News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
Frontiers of Fashion
■ Even though concealed-carry gun permit-holders in Texas can now “open carry,” pistol-packing women concerned with fashion are not limited to traditional firearms in ordinary cowboy holsters. An online company, The Well Armed Woman, offers such carry options as stylish leggings, lace waistbands and an array of underarm and bra holsters (even an in-cup model, the “Marilyn”) in leopard-print and pastel colors. However, a woman’s body shape and size may be more important shopping considerations, according to the company’s founder. “A 32A bust could not conceal a Glock 19 very well—nor would a 42DD-or-larger (front) allow for effective cross-draw carry.”
■ In January, Robert Battle took the oath of office for his second term as a city councilman in East Chicago, Indiana—administered at the county lockup, where he is being held without bail, charged with a cold-blooded murder during a drug deal. The crime made news in October (i.e., before election day), yet Battle still won his race. According to law, he cannot be forced out of office unless he is convicted or admits the crimes, and he had the right to vote for himself in the election (except that he failed to request an absentee ballot).
■ (1) The Albany, New York, company Vireo Health told reporters it would soon offer the world’s first certified Kosher marijuana, announcing that the Orthodox Union of New York had authenticated it as having met Jewish dietary laws (e.g., grown with insect-free plants). (Other Kosher-validating officials complained that the approval should apply only to marijuana that is eaten, not smoked.) (2) Two habit-wearing nuns were scheduled to ask the Merced (California) City Council in January to decline its prerogative under state law to ban dispensing or cultivating medical marijuana. The nuns’ order makes and sells salves and tonics for pain management, using a strain of cannabis containing only a trace of psychoactive material.
■ Since the (naturally insulated) uterus can be a lonely space, Institut Marques of Barcelona, Spain, recently demonstrated a tampon-like “speaker” to carry soothing, specially selected, 54-decibel (“hushed tone”) rhythms that supposedly improve fetal growth. In the Babypod’s first “concert,” the singer Soraya performs Christmas carols. (However, documented evidence for such a device was limited to success of in-vitro fertilization when music was wafted through during the first 48 hours of sperm-egg union.)
■ The Job of the Researcher: Taiwanese scientists recently announced the availability of their Infant Cries Translator (iPhone and Android app), which they say can, with 77 percent accuracy (92 percent for those under 2 weeks old), tell what a baby wants by its screeches and wailings. The National Taiwan University Hospital Yunlin doctors first had to create a database of 200,000 crying sounds.
■ The Latest in Corruption News: (1) Italy’s highest court freed a man in January because the bribe he offered a cop to avoid a DUI ticket was “too small” to be serious—100 euros (about $108). (2) Lawyers for John Bills (former Chicago city commissioner on trial for taking bribes on a traffic-camera contract) said Bills was obviously innocent because everyone knows that, in Chicago, only bribing the mayor (or at least an alderman) will get anything done. (3) A security guard in Nairobi, Kenya, despairingly told a New York Times reporter in November (detailing corruption so rampant that, for example, ballpoint pens were being sold to the government for $85 each) that “If (people)’re going to steal, please, just steal a little.”
The Continuing Crisis
■ A former lecturer for Spanish classes at the liberal arts Amherst College near Northampton, Massachusetts, sued the school in December after it failed to renew her contract—leading the lecturer to charge that the Spanish department had tried to solicit student course enrollment by prostitution. Lecturer Dimaris Barrios-Beltran accused her supervisor, Victoria Maillo, of hiring only attractive “teaching assistants” and encouraging them to “date” Amherst students with the ulterior motive of signing them up for Spanish classes—to boost the department’s profile. (College officials said they could not corroborate the accusation, but a lawyer for Barrios-Beltran said Maillo is no longer employed at Amherst.)
■ William Bendorf, 38, filed a lawsuit in December against the Funny Bone comedy club in Omaha, Nebraska, and comedian-hypnotist Doug Thompson after plunging off the stage and breaking his leg following Thompson’s having hypnotized him during his act. Thompson claimed that he had “snapped” Bendorf out of the trance, but the lawsuit claims that Bendorf, instead of exiting via the stairs as Thompson instructed, wandered directly toward his stage-side table because he was still “under” Thompson’s spell.
■ A patient who had been blind for a decade (a condition thought to have been brought on by brain damage from an auto accident) suddenly “regained” her sight, according to a research report in the latest PsyCh Journal—but only in one of the 10 identities (a teenage boy) populating her dissociative identity disorder. Doctors have since ruled out organic damage and (through EEG testing) “malingering” and are now coaxing her eyesight back by treating the disorder.
Least Competent Criminals
■ Chutzpah! (1) Michael Leonard, 53, was charged in December with stealing a package that moments earlier had been dropped off by a courier. The delivery was to a Prince George’s County, Maryland, police station, and Leonard, hanging around in the station (to register as a sex offender), walked out with the package when no one was looking. (However, a station surveillance camera caught his face.) (2) Sean Lyons, 23, wanted on an Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, arrest warrant since October as a drug dealer, was arrested in January—at the police station, where officers recognized him when he came to give information as a victim of an unrelated hit-and-run accident.
■ (1) David Newman, a prominent emergency room doctor at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, was recently charged with two counts of sexual abuse, one involving drugging, groping and masturbating onto the unconscious body of a female patient. (2) Well-known restaurateur Dan Hoyt, 53, was arrested in January and charged with exposing (and “pleasuring”) himself to two women, repeatedly, at a New York City subway station—and to one he had blatantly asked, “Can I masturbate to you?” Hoyt is the owner-chef at Quintessence in the East Village and gained notoriety in 2005 when a subway passenger photographed him “in action” during a previous weak moment.
■ (1) Kopi Luwak (the gourmet coffee beans roasted only after having been flavored by a trip through the digestive tracts of Asian civet cats) has been a staple of weird news stories for a quarter century, but a New York startup (Afineur) will soon bring to market a synthetic process mimicking the flavoring effects of the civets’ gut bacteria. (2) From time to time, when people worry excessively about their stations in life, entrepreneurs create “destruction rooms,” where, for a fee, customers get some time with a sledgehammer or baseball bat and pound on junked furniture. The most recent, Tantrums LLC, of Houston, opened in January, charging $35 for 10 minutes.
A News of the Weird Classic (July 2011)
■ Toshihiko Mizuno, 55, was arrested in Tokyo in June (2011) after three girls, ages 9 and 10, reported that he had talked them into spitting for him so that he could record it on video, to assist with “research” he was doing on “saliva.” Police later discovered 26 videotapes, featuring about 400 young girls spitting. According to local media sources, Mizuno has had the obsession for 17 years, successfully getting at least 500 girls to spit, among the estimated 4,000 he propositioned.
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