News of the Weird

Somehow, upscale restaurateurs believe that diners will soon willingly pay more for a beef dish if it comes with disclosure of the DNA of the actual cow being eaten, according to a May Associated Press report. “People want to know where their food is coming from,” said one excited chef, lauding the knowledge to be gleaned from a calf’s upbringing. (A more practical beef-supply executive added that DNA can help identify the “multiple animals” whose parts were used in hunks of ground beef — a 10-pound package of which may include contributions from “hundreds” of different cows.)

Can’t Possibly Be True

• It was not difficult to find critics when the Orlando-area government job-service engine Workforce Central Florida said it was spending more than $70,000 of federal stimulus money to help the laid-off by handing out 6,000 satiny capes for jobless “superheroes” to “fight” “Dr. Evil Unemployment.” (“Absolutely absurd” was the reaction of a laid-off customer-service representative.) Several critics interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel noted that such an awkward program further erodes the unemployed’s fragile self-respect. WCF, though, remained convinced. In the words of a spokeswoman, “Everyone is a superhero in the fight against unemployment.”

• Urban Legend Come to Life:

Too-good-to-be-true stories have circulated for years about men who accidentally fell, posterior first, onto compressed-air nozzles and self-inflated to resemble “dough boys,” usually with fatal results. However, in May in Opotiki, New Zealand, trucker Steven McCormack found himself in similar circumstances, and had it not been for quick-thinking colleagues who pulled him away, he would have been killed — as the air, puncturing a buttock, had already begun separating tissue from muscle. McCormack was hospitalized in severe pain, but the air gradually seeped from his body (according to a doctor, in the way air “usually” seeps from a body).

• Oops!

Oswind David was convicted of “first-degree assault” in a 2006 trial in New York City, but unknown to him, his lawyer and the judge, the charge had already been dismissed by another judge due to prosecutorial error. Nonetheless, David has been in prison since his conviction, serving a 23-year term, and was freed only in May when the error came to light. (However, the New York City district attorney still resisted releasing David, arguing that only the “first-degree” part had been dismissed. A judge finally freed David on bail while prosecutors ponder reopening the case.)

• Parents were puzzled in June after Dry Creek School District in Roseville, Calif., passed out questionnaires asking for biographical details of prospective students, including whether or not the child had been delivered by C-section. Parents told Sacramento station KOVR-TV that school officials were refusing to explain why they wanted to know that.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

(1) Night club singer Simon Ledger was arrested following a performance at the Driftwood Beach Bar on Britain’s Isle of Wight in April after a patron complained to police. Ledger was covering the 1974 hit “Kung Fu Fighting,” and two customers of Chinese descent reported that they felt victims of illegal “racially aggravated harassment.” (2) Leslie Clarke, 29, turned himself in to police in Darwin, Australia, in May after authorities released surveillance tape of a break-in and vandalism at the Hidden Valley Tavern. Clarke, a large man, confessed to going on a drunken prowl with friends, but said he remembered the break-in only when he saw the video and recognized his distinctive image from the back, including several inches of his butt crack.

Inexplicable

(1) An April Associated Press story, citing federal government sources, reported that 247 people on the terrorist “watch list” were nonetheless legally permitted to purchase guns in 2010 — about the same number who did so legally in 2009. (2) In May, Oklahoma judge Susie Pritchett, receiving guilty pleas from a $31 drug-deal raid in 2010 that netted a mother and her two grown children, sentenced the mother and son to probation, but the 31-year-old daughter to 12 years in prison (just because the daughter showed “no ... remorse”).

Unclear on the Concept

In May, a federal appeals court reinstated the Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit filed in 2007 by Darrell Miller after he was fired as a bridge maintenance worker by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Miller had been medically diagnosed with a fear of heights, and could not work on many projects, but a lower court dismissed his lawsuit, concluding that working at heights was an unavoidable condition of bridge maintenance. (The appeals court said that a jury “might” find that bridge maintenance could be done in “teams” with one worker always on the ground.)

The Redneck Chronicles

Joseph Hayes, 48, was arrested in South Memphis, Tenn., in June after allegedly threatening (with a gun in his waistband) the hostess of a birthday party to which his kids had been invited but which ran out of cake and ice cream. “Y’all didn’t save my kids no damn ice cream and cake,” he was heard to say. “I ain’t scared to go to jail.”

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