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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Mar. 22, 2012
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Now Where Was I?

In Houston in November, LaDondrell Montgomery, 36, had been sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery, despite vigorous protestations of his innocence. About a week later, in December, he was, in fact, exonerated. During Montgomery's testimony at his trial, he had failed to mention an ironclad alibi: that he had been in jail during the time the robbery was committed. Once jail records were reviewed, Montgomery was freed. The prosecutor hadn't checked the records before the trial, and neither had Montgomery's attorney. Then again, Montgomery had never mentioned it—because, as he told his lawyers, he had been in and out of jail so many times in his life that he just could not remember if he had been locked up at the time of the armed robbery. [Houston Chronicle, Dec. 9, 2011]

G-Rated Fertility Ceremony

An annual spring fertility festival in Vietnam's Phu Tho province is capped by a symbolic ceremony that is made G-rated by the use of wooden stand-ins. At midnight on the 12th day of the lunar new year, a man holding a wooden phallic object stands in total darkness alongside a woman holding a wooden plank with a hole in it. As the tradition goes, if the man is successful in using his object to penetrate the woman's object, then there will be good crops. Following the ceremony, villagers are told to "go and be free," which, according to a February report by Thanh Nien News Service, means uninhibited friskiness during the lights-out period. [Thanh Nien News (Ho Chi Minh City), Feb. 9, 2012]

Questionable Judgments

According to a municipal street sign in front of Lakewood Elementary School in White Lake, Mich. (filmed in February by Detroit's WJBK-TV), the speed limit drops to 25 mph on "school days only, [from] 6:49-7:15 a.m., 7:52-8:22 a.m., 8:37-9:07 a.m., 2:03-2:33 p.m., 3:04-3:34 p.m. [and] 3:59-4:29 p.m." [WJBK-TV, Feb. 15, 2012]

A Special Place in Hell

(1) John Morgan, 34, was charged in February in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with embezzling more than $40,000 from a trust fund that had been established for his daughter, who has special needs because of cerebral palsy. Because of the theft, she is unable to receive the necessary dental work following an accident in which she was knocked from her wheelchair. (2) Police officer Skeeter Manos, 34, was charged in February in Seattle with embezzling more than $120,000 from a fund for the families of four colleagues who had been fatally shot in the line of duty. Manos' alleged expenditures included trips to Las Vegas. [WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Feb. 6, 2012] [Associated Press via WHBF-TV (Rock Island, Ill.), Feb. 8, 2012]

Cultural Diversity

In the remote state of Meghalaya, India, a matrilineal system endows its women with wealth and property rights. A men's rights advocate, interviewed by BBC News in January, lamented that even the language favors women, noting that "useful" nouns all seem to be female. The system, he said, breeds generations of men "who feel useless." In maternity wards, he said, the sound of cheering greets baby girls; for boys, there is instead a prevailing sentiment of "Whatever God gives us is quite all right." The husband of one woman interviewed said, meekly, that he "likes" the current system—or at least that's what his wife's translation said he said. [BBC News, Jan. 19, 2012]

Latest Religious Messages

Ryan Brown recently moved his licensed tattoo parlor into The Bridge church in Flint Township, Mich., which is one more indicator of Rev. Steve Bentley's nontraditional belief that mainstream religion has become irrelevant to most people. Tattooing is a "morally neutral" practice, Bentley said. Brown, of course, does not ink tattoos lauding drugs, gangs or the devil. (The Bridge has also loaned out its plentiful floor space in a shopping mall to wrestling, cage fighting and auto repair facilities.) [Flint Journal, Jan. 5, 2012]

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd


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