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8/24/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

Ally McBoy

A former police official and current aggressive, respected Wellington, New Zealand, litigator, Rob Moodie, 67, said in July that he is tired of the old-boy network of male lawyers and judges, and that henceforth he will show his disdain by dressing in women’s clothes in court. The worse the “corruption” he senses, the frillier will be his outfits, said the married father of three, who also said he happens to like women’s clothes, but that it took the pervasive male courthouse culture to bring that into the open. Moodie said already he has enjoyed giving “a flash of lace at the urinal” but said he would keep his trademark mustache.

School daze

At commencement this year at Gallatin High School in Nashville, Tenn., the principal had the valedictorian arrested for trying to make a speech that was reserved for the senior class president. Also, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News reported skyrocketing absentee rates at local high schools this spring because of a new district policy that the lowest possible semester grade would be 50, even for those missing every class (meaning that a grade as low as 80 for one semester could be averaged with a no-show 50 to reach the minimum-passing grade of 65).

Taste of freedom

More than 70 children got separated from their parents during the weeklong Taste of Chicago festival in June, but one 6-year-old boy was still unclaimed as of July 7, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, citing a police spokesperson. The boy was eventually turned over to the state Department of Children and Family Services, which found that his family had a spotty record of supporting him even before the festival.

Animal attractions

“Houdini,” a 12-foot-long Burmese python in Ketchum, Idaho, swallowed a large electric blanket in July and electrical cord, after pulling it from the wall. (Veterinary surgeons managed to remove the whole thing, leaving Houdini in good condition.) And “Crash,” a pelican that smashed into a car in Malibu, Calif., and had undergone a month’s rehabilitation, when finally released in July, collided beak-first with some rocks before successfully lifting off. (Wildlife officials said Crash may have been disoriented from eating toxic algae.) Then there’s “Barney,” the Doberman pinscher guarding a children’s museum near Wells, England, who lost control and chewed up almost $1 million worth of rare teddy bears in August, including one once belonging to Elvis Presley.

Formula for success

News of the Weird has mentioned several times those “yogic fliers” who sit cross-legged and, using Transcendental Meditation, “fly” by levitating their posteriors. In July, two weeks after Israel began its retaliatory attack on Hezbollah, a former Israeli army colonel, Reuven Zelinkovsky, was critical, alleging that a squadron of yogic fliers could provide a “shield of invincibility” around the country just as effective as a military campaign. TM experts use the formula of the square root of 1 percent of a country’s population as the critical mass of fliers necessary to affect the national spiritual consciousness (for Israel, 265 fliers).

District of Calamity

The prime suspects (and their addresses) in a July murder-robbery in Washington, D.C., were actually known to police a month earlier (thanks to a tip from a previous robbery victim), but police didn’t pick them up until after the murder, according to a July Washington Post report. And in June, the D.C. inspector general reported that the mugging death of a former New York Times reporter involved “complacency and indifference” by almost all police and rescue personnel involved, from ambulance crew to investigating officers to hospital doctors, resulting in the victim, who was severely beaten, being treated merely as a street drunk.

Barely legal

The New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics ruled in July that judges can, if they wish, carry guns in the courtroom if they are otherwise permitted by state law, provided the judges are “patient, dignified and courteous.” And when filing a lawsuit in Santa Ana, Calif., in May, Jinsoo Kim said he had a valid contract in which Stephen Son promised to repay the $170,000 that Kim had invested in Son’s Korean corporation, especially considering that the promise was written entirely with Son’s blood.

Growing profits

An analysis of government records by The Washington Post revealed in July that a federal agriculture subsidy program to compensate farmers for market-losing crops has evolved, through regulatory interpretation and lax enforcement, into a program that since 2000 has paid $1.3 billion to people who don’t even farm at all. (Although pre-tax income of all farming was a near-record $72 billion in 2005, federal subsidies actually grew to $25 billion, a sum considerably more than that paid to families receiving welfare.)

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