Blessings from Tokyo

Sep. 2, 2009
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Kanda Shrine, a Shinto shrine near Tokyo’s version of Silicon Valley, does a brisk business of blessing electronic gadgets, according to a June dispatch for Wiredmagazine. The shrine offers good-luck charms for the equivalent of about $8, but a personal session requires an offering of at least $50. The Wiredwriter went to the shrine with a potentially problematic cell phone. As instructed, he approached the shrine with a tree branch, turned it 180 degrees clockwise, and laid it on the altar. After bowing twice and clapping his hands twice, he left, looking forward to a glitch-free phone.

Questionable Judgments

(1) When Maryland corrections officials opened the New Beginnings Youth Center in May, they decided not to install razor wire on the chain-link fence surrounding the juvenile rehabilitation center. Instead, they opted for thorny rose bushes. After an inmate escaped on the second day of operation, however, razor wire was installed.

(2) Lin Rong, a bride set to wed in August in China’s eastern Jilin province, walked down the aisle in a dress that was more than 1.3 miles long. It took guests more than three hours to unfurl the train of the dress.

Rock People

(1) Chicago police arrested motorist Daniel Phelan, 27, in August and charged him in connection with a three-week spree in which he allegedly threw rocks at other cars while driving by them. Officers discounted ordinary road rage as a cause, in that Phelan has been accused of driving around with a pile of rocks in the passenger seat.

(2) A 22-year-old man was arrested in Kitsap, Wash., in August after tossing a barrage of rocks at people, in hopes of instigating a fight (it worked, and police had to intervene). The man explained that he is preparing to enter Ultimate Fighting Championship contests, but had never actually been in a fight and wanted experience at getting beaten up.

Least Competent Cops

(1) The Supreme Court of Spain tossed out assault charges against Henry Osagiede in August due to misconduct by Madrid police. Osagiede, a black man, was convicted after the victim identified him as her attacker—but she chose him from a police lineup in which he was the only black man.

(2) Officers on motorcycles in Ormond Beach, Fla., detailed to chaperone the body of prominent Harley-Davidson dealer Bruce Rossmeyer from the funeral home to the cemetery, accidentally collided with each other en route, sending six riders and their bikes sprawling.

Recurring Themes

(1) A man was almost killed in Rodgau, Germany, in July when he attempted to show friends that he could spit a cherry pit the farthest off of a balcony. After the man made a running start to spit the cherry pit, he accidentally toppled over the railing. He was hospitalized with hip injuries. (2) In July, the owner of the Plants & Planters store in Richardson, Texas, attempted to thwart a string of recent burglaries by installing a surveillance camera. Soon after, the video footage revealed a monkey scaling the fence, scooping up plants, flowers and accessories, and handing them to an accomplice waiting on the other side.

C. 2009 Chuck Shepherd


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