News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication


LEAD STORY -- Disgraced but Not Contrite

Chutzpah! The former police chief of Bell, Calif., Randy Adams, had resigned in disgrace after prosecutors charged eight other city officials with looting the municipal budget. Adams had been recruited by the alleged miscreants (at a sweetheart salary twice what he made as police chief of much larger Glendale), and his resignation left him with a generous state pension of $240,000 a year. Rather than quietly accept the payout, Adams immediately appealed to a state pension panel, claiming that his one inexplicably rich year in Bell had actually upped his pension to $510,000 a year. In September, with a straight face, Adams pleaded his case to the panel, but 20 times during the questioning invoked his right not to incriminate himself. [Los Angeles Times, 9-21-2012]

The Continuing Crisis

-- Doctors Just Want to Have Fun: (1) Navy medical examiner Dr. Mark Shelly was notified of disciplinary action in July after admitting that he let his children handle a brain (and pose for photos with it) that he was transporting for autopsy to Portsmouth, Va. (2) A 15-year-old Swedish student, working at Malmo University Hospital on a "practical work-life" internship, was allowed by a doctor to make part of the incision for a cesarean section childbirth and to examine the patient vaginally. One alarmed cesarean patient alerted news media after reading about the orientation program in May and wondering if she had been a "hands-on" patient. [Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.), 7-13-2012] [The Local (Stockholm), 10-1-2012]

-- IRS agents, investigating tax-fraud suspect Rashia Wilson, 26, turned up "thousands" of identification numbers in a September home search in Tampa. Wilson had already laid down a challenge in May, when she wrote on Facebook: "I'm Rashia, the queen of IRS tax fraud. (I'm) a millionaire for the record. So if you think that indicting me will be easy, it won't. I promise you. I won't do no time, dumb (expletive unpublished)." The search also turned up a handgun, and since Wilson is a convicted felon (with 40 arrests), she was jailed, and denied bail in part because of the Facebook post. [Tampa Bay Times, 9-22-2012]

-- Many visitors to San Francisco's historic Castro neighborhood are shocked at the city's culture of street nudism (virtually all by males). Only if the display is "lewd and lascivious" (with the purpose to arouse) is it illegal, but a September report in SF Weekly suggests that the nudity must be total -- that calling any attention at all to the genitals may suggest lewdness, such as by rings worn around the scrotum. [SF Weekly, 9-7-2012]

Bright Ideas

Way Too Many Apps: (1) The Swiss company Blacksocks offers an iPhone app that utilizes radio frequency identification chips inserted into socks so they can be automatically sorted. (2) The iPoo app, reported Wired magazine in November, "(l)ets you chat with your fellow defecators from the comfort of your own toilet." (3) "In development" now, according to Harvard freshman Olenka Polak, is a "Code Red" app that creates an exchange network so that women and girls who find themselves unexpectedly spotting can locate an emergency source for a tampon or pad. [New York Times, 9-22-2012] [Wired, November 2012] [Harvard Crimson, 10-3-2012]

Latest Religious Messages

-- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an insane person cannot be executed, no matter how heinous the crime, because he cannot understand why he was being killed. Notwithstanding that, Florida Judge David Glant has ordered John Ferguson, 64, to death for a 1978 multiple-murder conviction, despite evaluations from 30 doctors that Ferguson is an insane paranoid schizophrenic. (At press time, the U.S. Court of Appeals is considering Ferguson's lawyers' last-second challenge.) Judge Glant acknowledges that Ferguson is delusional, but found that he nevertheless understands why he is being executed. Ferguson's belief in a Jesus-like resurrection upon death, with a glorious afterlife, is not, Glant said, "so significantly different from beliefs (that) other Christians may hold so as to consider it a sign of insanity." [The Guardian (London), 10-14-2012; CNN, 10-23-2012]

-- Spare the Rod: Former Arkansas state legislator Charlie Fuqua is running again after a 14-year absence from elective office. In the interim, reported the Arkansas Times in October, he wrote a book, "God's Law: The Only Political Solution," reminding Christians that they could put their super-rebellious children to death as long as proper procedure (set out in Deuteronomy 21:18-21) was followed. "Even though this (capital punishment) would rarely be used," Fuqua wrote, "if it were the law of the land ... it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents." [Arkansas Times, 10-8-2012]

-- Evangelicals' Nightmare Come to Life: A city official in nominally Catholic Tupa, Brazil, granted, for the first time, official "civil union" status to a man and two women, who thus enjoy all the legal benefits of marriage (as per a recent Brazilian Supreme Court decision). A CNN reporter, translating Portuguese documents, said the union was called "polyfidelitous." [CNN, 8-31-2012]

Family Values

"Why You Little ...!" (1) A teenager, apparently fed up with his parents' commandeering of their home's basement for an elaborate marijuana-growing operation, turned the couple in in August. The Doylestown Township, Pa., couple (a chiropractor mom and software engineer dad) had sophisticated hardware and 18 plants. (2) Police in Athens, Ga., searching for Homer Parham, 51, at his house in September, came up empty, and his wife said he wasn't there. But as officers were leaving, the couple's young daughter said, "Mommy locked Daddy in the closet." Parham was found hiding in a high-up crawl space. [, 8-19-2012] [Athens Banner-Herald, 9-20-2012]

First-World Problems

America now has about 700 pet "aftercare" facilities, providing funeral services to the nation's companion animals, according to a September NBC News report. Oakey's, in Roanoke, Va., performs 800 to 900 pet cremations annually and provides about 20 customers a year with pet caskets, part of the estimated $53 billion America spends on pets (higher than the Gross National Products of more than 100 countries). The basic charge of Heartland Pet Cremation of St Louis is $275 for a private cremation, including a "basic" urn and memorial video slideshow. (For the more upscale, other facilities offer deluxe urns, taxidermy, freeze-drying pets and creating a synthetic diamond out of pet ashes.) [NBC News, 9-17-2012]

People Different From Us

Gareth Lloyd, 49, admitted that he is the one who made about 5,800 random phone calls (over a 90-day period -- averaging 64 a day!) to people just to listen to their reactions when he told them that his penis was stuck in a household object (usually jars or a vacuum cleaner). A Flintshire, Wales, court sentenced Lloyd only to probation (with restrictions on telephone use). [Daily Mail (London), 10-11-2012]

Least Competent Criminals

Latest Negative-Cash-Flow Robbery: Two men robbing an Open Pantry store in Madison, Wis., in October escaped, but with less money than they came with. The lead thief grabbed a handful of cash that the clerk had been counting when the pair entered. The clerk pleaded, then sternly demanded that the man give back the money. The thief thought for a moment, became remorseful, threw all the money in his pocket to the floor, and fled. The clerk told police that when she re-counted the money, there was $1 more than in her original count, meaning that the thief had accidentally tossed in a dollar of his own. [WISC-TV (Madison), 10-22-2012]

Readers' Choice

(1) The Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg, Ky., was shut down by health authorities in September after a customer said he witnessed a roadkill deer carcass being wheeled through the dining room into the kitchen. The chief Whitley County health inspector said the owners did not appear to understand that they should not do that. (2) Edward Archbold, 32, died in October following his victory at the bug-eating contest sponsored by the Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Archbold (described by friends as a "life of the party" type) had stuffed handfuls of insects into his mouth (which people do harmlessly around the world in various cultures), but collapsed a short time later. [WKYT-TV (Lexington, Ky.), 9-30-2012] [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 10-9-2012]

Thanks This Week to David Swanson, Jeff Powell, John McGaw, Peter Smagorinsky, Jan Wolitzky, Doug Smith, Paul Peterson, Peter Swank, Nate Tracy, Gary Davidson, Scott Huber, Gary DaSilva and William Ellis, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

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