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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Nov. 17, 2015
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The Patient Will See You Now      

Professional patients now help train would-be doctors, especially in the most delicate and dreaded of exams (gynecological and prostate), where a becalming technique improves outcomes. One “teaching associate” of Eastern Virginia Medical School told The Washington Post in September that the helpers act as “enthusiastic surgical dummies” to 65 medical colleges, guiding rookie fingers through the trainer’s own private parts. The prostate associate might helpfully caution, “No need for speed here,” especially since he will be bending over for as many as nine probings a day. A gynecological teaching associate, mentoring the nervous speculum-wielder, might wittily congratulate pupils on having a front-row sight line the gynecological teaching associate will never witness: an up-close view of her own cervix.                                   

              

Leading Economic Indicators          

* First-World Spending: According to estimates released by the National Retail Federation in September, 157 million Americans “planned to celebrate” Halloween, spending a total of $6.9 billion, of which $2.5 billion would be on costumes, including $350 million dressing up family pets.

* At a ceremony in Kabul in November, prominent Afghan developer Khalilullah Frozi signed a $95 million contract to build an 8,800-unit township and was, according to a New York Times dispatch, toasted for his role in the country’s economic rebirth. However, at nightfall, Frozi headed back to prison to resume his 15-year sentence for defrauding Kabul Bank of nearly $1 billion in depositors’ money. Because he remains one of Afghanistan’s elite, arrangements were made for him to work days but spend his nights in prison (in comfortable quarters). Said one Western official, laconically, “If you have stolen enough money, you can get away with it.”                                           

 

Cultural Diversity            

Before the terrorist murders gripped Paris, President Francois Hollande and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani had been trying to arrange a formal dinner during Rouhani’s planned visit to the city to celebrate the two countries’ role in the recent accord limiting Iran’s nuclear development. France’s RTL radio news reported that “dinner” is apparently more vexing than nuclear weaponry—as Rouhani demanded an alcohol-free meal, which was nixed by Hollande, who insisted that the French never dine without wine.                                   

 

Compelling Explanations                

* Skeptics feared it was just a matter of time, anyway, until the “political correctness” movement turned its attention to dignity for thieves. San Francisco’s sfgate.com reported in November on a discussion in an upscale neighborhood about whether someone committing petty, nonviolent theft should be referred to by the “offensive” term “criminal” (rather than as, for example, “the person who stole my bicycle,” since “criminal” implies a harsher level of evil and fails to acknowledge factors that might have caused momentary desperation by a person in severe need).     

* Reginald Gildersleeve, 55 and free on bond with an extensive rap sheet, was waving a gun as he threatened a clerk and tried to rob a store in Chicago on Halloween night—until a customer (licensed to carry) drew his own gun and, with multiple shots, killed Gildersleeve. Closer inspection revealed Gildersleeve’s weapon to be merely a paintball gun, leading the deceased man’s stepson to complain later that “Some people [the licensed shooter] don’t actually know how to use guns. They go to firing ranges, but it’s not the same ... as a bullet going into flesh. ... Someone’s got to answer for that.”                                          

 

The Continuing Crisis     

U.S. and European entrepreneurs offer extreme “games” in which liability-waiving “players” volunteer for hours of kidnapping, pain and death threats, but the cult-like, under-the-radar “McKamey Manor” in Southern California (said to have a waiting list of 27,000) is notable for the starkness of its threats of brutality—and the absence of any “safe word” with which a suddenly reluctant player can beg off. (Only Russ McKamey himself decides if a player has had enough.) The “product” is “100% fear,” he said. “We’re good at it,” he told London’s The Guardian in an October dispatch from San Diego (whose reporter overheard one of McKamey’s thugs promise, “I’m going to tear that girl [player] apart” and “No one is leaving with eyebrows today”).             

 

© 2015 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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