News of the Weird

Aug. 6, 2010
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Hard Time, Harder Time

In March, Harry Jackson, 26, was in jail in Woodbine, Ga., on several minor charges such as driving on a suspended license. However, allegedly bending to pressure from fellow inmates, Jackson agreed to break out of jail, steal cigarettes at a nearby convenience store and break back in to jail. "Don't come back empty-handed," one inmate supposedly warned him. Jackson was apprehended climbing over a fence to get back in to jail. In May, based on the earlier charges plus the escape and subsequent burglary, a judge sentenced him to 20 years (as opposed to the two to three years he was originally set to serve).

Beer: The Miracle Drug

(1) A naked, 47-year-old man was taken to a burn center in El Paso, Texas, in July after "friends" won a bet and set his prosthetic leg on fire (the flames quickly spread to his body). The man admitted to police that he had lost the bet fair-and-square because he downed "only" six beers. He was treated for several days and released. (2) In June, two 34-year-old men in Horsham, Australia, underwent surgery as a result of a plan hatched during a bout of drinking. They had both wondered if it would hurt to get shot by an air rifle and thus obliged each other.

Redneck Chronicles

From Florida's Panhandle Region: (1) A 24-year-old man was arrested in Crestview, Fla., in April after he allegedly removed a window air-conditioner and crawled into a house in which his wife was staying. They had recently separated, and the man told police that he had not "gotten any" in three weeks and was going to "get some." (2) In June in Okaloosa County, passenger Courtnea Bradley, 21, allegedly roughed up the driver of a car while it was moving, forcing it to swerve wildly and thus endangering her baby in the back seat. At the subsequent traffic stop, a defiant Bradley allegedly told officers, "My (expletive) family is one of the richest around, and we will have y'all's (expletive) jobs."

Cultural Diversity

  • In June at a meeting of police chiefs, Britain's head constable said police were being "buried" under a "telephone directory"-sized (6,497 pages) compilation of rules and regulations. Supposedly, the rules explain in massive detail how to perform simple activities like using handcuffs and riding bicycles.

  • In July, acknowledging pressure from local activists to create restrooms that would be familiar to Asian immigrants, officials at the Exchange Centre shopping mall in Rochdale, England, said they would remove toilets from two of the facility's restroom stalls and build "Nile pans," also known as "squat toilets" (or, as Westerners refer to them, "holes in the ground"). The officials said they were trying to serve the needs of immigrants living in Greater Manchester.

Latest Religious Messages

  • One of Britain's 200 or so "consecrated hermits" might soon be homeless because the owner of her cottage in rural Shropshire County has listed it for sale. Karen Markham, 44, lives by rules set down by St. Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism, that require her to rise at 4 a.m., pray and chant for three hours, then contemplate in silence. For recreation, she weaves rugs made of wool from local sheep, according to a May report in the Daily Telegraph.

  • In July, a fifth-grade teacher at Jacox Elementary School in Norfolk, Va., resigned after administrators discovered she was rubbing "holy oil" on students and their desks during school.

Questionable Judgments

At press time, the city council of Barre, Vt., continues to debate extending its pet "leash" law to cats, following a woman's complaint that a neighbor's cat has fouled her yard with droppings. In the few towns that try to enforce leash laws on cats, a main rationale has been to protect birds. (The late U.S. statesman Adlai Stevenson, when he was governor of Illinois, once rejected such a law, saying that leashing was "against the nature of the cat.")

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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