LEAD STORY -- Glaciers and Gender

University of Oregon professor Mark Carey produced a 10,300-word journal article in January proposing a new sensitivity to Earth's melting icecaps: a "feminist glaciology framework" to "generate robust analysis of gender, power and epistemologies" with a goal of more "just and equitable" "human-ice interactions." The jargonized, densely worded tract suggests that melting icecaps can be properly understood only with more input from female scientists since, somehow, research so far disproportionately emphasizes climate change's impact on males. (The New York Post reported that the paper was funded by a National Science Foundation grant of $412,930.) [Progress in Human Geography, 1-8-2016] [New York Post, 3-8-2016]


Trying to put (as a critic charged) "lipstick on a pig," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder boasted in March that the lead-in-the-water crisis plaguing the city of Flint for months now had actually spurred job growth. Though Snyder has been heavily criticized for tight-fisted budgeting that enabled the crisis, 81 temporary workers have been recently hired -- to hand out bottled water so that residents would not have to hydrate themselves with poisoned municipal water. [PoliticsCentral.org, 3-3-2016]

Can't Possibly Be True

-- A senior federal administrative law judge recently claimed (and then, for good measure, repeated and emphasized) that, in his experience, "3-year-olds and 4-year-olds" do not need the help of lawyers to advocate for them in immigration proceedings. Teaching those kids their rights, Judge Jack Weil said, "takes a lot of time" and "a lot of patience," but there is no need for government to provide lawyers. (Weil, a U.S. Department of Justice employee, was contesting an American Civil Liberties Union claim at a recent deposition in an immigration case in Seattle.) [Washington Post, 3-3-2016]

Questionable Judgments

Mexico's latest female accessorizing craze is shellacking tiny dead scorpions onto fingernails, using the second-most venomous species of the arachnid, selling briskly at the Miss Unas parlor in Durango. In fact, while in town (according to a London Daily Mail dispatch from Durango), shoppers may check out the Raices restaurant, which pioneered tacos filled with still-wriggling scorpions (that had been soaked in surgical alcohol to neutralize the venom). [Daily Mail, 3-8-2016]

Latest Religious Messages

Power of Prayer: (1) Businessman Induvalu Suresh cut off, and donated, the little finger of his left hand recently at the Hindu pilgrimage site Tirupati, India, as homage to the gods for the granting of bail to prominent India leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, who are charged with fraudulent business practices in a case heavily politically weighted.

(2) In October, a regional court in Nizhegorodsky, Russia, decided that the Russian Orthodox Church could pay off part of a debt for its new boiler spiritually. According to an Associated Press dispatch from Moscow, the church can settle the remaining debt, equivalent to $6,585, to the boiler company by paying $2,525 in rubles and the remainder by prayer. [Times of India, 1-9-2016] [Associated Press via Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2-16-2016]

Leading Economic Indicators

The Cash Economy: China's Peoples Daily reported in January that Mr. Cai Zhanjiang (described as "tuhao," or "uncultured but still well-off") had just purchased a new truck from a dealer by driving another truck to the showroom and unloading 100,000 renminbi (about $15,300 U.S.) entirely in small bills -- a stash weighing about a half-ton. Shanghaiist.com also noted a story from June 2015 in which a man (likely also tuhao) bought a new vehicle with the equivalent of $104,670 -- almost all in coins. [Shanghaiist, 1-14-2016]


(1) The Tennessee senate voted in February to make its official state rifle the .50-caliber Barrett M82 rifle (big in the sniper community, with a range of 1.1 miles). (2) The Lance Toland Associates insurance company of Georgia said in February that it has issued Taurus handguns to each of its 12 employees as a required-carry for apparently dangerous aircraft insurance work. (3) University of Houston recommendations for faculty on the imminent extension of the right to open-carry firearms on state campuses included admonitions that professors "be careful discussing sensitive topics" and "not 'go there' if you sense anger." [Times Free Press (Chattanooga), 2-24-2016] [Associated Press via WNCN-TV (Goldsboro, N.C.), 2-21-2016] [USA Today, 2-24-2016]

Least Competent Criminals

Needed to Take His "Job" Seriously: A man broke into the ATM at a Bank of America in Phoenix on March 1 but was in police custody a few minutes later. He walked away from the machine cleanly, but happened to spot actor Bill Murray on the street (he was visiting friends in the city) and could not resist stopping to chat with Murray about the movie "Zombieland." The delay allowed witnesses to the robbery to catch up to the man and identify him for police. [KNXV-TV (Phoenix), 3-1-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2011)

An option for suicide "with elegance and euphoria" is how Lithuanian-born Ph.D. candidate Julijonas Urbonas (London's Royal College of Art) described his "Euthanasia (Roller) Coaster," currently (2011) on the drawing board. Urbonas' model of "gravitational aesthetics" would be a one-third-mile-long, 1,600-foot-high thrill ride engineered to supply 10 Gs of centrifugal force (a spin at about 220 mph) to induce cerebral hypoxia, forcing blood away from the head and denying oxygen to the brain. Euphoria (and disorientation and anxiety, but not pain) would likely precede the brain's shutdown. Urbonas insisted that users would have the option through the first two minutes of the three-minute ride to rethink their decision and bail out (or else to push the final "FALL" button). [2016 Update: The Coaster remains a "concept"; rendering suicide "euphoric" is still not a societal priority.) [Discovery News, 9-19-2011]

Thanks This Week to Gerald Sacks and Pete Randall and to the News of the Weird Board Editorial Advisors.




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