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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Nov. 3, 2015
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Annals of Justice               

A 2015 decision of the Georgia Supreme Court has created a puzzle for drunken driver enforcement. In Georgia (and other states), blood alcohol tests are “voluntary” (to bypass the issue of whether drivers can be forced, or even pressured, to endure a test that ultimately helps to convict them), but the Georgia court has ruled, against custom, that a “consenting” driver might be “too” drunk to appreciate the consent—in which case, the test results would be inadmissible in court. Equally awkwardly, prosecutors would be forced to argue that the drunken driver—too drunk to handle a motor vehicle—was still sober enough to give knowledgeable consent. Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported in October that judges statewide are grappling with the issue.                                          

Recurring Themes (Recent Instances of Familiar Weird Behaviors)     

* Funerals and burials, in the United States and elsewhere, are no longer always so staid. Most famously, one man was, per his instructions, lowered to the ground inside his beloved Cadillac; dressing corpses in fanciful outfits (such as the Green Lantern) is not unheard of. In October, after Jomar Aguayo Collazo, 23, was killed in a shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the family outfitted his body in his favorite blue tracksuit and propped him up at a table in his mother’s tavern (“playing” dominoes and holding a drink and a condom)—as friends and relatives passed by to pay their respects.

* The list of all-time extreme body modifiers would start with the late Dennis “Stalking Cat” Avner (who incrementally cut, chipped, tattooed, pierced and implanted his body to make himself a human feline) and the similarly obsessive Erik “Lizardman” Sprague, who at one time toured with the Jim Rose Circus. Newer to the scene is Britain’s Ted Richards, 56, working to become a human parrot. With 110 colorful tattoos, 50 piercings and a split tongue, he currently seeks a surgeon to turn his nose into a beak. Even without the beak, though, Richard says becoming parrot-like “is the best thing that has happened to me.” (London’s Daily Telegraph, publishing astonishing photos of Richards, asked, rhetorically, whether we’ve reached “peak plastic surgery.”)                             

* College “Inclusiveness” to the Next Level: “Service” animals (mostly guide dogs) are ones that have been specially trained to provide help for people with disabilities, but untrained “comfort” animals are also privileged for those diagnosed with panic attacks or depression. In an October report on college students hoping to keep their pets in no-animal dorms, The New York Times noted that school officials have entertained student requests for the “comfort” of (besides dogs and cats) lizards, potbellied pigs, tarantulas, ferrets, guinea pigs and sugar gliders (nocturnal, flying, six-ounce Australian marsupials). Informal Justice Department guidelines rule out only animals that are aggressive or destructive or that trigger other students’ allergies.                              

* Drivers who blindly follow their vehicles’ satellite navigation with disastrous results are almost No Longer Weird, but a truck driver’s mishap in Ashton, England, in October still seemed worthy of reporting—in that he was working for a company called Dachser Intelligent Logistics when his tractor-trailer got stuck in a narrow alley (directed there by the sat-nav, in violation of all common sense). (Bonus: It was not the first time sat-nav had misdirected a vehicle into the same alley; the town had even placed a formal traffic sign at the approach to the alley: “Do Not Follow Sat Nav Next Left.”)


High school principal George Kenney believes he has a gift to aid students’ concentration abilities—hypnotism—and practiced it extensively at North Port High in Sarasota, Fla., until 2011, when three of his students died in separate incidents (two by suicide). While Kenney enjoys retirement in North Carolina, the Sarasota school board did not close the chapter until October 2015 when it granted $200,000 settlements to the families of the three students. The lawsuits complained of Kenney’s unlicensed “medical procedure,” which altered the “underdeveloped” teenage brain—but Kenney had also pointed to improvements in studying by other students.                  






Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

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