News of the Weird: Only in Wasilla

Radio Wagon Flyer from a pickup. Yep.
From AP:

Fred Keller and Judy Foster [of Wasilla, Alaska] worked on the vehicle for 11 months, using the base of a 1976 Mazda B1600 pickup truck.
The couple got the idea for their to-scale replica of the beloved childhood wagon after visiting a car show in summer 2009 in Oregon, and seeing another Radio Flyer, albeit that one on a hot rod.
“We said, ‘We could use the Mazda for that,'” Foster, 67, said of the pickup which had sat undriven for about five years at their home. “We came home from our Portland trip, and about a day after, he was tearing the Mazda apart. No changing my mind.”

News of the Weird: When Jon Beat Me to It

News of the Weird Thursdays is MY BEAT! Yet, here I stand, once again being scooped by the Daily Show. If it weren’t for the Daily Show, I’d be big time newspaper tycoon now. But watch, and be amazed:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
News of the Weird – Mark McGwire, Game Change & Sarah Palin
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis
Click here if the video doesn’t show/work.

And don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s CRAAAAAZY!

News of the Weird – BATMAN’S DEAD!!!

Holy Crap, Batman is DEAD!!!!
Or, rather, Bruce Wayne is dead, but Batman lives on in the form of his first protege, Dick Grayson, aka, Nightwing, aka the original Robin. The young, brash, brilliant but hopelessly infantile incarnation of Robin is now played by Bruce Wayne’s son and Ra’s al Ghul’s grandson…
Yes. Weird.
But hang on to your cowls, men and women (mostly men. actually, mostly guys). The lead-up to this is quite the ride, or at least different from what fans from the 70’s & 80’s (as I am) are used to.
So, there was a Crisis (the second, apparently middle one) wherein, from what I gather (yeah, I’m not feeling too world’s greatest detective myself right now…) the greatest heroes (the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) all disappear – at least from fighting. Somewhere in the ensuing year (in the weekly series turned four-book series 52), Bruce Wayne kills Batman.
But that doesn’t last long…
Batman was supposed to die (and many thought he did) psychologically and physically in the series “Batman RIP”, written by Grant Morrison. Herein, he’s tortured by a man posing to be his father who had apparently faked his own death (and, in the process, killed Ms. Wayne). Kidnapped by “Thomas Wayne’s” gang of villains, Batman once again goes missing and is presumed dead. But, Batman being Batman, he didn’t.
Is your interest piqued yet? To be honest, mine is…
However, Batman’s triumph is short-lived. He is then batnapped (Batnap? Get it? Bat – like Cat… oh, forget it) by super evil, supervillain Darkseid who is in the process of destroying the entire multiverse (as a tie-in from the first Crisis, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which I read as a kid in the 80’s and blew my friggin’ mind on… dude.). Bats himself gets out of the trap that Darksie has planted for him only to end up in this confrontation:
The gun that the Big Bat points at the New God is armed with the bullet that can kill New Gods, as it is also the one that Darkseid used on Orion, who, if you don’t know (and why don’t you?) is (was) Darkseid’s son and the bane of his existence. Which brings us back to Jack Kirby, father of the modern comic book era along with Stan Lee, his once partner. Kirby went to DC and created the New Gods, blending ancient myths into what was only considered the new-mythology of the comics universe. He also seems to be the homage of this Final Crisis., a classic myth in its own rite – akin to the weirdness in any of those Homeric or Herkales epics.
Anyway, back to the main event: While the bullet grazing Darkseid starts his end (and in the process, the universe’s, of course), Darkseid uses his lazer beam eyes (ok, they’re not lazer beams. They’re like tracking beams of infinite deaths) to smoke Batman. Superman shows up at the scene from the future (where he fights an evil version of Superboy) too late to save his bestest friend.
The end.
Or is it?
Read but beware for spoilers:
Grant Morrison interviews, pts 1 & 2

News of the Weird = The Conservative Bible Project

According to Conservapedia’s Conservative Bible Project Page:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations…
As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent; Defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”; using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles. The translated Bible can be found here

First Example – Liberal-Promoted FalsehoodThe earliest, most authentic manuscripts of the Gospel According to Luke lack this verse fragment set forth at the start of Luke 23:34:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals, although it does not appear in the earliest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke. It should not appear in a conservative Bible, because in point of fact Jesus might never had said it at all…

The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feministin outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.

You can’t make this stuff up. As Slactivist argues, this is like a parody of parody. You can’t even lampoon it, because what else is left to say?

The good news is that, really, they can’t change the Bible from what it is fundamentally. The Beatitudes are largely still in place and stand in opposition to power-worship that many of these seem to consider ‘conservative principles’. So maybe, just maybe someone’s eyes will open to the unmistakable beauty that is God’s word and will see it as their duty to heal rather than hurt, to actively love rather than worry about appearing weak. Maybe the heavens will open and they will experience a revelation, an apocalypse.

Hopefully, prayerfully.

News of the Weird: Charmin’ WC Edition

From today’s Chicago Reader (p. 78):


Proctor & Gamble announced in October that it will once again open public restrooms in New York City’s Times Square for the holiday season as a promotion for Charmin toilet tissue. Earlier this month, as part of it’s “Enjoy the Go” campaign, the firm conducted auditions for five “Charmin Ambassadors” who’ll be paid $10,000 each to blog about their experience at restrooms from November 23 through December 3. “Charmin only asks that candidates should enjoy going to the bathroom so much – whether it be to catch up on reading or just enjoy some ‘me time’ – they never want to leave,” said the press release.

Boy, I love me some ‘me time.’ Especially if I get rewarded handsomely for it.
But still, I think my bathroom is public enough…

News of the Weird – Firin’ Synapses and Mad Doctor Love

After a longer than long hiatus, it is good to return to the old News of the Weird files again. Let’s get started:

Over a decade of experiments on patients awaiting brain surgery for severe epilepsy, researchers at UCLA have found that the brain’s 100 billion neurons include some so specialized that they respond only to a single stimulus, the Wall Street Journal reported… Researchers have identified single neurons that fire only in response to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Halle Berry, Mother Teresa, the Beatles, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Luke Skywalker, and Jennifer Aniston (but not when pictured with Brad Pitt). Last year researchers found a neuron in one patient that would spring to life only when presented with a clip of the The Simpsons. Such neurons, they say, fire whether the concept is presented through pictures or words. And while monitoring a new patient, Dr. Quian Quiroga found a neuron that responded only to him.

And you can see why here. Mee-ow!

From the WSJ article:

The research team reported that a single human neuron could recognize a personality through pictures, text or the sound of a name — no matter how that person was presented…
Each neuron appeared to join together pieces of sensory information into a single mental impression. The researchers believe these cells are evidence that it only takes a simple circuit of neurons to encode an idea, perception or memory.

Okay, so it’s not weird, but I do find it utterly fascinating. I know The Simpsons have been a great stimulus personally. Jennifer Anniston… not so much. (No comment on Halle Berry, though.)

From “News of the Weird”, uncredited editor/writer. October 29th, 2009 edition of the Chicago Reader, p. 81.

Boys don’t cry

I know that there’s other, more important stuff in the news today. Like Derek Webb releasing his sh*t-filled record online today only to have complications with the ordering process. And Facebook is acting mighty peculiar – maybe because they’re so busy turning our status updates over to the robots and general stalking populace.

But I got caught up in just how naive this couple is. Parents of a 2 1/2 year old child are being purposefully ambiguous about the sex of their child. They dress “Pop” up in both boys’ and girls’ clothing (jeans and dresses, which, incidentally, my 2 year old girl wears) and have sported the child in traditional hairstyles of both genders.

Why? Well, they believe that gender is a social construct, according to The Local (Sweden’s News in English, according to the virtual masthead). Further:

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

The child’s parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.

I will not argue that gender is not a social construct, just that it isn’t fully. Nobody forces a boy to like a Tonka truck or to be more aggressive in his pursuits — sometimes ostracizing girls – like my infinitely curious child- in the process of protecting their GI Joes, as I noticed at a Reading for Tots on Monday morn. Or ostracizing nearly everybody else in declaring their Alpha-ness as I noticed in my childhood – being quite the Zed kid. Neither my wife nor I are crazy about phones, so it strikes me as a bit odd on first view to see how much Joss loves to take just about anything (including plates, cups, stuffed monkeys and the loose cell phone) to pretend talking on it. As curious as she is about objects, she’s much more interested in people and in social circumstances. It wasn’t our expectations — or others’ — that forced that on her.


What is it? I’m not sure. It doesn’t sound like anybody’s exactly sure. Some very heterosexual girls prefer playing with cars and straight boys would prefer to wear dresses if they get the chance (as many married men have been caught doing while the wife’s away).

Psychologists differ on the overall effect of this experiment, but I’m left wondering why the same people who believe that gender is primarily ‘learned’ do not believe also that sexual identity is learned, but rather primarily biological.

Just sayin’…

Oh, yeah, and then there’s the whole Xianjiang-China civil strife thing.

And some influential pop star died.

News of the Weird – In Hizzoner

In honor of the dishonored, here comes a two-fer:

Voters in tiny Sodaville, Oregon, population 290, elected Thomas Brady Harrington, 33, mayor in November, despite a criminal rap sheet that included robbery, eluding a police officer, illegal firearms possession, reckless endangerment, and assorted other charges. One resident trying t explain the outcome suggested that voters might have confused Harrington with his father , local businessman Thomas L. Harrington.

By the way, according to the Lebanon-Express, he took on the incumbent mayor and whooped her behind! A whopping 79-66 votes. Yes, it does make Wasilla look still silly, but still… read on.
Further news from the Express details that Harrington became interested in local politics when he found out that a previous city recorder embezzled $30,000.*

In Massachusetts in November, a Suffolk County judge turned down a compensation claim by Robert Aldrich, described by prosecutors as a career criminal, for income lost during “wrongful” incarceration after he’d been illegally arrested for burglary. The judge said she’d been able to find any “income” Aldrich migh have earned during his six months in jail aside from home-improvement work he admittedly kept “off the books” to avoid paying taxes, but a prosecution spokesman summed it up more bluntly: “The defendant is a career B & E (breaking and entering) man seeking compensation for burglaries he couldn’t commit while locked up.”

According to The Boston Globe, Aldrich the judge may have allowed Mr. Aldrich to make some collection on his “lost” under-the-table dealings, if she had believed that he was making as much as he was claiming. The problem may have been, however, that Aldrich was claiming $4000 per month for a total of sixty-seven thousand dollars. Furthermore, although previous judges had ruled his arrest as ‘wrong’, she looked over the evidence in the cases provided and had no doubt that he had committed the burglaries.
Natch.

via Chuck Shepherd in “News of the Weird” from Chicago Reader, December 11, 2008 edition, p. 79. (btw, notice how in previous editions of my NotW I would list the page around 100? 88 pages total, this time. Papers are shrinking…)

*The faux-journalist in me says that I should report that he didn’t mean it that way, that he seems troubled by the ineptitude of the council and how it has not been looking for solutions for its monies- or water-shortages. But if you want that, that’s why we give you the source…

News of the Weird: Instant Karma edition

Gabriel Nathan Shwartz, a 29 year old Young Republican is interviewed at the RNC, where he is a delegate for Colorado.

This from the interview:

LinkTV: What is your vision for change under a John McCain administration?

Shwartz: Less taxes and more war.

L: So, where should the United States bomb next

S: Iran, baby.

L: Why should the US bomb Iran.

S: To protect Israel…

L: So, what would a war with Iran look like.

S: Hopefully, just bomb the hell out of them from the sky. No troops.

L: Are you worried about the escalating costs of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars? How would we pay for the costs of a war in Iran?

S: We should plant a flag. Take the oil. Take the money. We deserve reimbursement.

http://www.linktv.org/embed/change_placeholder_rnc/change_placeholder_rnc20080910

While still in the Land o’ Lakes, Mr. Shwartz meets a girl in a bar. They go up to his room, she mixes some drinks, yadda, yadda, yadda, she makes off with $120,000 (or his estimate, $50,000) worth in cash and belongings.

And no, I didn’t yadda, yadda, yadda out the best parts.

More of story in Pioneer Press.
h/t to Huffington Post

News of the Weird: Welcome Back Cutter edition

I wanted to roll out the ol’ NotW last week, but the pickin’s were slimmer than the chances of an Alaskan denying global warming (even Palin didn’t deny it. She merely refuted the cause of it. She can’t possibly be in any lobbyists’ pockets). This week, however, we got the run of the litter, as absolutely nobody on earth says. So, hopefully we can do a few this week to make up for past sins (and we got a LOT of making up to do).

According to one knife-wielding participant, it was “anything goes” at a Gathering of the Pack competition… sponsored by the Dog Brothers fight club of Los Angeles. A Reuters reporter described two men without padding beating each other with heavy sticks and another two who fought with electrically charged knives. The knife duel ended when one of the fighters slipped a hand free from a wrestling hold and allegedly planted a 1,000-volt charge on his opponent. Said one fruit-and-veggie-store manager from Canada, “I’ve never felt better than when I’m doing this.”

From the Reuters article itself:

“This is like the ultimate. You’ve got striking, you’ve got grappling, you’ve got weapons, anything goes,” said Matt Booe, a karate instructor hoping to fight with hefty, blunted knives at a recent gathering in Burbank, just north of Los Angeles.

“It gives you the idea of really finding out what martial arts are like, not just doing pretty forms.”

Seems like Dog Brothers fight club broke the first rule of Dog Brothers fight club.

Article from Chuck Shepherd. “News of the Weird”, Chicago Reader. Sept 11, 2008, p. 135.

News of the Weird – Returns

File this under the category, “These One’s Are for You, Mr. American President”

1)

Chad Hudgens filed a lawsuit in January against his former employer, a sales firm in Provo, Utah, charging that as part of a motivational “team-building exercise” his coworkers waterboarded him. According to a Washington Post article, Hudgen’s supervisor told sales staff, “You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales.”

From the Post:

Hudgens’s lawsuit… suggests the testosterone-poisoned setting of the David Mamet play “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Hudgens alleged that if the 10-person sales team went a day without a sale, members had to work the next day standing up; [the supervisor] took away their chairs. The team leader also threatened to draw a mustache in permanent marker on the face of sales people for “negativity,” Hudgens said. [Their boss] kept on his desk a piece of wood, “the 2-by-4 of motivation,” he said.

Who was his boss? This guy?

2)

Brigadier General Zuhair Abada Mraweh, traffic commander for Baghdad’s Rusafah district – where car bombs and kidnappings remain pressing concerns, according to the New York Times – announced in April that his officers would soon begin issuing tickets to drivers who failed to use their seat belts. The fine for noncompliance is 15,000 dinars, or roughly $12.50.

From the International Herald Tribune:

“It is part of the healing process of this country and of Baghdad to enforce the law, law by law,” said [B.G. Mraweh].

“The citizens are learning the laws step by step,” said Mraweh, sitting in his office in the Karada neighborhood. “We have applied all the laws concerning traffic, so it’s time for the seat belt law to be practiced.”…

Mraweh said that the seat belt legislation — which applies only to drivers, not passengers — was in effect during the government of Saddam Hussein. After the Americans invaded in 2003, a high import tax on automobiles was lifted, flooding Iraq with enthusiastic new drivers. He said that there were no dependable statistics on traffic accidents, but that enforcing the law would reduce them by 70 percent. [My guess is that the key phrase here is traffic accidents.]

Mraweh is passionate about traffic control. He is particularly irked by the driving behavior by the employees of security companies like Blackwater, who sometimes throw water bottles at people walking down the street or shoot their guns in the air to clear the road, he said.

But primarily, Mraweh sees his job as a way to piece together his shattered country.

“If everyone says there are killings, there are massacres, then I will stay powerless at home and this will disable the country,” he said. “But if the grocer goes to work, the merchant goes to work, I go to work, even you go to work, there will be no more killing, and the criminal will be afraid and he will go back to his den like a mouse”

Original stories cribbed and wrote verbatim from News of the Weird, posted in the Chicago Reader in the June 5th, 2008 edition, p. 109 (I believe. It’s late. It’s hot. It’s bedtime.)

News of the Weird 13 (Unlucky? You decide.)

While driving home from a night out at a bar in January, 51-year-old Pat Dykstra of Fox Lake, Wisconsin, was persuaded by her boyfriend that she might be too drunk to drive (by his own admission he was in no condition to take over), so she did what she apparently thought was the sensible thing; without leaving the road, she called 911 and explained the situation, providing her name, a description of the vehicle, their location, and the time they’d likely make it home. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house not long after the couple did and gave Dykstra a breath test; sure enough, she was well over the legal limit and soon faced a $740 fine and the possible loss of her license.*

This story leaves me just a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I hate drunken driving with a passion. On the other, I like honesty. So, let me weigh the balance here:

Yeah… she’s dumb.

But wait… there’s more! (“More?” you ask. “How can there possibly be better news than this? Is everything all right in Fox Lake?”)

Apparently, Ms. Dykstra drunk-dialed 911.

The call came in at 12:29 a.m. Sunday on the county 911 line as a hang-up call from a cell phone, [Sheriff Todd] Nehls said.

Dispatchers used a reverse 911 directory and called the phone, which was answered by a woman who identified herself as Patricia Dykstra, 51. She said her boyfriend made her call, because “somebody seems to think I can’t drive home straight. “

Well, she can’t think straight. But who says you need judgment to drive? Ha-ha, that’s just ludicrous.

When the dispatcher asked her why, she said, “He seems to think I’m too intoxicated to drive. “

During a relatively pleasant conversation with the dispatcher — a recording of which Nehls released Monday — Dykstra gave her name, location and vehicle description before saying she should probably hang up because “I don ‘t like being on the phone while driving. “

Asked by the dispatcher if she had too much to drink, she said “I don ‘t think so, ma’am. “

And if you thought that that was a deal, well, hold on to your seats, folks!

She said she was almost home and gave the intersection. Throughout the 3 -minute call, however, the dispatcher did not suggest the woman pull over. Nehls said the dispatcher assumed the woman had already stopped, although her last advice to Dykstra was, “So Pat, drive carefully, OK?”

Yeah. That and the woman said that she’s “driving”!

One last piece to close the deal here, folks:

Sheriff Todd Nehls says Dykstra did the right thing by calling them. “I think a judge will look at her and say ‘you know what, you stepped up to the plate. You did the right thing.’ I think it’s commendable,” he said.

She did??

*”News of the Weird”, Chuck Shepherd; The Chicago Reader; March 13, 2008; p. 133.