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Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

Apr. 12, 2013
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Snail Mail: There's an App for That

Wait…what? A startup company in Austin, Texas, also serving San Francisco, promises to take its customers' incoming U.S. mail three times a week, photograph it and deliver it back to the customers via mobile phone app, for $4.99 a month. The company, Outbox, provides some value-added services, removing the customer from junk-mail lists and paying bills. Still, Outbox's unorthodox business model assumes that a growing number of people absolutely hate opening, filing or discarding pieces of paper. Co-founder Will Davis told CNN in February that at least he does not fear competition: "No one is crazy enough to do what we're doing."


Research Hurts: Between 2002 and 2010, according to the March BJU International (formerly British Journal of Urology), an estimated 17,600 patients came to U.S. hospital emergency rooms reporting genital injuries from trouser zippers (presumably by accident, but researchers took no position on that). Seven authors (six from University of California, San Francisco) took credit for the report, funded by a National Institutes of Health grant, and found that "zip" wounds were only about one-fifth of emergency penile injuries.

Family Values

  • Rachel Hope and Parker Williams decided to procreate and fully raise a child together—even though neither has romantic intentions toward the other. Their relationship is likened to a business one, according to a February New York Times profile, in which they do their respective biological duties, separately, and then each basically outsources half the subsequent childrearing to the other. Said another parent in a similar relationship: "When you think about the concept of the village, and how the village was part of child-rearing for so many cultures for so many thousands of years, it makes total sense."
  • Robert Burton, 34, got a 15-year prison sentence in February for forcing women into prostitution, with evidence including a police report quoting Burton's 7-year-old son, who was in the car with Burton and two women when Miami police stopped them. The kid had earnestly identified the women: "Those are my daddy's hoes."


Humans' belief that fragrances improve their allure can seemingly never be overestimated. Dutch-based artists Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug told The New York Times in March that they recently created a concoction to call attention to our neediness for artificial scent. Noting the deluge of new industry creations in 2012, Engelberts explained, "Our point is, why do you need nearly 1,400 new scents in one year?" The pair created Everything, which they claim contains a bit of every one of the year's fragrances they were able to obtain (including Fame by Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber's Girlfriend), dumped into one bottle and left to marinate—and they offered it for sale for the equivalent of about $39,000.

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Paul Masters, 47, was charged with a roof-entry burglary of a Roses department store in Lexington, Ky., in March. Those burglaries are common, but almost always nighttime jobs, when no one else is on the premises. Masters, though, dropped in just after lunchtime. After police swarmed the store, Masters eventually fell through a drop ceiling and was arrested. (2) Jarad Carr, 37, was arrested in Chippewa County, Wis., in March after he persisted in demanding a refund for the computer printer he said he had bought at a Wal-Mart (though he lacked a receipt). While examining the printer, the Wal-Mart employee noticed a sheet of paper still inside—showing two counterfeit $100 bills—and called police, who arrived while Carr was still haggling for a refund.

Readers Choice

(1) A judge in Racine, Wis., granted bail for Tyree Carter, 20, for his March arrest for "lewd and lascivious conduct" in the Racine Public Library, but among the conditions of his release was that, until trial, Carter "stay out of all the libraries on the face of the Earth." (2) In a ruling that lasted less than a week, England's Mid Devon District Council had decreed in March that henceforth, no street name could contain an apostrophe, e.g., St. George's would be St. Georges. Outraged punctuationists swung into action, causing the council to quickly reverse itself.     
© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD      


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