WHEN LIFE JUST DOESN'T SEEM FUNNY ANYMORE
From Chuck Shepherd's NEWS OF THE WEIRD
We All Scream
(1) In April, Haagen-Dazs announced it will introduce two new ice creams (thankfully, only in Japan): carrot orange (with bits of pulp and peel) and tomato cherry (made from tomato paste). (2) A South Wales ice cream maker ("Lick Me I'm Delicious") announced in April that it has perfected an ice cream containing about 25mg of Viagra per scoop (though it is not yet generally available). [Los Angeles Times, 4-21-2014]
Least Competent Criminals
Recurring Theme: An unnamed "gangland" bomber was killed in March in Dublin, Ireland, when the payload exploded prematurely. The detonation occurred on the morning of March 30, which marked the daylight saving time change in Ireland, and police concluded that, most likely, the bomber had forgotten to set the timer ahead that morning, which would have given him up to 60 more minutes to plant the bomb and leave. (In 1999, two Palestinians, operating on West Bank time, but carrying bombs to the Israeli cities Haifa and Tiberius, which had already advanced their clocks that morning, were blown up -- along with only one bystander instead of the dozens or hundreds planned for.)
The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled in November that a judge could not take away a man's gun permit just because the man was suffering from a delusional disorder and believes that he has been injected with deadly chemicals and that a computer chip was planted in his head. State law, said the court, allows the denial of a permit only if a person has been taken through a full incompetency adjudication. The man, Timothy Wagner, came to the attention of authorities when he entered a store in Anchorage dripping wet because, he said, he was trying to soak the chemicals out of his body. He had a loaded .357 handgun (fully licensed) with him.
When Size Does Matter
In October, a judge in Rio de Janeiro turned down a defamation lawsuit brought by the daughters of the late Brazilian soccer player Manuel dos Santos ("Garrincha") against a biographer who had written that Garrincha was a "sex machine" with a penis nearly 10 inches long. The daughters had thought the disclosure was an insult to the memory of their father, who died in 1983, but Judge Joao Wehbi Dib concluded that, contrary to defamation, most Brazilian men would view such a reputation with great pride.
Cherise Mosley, 19, filed a lawsuit against the Aaron Family Planning Clinic in Houston in August, seeking damages for the abortion it performed on her two years earlier when she was a minor. Mosley admits that she produced a false ID card at that time, showing that she was over 18, for the express purpose of receiving the abortion without having her parents notified. Now, Mosley apparently regrets the abortion and claims the clinic should have detected that her ID was false and thus notified her parents, who, Mosley believes, would have talked her out of the abortion. [Houston Chronicle, 8-2-02]
In May, the Norwegian Consumer Council staged a live, 32-hour TV broadcast marathon -- a word-for-word reading of the "terms of service" for internet applications Instagram, Spotify and more than two dozen others, totaling 900 pages and 250,000 words of legal restrictions and conditions that millions of users "voluntarily" agree to when they sign up (usually via a mouse click or finger swipe). A council official called such terms "bordering on the absurd," as consumers could not possibly understand everything they were legally binding themselves to. (The reading was another example of Norway's fascination with "slow TV" -- the success of other marathons, such as coverage of a world-record attempt at knitting yarn and five 24-hour days on a salmon-fishing boat, mentioned in News of the Weird in 2013.) [Wall Street Journal, 5-25-2016]
Tex-ass Justice! Convicted murderer Charles Flores was on Texas' death row for more than 16 years (until June 2 of this year) before the state's highest criminal appeals court finally ruled that the execution might not be justified if the most important evidence was provided by a witness whom the police had hypnotized. The trial judge, and the jury, had accepted that "hypnosis" could lead to "recovered" memory (a popular hypothesis in the 1980s and 1990s, but largely discredited today). There was no physical evidence against Flores, and the trial court was ordered to rethink the validity of hypnosis. [Fusion.net, 5-27-2016]
Argentina's TV channels have many of the same taboos as U.S. broadcasting, including restrictions on women's hands-on demonstration of how precisely to examine themselves for breast cancer. However, as AdWeek reported in March, the agency David Buenos Aires apparently solved the problem with an explicit TV public service announcement featuring a model (facing the camera, topless) showing exactly how such an exam should go, e.g., where to press down, where to squeeze. The secret? The model was an overweight man with generous-sized "manboobs." [AdWeek, 4-20-2016]
-- This correction appeared in The New York Times print edition of May 10: "Because of an editing error, an article on Monday (May 9) about a theological battle being fought by Muslim imams and scholars in the West against the Islamic State misstated the Snapchat handle used by Suhaib Webb, one of the Muslim leaders speaking out. It is imamsuhaibwebb, not Pimpin4Paradise786." [New York Times, 5-10-2016]
The 547-acre FBI Academy on the grounds of the Quantico (Virginia) Marine Base houses a firing range on which about a million bullets a month are shot by agents in training, but it also happens to be a de facto wildlife refuge for the simple fact that the academy is off-limits to Virginia hunters. Thus, according to a December (2011) ABC News dispatch, deer learn that, despite the gunfire (sometimes at astonishingly close range as they wander by the targets), none of them ever gets hit. The academy has also become a "sanctuary" for foxes, wild turkeys and other critters. [ABC News, 12-26-2011]