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[NEWS OF THE WEIRD]

by Chuck Shepherd

It Pays to Fail

The enormous compensation CEOs of large corporations receive is justified in part by their bringing prosperity to their shareholders, but last year (an excellent one for most investors), two of the nation’s best-paid chief executives “earned” handsome raises despite presiding over losses: Philippe Dauman of Viacom Inc. (paid $44.3 million, stock lost 6.6 percent) and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (an 88 percent raise to $37.3 million, stock lost 6.7 percent). CEO Steven Newman of Transocean earned only $14.2 million, according to a June Wall Street Journal report, but that was a 2.2 percent boost — for stewardship that resulted in one of 2014’s biggest flops — Transocean’s 59.9 percent loss for its shareholders.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

— The Japanese, especially, report a decline of intimacy (for instance, a recent estimate found that about a quarter of 30-year-olds had never had sex with another person) — convenient for a Kyoto research institute’s announcement in June that it had developed a huggable, human-sized, featureless pillow (resembling Casper the Friendly Ghost), with skin-like texture, to serve as an embraceable intimacy substitute. For people with actual lovers, the “Hugvie” (retailing for the equivalent of $80) has a mouth slot for a cellphone to enable running sweet talk with a remote “companion.”

— Redneck Marketing Challenges: (1) Scotty and Beverly Franklin of Springfield, Missouri, are trying to tempt cowboys to actually wear leather boots retrofitted to be open-toed sandals. KHOU-TV (Houston) reported that the Franklins would sandal-up your favorite pair for $75. (2) One of the more reviled consumer products of 2015 is a gun-shaped iPhone case, which so alarms police that it suddenly in early July became hard to find, even at the online Japan Trend Shop, which previously offered models from $5 to $49. Asked one officer, “Why would you want to make yourself look like a threat (to cops)?”

Latest Religious Messages

— Jihadists governing ISIS’ Euphrates province recently outlawed the popular hobby of breeding pigeons and threatened violators with flogging and imprisonment. The ban was initially thought to be aimed at frustrating pigeon-messaging to the outside world, but the published prohibition mentions other justifications — the hobby’s frivolity (wasting time that could better be spent praying) and the special offense to God (because pigeons are “uncovered,” with exposed genitals).

— God Is Love: (1) In a June YouTube video reported by various news sites, Tempe, Arizona, pastor Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist Church) prayed for God to “rip out the heart” of Caitlyn Jenner, for whom Anderson expresses “a perfect hatred” for announcing she was no longer Bruce. (2) On his “700 Club” TV program in June, Pat Robertson patiently explained to a grieving mother why God could have allowed her 3-year-old son to die of illness — that God saw the big picture and knew, for instance, that the kid could have become a serial killer or contracted a hideous disease, and that she should be relieved that God took him early.

Can’t Stop

Myself Esteban Rocha, 51, was arrested in June in Placerville, California, and charged with exposing himself to a woman — about 25 minutes after Rocha had left the Placerville Police Department, where he had dutifully gone to register his location so that police could keep track of him.

Leading Economic Indicators

Sweden has unemployment issues, like most countries, but, still, the Oliver & Eva sex shop was not prepared for the deluge when the nation’s Employment Service website posted its opening to hire a “sex toy tester.” Until the service was forced to pull the announcement, applications were coming in at the rate of one every 20 seconds, with 14,000 emails greeting the employer the first morning. The sex shop emphasized that the tester must be “driven,” “methodical” and “with patience” and a knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird tracks the “armed and clumsy,” who can’t avoid shooting themselves accidentally, but then there are these guys: (1) Adam Hirtle, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, checked into a hospital on June 10 after intentionally shooting himself in the foot with a .22-caliber handgun — twice, “curious” to see how it felt (with and without his boot to compare pain levels). (2) Jeremiah Raber, 38, recently commenced a crowdfunding campaign for a kids’ sports version of his “Nutshellz” jockstrap — according to Raber the strongest such apparel in the world, made from breakthrough “Dyneema” (supposedly half the weight of Kevlar but twice as strong). Recently, using a “.22 long rifle,” Raber had business partner Matt Heck shoot him directly in the delicate area, but according to Raber, he felt just a “tap.”

Aerobatic Drivers

(1) A 79-year-old woman in Markgroeningen, Germany, hit a ditch coming down a hill and flipped through a wall into the second floor of a storage depot, resulting in only minor injuries (June). (2) A woman driving 100 mph on a freeway near Leicester, England, lost control of her car, which somehow wound up in a tree about 20 feet above the roadway. She and a passenger climbed down and walked away (May). (3) A car speeding over a ramp sailed off a road in Durban, South Africa, crashing back-end-first through the roof of a one-story home, resting with the front end pointing straight up. Neither driver nor resident was hurt (July).

Least Competent Criminals

One Flaw in the Game Plan: Gary Elliott, 19, was arrested shortly after someone had ripped a hole in the ceiling of Al’s Army Navy store in Orlando, Florida, and — expertly shimmying down a rope, then back up — made off with about 70 guns in a bag. (“It must be Spider-Man,” was proprietor Neal Crasnow’s first thought.) However, minutes after the burglary, Elliott came to a police officer’s attention on the street, bleeding, carrying the large bag — and pedaling away on his “getaway” vehicle, which was a genuine tricycle (yes — three wheels!).

Also, Recently …

(1) While a custom fitting is being prepared, Alyeska Pipeline is “servicing” a leak in the trans-Alaska Pipeline by sending an employee twice a day in June to mop up the oil with rags. (2) A man was spotted and photographed on a riverbank in Nanyang, China, carefully (and oblivious to onlookers) bathing his inflatable doll. (3) In May, at the very moment police in Akron, Ohio, had begun (with a warrant) searching the home of Andrew Palmer, 46, for evidence of drug-dealing, a UPS driver appeared at the door to make a routine delivery — of four pounds of marijuana.

A News OfThe Weird Classic (July 2010)

Fine Points of the Law: Things looked grim for Carlos Simon-Timmerman, arrested by U.S. border agents in Puerto Rico for bringing a child-sex video home from a holiday in Mexico. The star of “Little Lupe the Innocent” looked very young, and federal prosecutors in April (2010) called an “expert witness” pediatrician, who assured the jury, based on the girl’s underdevelopment, that she was a minor. However, Simon-Timmerman’s lawyer had located “Lupe” via her website, and she cheerfully agreed to fly in from her home in Spain with her passport and other documents to prove, at a dramatic point in the trial, that she was 19 (and “legal”) when the video was made. Simon-Timmerman was acquitted. !

‘© 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.

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