First Amendment Blues
In the public libraries of Seattle (as in most public libraries), patrons are not allowed to eat or sleep (or even appear to be sleeping) or be shirtless or barefoot or have bad body odor or talk too loudly -- because other patrons might be disturbed. However, in Seattle, as the Post-Intelligencer reported in September, librarians do permit patrons to watch hard-core pornography on public computers, without apparent restriction, no matter who (adult or child) is walking by or sitting inches away at the next screen (although librarians politely ask porn-watchers to consider their neighbors). Said a library spokesperson: "(P)atrons have a right to view constitutionally protected material no matter where they are in the building, and the library does not censor."
-- Japan and Korea seem to be the birthplaces in the quest for youthful and beautiful skin, with the latest "elixir" (as usual, based on traditional, centuries-old beliefs) being snail mucus -- applied by specially bred live snails that slither across customers' faces. The Clinical Salon in central Tokyo sells the 60-minute Celebrity Escargot Course session for the equivalent of about $250 and even convinced a London Daily Telegraph reporter to try one in July. (Previously, News of the Weird has informed readers of Asian nightingale-feces facials and live-fish pedicures.)
-- Unclear on the Concept: Among people earnestly devoted to palmistry (the foretelling of the future by "expert" examination of the inner surface of the hand), a few in Japan have resorted to what seems like cheating: altering their palm lines with cosmetic surgery. According to a July Daily Beast dispatch from Tokyo, Dr. Takaaki Matsuoka is a leading practitioner, preferring an electric scalpel over laser surgery in that the latter more often eventually heals over, obviously defeating the purpose. He must be careful to add or move only the lines requested by the patient (e.g., "marriage" line, "romance" line, "money-luck" line, "financial" success line).
Latest Religious Messages
-- Iran's INSA news service reported in January that officials in Shiraz had acquired a finger-amputation machine to perhaps streamline the gruesome punishment often meted out to convicted thieves. (A masked enforcer turns a guillotine-like wheel to slice off the finger in the manner of a rotary saw.) Iran is already known for its reliance on extreme Islamic Sharia, which prescribes amputations, public lashings and death by stoning, and Middle East commentators believe the government will now step up its amputating of fingers, even for the crime of adultery.
-- Smiting Skeptics: Measles, despite being highly contagious, was virtually eradicated in America until a small number of skeptics, using now-discredited "research," tied childhood vaccinations with the rise of autism, and now the disease is returning. About half the members of the Eagle Mountain International Church near Dallas have declined to vaccinate their children, and as of late August, at least 20 church members have experienced the disease. The head pastor denied that he preaches against the immunizations (although he did tell NPR, cryptically, "(T)he (medical) facts are facts, but then we know the truth. That always overcomes facts.").
-- Outraged Jewish leaders complain periodically about Mormons who, in the name of their church, posthumously baptize deceased Jews (even Holocaust victims) -- beneficently, of course, to help them qualify for heaven. Church officials promised to stop, but in 2012 reports still surfaced that not all Mormons got the memo. Thus inspired, a "religious" order called the Satanic Temple conducted a July "pink mass" over the Meridian, Miss., grave of the mother of the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, Rev. Fred Phelps Jr. -- posthumously "turning" her gay. (Westboro infamously stages small, hate-saturated demonstrations denouncing homosexuals and American tolerance.) Ten days later, Meridian prosecutors charged a Satanic Temple official with misdemeanor desecration of a grave.
-- Australia's chief diplomat in Taipei, Taiwan, said in August that he was suing local veterinarian Yang Dong-sheng for fraud because Dr. Yang backed out of euthanizing the diplomat Kevin Magee's sick, 10-year-old dog. Instead, Dr. Yang "rescued" the dog, who is now thriving after he patiently treated her. Magee's lawsuit claims, in essence, that his family vet recommended euthanization, that he had paid for euthanization, and that "Benji" should have been put down. Dr. Yang said the fee Magee paid was for "medical care" and not necessarily euthanization. (Benji, frolicking outside when a reporter visited, was not available for comment.)
-- In August, a prosecutor in Houston filed aggravated rape charges against a 10-year-old girl ("Ashley") who had been arrested in June and held for four days in a juvenile detention center. A neighbor had seen Ashley touching a 4-year-old boy "in his private area," according to a KRIV-TV report -- in other words, apparently playing the time-honored, rite-of-passage game of "doctor."
Squirrels Gone Wild
Smithsonian magazine detailed in August the exhaustive measures that military officials have taken to finally block relentless Richardson's ground squirrels from tunneling underneath Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and interfering with the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles on 24/7 standby. For example, officials had to use trial-and-error to plant underground screens deeper into the ground than the squirrels cared to dig. A day after that report was published, a bus driver in Gothenburg, Sweden, crashed into a tree (with six passengers requiring hospital treatment) after swerving to avoid a squirrel in the road. On the same day, a New York Times reporter disclosed that his own news monitoring for 2013 revealed that squirrels have caused 50 power outages in 24 states in the U.S. since Memorial Day after invading electric company substations.
-- In July, the Czech Republic approved Lukas Novy's official government ID photo even though he was wearing a kitchen colander on his head. Novy had successfully explained that his religion required it since he is a "Pastafarian" -- a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (a prank religion pointing out that all deities' power and wisdom comes from followers' faith rather than from tangible proof of their existence).
-- In August, a judge in Voronezh, Russia, accepted for trial Dmitry Argarkov's lawsuit against Tinkoff Credit Systems for violating a credit-card contract. Tinkoff had mailed Argarkov its standard fine-print contract, but Argarkov computer-scanned it, changed pro-Tinkoff provisions into pro-Argarkov terms, and signed and returned it, and Tinkoff accepted it without re-reading. At least at this stage of the lawsuit, the judge appeared to say that Argarkov had bested Tinkoff at its own game of oppressive, fine-print mumbo-jumbo.
The Pervo-American Community
He Had a Different Dream: Barely two months before the 50-year commemoration of the March on Washington, Park Police arrested Christopher H. Cleveland and charged him with shooting "upskirt" photos of unsuspecting women lounging on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. According to the officers, Cleveland (who said he was unaware that the photos were illegal) had a computer in his car that contained at least 150 PowerPoint slide presentations of at least 30 images each of his multitude of female photo victims.
A News of the Weird Classic (July 2010)
While the morbidly obese struggle with their health (and society's scorn), those who eroticize massive weight gain are capturing increased attention, according to a July (2010) ABC News report. Commercial and personal Web sites give full-bellied "gainers," such as New Jerseyan Donna Simpson, and their admiring "feeders" the opportunity to express themselves. Simpson became a 602-pound media sensation in March (2010), when she began offering pay-per- view video of herself to an audience of horny feeders. Wrote another gainer-blogger, "Lately, I've been infatuated with the physics of my belly ... how it moves with me." When he leans to one side, he wrote, "I feel a roll form around my love handle." One sex researcher called it a "metaphor of arousal." In the end, though, as a medical school professor put it, "The fetish may be in our heads, but the plaque is going to be in (their) arteries."
Visit Chuck Sehpherd daily at NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com.