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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

May. 1, 2011
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Education Is Smaller in Texas

In January, while the Texas Legislature debated budget cuts that would almost certainly cost Allen High School at least $18 million and require layoffs of teachers and other school personnel, construction continued on the school's new $60 million football stadium. Noted a New York Times report on the stadium—which 63% of voters approved in a 2009 bond referendum—in Texas, "only football supersedes faith and family."

Least Competent Criminals

In February in Waltham, Mass., a man allegedly stole Bentley University student Mark Bao's notebook computer. Bao used his automatic online-backup service to access the hard drive and discovered a performance video of a man (presumably the thief) dancing to a pop song. Bao uploaded the video to YouTube—to date, the video has earned more than 1.5 million views—and also tracked down the thief's email address to inform him of his new Internet "stardom." Shortly afterward, the still-unidentified thief turned in the notebook to Bentley University police with an apology to "Mark," begging him to take down the video.

Latest Religious Messages

Former stripper Crystal Deans, who said she learned the trade at age 18 but later retired and turned to religion for help through a rough patch of her life, now offers free pole-dancing classes in Spring, Texas. The classes are expressly intended for Christian women. Deans' gyrations may be the same as when she was working, she said, but now everyone is clothed, and she dances only to "Christian music."

Names in the News

Arrested in Aurora, Colo., in March and charged with stalking his girlfriend: Joseph Moron. Arrested for dealing marijuana in March in Fairfax County, Va.: Kevin Lee Cokayne. Appointed as interim chief medical officer of Newhall Memorial Hospital in Santa Clarita, Calif., in March: Dr. Richard Frankenstein.

Questionable Judgments

The End Is Near, But How Near? In March in Owensboro, Ky., James Birkhead, 52, was sentenced to five-plus months in jail for making survivalist bombs to protect his family after he became alarmed by the movie 2012, which portrays the chaos expected next year when the world ends (as supposedly foretold by the Mayan calendar). By contrast, Edwin Ramos of Vineland, N.J., is busy traveling the East Coast in his RV trying to warn people that, instead of in 2012, the end will actually be this month—May 21, 2011. Ramos' father apparently does not share his son's view, considering that he accepted ownership of Ramos' successful construction business (apparently Ramos concluded that it had no future).

A News of the Weird Classic

Among the Republicans swept into office in November 1994, a banner year for the GOP, was Steve Mansfield, elected to Texas' highest criminal-appeals court. Among Mansfield's campaign lies or exaggerations (freely admitted in a post-election interview in the publication Texas Lawyer) were his claims of vast criminal-court experience (he is an insurance and tax lawyer), that he was born in Texas (actually, Massachusetts), that he dated a woman "who died" (she is still alive) and that he had "appeared" in courts in Illinois (never) and Florida (advised a friend, but not as a lawyer). During the interview, Mansfield said that he lived in Houston as a kid, but when the reporter asked him if that was a lie, Mansfield reluctantly admitted it was. Mansfield said he planned to stop exaggerating now that he is one of the highest-ranking judges in Texas. (Update: He served one six-year term.)

© 2011 Chuck Shepherd


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