[NEWS OF THE WEIRD ]
NOISE IS GOLDEN · The Formula One circuit is generally thought to attract fans as a showcase of motorcar technology and racing skill, but organizers of the Australian Grand Prix (the first of the 19 races on the annual circuit) threatened a lawsuit in March against Formula One management because the races should also be showcases of noise. Formula One has softened cars’ power this year in order to make breakthrough achievements in fuel efficiency, but that also tamped down Formula One’s “trademark ear-shattering roar,” according to a Business Insider report. Fans are less likely to buy tickets, the organizers fear, if they lose the deafening, 100-decibel vroom that is a “visceral element of the fan experience.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKETS · Amelia Boomker, 36, of Bolingbrook, Ill., celebrated her acceptance into the Guinness Book of World Records in March, recognized for donating more than 127 gallons of her own breast milk to critically needy babies in the Midwest. The donations came on top of supplying breast milk for her own four sons, three of whom were born during the 2008-2013 period in which she pumped out her excess for the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank.
· Most Commandments Violated: James Chatten, 46, pleaded guilty in January to several Commandment violations stemming from a July incident at the Christian Horizons church in Peterborough, Ontario. Chatten brought a prostitute inside the church, for sex, after hours, and stole money to pay her from a church drawer, then lied to police about being forced to raid the drawer.
· Prodigious Criminality: (1) John Bidmead, 65, was convicted in November at Britain’s Exeter Crown Court of possession of child pornography images that totaled, according to police count, 600,000 files — a low number because detectives said they got tired of counting and that the final number was easily over a million. The prosecutor called it “certainly the largest find in this part of the world.” (2) Jason Bourcier, 33, reached a deal with the Virginia Department of Transportation in November to eventually pay down the $200,000 in highway tolls he had ignored for more than three years. He told a judge that, originally, a friend had told him that traveling the Dulles Toll Road to Washington, D.C., was free if the toll collectors had gone home for the evening (not true). (Bourcier told the judge he is now working as a “financial consultant” — surely after rehabilitating his attention to detail.)
FINE POINTS OF THE LAW · In some cultures, and now in Florida, apparently, the act of urination carries no special modesty protection. A judge ruled in March that video of Justin Bieber expelling for a urine test following his January drag-racing arrest in Miami Beach was a “public record” and had to be released to the press under Florida law. (A perhaps overly generous black box was edited into the video to make it somewhat less explicit.) In the video, only one officer is present, observing, based on protocol that respects the suspect’s “privacy” — though the Florida judge in essence invited the entire world to watch Bieber urinate, as the video quickly made the Internet.
· (1) Kentucky state Rep. Leslie Combs, unloading her .380 semi-automatic handgun in her Capitol office in Frankfort in January, accidentally fired a shot into her furniture. Said Combs, “I’m a gun owner. It happens.” In fact, she praised herself for being “particularly careful” to point the gun away from people while “unloading” it. (2) In March, an unnamed man was rescued by bystanders who heard screaming from a maze-like storm drain, which runs 12 feet below the street in Lawton, Okla. The man had accidentally dropped a $20 bill through a grate and climbed in after it, wandering underground for two days searching for his way out. (He never found the $20.)
BRIGHT IDEAS · The Lakemaid brewery based in Stevens Point, Wis., acknowledged in January that it has been testing drone technology, with an eye to eventually delivering beer to isolated ice fishermen on Lake Waconia, Minn.
The brewery reportedly found that a sixbladed drone would be necessary to carry a 12-pack for up to a half-mile. (The Federal Aviation Administration bans commercial drones, but is thought to be reconsidering the rule — though not just yet, as it quickly ordered Lakemaid to cease the flights.)
PERSPECTIVE · As Microsoft founder and current worldclass philanthropist Bill Gates prepared for a speech in Vancouver, British Columbia, in March, a circumcision dissident prepared to protest. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested more than $160 million on circumcision programs in developing countries based on overwhelming medical evidence (“as clear as you really can get in medical research,” said a University of British Columbia professor) that the procedure makes transmission of HIV much more difficult. Dedicated, intense-pleasure-seeking men (in this case, the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project) insist that the surgical snipping, especially of babies, denies males the benefit of heightened penile sensitivity.
SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED · Richard Wright of Canada’s Prince Edward Island was busy in March handing out $50 and $100 bills to strangers during a visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia, urging the recipients to “thank God” for the gift and to pass it along to others if they could not use it themselves. Wright’s spree was soon broken up as Mounted Police detained him for a “wellness check,” which led to his transfer to a mental-health facility. Wright’s daughter Chelsea told reporters that her dad worked hard for his money, had no mental-health issues and simply wanted to help people, and a friend described him as a “generous individual wrapped up in the acts of kindness.” However, at press time, Wright was still hospitalized.
CONFRONT YOUR FEARS · Yo No Quiero: The Phoenix suburb of Maryvale was “overrun,” according to February reports, with several “packs” of up to 15 Chihuahuas each, roaming neighborhoods, frightening schoolchildren. Coincidentally, two months earlier, in Hobart, Australia, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced that it was overwhelmed by massive recent donations of Chihuahuas, most from one couple. Said a spokesman, “We were up to our knees in little Chihuahuas.”
Pennywise: England’s Manchester Evening News reported in March that local police had handled 19 cases of “clownrelated” crimes in the area in 2013, ranging from a clown in the town of Bury peering into the windows of at least two homes, to a boy’s report in Rochdale that a clown holding balloons had tried to grab him on the street. The secretary of Clowns International lamented the “stupid people” who damage the reputation of the clowning “profession.”
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS · Classic Recurring Themes: (1) Travis Rice, 21, and an accomplice were seen on surveillance video breaking into Arion Motors in Plantation, Fla., in March — video that revealed Rice, at a key moment, yanking something from his pocket and not noticing that a card had fallen to the floor. The card, of course, was his state identification card, and further “investigation” revealed Rice’s Facebook bragging about the break-in and theft of license plates and car keys. (2) Carlos Ruiz, 42, was arrested in Haddon Township, N.J., in February after he violated a cardinal rule by returning to the scene of the crime. He had stolen valuables including a sound system from a home, and had gotten away, but was captured a half-hour later when he returned for the sound system’s remote control.
READERS’ CHOICE · Christopher Miller, 40, was arrested in March a few blocks from a Stride Rite shoe store in Ocean County, N.J., minutes after it had been robbed by a man resembling Miller. Police said Miller had just been released from New Jersey’s South Woods State Prison after serving 15 years for robbing the same Stride Rite store and apparently had taken a bus from the prison directly to the store in order to rob it again. !
© 2014 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.