by Chuck Shepherd

Love can mess you up: Before ArthurDavid Horn met his future brideLynette (a “metaphysical healer”)in 1988, he was a tenured professorat Colorado State, with a PhD inanthropology from Yale, teaching amainstream course in human evolution.With Lynette’s guidance (aftera revelatory week with her in California’sTrinity Mountains, searchingfor Bigfoot), Horn evolved, himself,resigning from Colorado State andseeking to remedy his inadequateIvy League education. At a conferencein Denver in September, Horn saidhe now realizes that humans come from analien race of shape-shifting reptilians thatcontinue to control civilization through thesecretive leaders known as the Illuminati.Other panelists in Denver included enthusiastsdescribing their own experiences withvarious alien races.Can’t possibly be true• Health insurance follies: (1) BlueShield California twice refused to pay$2,700 emergency room claims by RosalindaMiran-Ramirez, concluding that itwas not a “reasonable” decision for her togo to the ER that morning when she awoketo a shirt saturated with blood from whatturned out to be a breast tumor. Only aftera KPIX-TV reporter intervened in Septemberdid Blue Shield pay the claim. (2)National Women’s Law Center found thatthe laws of eight states permit insurancecompanies to deny health coverage to abattered spouse (as a “pre-existing condition,”since batterers tend to be recidivists),according to a September report by KaiserHealth News.• Child “protection” caseworkers: (1) InNovember 2008, the Illinois Department ofChildren and Family Services returned aninfant to her mother’s care two weeks afterthe woman had, according to police, lefther in a toilet bowl. (Three months later,following further investigation, the womanwas charged with attempted murder, andthe baby was taken away.) (2) Texas childagency caseworkers assigned a low priority(non-”immediate” risk) after a homevisit in May in Arlington revealed that aviolent, long-troubled mother routinely leftthree children, ages 6, 5 and 1, home aloneall day while she was at work. In September,the 1-year-old was found dead.• On Aug. 28, a suicide bomberapproached Saudi Prince Mohammedbin Nayef, intending to kill them bothusing a new, mysterious device that anal-Qaida video had earlier proclaimedwould be impossibleto detect. Theterrorist blew up onlyhimself, though, andsecurity investigatorsconcluded thathis “bomb” was a3-inch-long explosivehidden in his rectum.A Transportation SecurityAdministrationofficial downplayedthe puny power ofsuch a small device(but its effectiveness in bringing downan airplane is still an open question).Inexplicable• While state and local governments furiouslypare budgets by laying off and furloughingworkers, retired bureaucrats whoreceive defined-benefit pensions (ratherthan flexible 401(k) retirement accounts)continue to receive fixed payouts. Accordingto a California organization advocatingthat government retirement benefits bechanged from pensions to 401(k) accounts,one retired fire chief in northern Californiagets $241,000 a year, and a retiredsmall-town city administrator’s pension is$499,674.84 per year, guaranteed.
Unclear on the concept• In September, Hadi al-Mutif, 34, whohas been on death row in Saudi Arabia forthe last 16 years, following his convictionfor insulting the Prophet Muhammad, wasgiven a five-year prison sentence afterinsulting the Saudi justice system in a TVinterview.• Among the ramblings on the blog ofGeorge Sodini (the gunman who killedthree women in a Pennsylvania healthclub, and then himself, in August) was hisbelief that, having once been “saved,” hewould enter heaven even if he happenedto commit mass murder. Sodini attributedthe belief to one of his church’s pastors,and another church official, Deacon JackRickard, told the Associated Press that hepersonally believes Sodini is in heaven(“once saved, always saved”), thoughRickard somehow split the difference:“He’ll be in heaven, but he won’t haveany rewards because he did evil.”• The San Francisco Society for thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals operatesan assistance-dog program under a$500,000 grant and not only provides thetrained dog but also yearly “refresher”sessions to keep the dog sharp. However,client Patricia Frieze told SF Weekly inSeptember that the organization had askedher whether it could do the refreshercourse this year by telephone instead of ahome visit by a trainer.
Fine points of the law• Landlords prevail: (1) In July, ChuckBartlett was finally granted legal possessionof his house in Kenai, Alaska,overcoming a squatter’s delaying tacticsaided by local laws that frustrated evictiondespite clear evidence of Bartlett’s ownership.(Bartlett waited out the two-monthstandoff by pitching a tent in his ownyard.) The squatter’s final, futile challengeinvolved scribbling an obviously bogus“lease” that, even though Bartlett neversigned it (or even saw it), the sheriff hadto honor because only a judge, followinga formal hearing, can rule it invalid. (2)In Raleigh in July, Leslie Smith, 62, hadno such problem. He was arrested aftercalling the police to report that he hadshot a woman who had been living in hishouse. “She won’t get out [of the house].So I shot her.”People different from us• (1) Douglas Jones, 57, was cited byfederal park rangers in September forhaving, over the course of a year, litteredJoshua Tree National Park in Californiawith more than 3,000 golf balls. Jonesexplained that he tossed the balls fromhis car, believing he was thus honoringdeceased golfers. (2) John Manley, 50,breathed pain-free in September for thefirst time in two years after surgeonsdiscovered the source of his coughing anddiscomfort. Manley said he “like[s] totake big gulps of drink,” which is his onlyexplanation for why a 1-inch piece of aplastic utensil was lodged not in his stomachbut in his lung. Duke University surgeonMomen Wahidi recalled the scene inthe operating room as they tried to makeout what the fragment was: “We startedreading out loud, ‘a-m-b-u-r-g-e-r’” (forWendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers).Least competent victims•Two men were arrested in a suburb ofMelbourne, Australia in September afterallegedly scamming four local businessmenout of a total of $160,000, but thescam may reflect worse on the victimsthan the perpetrators. The victims (whomight have considered themselves savvyentrepreneurs to have earned that muchmoney) were somehow persuaded by thealleged scammers that bills of currencycan duplicate themselves if soaked in asecret chemical overnight. The perpetrators“demonstrated” the chemical’s powerby a sleight-of-hand, probably involvinga hidden $100 bill that, after soaking,appeared alongside an original $100 bill.(Readers who want to try chemically doublingtheir money thusly will need bleach,baby powder and hair spray, which theperpetrators had recently purchased.)
‘ Recurring themes• More examples of miracle drugs:(1) Mitchell Deslatte, 25, drove in andparked at a Louisiana state trooper stationin Baton Rouge in July, staggered inside,and asked the man behind the desk fora room, thinking he was in a hotel. Hewas arrested for DUI. (2) Terence Loyd,32, pleaded guilty in Mansfield, La. inAugust to possession of cocaine. He hadbeen arrested in March when constructionworkers saw him on his hands and knees,rolling in (and eating) mud and growlinglike a dog.’ A News of the Weird classic(September 2005)• From a Legal Notice of a NameChange in the Honolulu Advertiser, Aug.24, 2005: change name from “WaiauliaAlohi anail ke alaamek kawaipi olanihenohenoKam Paghmani” to “WaiauliaAlohi anail ke alaamek kawaipi olanihenohenoKam.”Copyright 2009 Chuck ShepherdDistributed by Universal PressSyndicate !