Crash Notes: Freaky Friday News

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Living Small

Apartment buyers in ridiculously expensive Hong Kong are now eagerly paying up to the equivalent of $500,000 (U.S.) for units not much bigger than a U.S. parking space (and typically physically self-measured by the applicant’s wing-span). An agent told The Wall Street Journal in June that, for example, standard furniture does not fit the units and that having guests over requires sitting on the window sill. (The Journal pointed out that a typical such “mosquito” apartment unit in Hong Kong is 180 square feet, way smaller than the 304 of a basketball court’s “lane” subject to a “3-second” violation.) A government lottery for subsidized units rewards barely one of every 100 applicants. [Wall Street Journal, 6-3-2015]

Recurring Themes

— Spouses often disagree politically and vote accordingly, but occasionally one runs for office against the other — as is the case in Bremerton, Washington, where incumbent Councilmember Roy Runyon is being challenged by his wife, Kim Faulkner. Both were mum as to reasons and in fact filed their registration papers together at the same time in May. Said Runyon: “We’re different people. She might have a different approach.” [Kitsap Sun (Kitsap, Wash.), 5-14-2015]

— India’s media reported in April yet another birth defect in which the surviving baby is treated as a representation of Hindu holiness. A four-armed, four-legged child (medical explanation: remains of an underdeveloped conjoined twin) is worshipped as the reincarnation of the multi-limbed Lord Ganesha, and pilgrims journey from all over India to the birthplace, Dumri-Isri in Jharkhand state. (In a nod to modernity, one witness told a reporter that initially he had thought a photograph of the child was “Photoshopped,” but now has seen the baby with his own eyes.) [OneIndia.com (Bangalore), 4-23-2015]

— The law of turkey-baster insemination took a turn in Virginia in April when mother Joyce Bruce was unable to keep sperm-provider Robert Boardwine out of her son’s life. Bruce relied on a state statute that seemed to allow her sole parenthood if the pregnancy was based on assisted-reproduction medical technology. However, the Court of Appeals of Virginia declared that a “kitchen implement” is not “medical technology” and, considering Boardwine’s genuine interest in fatherhood, ruled that he was entitled to joint custody and visitation rights. [CNN, 4-21-2015]

— Another “Human Right”: In April, London’s Daily Mail spotted Anna Broom of Gillingham declaring that despite her various disorders that keep her from working, she nonetheless imagines a first-class wedding with champagne, horse-drawn carriage and Mexico honeymoon — all at government expense — because that would be her “human right.” She told a reporter that a small ceremony at a government office would not boost her confidence, but that her “dream” wedding would be just the thing to get her back on a job search. [Daily Mail, 4-16-2015]

— The most recent exposition of people who tattoo their eyeballs, at the International Tattoo Festival in Caracas, in February, featured the phenomenon’s founder, Mr. Luna Cobra, who said it all started when he tried to create “bright blue” eyes, as in the 1984 film “Dune.” (Pigment is injected, permanently, so that it rests under the eye’s thin top layer, the conjunctiva.) Asked what the process feels like, devotee Kylie Garth told BBC News, “It was mentally intense,” resembling an eye poke, pressure and “a bit of sand” — but “no pain.” Mr. Cobra urged young people to get their jobs before trying eye tats, since “you’re going to look frightening forever to the majority of people you encounter.” [Washington Post, 2-4-2015]

— Once again, in May, lawyers went to court trying to persuade a judge that some rights under the U.S. Constitution be extended to intelligent apes (here, chimpanzees, as “autonomous and self-determining beings” at least as perceptive as, for example, severely mentally ill people, who retain rights while institutionalized). Lawyers are once again asking for a writ of habeas corpus (now available only to humans) to take Hercules and Leo out of a lab and into a sanctuary. (Adding to the discussion, in the week after the court hearing, a Harvard professor and colleagues, writing in the journal Current Anthropology, hypothesized that chimps could cook foods if given the chance. Tests revealed that they resist raw food when they are able to place it into a device that made it taste better — which in theory makes them more intelligent than children who eat cookie dough.) [Associated Press via Toronto Star, 5-27-2015] [New York Times, 6-3-2015]

— Baffling Perversion: Some men are compelled to express unrequited love for women by ejaculating onto them or into their beverages. The Minnesota legislature is working to upgrade its law (since a recent defendant, John Robert Lind, was acquitted of adulterating his co-worker’s coffee on the ground that current law requires actually touching the victim). However, Lind (who admitted a total of six climaxes against the co-worker) is an amateur compared to Tetsuya Fukuda, 40, who was finally apprehended in April, at which time he admitted “more than 100” semen attacks on women on trains near Kinshicho, Japan, dating back to 2011. He told police, “I get excited when in close contact with a woman on a crowded train.” [St. Paul Pioneer-Press, 3-11-2015] [Asahi Shimbun via Gawker.com, 4-10-2015]

Updates on Previous Crash Notes

— Freaky Friday News has remarked on modern, over-the-top versions of the centuries-old tradition in China of making funerals entertaining, to attract mourners and thereby signify that the deceased did not die “faceless.” In the recent past, festive song-and-dance acts were hired, and soon, in the competition for attendees, some families took to hiring strippers to perform — even “obscene” acts, “severely pollut(ing)” the culture, according to a critic. In April, the Ministry of Culture, previously somewhat tolerant because of sensitivity for the families, formally denounced the practice and began detaining the traveling performers. [Wall Street Journal, 4-23-2015]

— Backyard firing ranges are legal in Florida (as FFN reported last year), and in March a Florida House committee voted to keep it that way, shooting down legislation to outlaw them even in urban and residential areas. (Firing on private property is legal except if shooting over a public right-of-way or an occupied dwelling, and “negligent” gunfire, though illegal, is only a misdemeanor.) In 2014, one Florida legislator, originally from Alaska, said even in that liberty-conscious state, residents in urban Anchorage do not have rights that Floridians have. [BayNews9.com (St. Petersburg), 3-25-2015]

— Convicted “satanic cult” day care operators Dan and Fran Keller were finally unconvicted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in May — 23 years after being found guilty based in part on toddlers’ fantastical testimony (encouraged by counselors) telling impossible tales of molestation. Still, however, the judges could not bring themselves to rule the Kellers “not guilty,” thus preserving children’s narratives of the Kellers videotaping orgies, serving blood-laced Kool-Aid, kidnapping them to Mexico and more — yet somehow releasing them, unscarred, each day to parents at pickup time in Austin. (The Kellers spent 22 years behind bars.) [American-Statesman (Austin), 5-20-2015]

— The South Pacific islanders on the Vanuatu island of Tanna believe that 2016 will be the year that the man they inexplicably worship as a god — Britain’s Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh — will finally visit them. One highly regarded islander told a London Daily Telegraph correspondent in New Zealand that the cult is starved for a visit, since Philip’s only contact since the 1940s has been via gifts (one, the most treasured, an autographed photo). Legendary Vanuatuan “Chief Jack” was convinced that Philip was a descendant of island royalty. [Daily Telegraph, 4-25-2015]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

In May, Texas health officials shut down the flea market sales of sonogram DVDs at Leticia Trujillo’s stall at San Antonio’s Traders Village. Though the nature of the equipment was not described in news reports, sonograms can be produced only under a doctor’s prescription and by licensed personnel, but pregnant flea market customers underwent a procedure (“just like a doctor’s office,” said Trujillo) that yielded a 12-minute DVD image, along with photos, for $35 — that Trujillo subsequently defended as for “entertainment” purposes only and for those without health insurance. [San Antonio Express-News, 5-22-2015]

Ironies

According to Nathan Hoffman’s lawsuit, he was prepped for eye surgery that day in May 2014 when the clinic employee handed him a small-lettered liability-limitation form to sign. He was told that the surgery at the LASIK Vision Institute in Lake Oswego, Oregon, could not proceed without a signature, and despite hazy vision, he reluctantly relented, but things went badly. The form limits lawsuit damages to a money-back $2,500, but Hoffman demands at least $7,500 (to cover the so-far two additional surgeries elsewhere to correct LVI’s alleged errors). [The Oregonian, 5-15-2015]

War Is Hell

Some jihadists who have traveled to Syria to join ISIS have complained recently (according to a Radio Free Europe dispatch) that they cannot secure work as “martyrs” because of discrimination by incumbent fighters. One “pro-ISIS” cleric, speaking for Chechens, said they “are so fed up with the long waiting lists in Syria” that they head to Iraq, where the lists are shorter. Said one, Saudis controlling suicide rosters in the Syrian theater “won’t let anyone in.” Their “relatives go to the front of the line using (their connections).” [News.com.au (Sydney), 5-22-2015]

The Continuing Crisis

— America (sometimes called a land of “second chances”) gave stockbroker Jerry Cicolani Jr., 69 such chances, before he pleaded guilty in May to selling unregistered securities — setting up his first overt punishment despite a history of 60-some client complaints made to his then-employer, Merrill Lynch, between 1991 and 2010. The stockbrokers’ self-regulating arm (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) has finally revoked his license, but issued a statement acknowledging that it needed to improve its monitoring. [New York Times, 5-19-2015]

— Awkward: Corey Huddleston, 52, apparently having taken a fancy to a teenage girl in Dickson, Tennessee, in May, knocked on her family’s front door, according to police, then pushed his way in, asked for cigarettes and beer, “touched himself” inappropriately, asked about the girl, and then reluctantly departed. However, he merely went to a back window of a darkened bedroom, climbed inside, and fondled a sleeping figure in bed, whom he likely assumed was the girl — but it was the girl’s father, who later confessed that he called the police only after resisting the impulse to kill Huddleston. (Police said Huddleston’s rap sheet shows more than 100 charges.) [WKRN-TV (Nashville), 5-13-2015]

Weird Science

Among caterpillars’ natural defenses against being devoured by birds is their ability to contort themselves into odd shapes for disguise — perhaps most ingeniously (according to researchers writing in the current Animal Behaviour journal) as bird droppings. The authors created artificial dough-based squiggles that were either straight (resembling the caterpillar) or bent (to resemble poop), and found that birds zeroed in on the straight ones about three times as often. [Science, 5-22-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Notwithstanding the suggestion in movies, stealing a 200-pound floor model safe is a very low-return crime, as the February arrest of three pals in Kingsport, Tennessee, illustrated. After struggling to load the safe into a car’s trunk (accidentally shattering the back window), they drove to one’s apartment, but police were called when neighbors saw the safe being dragged across a parking lot in the middle of the night. (During the trip, it fell onto one perp’s foot.) Police, following gouge marks, visited the apartment and spotted the safe, as yet unopened, in the middle of the kitchen. (Police: Why do you gentlemen have a safe? Perp: We found it in an alley.) Police opened it. It was empty. [Kingsport Times-News, 2-2-2015]

Just Another Day in Court in Florida

It started in 2008, when one of Tampa Bay’s two nastiest radio “shock jocks,” Todd Schnitt, sued the other, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, for defamation. With depositions underway in 2013, according to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, Schnitt’s lawyer, Philip Campbell, unwinding in a bar, was hit on by a perky young paralegal who (unknown to him) worked for Bubba’s lawyer’s firm. After several drinks, she exaggerated inebriation, angling for Campbell to drive her home. According to charges by the Florida Bar Association, the paralegal’s boss called a Tampa cop to trail Campbell — who, sure enough, witnessed the car weaving, and thus arrested Campbell for DUI. (Bonus: Campbell’s work-packed briefcase went missing in the traffic stop.) Bubba himself was not implicated, and the disciplinary charges against the lawyers, pending in June 2015, are creating suspense about which of them might take the fall. [Tampa Bay Times, 5-20-2015]

From the Third-World Press

Kenya’s The Standard reported the May proclamation by prominent Nairobi lawyer Felix Kiprono that he had fallen in love (long distance) with Malia Obama (who is, famously, part-Kenyan) and is prepared to offer President Obama 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats in exchange for her hand. “If my request is granted,” he said, he would not “resort to the cliche of popping champagne” but rather would “surprise (Malia) with mursik, the traditional Kalenjin sour milk,” and affix the “sacred plant,” sinendet, queen-like, around her head. [The Standard, 5-25-2015]

Have a GREAT weekend!

Crash

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