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Solving the Real Problems

Mar. 18, 2009
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In January 2008, London's The Sun reported on a rare practice in which a tattoo needle is used to ink a design into the sclera, which is the white part of the eyeball. Only a handful of people are known to have undergone this procedure, but Oklahoma state senators were so alarmed that they passed legislation through committee in February to ban the practice in their state. "If we can stop…one person from doing it, we've been successful," said Republican state Sen. Cliff Branan. An Oklahoma City tattoo artist told KSBI-TV that the law is useless, in that "common sense" will prevent people from risking blindness for this procedure. (So far, Oklahoma is the only state whose senators seem to think they have to protect their constituents from wanting ink inserted into their eyeballs.)

 Least Competent Criminals

 (1) In December, Matthew Peverada was arrested in Portland, Maine, and charged with attempting to rob Dipietro's Market. His first attempt, at about 4 p.m., was rebuffed, so he announced that he'd be back at 11 p.m. and said that they'd better have some money for him. He returned, and police were waiting. (2) In Phoenix in January, Shawn Holden, 26, ran from his car after being stopped for running a red light, and officers pursued him on foot. As police were wandering around looking for Holden, a truck driver walked by, got into his vehicle and drove off, running over Holden, who had been hiding underneath the truck. He was treated at a hospital and arrested.

 Cultural Diversity

 A member of the Singapore Parliament, Loo Choon Yong, attracted worldwide attention in February when he proposed that his hard-working countrymen add Saturdays as a workday, in order to improve productivity to cover for a declining birthrate. "We should accept that, as a people, our procreation talent is not our forte," he said, and suggested moving from a five-day workweek to six.

 Latest Religious Messages

 Pastor Bob Book and his wife, Holly, of the Church of the Common Ground in Atlanta, scrub the feet of three-dozen homeless men every Monday, based on the concept of Jesus washing his disciples' feet. The pedicures include soaking, rubbing and massaging the feet, as well as trimming the nails, topped off with a clean pair of socks. Book said his crusade makes the down-and-out feel more confident, adding that the "worst ongoing" threat is not Satan in men's minds but fungus in their toes. "It eats away and destroys the toenails and just makes it very hard for people to walk," Book said.

 Questionable Judgments

  • "This adds an extra dimension people will appreciate," said Rob Valentine, lord mayor of Hobart, Australia, announcing in December that the annual Taste Festival would feature performance artists entertaining patrons in the restrooms. According to a local newspaper report, the performers would supply soap and towels and “recite your favorite poem, or tell you a story while you get down to business.”
  • The Giza Zoo, the largest zoo in Cairo, Egypt, is a shadow of its former self due to poor management, failed international inspections, animal sickness and a deteriorating neighborhood. Among the current problems, according to a February GlobalPost dispatch, is that employees supplement their small wages with $2 bribes from visitors who want to fraternize with the animals. According to a reporter, “Hugging bears, posing with elephants, holding lion cubs, feeding seals and provoking tigers are all part of a normal afternoon there.”
  • In January, supervisors in Prince William County, Va., told Robert Bird, the longtime chief of the volunteer firehouse in Gainesville, that the station would be shut down if Bird, his wife and his 19-year-old autistic daughter didn't move out. The Bird family had taken up residence in the firehouse decades ago (a Washington Post reporter was not able to track down exactly when) and built a customized kitchen, a weight room and a large family room with a 50-inch TV set. Said the chairman of the supervisors, "There is a difference between sleeping in the station and living in the station."

 A News of the Weird Classic (January 1996)

 From the Riley County police blotter in the newspaper at Kansas State University, Sept. 2, 1995: At 1:33 p.m., disturbance involving Marcus Miles; at 2:14 p.m. (at a different address), "unwanted subject" in the home, Marcus Miles told to leave; at 4:08 p.m. (different address), Marcus Miles accused of harassment; at 6:10 p.m., "unwanted subject" call against Marcus Miles. Nov. 14: At 6:47 p.m., "unwanted subject" in the home, Marcus Miles told by officers to leave; at 7:36 p.m. (different address), "unwanted subject" call against Marcus Miles. Nov. 20: At 2:05 a.m. (different address), "unwanted subject" charge filed against Marcus Miles; at 2:55 a.m. (different address), disturbance involving Marcus Miles; at 3:07 a.m. (different address), "unwanted subject" charge filed against Marcus Miles; at 4:11 a.m. (different address), "unwanted subject" report made against Marcus Miles.

  2009 Chuck Shepherd


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