News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• In March, offensive lineman John Urschel of the Baltimore Ravens added to his curriculum vitae by co-authoring the latest of his several peer-reviewed academic articles—“A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians” in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. If Urschel can understand, and even advance, tangled, obtuse formulas (which use familiar numbers, e.g., 1, 2, 3, and Greek letters such as phi, lambda, and sigma—lots of sigmas), why is he a football player, he asked himself on the Players Tribune website. “There’s a rush you get when you go out on the field . . . and physically dominate the player across from you.” He added, “I love hitting people.”
• The National Gallery of Australia hosted a special series of tours of “James Turrell: A Retrospective” in early April—in which all guests were nude. The tours were staged by Australian artist Stuart Ringholt, who introduced the concept earlier at the Museum of Contemporary Art (and was nude, himself, for the Turrell show, though other gallery staff remained clothed). The post-tour cocktail reception was also in the nude.
• The Australian “abstract expressionist” Aelita Andre began painting “professionally” at age 9 months, said her parents, and by 22 months had her own exhibit at Melbourne’s Brunswick Street gallery, and by age 4, the paintbrush-armed toddler had enjoyed a $24,000 sale. She has now also distinguished herself as an “artist” of another type while explaining her approach. In April, the now-8-year-old told News.com.au, “I interpret my style of painting as a magic, abstract universe. It doesn’t sit in one tiny sphere in all realism; it goes out and it explores the world.” She acknowledged seeing things (e.g., “rabbits”) that an 8-year-old might, but pointed out that she also sees “the cosmos.” “I just feel free. I don’t feel locked up in a tiny world.”
• In March, two men serving time for anti-gay murders became the first same-sex couple allowed to get married behind bars in Britain, at the Full Sutton Prison in East Yorkshire. The romance blossomed after the two men (Marc Goodwin, 31, serving life, and pedophile Mikhail Gallatinov, 40, who is eligible for release sooner) met at the prison library, and the wedding party included four relatives of the two killers.
• In January, the principal of W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Alabama, sent home a letter to parents with her suggestions on how to train students in the event an active shooter breaks into the classroom. In order not to be “sitting ducks” for the intruder, each child was asked to be armed with an 8-ounce canned food item to toss at any potential spree-killer. The can is designed to give the student a “sense of empowerment” in the face of extreme danger, the principal told WHNT-TV of Huntsville, but acknowledged that “(T)his is a sensitive topic.”
• Newly elected Alabama state Sen. Larry Stutts, in one of his first actions in office, introduced a bill to repeal “Rose’s Law,” a 1999 legislation that, had it been on the books the year before, might have saved the life of new mother Rose Church, whose doctor was OB/GYN Larry Stutts. Rose’s Law gave new mothers a legal right to remain hospitalized for up to 96 hours after birth, depending on circumstances, but the new senator calls that right just another “Obamacare-style law” in which legislators in Montgomery intrude into doctors’ decisions. (Stutts also proposed to repeal the requirement for written cautions to patients whose mammograms show unusual density.) Though her daughter survived, Rose died of a heart attack following two “doctor’s decision” hospital releases, and her husband’s wrongful-death lawsuit against Stutts and others reached a settlement in 2005.
World’s Greatest Lawyer
• A man in Mios, France, fired from his job several years ago, and who had been receiving unemployment benefits, suddenly found himself being dunned by the national labor agency when a tribunal finally ruled in the employer’s favor and ordered the man’s benefits paid back. The agency ordered the man’s current employer to garnishee his paycheck of the equivalent of $160-$210 per week—until, according to a March report on Paris’s The Local, he hired a certain (unnamed) lawyer. The labor agency’s new order requires the current employer, instead, to garnishee the pay by 1 centime (about a penny) a month for the next 26,126 years.
But Lawyering Couldn’t Be Very Difficult
• Kimberly Kitchen, 45, was a successful estate lawyer in Huntington, Pennsylvania, with more than 30 clients for the BMZ Law firm (so successful in her 10-year career that she had just been promoted to partner and had served as president of the local bar association) with but one complication—that in December she was finally revealed not to be a lawyer at all. Her diploma, bar exam results, and other documents were forgeries, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, which filed charges in March.
Can’t Possibly Be True
• Weird: Dan Kennedy of Salt Lake City was driving to work on March 31 when a large bag fell off of the truck in front of him, and, for traffic safety, he stopped to move it from the road—and discovered it contained about 75 pounds’ worth of U.S. currency (about $22,000) in a plastic bag marked with the name of the Brinks armored truck company. The bag remained sealed (any tear could have produced “leakage” weakening Brinks’ claims on the loose money), and Kennedy dutifully contacted state troopers and handed it over. He sounded perplexed when Brinks immediately sent him a $5,000 gift check. “Why would I get anything for that?” “Almost anyone,” he said, would have done what he did.
• Police in Malegaon, India, seeking to reduce tensions between Muslims and Hindus over the theft and butchering of cattle (which the latter hold sacred), requested that local farmers send them “mugshots” of their cows, along with other biographical information, such as why the farmer has the cow in the first place, so they could build a database to improve bovine security.
• Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, 23, received free around-the-world plane travel in December just for having the correct name. Jordan Axani used to have a girlfriend of that name, and bought the couple world-travel tickets, but they broke up, and the tickets were not refundable. Axani decided in December to find a compatible “Elizabeth Gallagher” to use the ticket with him, and the 23-year-old Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, student won out over 18 other “Elizabeth Gallaghers.” The trip was “strictly platonic,” he said, though he acknowledged that Gallagher’s boyfriend did not seem pleased.
• (1) Wayne Clark, 52, collapsed and died in January of an apparent heart attack seconds after walking into the Aldi grocery store in Edgewood, Maryland, and announcing a robbery. At his home, police discovered evidence linking Clark to two earlier robberies. (2) Anthony Stokes, 17, died in March from car-crash injuries as he was fleeing Roswell, Georgia, police following a home invasion. Stokes drew national attention in 2013 when, in order to receive a heart transplant, he promised to turn around his until-then-criminal life. Soon after the surgery, though, he was posting thug selfies on Facebook, and in January 2015 had been jailed for possessing stolen property.
A News of the Weird Classic (September 2010)
• In Ogden, Utah, in October (2009), Adam Manning, 30, accompanied his pregnant girlfriend to the McKay-Dee Hospital emergency room as she was going into labor. According to witnesses, as a nurse attended to the woman, Manning began flirting with her, complimenting the nurse’s looks and giving her neck rubs. When Manning then allegedly groped the nurse’s breast, she called security, and Manning was arrested and taken to jail—and of course missed the birth of his child (though it did give him time to think of what to tell his girlfriend).
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