Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird
Leading Economic Indicators
* Following the release of Apple’s yearly financials in October (and based on sales of its iPhone 6), the company announced that, apart from other assets, it was sitting on $206 billion in cash—similar to the entire GDP of many countries, but all in cash. Another way of expressing it: Using only its cash, Apple could buy every single NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL team, plus the 20 most valuable international soccer teams—and still have plenty left. Or, as the bgr.com blog also pointed out, it could instead simply give every man, woman and child in America $646 (coincidentally, about what a new iPhone 6 sells for).
* Even if Armageddon doesn’t happen, the CEO of the massive online retailer overstock.com believes there is a “10 to 20%” chance of a world financial meltdown in the next few years, and he is arranging to be back in business in the aftermath. Patrick Byrnes told the New York Post in November he has stashed away enough food in a well-fortified facility in Utah’s Granite Mountain to serve his 2,000 employees for “30 to 60 days,” along with several thousand other emergency preparations and $10 million in gold and silver. But, he insisted, he’s not a gun-toting “prepper”; the plan is only about tiding employees over until the Internet and banking systems are back up and running.
The Continuing Crisis
In November in Harare, Zimbabwe, Mison Sere, 42, was judged winner of the fourth annual “Mister Ugly” contest after showcasing his seemingly random dental arrangement (some teeth there, some not) and “wide range of grotesque facial expressions,” according to an Associated Press dispatch. However, many in the crowd thought their favorite was even uglier and threatened to riot. “I am naturally ugly,” said a jealous (former winner) William Masvinu; “He [Sere] is ugly only when he opens his mouth.”
* Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, 31, has devoted his career to getting on the government’s nerves and succeeded once again in November. (News of the Weird last mentioned him in 2013 when he nailed his scrotum to the floor in Moscow’s Red Square to protest police oppression.) In his latest event, he set fire to the front door of the headquarters of Russia’s security service (the FSB, formerly KGB) and has been detained—though from his cell, he demanded his charge of “vandalism” be changed to “terrorism.” A member of the Russian band Pussy Riot called the door fire "the most important work of contemporary art of recent years." Pavlensky once sewed his lips together protesting arrests of Pussy Riot.
* Following prosperous news reported here (from New York, the Czech Republic and Massachusetts), the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of New Zealand announced this month that the country’s official records now recognize the church as a legal sanctioner of marriages. The church must now nominate an “official marriage celebrant” (who will be known as “His Noodly Honour”).
Least Competent Criminals
* Matthew Riggins had told his girlfriend earlier that he and a pal were planning to burglarize some homes around Barefoot Bay in Brevard County, Fla., and was apparently on that mission on Nov. 23 when an alert resident called 911, and the men scrambled. The accomplice was caught several days later, but Riggins himself did not survive the night—having taken refuge in nearby woods and drowning trying to outswim an apparently hungry 11-foot alligator.
*According to police, Ryan Liskow, 36, badly violating the crime-novel “rule” about not returning to the scene of the crime, is now awaiting trial for robbing the Sterling State Bank in Rochester, Minn., on Dec. 14—and 15. An on-scene reporter for KIMT-TV was on the air on the 15th describing the first robbery, unaware that Liskow was inside robbing it again, and as Liskow emerged on foot with a bank employee in pursuit, reporter Adam Sallet helped point out Liskow, who was soon arrested.
© 2015 CHUCK SHEPHERD