Play Ball!

Apr. 16, 2008
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James McDonough took over the Florida Department of Corrections in 2006 because of rampant mismanagement. Former officials admitted to contract kickbacks and frequent taxpayer-funded “orgies” (ultimately, 40 officials were charged with crimes, 90 were fired and 280 were demoted). In February, McDonough said that many of the problems stemmed from inter-department softball. “I cannot explain how big an obsession softball had become,” McDonough said. “People were promoted on the spot after a softball game…to high positions in the department because they were able to hit a softball out of the park … The connection between softball and the parties and the corruption…was greatly intertwined.”

Making artistic, themed scrapbooks is a $2.6 billion industry in the United States (nearly one-fifth as large as the adult-video market). The scrapbook industry even has a “Hall of Fame” that is as protective of its morals as baseball’s, which has shunned gamblers and steroid-users. According to a January Los Angeles Times report, one “superstar” scrapbooker, Kristina Contes, was recently kicked out of the Hall of Fame for violating etiquette by displaying another person’s photographs inside her scrapbook in a competition. Contes said the oversight was inadvertent, but that she is now shunned within the community for her grave offense and called “label-whore.”

Brian Feldman, a public artist in Orlando, Fla., celebrated Feb. 29 (Leap Day) by devoting himself to “leaping,” according to a report on WOFL-TV. For the entire 24 hours, beginning at midnight, Feldman leaped off a 12-foot-high platform every three minutes and 56 seconds (a total of 366 times). “I thought it would be a good idea to get people to think how they spend their day,” Feldman said.

Accidents Will Happen
(1) Ernest Simmons was convicted of attempted murder of two sheriff’s deputies despite his defense that he only “accidentally” shot at them—11 times, using two guns (Orlando, Fla., January).

(2) Accused purse-snatcher Derrick Dale, 21, said that the purse in question fell on his foot and, according to the arrest report, “the next thing he knew, (it) was in his hands” (Destin, Fla., January).

Least Competent Criminals
This Getaway Plan Works Better in July: James Jett, 33, was arrested in Blount County, Tenn., in February after attempting to evade police by jumping into the Little River and submerging all but his face. However, the high temperature that day was only 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and by the time he was discovered, he was suffering from hypothermia.

Recurring Themes
More People Having Sex with Inanimate Objects: (1) Art Price Jr., 40, was charged with public indecency for several instances of walking naked into his back yard and, according to videos made by neighbors, simulating intercourse with a picnic table (Bellevue, Ohio, March). (2) A 36-year-old man faced several charges after allegedly masturbating on a woman’s bicycle seat. He explained that he felt “an overwhelming calm” when he smelled the handlebars of a woman’s bike (Ostersund, Sweden; February). (3) A security guard caught a building contractor simulating sex with a canister vacuum cleaner. The contractor claimed that he was merely vacuuming his underpants, which he said was a “common practice” in his native Poland (London; March).

People continue to purposely maim themselves in various schemes. Daniel Kuch allegedly had a friend shoot him in the shoulder so that he could avoid taking a drug test at work (Pasco, Wash., February). And Elizabeth Hingston, 24, let her boyfriend break her leg by jumping on it so that the pair could claim insurance proceeds worth the equivalent of $200,000 (Plymouth, England, November). And Zachary Booso, 19, shot himself in the cheek, shoulder and thigh so that he could brag to his friends and ex-girlfriend that he was involved with gangs (Brownsburg, Ind., March).

Undignified Deaths
A 39-year-old man who had been cited 32 times for driving without a seat belt (and who rigged a fake belt in his car to create the illusion that he was belted in) was killed in a low-impact car crash that likely would not have been fatal to a belted driver (Wellington, New Zealand; coroner’s inquest, February). And a 74year-old man died of hypothermia after sneaking out of a nursing home late at night to smoke (Winnipeg, Manitoba; January). And several vehicles fatally struck a man and a woman on the Trans- Canada Highway after they got out of a cab and fought in the middle of the road (Chilliwack, British Columbia; February).

2008 Chuck Shepherd


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