Some News of the Weird Newsbytes
Everything You Know About Art Is Wrong
The genesis of those dogs-playing-poker paintings is the series of nine 1903 originals by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, and in February, two of them were sold by the Doyle New York auction house for a total of $590,400.
St. Petersburg Times, March 4
The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced
In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, in response to the question whether President Bush is a "uniter" or a "divider," 49 percent of Americans said uniter, and 49 percent said divider.
CNN, Jan. 19
As a registered sex offender in California, James Andrew Crawford was required to notify authorities if he adopted a new "domicile" for more than five days. He was arrested in May for noncompliance after he had been camped for two weeks in a theater line waiting for "Star Wars: Episode III" to open.
North County Times (Escondido, Calif.), May 19
Virginia capital-murder inmate Daryl Atkins, who had previously registered an IQ lower than the minimum-70 needed for execution, scored a 76, and a jury then sent him to death row. Legal experts attributed the improvement in IQ to the intellectual stimulation Atkins received from discussing his case with lawyers.
ABC News-AP, Aug. 14
New World Order
The communist government of China presented its quinquennial Vanguard (or Model) Worker award (in the past, given to loyal factory workers, dedicated public-outhouse stewards and the like) to Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets' basketball player who earns about $15 million a year playing and endorsing products -- about 15,000 times what the average urban Chinese worker makes.
Washington Post, April 29
Tackling the Hard Issues
Oklahoma state Sen. Frank Shurden proposed legislation to revive the "sport" of cockfighting, which the state outlawed in 2002, but to make it more rooster-friendly, he suggested the birds wear tiny boxing gloves instead of razor cleats and wear fencing-type electronic vests to record hits.
Chicago Tribune-AP, Jan. 28
Don't Know Much About History
The Kansas City Star, reporting on a Missouri legislative debate on the Confederate flag, quoted Rep. Jim Avery that the 1803 Louisiana Purchase involved a battle with France, instead of a land sale: "Well, we fought over it. We fought over it, right? ... You don't think there were any lives lost in that? It was a friendly thing?" (And Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick told a middle-school class that the U.S. Congress is different from the Texas legislature, in that in Washington there are "454" members on the House side and "60" in the Senate.)
Kansas City Star, May 9
Austin American-Statesman, April 16
The Jeb Bush Administration Is Also Skeptical of the Geneva Conventions
Laura and Edmund Gerstein, keen to save their beloved grapefruit tree from Florida's citrus canker eradication program, claimed immunity for the tree under the 1949 Geneva Conventions (the paragraph on protecting crops needed for civilians' survival during wartime, in that, said Edmund, "As I understand it, (the U.S.) is in a state of war"). Responded a state Department of Agriculture spokesman, "That tree will be coming down."
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 5
Bringing New Meaning to Ticket-Scalping
Reba Schappell, of Reading, Pa., a professional country music singer who is also a conjoined-at-the-head twin with sister Lori, told a BBC radio audience, "When I am singing, Lori is like any other fan, except she's up on the stage with me (covered by a blanket to reduce the distraction)." Said Lori: "I do not ask for anything from Reba. I don't get in to her concerts free just because she's a conjoined twin. I have to pay, just like every other fan ...."
BBC News, Sept. 21
Reader Advisory: Not to Be Read by the Squeamish
Among the most frightening occasions celebrated in 2005: The world's first "international festival of mimes," in Shfaram, Israel; the convention of Clowns of America in Grand Rapids, Mich., with 300 in attendance; and two attempts, in Kimberly, British Columbia, and St. John's, Newfoundland, at shattering the world record for the number of people simultaneously playing accordions for a half-hour (644 in Kimberly, eclipsed by 989 in St. John's).
YNet.com (Yedioth Aharonoth, Tel Aviv), April 11
Grand Rapids Press, April 22
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Aug. 11
Canadian Press, Aug. 6
The Cop Wanted Credit for Two Collars
Transsexual prostitute Monica Renee Champion, 37, was picked up by police in Richmond, Va., after arrest warrants for indecent exposure had been issued against her in the city's South Side, as a male, and in the North Side, as a female.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Aug. 27
Adventures of the Too-Easily-Dissatisfied
Dallas artist James Sooy, weary of his eyeglasses slipping, had a bar inserted through the bridge of his nose and his spectacles affixed to it. Sooy seemed to believe there was money to be made with the idea, but an optometrist pointed out the difficulty in adjusting prescriptions "if you have a hole in your face."
Houston Chronicle, Feb. 23
The Oregon board that enforces teachers' standards and practices put Central Linn High School coach, teacher and dean of students Scott Reed on two years' probation after he admitted licking blood from the wounds of at least three students, though, after a hearing, the board was still unclear on his motive.
Associated Press, Aug. 4
If you are still a glutton for more punishment, you can find it here