Chuck Shepherd's News of The Weird
■ In tribe-controlled areas of India, children who disrespect their families by marrying outside their castes are still, occasionally, put to death despite strong national laws. However, enlightenment is advancing, and Sidhnath Sharma recently filed a lawsuit instead against his caste-straying son for “destroying the family tradition” and “lowering his father’s prestige.” Sharma, a lawyer in Patna, India, is demanding that the son pay a monthly royalty of the equivalent of $165 for the son’s now-unauthorized use of the father’s name.
■ Fighter jets from France were forced in February to accompany the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane commandeered by the co-pilot, who had diverted the plane to Geneva in order to apply for asylum. The Swiss air force would normally have taken over the mission in its own air space, but the incident occurred at 4:30 a.m., and Swiss air force pilots were likely still asleep, as they work only “regular office hours,” beginning at 8 a.m. (French military officials said they are accustomed to covering for Switzerland.)
Latest Religious Messages
Pastor Allen Parker conducts services in the nude, for the nude, according to a February report on WWBT-TV (Southampton, Va.). Parker’s White Tail Chapel is located on a similarly named nudist resort in Ivor, Va., and even in winter, when disrobing visitors are scarce, the chapel is open for congregants. (In summertime, when naked people abound, the chapel’s services are often standing-room-only.) Baring the body to Christ is hardly unusual, Parker reminded, since that’s the way we all come into the world.
The Cutting Edge
(1) Among the filings published in November by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was Google’s 2012 application covering a throat tattoo—actually a mobile skin “microphone” with lie-detecting capability, presumably to encourage truthfulness from people as they speak. The application explains how to couple an electronic skin tattoo to a mobile device, using “flexible substrate.” (2) Among the “secrets” revealed recently on a BBC television special on South America’s beauty-queen obsession was one by Wi May Nava, first runner-up for Miss Venezuela 2013. Nava had a patch of plastic mesh sewn onto her tongue to create so much pain when she ate that she was forced to stick to liquids.
Fine Points of the Law
■ An Iowa administrative law judge ruled in February that it might be reasonable to accidentally damage a stubborn vending machine that ate your money -- but not by commandeering a forklift, raising the vending machine 2 feet off the concrete floor, and slamming it to the ground to dislodge the reluctant candy bar (a Twix). Consequently, Robert McKevitt, fired recently over the incident by Polaris Industries in Milford, Iowa, was deemed not entitled to worker compensation. (McKevitt admitted picking up the machine with the forklift, but said he just shook it and then set it down gently.)
■ In November, a New York appeals court approved a Rockland County judge’s jury instructions, which had resulted in the jury’s absolving Brittany Lahm of fault when she flipped her car on the New York Thruway, killing one passenger and injuring others. Lahm was driving friends home from the beach when one passenger unexpectedly unfastened Lahm’s bikini top, leading her to stretch her arms to re-tie it, which caused her to lose control of the car. The judges ruled that the jury could (and ultimately did) consider that Lahm faced an “unforeseen emergency” and was not negligent. (The only fatality in the crash was the original unfastener.)
Life Is Too Long
Among the websites whose stunning visual sophistication lies in stark contrast to their marginal importance in the world is “Carpets for Airports,” apparently still the go-to site for viewing and judging air terminal floor coverings around the world. Singapore’s carpet consists of an indescribably erratic, “psychologically terrifying” design, while Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport’s is “muted” and “calming”—appropriate for the nervous traveler about to experience an Andes mountains takeoff. The least ambitious of all, so far, is Denver’s “featureless” non-pattern—settled on in 2001 after religious fundamentalists objected to the evolution-enabled images on its original carpeting.
© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD