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News of the Weird 3/22/12

by Chuck Shepherd

Who Knew Restrooms Were So Complicated? Back to the Fundamentals: The multicultural Macquarie University, in suburban Sydney, Australia, said its restroom posters, installed last year, have been successful in instilling toilet etiquette. The lined-through figure of a user squatting on top of a toilet seat was especially helpful, apparently. Complaints of unsanitariness were such that some students were timing their classes to use restrooms in a nearby mall instead. (Lest anyone believe the problem is confined to multicultural institutions, a recent memo by the 785-member Lewis Brisbois law firm in San Francisco instructed employees to clean urine from toilet seats, to always take the farthest stalls or urinals available, to mask sounds by toilet-flushing (if desired), and to not make eye contact in the restroom. [Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 1-12-2012] [Above The Law blog, 2-1-2012]

Can’t Possibly Be True Louis Helmburg III filed a lawsuit in Huntington, W.Va., in February against the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and its member Travis Hughes for injuries Helmburg suffered in May 2011 when he fell off a deck at the fraternity house. He had been startled and fallen backward off the rail-less deck after Hughes attempted to fire a bottle rocket “out of his anus”—and the rocket, instead, exploded in place. (The lawsuit does not refer to Hughes’ injuries.)

•U.S. Immigration agents in a $160,000 Chevy Suburban that had been custom-designed and -armored specifically to protect agents from roadside kidnappings became sitting ducks last year when kidnappers forced the vehicle off the road near San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and got the door open briefly, enabling them to fire 100 rounds and kill one of the two agents inside. According to a February Washington Post report, the Department of Homeland Security had failed to modify the vehicle’s factory setting that popped open the door locks automatically whenever the driver shifts into “Park.”

Inexplicable David Myrland, an anti-government “sovereign” now serving three years in federal prison for threatening the mayor of Kirkland, Wash., filed a federal lawsuit in February accusing various officials of conspiracy—by the manipulation of bad grammar, i.e., “backwards-correct-syntaxing-modification fraud.” Each word of the original complaint, coded by Myrland as to part of speech, “proves” to him that the complaint was “fraudulent” and “handicapping.” (Random sentence from Myrland’s filing: “For the WORDS OF an ADVERB-SYNTAX-GRAMMAR-MODIFICATIONS ARE with an USE of the SYNTAX-GRAMMAR with the VOID of the POSITIONAL-LODIAL-FACT-PHRASE with the

SINGLE-WORD-MODIFIER AS THE: A, AS, AT, AM, BECAUSE (many words omitted) FACT by the VASSALEES.”) (“Sovereigns” generally reject the federal government, and Myrland did not explain why he expected a federal judge would have authority to help him.) [Seattle Weekly, 2-14-2012] [Scribd.com, 1-23-2012]

Unclear on the Concept Jason Bacon, 41, was arrested in Eureka, Calif., in March after responding to a classified ad for a used motorcycle by offering to trade about $8,000 worth of his home-grown marijuana for it. According to an officer on the scene, Bacon told a deputy, “I know you can’t sell it, but I thought it was OK to trade it.”

Our Dynamic Democracy Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey, a staunch abortion opponent, introduced a bill in January to ban the use of human fetuses in processed food. Although the principal anti-abortion advocacy official in the state said he had never heard of such a practice, Sen. Shortey asserted that it was a problem and that he had been reading up on it on the Internet.

Creme de la Weird Madeleine Martin, the chief animal protection official for the state government of Hesse, Germany, told a newspaper in Frankfurt in February that among the reasons why the country needed an anti-bestiality law was that she knew of “animal brothels” in Germany (presumably, not animal-animal mating services but human-animal facilities). (Without an anti-bestiality law, authorities usually must prove that the animal has been physically harmed in order to obtain a conviction.)

Least Competent Criminals Law enforcement officers turn to Facebook nowadays to help solve crimes, knowing that some perpetrators cannot resist bragging about or even showing off things they’ve recently stolen. For example, Steven Mulhall, 21, will be easily prosecuted for stealing the nameplate off the door of Broward County (Fla.) judge Michael Orlando—since he posted in March a photograph of himself holding it following a courtroom visit. (In other Facebook news, in Tacoma, Wash., in March, corrections officer Alan O’Neill, 41, was charged with bigamy after his long-estranged first wife found out about the second one when Facebook suggested the two be “friends.”)