News of the Weird

Leading Economic Indicators

  Since Bulgaria, on Romania’s southern border, lies close to Romania’s iconic Transylvania region, Bulgarian tourism officials have begun marketing their own vampire tourism industry — stepped up following a 2014 archaeological find of a 4th-century “graveyard” of adolescents with iron stakes through their chests.

The new tourism minister of Thailand is threatening to close down the lucrative sex business in Bangkok and Pattaya, even with the country still rallying from a 2014 near-recession. Ms. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul insisted that visitors are not interested in “such a thing (as sex)” but come for Thailand’s “beautiful” culture. [Mother Nature News, 7-22-2016] [Daily Telegraph (London), 7-17-2016]

New World Order

Australians are about to learn how particular some people are about their genders. Queensland University of Technology and three other sponsors have created an online preference survey (currently underway) that asks participants to decide among 33 “genders” (since “gender” is, according to the World Health Organization, “socially constructed”). “Male” and “female” are clear enough — but only where “identity” matches plumbing. Otherwise, it’s “trans” or “transsexual,” or else the more complicated bigender, omnigender, polygender, pangender, intergender, genderfluid, “cisgender,” trigender, demigender, “gender non-conforming,” “non-binary,” “none gender” and a few others. [News.com.au (Sydney), 7-29-2016]

Latest Religious Messages

India has supposedly outlawed the “baby-tossing” religious test popular among Hindus and Muslims in rural villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, but a July New York Times report suggested that parents were still allowing surrogates to drop their newborn infants from 30 feet up and awaiting the gods’ blessing for a prosperous, healthy life. In all cases, according to the report, the gods come through, and a bedsheet appears below to catch the unharmed baby. [New York Times, 7-29-2016]

Government in Action

San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was traded on July 23 to the Toronto Blue Jays — in the middle of a series between the Padres and the Blue Jays in Toronto. Normally, such a player would merely gather his belongings and walk down the hall to the other team’s locker room. However, while Canada treats Blue Jays’ opponents as “visitors,” Blue Jays players, themselves, are Canadian employees, and if not residents must have work permits. Upton had to leave the stadium and drive to Lewiston, New York, which is the closest place he could find to apply to re-enter Canada properly. (He made it back by game time.) [Associated Press via New York Times, 7-27-2016]

Leading Economic Indicators

  Paid to Go Away: Sports Illustrated noted in May that some universities are still paying out millions of dollars to failed coaches who had managed to secure big contracts in more optimistic times. Notre Dame’s largest athletic payout in 2014 was the $2.05 million to ex-football coach Charlie Weis — five years after he had been fired. That ended Weis’s Notre Dame contract (which paid him $15 million post-dismissal), but he is still drawing several million dollars from the University of Kansas despite having been let go there, also. [Sports Illustrated, 5-30-2016]

The new tourism minister of Thailand is threatening to close down the lucrative sex business in Bangkok and Pattaya, even with the country still rallying from a 2014 near-recession. Ms. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul insisted that visitors are not interested in “such a thing (as sex)” but come for Thailand’s “beautiful” culture. [Mother Nature News, 7-22-2016] [Daily Telegraph (London), 7-17-2016]

Since Bulgaria, on Romania’s southern border, lies close to Romania’s iconic Transylvania region, Bulgarian tourism officials have begun marketing their own vampire tourism industry — stepped up following a 2014 archaeological find of a 4th-century “graveyard” of adolescents with iron stakes through their chests.

A  Continuing Crisis: Horniness

A year-long, nationwide investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, report in May, found more than 2,400 doctors penalized for sexually abusing their patients — with state medical boards ultimately allowing more than half to continue practicing medicine. Some doctors, a reporter noted, are among “the most prolific sex offenders in the country,” with “hundreds” of victims.

  District Judge Joseph Boeckmann (in Arkansas’s rural Cross County) resigned in May after the state Judicial Discipline committee found as many as 4,500 nude or semi-nude photos of young men who had been before Boeckmann in court. (Some were naked, being paddled by Boeckmann, who trolled for victims by writing young men notes offering a “community service” option). [ABC News, 7-6-2016] [CNN, 5-10-2016] Rhys Holman pleaded guilty to a firearms charge in Melbourne, Australia, in July for shooting 53 bullets into his brother’s Xbox. (The brother had urinated on Holman’s car.)

For Good Measure

Rhys Holman pleaded guilty to a firearms charge in Melbourne, Australia, in July for shooting 53 bullets into his brother’s Xbox. (The brother had urinated on Holman’s car.)

Mauricio Morales-Caceres, 24, was sentenced to life in prison by a Montgomery County, Maryland, judge in July following his April conviction for fatally stabbing a “friend” — 89 times. [The Age (Melbourne), 7-22-2016] [Washington Post, 7-15-2016]