News of the Weird

by Chuck Shepherd

Redneck Chronicles

Thousands flocked to the annual Roadkill Cooking Festival in Marlinton, West Virginia, in September, featuring an array of “tasting” dishes (e.g., black bear, possum, elk, snapping turtle) with a competition in which judges deducted points if the “chef” had not managed to remove all gravel or asphalt. [BBC News, 10-3-2016]

As a dispute escalated between two brothers at their recycling plant in Bow, New Hampshire, in October, Peter Emanuel used his front-end loader to tip over the crane being operated by Stanley Emanuel (who managed to jump out just in time). Peter was arrested. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 10-6-2016]

Fine Points of Canadian Law

Luckily, thought Jamie Richardson of Whitehorse, Yukon, she had medical insurance for her 7-year-old Akita, who had torn a ligament in a hind leg, but it turned out that the policy, written by Canada’s largest pet insurer, Petsecure, did not cover dog injuries from “jumping, running, slipping, tripping or playing” — that is, Richardson concluded, injuries caused by “being a dog.” (After Richardson protested, Petsecure relented but, it said, only because Richardson had been a longtime customer.) [Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, 10-3-2016]

The Way the World Works: Who is the most at fault when (a) a mother provides beer to her underage son, (b) who then, with a pal, gulps down a bottle of vodka and steals a car from a dealer’s lot, and (c) drunkenly crashes, leaving the pal with a catastrophic brain injury? In October, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a jury verdict that parceled out “fault,” but assigned more to the victim of the 2006 car theft (Rankin’s Garage of Paisley, Ontario) than to the mother or the driver (because Rankin’s having left the key in the car overnight made it irresistible to “teenage car thieves”). [Toronto Sun, 10-13-2016]

The Job of the Researcher

Charles Foster, recent recipient of the “Ig Nobel” prize in biology (and a fellow at Oxford University), has recently lived as a badger (inside a hole in Wales), an otter playing in rivers, and an “urban fox” rummaging through garbage bins in London, in addition to a red deer and (“ridiculously,” he admits) a migratory bird mapping treetop air currents — all in order to authentically experience those creatures’ lives apart from their physical appearance, which is generally all that humans know. “We have five glorious senses,” he told the Ig Nobel audience, and need to “escape the tyranny” of the visual. “Drop onto all fours,” he recommended. “Sniff the ground. Lick a leaf.” [The Conversation via Slate.com, 10-3-2016]

Awesome Numbers in the News

  (1) Charles Diggs, facing child pornography charges, was found with supposedly a record haul for New Jersey — 325,000 child-porn images and files at his Roselle home in October. (2) The Justice Department revealed in an October court filing that former National Security Agency contractor Harold Martin III, 51, had stolen at least 500 million pages of “sensitive government files,” bit by bit over two decades. (Bonus questions: How does no one notice, for years, and anyway, how many total pages of “sensitive government files” are there?) [WPVI-TV (Philadelphia), 10-15-2016] [Wall Street Journal, 10-20-2016]

Recurring Themes

  True “Florida”: (1) In October, sheriff’s deputies in Pinellas County, detaining the 350-pound Columbus Henderson, 45, discovered (in one of Henderson’s “orifices”) a glass “crack pipe” stuffed with steel wool. (A week earlier, Henderson had shoplifted two 40-inch TV sets from a Wal-Mart in Fort Lauderdale, and fled, though he was identified when his loosely worn pants, containing his ID, fell completely off as he “dashed” through the parking lot.)

Perspective

  A recent Better Business Bureau study in Canada found that, contrary to popular belief, it is the “millennial” generation and those aged 25 to 55, rather than seniors, who are more likely now to fall victim to scammers, fueled by users’ lax skepticism about new technology. If accurate, the study would account for how a Virginia Tech student in September fell for a telephone call from “the IRS” threatening her over “back taxes.” She complied with instructions from the “agent” to send $1,762 in four iTunes gift cards. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, 10-20-2016] [Detroit Free Press via