news of the weird

by Chuck Shepherd


New York City artist Sally Davies offered in October the latest evidence of how unattractive today’s fast foods are to bacteria and maggots. Davies bought by Chuck Shepherd a McDonald’s Happy Meal in April, has photographed it daily, and has noted periodically the lack even of the slightest sign of decomposition. Her dog, who circled restlessly nearby for the first two days the vittles were out, since then has ignored it. (Several bloggers, and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, have made discoveries similar to Davies’.) Food scientists “credited” a heavy use (though likely still within FDA guidelines) of the preservative sodium propionate but also the predominance of fat and lack of moisture and nutrients all of which contribute to merely shrinking and hardening the burger and fries.


Maybe just safekeeping it for a friend: Raymond Roberts, 25, was arrested in Manatee County, Fla. in September after an ordinary traffic stop turned up a strong smell of marijuana. At deputies’ behest, Roberts removed a baggie of marijuana from his buttocks, but when the deputies saw another plastic bag right behind it (containing a white substance believed to be cocaine), Roberts said, “The weed is [mine],” but “[t]he white stuff is not….”

Firefighter Richard Gawlik Jr. was terminated by Allentown, Pa., in August for abusing sick leave after he posted his daily golf scores on a public website during three days in which he had called off from work. Allentown firefighters’ contract allows them up to four consecutive days’ sick leave without a doctor’s note, and given their shift schedule of four days on, four days off, a four-day, undocumented sick call effectively means a 12-day holiday a pattern that describes 60 percent of all firefighter “sick” days, according to an analysis by the Allentown Morning Call. (Gawlik’s union president said the union would appeal and that “playing golf was well within the guidelines of [Gawlik’s illness].”) Woody Will Smith, 33, was convicted in September of murdering his wife after a jury in Dayton, Ky. “deliberated” about 90 minutes before rejecting his defense of caffeine intoxication. Smith had claimed that his daily intake of sodas, energy drinks and diet pills had made him temporarily insane when he strangled his two-timing wife with an extension cord in 2009, and made him again not responsible when he confessed the crime to police. (In May 2010, a judge in Pullman, Wash. ordered a hit-and-run driver to treatment instead of jail, based on the driver’s “caffeine psychosis.” Some doctors believe the condition can kick in with as little as 400 mg of caffeine daily an amount that, given America’s coffee consumption, potentially portends a sky-high murder rate.)

An Iowa administrative law judge ruled in September that former police officer William Bowker of Fort Madison deserved worker’s compensation even though he had not been “laid off” but rather fired for having an affair with the wife of the chief of police. Although the city Civil Service Commission had denied him coverage (based in part on other derelictions, such as sleeping and drinking on duty and refusing to attend a class on search warrants), the judge ruled that Bowker’s dismissal seemed too much like improper retaliation for the affair.

‘© 2010 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate