[NEWS OF THE WEIRD]
· A veteran University of Colorado administrator is on forced leave after her sideline made news in December. Resa Cooper-Morning, 54, “cultural diversity coordinator” in the ethnic studies department at CU Denver, also ran a phone-sex business for which she took calls ($1.49 a minute, “phone sex that will rock every part of your body,” according to her website) during hours she worked for the university. Said her daughter-in-law: “I’ve been in her office, and she’s said, ‘Oh, let me be right back, I have a phone call.’ She takes them very discreetly, shuts her door.” A KCNC-TV investigation found that the phone-sex hours listed on the website had recently been cut back, from “7:30 a.m. until late at night” to “weekdays after 3 p.m.”
Government in Action
· Florida’s second-most populous county, Broward, announced in December it was removing the agricultural tax break for 127 properties because it appeared their “farming” work was a sham. Broward’s property appraiser estimated the county had lost “hundreds of millions of dollars” over the years granting the bogus reductions — as landowners were blatantly housing just a few cows (in some cases, merely renting them) to graze and calling that “agricultural.” The appraiser’s office, after auditing only a few of the exemptions, found, for example, that land occupied by a government-contract prison was “agricultural” (with a rent-acow arrangement).
· The Ontario College of Trades ministry, finally implementing a long-ago reclassification of about 300,000 professionals, announced in November that barbers would immediately face fines if they had not acquired new licenses demonstrating proficiency with perms and highlighting and other aspects of women’s hairstyling.
Even barbers who had cut men’s hair for decades and with no desire to accept female customers would probably need a costly study program for the upgrade, which one barber estimated at 2,000 hours and $5,000 or more. Said one exasperated old-timer, “We’re barbers, not neurosurgeons.”
· Suspicion confirmed: A September report from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that almost 9 percent of all federal government spending occurred during the last week of the government’s fiscal year, as agencies scrambled to buy things they previously had not needed but suddenly did — because the money would otherwise disappear. Further, the report found that contracts made during that perhapsfrenzied final week were from double to more than five times as likely to be poorly executed as contracts made earlier in the fiscal year.
· The Army Corps of Engineers said in December that it “continuously strives to implement lessons learned from its work in the extremely challenging Afghan environment” — apparently its primary response to an inspector general’s report that it wasted $5.4 million on trash incinerators for a forward operating base that were late, in disrepair, dysfunctional even if working properly, health hazards for troops, and ultimately abandoned on site, unused. The project was termed “a complete waste,” but the corps pointed out that money was actually saved by not repairing expensive equipment that would not have worked anyway.
· South Africa, still transitioning to freedom after apartheid, has been slow to embrace the “performance art” that is a staple of American and European popular culture, but artist Anthea Moys is creating her own space, according to a December Wall Street Journal dispatch from Johannesburg. Recently she played an exhibition soccer game — alone against an 11-player lineup. Her “team” quickly fell behind, but sympathetic spectators wandered onto the pitch to help her, and she managed to lose by only 12-0. Before that, she had entered a 60-mile bicycle race in Johannesburg and, dressed properly in helmet and Spandex, she mounted a stationary bike at the starting line and began pedaling furiously as the other cyclists took off. “I’m not very competitive,” she said. “I’m interested in the joy of games and how people view them.”
· Australian performance artist Casey Jenkins admits that her signature engagement is “confining” and “slightly uncomfortable,” but that “Casting Off My Womb” is nonetheless an important work. Jenkins spends 28-day cycles knitting cloth from wool that has been inserted into her vagina — symbolizing the creation of “life” emerging from the natural female cycle. The output, she said, records a female life in all its natural states. (Jenkins’ work is perhaps borrowed from classic performance work by the artists Carolee Schneeman, in 1975’s “Interior Scroll,” and Yoko Ono, in 1965’s “Cut Piece.”)
· From the Homer (Alaska) Tribune: On Nov. 11, police were called at 2 a.m. by Robert Tech, 47 (better known as “Turkey Joe”), who said he was assaulted by Charles Young, 61 (“known in town” as “Yukon Charlie”). Joe was talking too much, Charlie told officers, and he had to keep hitting Joe because he would not shut up. Joe, whom officers found inside the bus he has been living in, said he declined to fight back because “I’ve been a leader of men all my life.” Charlie was arrested.
· Low-tech thief: Kevin Cook, 25, told police that he was mugged in New York City’s Central Park on Dec. 28, but that the thief had grabbed only his cellphone. Since it was a flip phone, the thief took a bemused look at it, asked, “What the (expletive) is this,” threw it back to Cook and walked away empty-handed. Cook, perhaps a bit defensive, pointed out that it was a new-style flip phone.
· Disability or disguise? Police in Denver said the same man (still on the loose), in his fifties and about 5-feet-8, robbed three banks in the area in December and faces up to 60 years in prison if caught. Either he employs a finely detailed disguise, or he is robbing banks under a significant disability, for in each job he wears a “medical mask” and lugs around a portable oxygen supply.
· Medics and excessively confident law enforcement officers are facing federal lawsuits after, first, David Eckert, in New Mexico, and then a 54-year-old woman in El Paso, Texas, were repeatedly anally examined in ultimately fruitless searches for ingested drugs. Search of Eckert began when a traffic officer thought he was “clenching” his buttocks during a stop; search of the woman began at the Mexico border when she was selected randomly for “additional screening” and a police dog gestured toward her. Both victims endured hours of detention and bodily invasions, as officers and medics, continually finding nothing, used different tests to justify their initial suspicion.
(Eckert received three enemas and a colonoscopy.) Not a single trace of drugs was found on either victim, and both have sued for the trauma and because both medical centers, in Silver City, NM, and El Paso, billed the victims personally for the forced procedures.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
· Two men broke into a home in the Lincoln Heights section of Los Angeles in December, unaware that the resident had moments earlier called 911 after glimpsing them on his surveillance camera. When police arrived outside, the perps asked the resident to tie all three of them up so that all would appear to be “victims” of the invaders, who had supposedly fled. The resident complied, but when police en tered
the home, the resident of course immediately squealed on the tied-up perps, ensuring their arrest. Two associates, who were outside standing lookout, were also arrested. Said one officer, “That’s what you call felony stupid.”
· From the Nov. 11 weekly report of the Dakota County (Minn.) Sheriff came word from the Hastings Police Department that a sergeant arriving to investigate a fight in a store’s parking lot in fact encountered only a single car with several young men inside. The sergeant said he strolled up to the car to ask about a fight, but was pre-empted when one of the men said, “I know why you’re here,” and pulled three pairs of pants, shoplifted from the store, from inside his shirt. He was arrested. !
© 2014 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.