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[NEWS OF THE WEIRD]

by Chuck Shepherd

The Bar Is Always Open

· A 61-year-old Texas man admitted to a hospital not long ago appearing to be falling-downdrunk, even though denying having had even a single drink, was discovered to be unintentionally  manufacturing beer in his stomach. With “auto-brewery syndrome,” stomachbased yeast automatically ferments all starches (even vegetables or grains) passing through, converting them into ethanol. Normally, natural stomach bacteria control the yeast, but if, for example, antibiotics had inadvertently eliminated the bacteria, the yeast would prevail. The case was reported in a recent International Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Government in Action

· Update: As several additional states debate permitting marijuana use by a doctor’s prescription, Irvin Rosenfeld presented his own experience in August to a packed house at Kentucky’s state capitol. Rosenfeld suffers from painful bone tumors (diagnosed, with a poor prognosis, in 1963) and began smoking dope in the federal government’s Compassionate Investigational Drug program in 1982 — since then consuming 130,000 government-supplied joints (12 per day, carefully measured), which he said absolutely had prolonged his life. “I didn’t ask for my bone disease,” he said. “All I asked for is the best medicine possible.”

· While Congress struggled recently to pass a budget or an increase to the national debt limit, one program made it through rather easily, according to a September New York Times report: farm subsidies for inactive “farmers.” The subsidies were renewed, based on a 2008 law, virtually assuring that more than 18,000 in-name-only farmers (who received $24 million last year) will not be cut off. Included, according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report, were recipients at 2,300 “farms” that had not grown a single crop in five years (including 622 without a crop in 10 years).

· “Close enough for government work”:

The security contractor USIS, which does $2.45 billion worth of background checks for the National Security Agency and other departments (and had cleared file-leaker Edward Snowden and the Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis), gets paid only for completed files. However, full background checks often require months of work, and at some point, reported the New York Times in September, when USIS needed cash, it would “flush” still-open files, treating them as completed, and submit them for payment — as happened with the files of Snowden and Alexis. In both cases, reported the Times, subsequent, crucial information failed to make it into the flushed files.

Names in the News

· (1) In separate incidents of suspected thefts in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in January (all within about a month), police arrested John Lennon Ribeiro Siqueira, John Lennon Fonseca Ferreira and John Lennon Camargos Gomes. (2) Convicted for drug possession in May in Rockland County, NY: Mr. Genghis Khan, 23. (3) Charged with carjacking in July in Hilo, Hawaii: Mr. Alkapone Cruz-Bailes, 19. (4) Mr. Beezow Doo-doo Zoppitybop-bopbop, featured in News of the Weird after his December 2011 drug arrest in Madison, Wis., was arrested in August on drug charges in Washington County, Iowa.

Great Art!

· The missing element in obtuse doctoral dissertations in science is that they cannot be danced to, according to writer John Bohannon and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which has established an annual “Dance Your PhD” video competition, and this year’s finalists were being selected at press time. Sarah Wilk was an entrant, featured in a Wall Street Journal report using glowing green balls and a flaming hula-hoop to help illustrate her “Odd-Z Transactinide Compound Nucleus Reactions Including Discovery of 260-Bh.” So was Peter Liddicoat, using a chorus line  of a juggler and a ballerina and others for “Evolution of Nanostructural Architecture in 7000 Series Aluminum Alloys During Strengthening by Age-Hardening and Severe Plastic Deformation.”

· Steven Cohen, eager to make a point that his country of residence, France, is more oppressive to artists than his native South Africa, staged a one-man demonstration at the Eiffel Tower in September. Wearing a bird outfit, tights and a garter, he had for some reason tethered a live chicken to his exposed penis with a long ribbon. After Cohen was arrested for indecent exposure, his lawyer complained that her client had been kept in custody too long for such a minor charge. “France,” she exclaimed, “is throwing artists in prison.”

Police Report

· Use what you have: (1) Abbott Griffin, 57, was arrested in Toledo, Ohio in August and charged with robbing a Circle K convenience store, during which he had allegedly grabbed the clerk and bashed him repeatedly with a Bible. (2) One resident of a shelter in Seattle was charged in August with assaulting another in a dispute over TV-set volume, using a tub of butter-substitute. (3) Ms. Honesty Keener, 37, was convicted in Gloucester County, NJ in August of a 2011 break-in during which she demanded money from the female resident under threat of rubbing her open sores over the resident’s skin.

· New kinds of field sobriety tests: (1) Deaaron Hearn, 22, was arrested in Iowa City, Iowa in October after the traffic officer told him to summon a friend to drive his car home, and Hearn responded by reaching into his pocket, clumsily placing a $20 bill to his ear, and attempting a phone call. (2) In October, with her two children waiting in the car at a Holyoke, Mass. Shell gas station, Brenda Diaz, 26, allegedly attacked the store’s Slushie machine, naked (before police arrived to taser, pepper-spray and arrest her).

· Surely, most shoplifting occurs because the thieves wish merely to obtain goods without paying. Occasionally, as with the arrest of Christopher Wiener, 26, in Fargo, ND in July, an alternative theory suggests itself and raises the question: Would it be more embarrassing to be seen actually purchasing an artificial vagina (from the Romantix adult bookstore) than to be arrested for shoplifting it?

People Different From Us

· “We treat them like family”: (1) Deborah Cipriani, 55, of North Ridgefield, Ohio, runs from her home America’s only rescue center for skunks, and naturally, she told London’s Daily Mail in October, some of her companions like to sleep with her in bed (which is reportedly fine with partner Kevin). (2) Diane Westcott and her husband (also named Kevin), of Layton, Utah, have four cats and a dog, but since 2003 also at least one goose, who of course also sleeps with her. “Gladys” wears diapers because, as Diane explained (with understatement), it is “not possible” to potty train a goose.

Undignified Deaths

· (1) A 68-year-old hiker with a broken ankle was killed in Mansfield, Australia in August following his “successful” lift from the bush by an Ambulance Victoria helicopter. Moments after he was raised, airborne, about 30 yards off the ground, he fell to his death. (2) A 52-year-old man was killed in an explosion in Rowan County, Ky. in July when he lit a cigarette while hooked up to an oxygen supply. The man had already survived three explosions under the same circumstances.

A News of the Weird Classic (June ‘08)

· Leading economic indicator: Rising prices of synthetic fertilizers and organic foods have intensified the collection of bird droppings on 20 climatically ideal islands off the coast of Peru where 12-inch-thick seabird guano coats the land. In the 19 th century, China fought with Peru on the high seas for the right to mine the guano, which at that time was 150 feet high in places. Said an official of the Peruvian company that controls guano production (to a New York Times reporter in May (2008)), “Before there was oil, there was guano, so of course we fought wars over it.” The exceptionally dry climate means that 12,000 to 15,000 tons of guano are available yearly.

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.

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