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by Chuck Shepherd

Who Knew RestroomsWere SoComplicated?

Back to the fundamentals:The multiculturalMacquarieUniversity in suburbanSydney, Australia saidits restroom posters,installed last year,have been successfulin instilling toilet etiquette. The lined-throughfigure of a user squatting on top of a toilet seatwas especially helpful, apparently. Complaintsof unsanitariness were such that some studentswere timing their classes to use restrooms in anearby mall instead. (Lest anyone believe theproblem is confined to multicultural institutions,a recent memo by the 785-member LewisBrisbois law firm in San Francisco instructedemployees to clean urine from toilet seats, to alwaystake the farthest stalls or urinals available,to mask sounds by toilet-flushing (if desired),and to not make eye contact in the restroom.

Can’t Possibly Be True

• Louis Helmburg III filed a lawsuit in Huntington,W.Va., in February against the Alpha TauOmega fraternity and its member Travis Hughesfor injuries Helmburg suffered in May 2011 whenhe fell off a deck at the fraternity house. He hadbeen startled and fallen backward off the rail-lessdeck after Hughes attempted to fire a bottle rocket“out of his anus” — and the rocket, instead,exploded in place. (The lawsuit does not refer toHughes’ injuries.)• US Immigration agents in a $160,000 ChevySuburban that had been designed and armoredspecifically to protect agents from roadsidekidnappings became sitting ducks last year whenkidnappers forced the vehicle off the road nearSan Luis Potosi, Mexico and got the door open,enabling them to fire 100 rounds and kill one ofthe agents inside. According to a February WashingtonPost report, the Department of HomelandSecurity had failed to modify the vehicle’s factorysetting that popped open the door locks automaticallywhenever the driver shifts into “Park.”• When Rose Marks and her extended familyof Romanian-Gypsy “psychics” were indictedlast year for a 20-year-run of duping South Floridiansout of as much as $40 million, victimsof the clan were elated that justice might be athand. (A typical scam, according to prosecutors,was to take a client’s cash, “to pray overit,” promising its return but somehow figuringout how to keep it.) However, in December, theMarkses’ attorneys reported that “several” ofthe so-called victims had begun to work withthem to help clear the family, including onewho reportedly paid Rose over time $150,000.According to the lawyers, these “victims”call the Markses “friends,” “life coaches” and“confidants,” rather than swindlers.

Inexplicable

David Myrland, an anti-government “sovereign”now serving three years in federal prisonfor threatening the mayor of Kirkland, Wash.,filed a federal lawsuit in February accusing variousofficials of conspiracy — by the manipulationof bad grammar, i.e., “backwards-correctsyntaxing-modification fraud.” Each word of theoriginal complaint, coded by Myrland as to partof speech, “proves” to him that the complaint was“fraudulent” and “handicapping.” (Random sentencefrom Myrland’s filing: “For the WORDSOF an ADVERB-SYNTAX-GRAMMARMODIFICATIONSARE with an USE of theSYNTAX-GRAMMAR with the VOID of thePOSITIONAL-LODIAL-FACT-PHRASE withthe SINGLE-WORD-MODIFIER AS THE: A,AS, AT, AM, BECAUSE (many words omitted)FACT by the VASSALEES.”) (“Sovereigns”generally reject the federal government, and Myrlanddid not explain why he expected a federaljudge would have authority to help him.)

Unclear on the Concept

• Jason Bacon, 41, was arrested in Eureka,Calif. in March after responding to a classifiedad for a used motorcycle by offering to tradeabout $8,000 worth of his homegrown marijuanafor it. According to an officer on the scene,Bacon told a deputy, “I know you can’t sell it,but I thought it was okay to trade it.”• Kathleen Mathews was outraged that thelocal community could turn on her 26-year-oldson, Jesse, who had been charged with capitalmurder for killing a Chattanooga, Tenn., policeofficer. She told the judge in a letter that Jesseis a “good man,” and lamented, “You do onelittle thing that pisses people off, and they wantto hold it against you forever.”

Our Dynamic Democracy

• Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey, astaunch abortion opponent, introduced a billin January to ban the use of human fetusesin processed food. Although the principalanti-abortion advocacy official in the state saidhe had never heard of such a practice, Sen.Shortey asserted that it was a problem and thathe had been reading up on it on the internet.• Kyle Bower, 19, was elected in November toa seat on the Alburtis (Pa.) Borough Council. Beforebeing sworn in, however, he was sentencedto probation for stalking an ex-girlfriend andtossing a brick through her window. Now that heis seated, he still must answer to 2010 chargesin Kutztown, Pa. of resisting arrest for publicdrunkenness. In both incidents, he also displayedan uncanny ability to slip out of handcuffs andwander away from arresting officers.

Creme de la Weird

Madeleine Martin, the chief animalprotection official for Hesse, Germany tolda newspaper in Frankfurt in February thatamong the reasons why the country neededan anti-bestiality law was that she knew of“animal brothels” in Germany (presumably,not animal-animal mating services but humananimalfacilities). (Without an anti-bestialitylaw, authorities usually must prove that theanimal has been physically harmed in order toobtain a conviction.)

Least Competent Criminals

Law enforcement officers turn to Facebooknowadays to help solve crimes, knowing thatsome perpetrators cannot resist bragging about oreven showing off things they’ve recently stolen.For example, Steven Mulhall, 21, will be easilyprosecuted for stealing the nameplate off the doorof Broward County (Fla.) judge Michael Orlando— since he posted in March a photograph ofhimself holding it following a courtroom visit.(In other Facebook news, in Tacoma, Wash. inMarch, corrections officer Alan O’Neill, 41, wascharged with bigamy after his long-estrangedfirst wife found out about the second one whenFacebook suggested the two be “friends.”)

Armed and Clumsy (all new!)

Men (almost never a woman) Who accidentallyshot themselves recently: Lee Miars, 30,Myrtle Creek, Ore., while pointing a gun at hishead to illustrate a story for friends (January). A22-year-old Navy SEAL, San Diego, Calif., whilepointing a gun at his head to convince friends itwas unloaded (January). Riki Ingram, 18, Baker,La., shot his leg while “holstering” his gun to hispocket following a robbery (December). EthanBennett, 36, Monroe, Wash., aiming at a squirrelrunning up his leg, shot his foot (November).Special Deputy Ted Maze, Bedford, Ind., shothis hand while reloading at a training session(June). Kenneth Fortson, 21, Atlanta, was killedin a police chase following a home invasion (by,apparently, holding a gun as his pickup truck hit atree and jarred his trigger finger) (October). LarryGodwin, 68, Redfield, Iowa, shot himself twicefiring at a raccoon in a live trap (February).Thanks This Week to Richard Zehr, ChipSharpe, Kent Heustess, Sandy Pearlman, PerryLevin, Kathryn Wood, Peter Smagorinsky, SarahWinter, John Smith, Scott Johnston, KarenBledsoe, and Shawn Tolliver, and to the Newsof the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd. Universal PressSyndicate !

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