News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• Air travelers last year left $675,000 in (obviously) spare change in airport screening bins, reported the Transportation Security Administration in April. Of the cars reported stolen in 2014, 44,828 were with keys left inside them, according to an April National Insurance Crime Bureau release. American credit card holders fail to claim “about $4 billion” in earned “rewards” each year, according to CardHub.com’s 2015 Credit Card Rewards Report.
Our Least Hardy Generation
• (1) Nursing student Jennifer Burbella filed a lawsuit against Misericordia University (near Scranton, Pennsylvania) for not helping her enough to pass a required course that she failed twice. The professional caregiver-to-be complained of stress so severe that she needed a distraction-free room and extra time for the exam, but claims she deserved even more special treatment. (2) Four Columbia University students complained in May that courses in Greek mythology and Roman poetry need “trigger” warnings—advance notice to super-sensitive students that history may include narratives of “disturbing” events (that have somehow been studied without such warnings for centuries).
• In March, following the departure of Zayn Malik from the British band One Direction, an executive with the Peninsula employment law firm in Manchester told London’s Daily Telegraph that he had received “hundreds” of calls from employers seeking advice about workers who were requesting “compassionate” leave because Malik’s resignation had left them distraught. (Also, a spokeswoman for the charity Young Minds told the Telegraph she was concerned about Malik fans self-harming.)
• Among recent inventions not expected to draw venture capital interest (reported by Popular Science in June): (1) A Canadian software engineer’s machine that unspools toilet paper exactly three squares at a time (but please keep fingers away from the cleaver!). (2) A Japanese shoulder-mounted tomato-feeder that provides nourishment to marathoners without their needing to catch tomatoes provided by supporters. (3) Google software engineer Maurice Bos’ whiteboard-mounted clock that writes down the exact time, with a marker, at five-minute intervals (after erasing the previous time).
The Continuing Crisis
• If Only There Was Somewhere He Could Have Turned for Moral Guidance: Suspended Catholic Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 63, was sentenced in May to more than five years in prison for running a meth distribution ring from Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he also operated a sex shop to launder the drug profits. (Though he faced a 10-year sentence, he had a history of charity work and submitted more than 80 letters of support from high-ranking clergy.)
People Different From Us
• Walter Merrick, 66, was charged with aggravated assault in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey, Louisiana, in March after an altercation with neighbor Clarence Sturdivant, 64, over the comparative merits of Busch and Budweiser beers. Bud-man Sturdivant fired the only shot, but a sheriff’s deputy said Merrick was the aggressor—since he had offered Sturdivant only a Busch. (In Tulsa, Oklahoma, in April, police found two blood-splattered men in an apartment parking lot at 1 a.m., the result of a dual stabbing spree with broken beer bottles—over whether Android phones are superior to iPhones.)
• Holly Solomon, 31, pleaded guilty in April to aggravated assault with her Jeep—against her then-husband—and has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. The crime occurred in a suburb of Phoenix in November 2012, days after President Obama’s re-election, as Solomon ran down her spouse because she was angry that he had neglected to vote for Mitt Romney as expected. However, his no-show did not affect the outcome, as Romney easily won the state’s 11 electoral votes without him.
Least Competent Criminals
• Short-Attention-Span Thieves: (1) Alvaro Ortega, 34, was arrested for taking a uniformed police officer’s cellphone in the East Coast Catering deli in Bayonne, New Jersey, on May 18. The sleuthing was easy, in that Ortega was the only other person in the deli at the time and sheepishly admitted the theft. (2) Seattle’s KIRO-TV reported in May that a Seattle couple holding a Powerball ticket worth $1 million still has it, despite being theft victims. Someone smashed open a window in their car on May 14 and stole, among other items, a pair of sunglasses that was resting atop the lottery ticket, but left it undisturbed.
A News of the Weird Classic (March 2011)
• Tombstone, Arizona, which was the site of the legendary 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (commemorated in a 1957 movie), is about 70 miles from the Tucson shopping center where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot in January (2011). A Los Angeles Times dispatch later that month noted that the “Wild West” of 1881 Tombstone had far stricter gun control than 2011 Arizona. The historic gunfight occurred when the marshal (Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt) tried to enforce the town’s no-carry law against local thugs. Today, however, with few restrictions and no licenses required, virtually any Arizonan 18 or older can carry a handgun openly.blog comments powered by Disqus
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