteria” beneficial to teeth and overall health (fighting, for example, respiratory infections and even HIV).

Compelling Explanations They’re “therapists,” not “strippers,” argued New York City’s Penthouse Executive Club, creatively characterizing its dancers to avoid $3 million in back taxes, but the state’s appeals board ruled against it in April. Penthouse had insisted that its performers were more akin to counselors, and that the club’s “door charge” was an untaxable fee for therapeutic health services.

•James Pelletier, 46, was arrested in Hollis, Maine, in May after he fired a BB gun point-blank at his two sons, ages 9 and 11—but only, he said, as a “rite of passage” into maturity (perhaps thinking the experience would help them become as mature as their father). He said if the kids knew how it felt to get shot, perhaps they would not be so quick to fire their own guns.

The Continuing Crisis You Mean Jethro and Abby, Too? In contrast to the exciting work of the TV series (near the top of broadcast ratings for the last decade), real agents in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have labored over computer screens eight to 10 hours a day for two months now employing their facial-recognition software—just to scour websites to identify victims of nude-photo postings of military personnel that came to light earlier this year. “(Y)ou get pretty burned out,” said the NCIS director. A simple word search of “uniformed military nude” got nearly 80 million hits, according to a May Associated Press dispatch from the Quantico Marine base, where the 20 investigators labor side-by-side.

Military Allies in Odd Places (1) In April, three days after ISIS fighters reportedly executed 25 villagers about 50 miles south of Kirkuk, Iraq, the three murderers were themselves killed (and eight more wounded) when a pack of wild boars overran their position and gnawed them into martyrdom. (2) In April, a Russian naval reconnaissance ship sank in the Black Sea off of Turkey (likely op: Syria-related) when it collided with a livestock barge flying the flag of Togo. All aboard the Russian ship were rescued; the much-heavier Togolese vessel suffered barely a scratch.

Perspective Rights in Conflict: An elderly German man, unnamed in news reports, was fined the equivalent of $110 in May for “terrorizing” neighbors in the town of Hennef by violating a 2015 agreement to lower the sound of his pornographic videos. He demanded sympathy because of his hearing disability, arguing that if he wore headphones, he could not hear the doorbell, or burglars, and therefore would feel unsafe. (At his May hearing, he objected to the characterization that the “sex sounds” were from videos; on the day in question, he said, he had a prostitute in the room. “It was not porn,” he insisted, confusingly. “It was live!”)

Armed and Clumsy Still more incidents in which people (make that, “men”) accidentally shoot themselves: a National Rifle Association staff member, 46, training on a firing range (Fairfax County, Virginia, April); a fleeing robber, run over by his victim, with the collision causing the robber’s gun to fire into his own mouth (Hawthorne, California, March); two boys, 17 and 19, “practicing” loading and unloading a handgun, managing to hit each other (Houston, March); a homeless man, 45, in a now-classic waistband-holster-crotch malfunction (Lake Panasoffee, Florida, Oct.); U.S. Park Police officer, shot his foot in a confrontation with a raccoon (Washington, D.C., Nov.); man, 48, shot himself, then, apparently angry at how it happened, shot his bed (Oceana County, Michigan, July).