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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Jan. 6, 2016
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Hard Times for Science   

(1) A tractor-trailer driver with a load of bottled water tried to make it over a historic bridge in Paoli, Ind., on Christmas Day, with the obvious outcome when 30 tons of water starts across a limit-6-tons span. The driver told police she saw the 6-ton sign but did not know how that translated to pounds. (2) Among the activists denouncing a proposed solar-panel farm at a December Woodland, N.C., town council meeting were a husband and wife certain that vegetation near the panels would die because the panels would (the husband said) “suck up all the energy from the sun.” His wife (described as a “retired science teacher”) explained that the solar panels prevent “photosynthesis” (and also, of course, cause cancer). The council voted a moratorium on the panels.                                 


Recent Recurring Themes              

* Paul Stenstrom of Tarpon Springs, Fla., is among the most recent Americans to have discovered the brightest side of federal bankruptcy law, having lived in his mortgaged home basically free of charge from 2002 until 2013 by using the law to stave off foreclosure. Even though none of his 15 petitions was ever approved, he followed each one immediately with another petition, and it was not until 2013 that one judge finally declared Stenstrom a “serially abusive filer,” barring further petitions for two years—at which point his bank was able to conclude the foreclosure. Upon expiration of the two-year period in November 2015, Stenstrom quickly filed another bankruptcy petition—to keep from being evicted from the townhouse on whose rent he is three months behind.                  

* In December, Carlos Aguilera, 27, became the most recent brain-surgery patient to assist doctors by remaining conscious during the 12-hour operation—and playing his saxophone to help assure surgeons that their removal of a tumor was not affecting his speech, hearing or movement. The operation, at Málaga, Spain’s Carlos Haya Hospital, was supposedly Europe's first, but News of the Weird has reported two in the United States, including on a guitar-strumming man in 2013 at UCLA Medical Center.          

* Least Competent Criminals: (1) Nurse’s aide Candace McCray, 36, is the most recent theft suspect to have worn some of the purloined jewelry when meeting police detectives investigating the theft. An assisted-living resident in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., had described her missing gems, and McCray was questioned as someone with access to the woman's room. (2) Joshua Jording, 26, in Latrobe, Penn., became the most recent burglary suspect caught on surveillance video during the crime wearing a shirt with his name on it (which was later found in Jording’s home, along with a stash from the Dec. 2 burglary).              

* More Core Failings of Carjackers: Kyle Blair, 25, was arrested in Surrey, British Columbia, in November when he approached a car at an intersection and attempted to pull the driver out. For one thing, the two men in the car were later described as “big, burly” guys, but more important, they were plainclothes police officers.      

* Mendel Epstein (Lakewood, N.J.) is not the only rabbi suspected of being overaggressive as he helps desperate wives obtain religiously proper divorces, but he will be headed to prison for 10 years after a federal court found that he used beatings, stun guns and, once, an electric cattle prod to convince reluctant husbands they should sign the papers. Orthodox Jewish wives cannot remarry properly without obtaining a "get," and Rabbi Epstein was apparently very “convincing.” (According to trial evidence, he used the services of four thugs.) “Over the years,” Epstein confessed in court, “I guess I got caught up in my tough-guy image.”                   

* Almost No Longer Weird: In December, Russia’s independent RT news site, culling a story from the country’s rural far eastern coast, reported the most recent case of a “declared dead” man awakening in a morgue. After a harrowing few hours, the man returned to the site of the party—to find his friends “still drinking but [by] this time commemorating him.”                                                 





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