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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Feb. 9, 2012
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Income, Logic Gap

Dozens of religious leaders in India's Karnataka state are protesting the annual Hindu ritual in which lower-caste people roll around in the food leftovers of upper-caste people. "Hundreds" performed the exercise at temples, according to a January Times of India report, believing that contact with higher-caste people's food will alleviate pernicious skin conditions.

Cultural Diversity

  • In the urban center of Calcutta, India, engineers are trying to save the historic Howrah Bridge from collapsing due to corrosion from spit. A half-million pedestrians (in addition to vehicle traffic) use the bridge every day and frequently spit their guthka and paan (half-chewed betel leaf, areca nut and slaked lime) onto the steel hangers that hold up the bridge. This has resulted in a 50% reduction in the hanger bases in just the past three years. (Engineers' immediate remedies include covering the bases in washable fiberglass and putting up pictures of gods and goddesses as a deterrent to spitting there.)
  • On Nov. 5, the 220 inhabitants of Coll, an island off the coast of Scotland, endured the first "crime" that any of the residents could remember. Someone vandalized the public lavatories at a visitors' facility, causing the equivalent of about $300 damage. A constable was summoned from a nearby island to investigate, but Coll is so remote he had to wait two days for a ferry to run there. One Coll resident vaguely recalled an incident at a pub once in which a man threatened to throw a punch (but didn't), and another remembered that someone took whale bones left on a beach by researchers (but later gave them back). According to a Daily Telegraph report, the culprit is "still at large."

Latest Religious Messages

  • In separate incidents during one week in December in Polk County, Fla., four church pastors were arrested and charged with sex-related crimes involving children. Among them was Arnold Mathis, 40, at the time working for the Saint City Power and Praise Ministry in Winter Haven, but who had moved on to the Higher Praise Ministries in Lake Wales and was allowed to work for the church despite a sex-crime rap sheet.

  • In January, just two weeks before the worldwide Internet protest against proposed copyright-protection legislation, the Missionary Church of Kopimism in Sweden announced that it had been granted official government status as a religion (one of 22 so recognized). Its reason for being is to celebrate the right to share files of information—in any form, but especially on the Internet. The Kopimism website demonizes those who "derive their power by limiting people's lives and freedom."


(1) In December in Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture, a group of luxury car enthusiasts gathered and began a caravan to nearby Hiroshima. When one of the drivers attempted to change lanes, the car hit a median barrier and spun across the highway, resulting in a chain-reaction pileup involving 14 cars, including eight red Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Drivers suffered only cuts and bruises, but some of the cars were reportedly damaged "beyond repair." (2) David Dopp of Santaquin, Utah, won a Lamborghini Murcielago, valued at about $380,000, in a fund-raising raffle. He received his prize on Dec. 17. Six hours later, he spun out of control, knocked over several fence posts and disabled the Murcielago's front end.

Least Competent Criminals

In Bennington, Vt., in December, Adam Hall, 34, was accused of vandalizing his ex-girlfriend's car, including scratching the word "slut" into the hood (except that the word was spelled "s-u-l-t"). Hall initially denied any involvement. When an officer handed Hall a sheet of paper and asked him to write the sentence "You are a slut," Hall spelled "slut" as "sult." He was charged with unlawful mischief.

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd


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