2010-06-23 / News of The Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

BY CHUCK SHEPHERD DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

Teaching dumb

New York state school officials had promised to crack down on soft test-grading to end the near-automatic grade-advancement by students unprepared for promotion. However, a June New York Post report found that the problem lingers under the current grading guideline called “holistic rubrics.” Among examples cited by the Post (from a fourth-grade math test): How many inches long is a “2-foot-long skateboard”? (Answer: 24; “half-credit” answer: 48). Also, if you have 35 book boxes, and each contains 10 books, how many books are there? (Answer: 350; “half-credit” answer: 150). 

Armed and clumsy

. In this latest collection of men who accidentally shot themselves recently, private parts were the center of attention. University of Illinois campus police officer Bryan Mallin accidentally shot himself in the butt while shopping in Chicago, and Timothy Davis, 22, digging through a drawer in Fort Myers last October, also accidentally shot himself in the butt. And four other men (a shopper at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Lynnwood, Wash., a 17-year-old in Vallejo, Calif., 20-year-old Jeffrey Disney in Hamilton, Ohio, and 50-year-old David Blurton, in Dillon, Colo. accidentally shot themselves in what for men is their most cherished spot. 

Common senseless

. According to a May report by Seattle’s KOMO-TV, former Oregon National Guardsman Gary Pfleider II is awaiting the results of his latest appeal to end the garnishment of his disability checks to cover $3,175 for gear he supposedly “lost” when he was shot in Iraq. Pfleider was hit in the leg by a sniper in 2007, bled profusely and was evacuated (and is awaiting his ninth surgery on the leg), but the Oregon Guard apparently believes that, despite the trauma, Pfleider somehow should have paused to inventory the equipment he was carrying and to make arrangements for its safekeeping during his imminent hospitalization.

. To ease the crowds entering the Texas Capitol building in Austin, officials recently opened an “express” line, bypassing most security precautions, for selected visitors and personnel. Obviously, members of the legislature use the express line, along with Capitol employees presenting ID. A third category of favored visitors: anyone with a Texas concealed-weapons carry permit. The Houston Chronicle reported in June that the lobbyists frustrated with the long security lines have been applying for concealed-weapons permits even if they expect never to touch a firearm.

. It took until spring 2010 (eight years after the invasion of Afghanistan) for the U.S. Army to realize that enemy fighters in that vast, mountainous country were difficult to shoot at because they are often so far away. The Associated Press reported in May that the Army is only now reconsidering its reliance on standard M-4 rifles (whose effective range is under 1,000 feet), in favor of M-110 sniper rifles (effective at more than 2,500 feet). (Shorter-range rifles work well in Iraq, since the fighting is closer-in.)

. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported in May that Qantas Airways has acknowledged re-using plastic knives and forks from its in-flight meals as many as 30 times before discarding them. One supplier who visited Qantas’ Q Catering center in the Sydney suburb of Mascot was told that the Qantas cutlery’s plastic is “more robust” than ordinary plastic utensils and is completely safe (after special cleaning). 

Sucker nation

. The New Living Expo in San Francisco in May showcased such “healthyliving” breakthroughs as a $1,200 machine promising to suck toxins out of your body; a $249 silver amulet to protect you from “deadly” cell phone radiation; and a $15,000 Turbo Sonic if your red blood cells need to be “de-clumped.” A Canadian study at the same time found that 97 percent of people who admitted buying “anti-aging” products did not think they would work but nevertheless confessed their need to hope like those who “hope” the viper-venom-derived $525 Euoko Y-30 Intense Lift Concentrate will prolong their lives.

. The larger question in a “swindling psychic” case is not how Portland, Ore., “psychic” Cathy Stevens managed to separate Mr. Drakar Druella, 42, from his $150,000 (which she needed, to cure Druella’s “negative energy”). The larger question is how did a man so totally lacking in street smarts manage to amass $150,000 to begin with. Explained Druella, “(Stevens) could cry (at) will. (She) becomes what you want and need her to be.” 

People with issues

. At her arraignment in Missoula, Mont., in April, Jackiya Ford, 37, refused to enter a plea to various fraud charges because, she explained, “Montana” is not a legal entity. According to the prosecutor, after Ford was shown a house for sale by a local agent, she tried to cut out the middleman by filing an ownership claim to it and all the land within 20 miles of it (although she generously offered to sell it to the current residents, aka the legal owners, for $900,000, but only in “silver or gold”). Armed with her (fraudulent) ownership document, she broke into the home and posted a no-trespassing sign (the only visitors allowed: people authorized by “our Lord and Savior Yahushua”). 

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