By on May 31, 2017

Breaking News (Rare Fetish!)

Jordan Haskins, 26, was sentenced to probation and sex counseling in May after pleading guilty to eight charges arising from two auto accidents in Saginaw, Michigan. Prosecutors said Haskins described “cranking,” in which he would remove a vehicle’s spark-plug wires to make it “run rough,” which supposedly improves his chances for a self-service happy ending. Haskins’s lawyer added, “(Cranking) is something I don’t think we understand as attorneys.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Le Plat Sal (The Dirty Plate) restaurant in the Marais district of Paris features specialties actually containing dirt—or as Chef Solange Gregoire calls it, “the mud of the earth that caresses our toes, the sand kissed by the sun, and rocks.” Mused a Food Network host in April, “What’s left? People are already eating snout-to-tail, leaves-to-roots….” Gregoire extolled her four-star dishes, including pastry crust a la Mont Lachat rock and a Boue Ragout stew simmered with silt from the River Seine. (NPR also noted that the founder of The Shake Shack was “quietly” planning a new American chain, Rock in Roll.)

◼︎ Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak’s 98-page paper (leaked to Business Insider in April) touted the wealth obtainable by capturing the platinum reputed to be in asteroids. The costs to mine the stone (rockets, launch expenses, etc.) might have dropped recently to about $3 billion—a trifle next to the $50 billion worth of platinum Poponak said a single asteroid might contain. (On the other hand, experts point out, such abundance of platinum might crash the worldwide price.)

◼︎ The Twisted Ranch restaurant in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis, saw crowds swell in March after it revamped its menu with more than two dozen items made with ranch dressing (including ranch-infused Bloody Marys). As one satisfied visitor put it, “Ranch is everyone’s guilty pleasure.”

Unclear on the Concept

Yale University graduate students (well, at least eight of them), claiming “union” status, demonstrated in front of the Yale president’s home in April demanding better benefits (beyond the annual free tuition, $30,000 stipends and free health care). Some of the students characterized their action as an “indefinite fast” while others called it a “hunger strike.” However, a pamphlet associated with the unionizing made it clear that strikers could go eat any time they got hungry.

Smooth Reactions

Police in Cleveland are searching for the woman whose patience ran out on April 14 awaiting her young son’s slow haircut at Allstate Barber College. She pulled out a pistol, took aim at the barber and warned: “I got two clips! I’ll pop you.” (She allowed him to finish up—more purposefully, obviously—and left without further incident.)

The Drone Economy

A Netherlands startup company announced in March its readiness to release drones capable of tracking freshly deposited dog poop (via an infrared glow from the pile) and, eventually, be guided (perhaps via GPS and artificial intelligence) to scoop up the deposits and carry them away.

Potentially Unemployed Bees

Researcher-inventor Eijiro Miyako announced in the journal Chem in March that he had created a drone that pollinates flowers (though requiring human guidance until GPS and AI can be enabled). Miyako’s adhesive gel lightly brushes pollen grains, collecting just enough to touch down successfully onto another flower to pollinate it.

◼︎ Social critics and futurists suggest that the next great market for computerization (already underway) will be selling “human improvement” (alas, perhaps merely helping already successful people to even greater heights). Some sports teams are experimenting with “transcranial direct current stimulation” as a way to put athletes’ brains into constant alert, and KQED Radio reported in May that about a third of the San Francisco Giants players have donned weak-current headsets that cover the motor cortex at the top of the head. The team’s sports scientist (bonus name: Geoff Head!) said players performed slightly better on some drills after the stimulation. (One the other hand, at press time, the Giants were still next-to-last in the National League West.)

Recent alarming headlines

“U.K. woman who urinated on Trump golf course loses case” (London). “Fish thief on unicycle busted by DNR (Department of Natural Resources)” (Battle Creek, Michigan). And, from the Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach), all on the same day (May 16, 2017): 1. “Man throws fork at woman in fight over dog poop.” 2. “Senior citizen punches husband for taking Lord’s name in vain.” 3. “Two people busted for creating fake football league, lawmen say.” 4. “Man denies defecating in parking lot despite officer witnessing deed.”

Clearing the Conscience

In February, a 52-year-old man who, arrested for DUI and taken to a police station in Germany’s Lower Saxony state, wound up spontaneously confessing to a 1991 cold-case murder in Bonn. Police confirmed that, after reopening the files, they found details matching the man’s account, though the man himself was “not quite clear” why he had confessed.

◼︎ A game warden in Titus County, Texas, reported in December arresting a man for possessing a shotgun (the man’s third arrest as a convicted felon with a firearm). The warden had spotted the weapon only because the man “out of the blue” approached him and asked if he wanted to inspect his hunting license (which, it turns out, was in order).


The impending retirement from public life of Britain’s Prince Philip, announced in May, has likely quashed any slight chance he will visit the Imanourane people on Tanna (in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu)—tragic, of course, because Tanna’s Chief Jack and his followers continue to believe Philip descended from their own spiritual ancestors and has thus dominated their thoughts for the last seven decades. In fact, when Tanna was in the path of Cyclone Donna in May 2017, the Imanourane were quickly reminded of Philip’s continuing “powers.” (Philip has never visited, but Tannans have long prayed over an autographed photograph he sent years ago.)

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2013)

The story of Kopi Luwak coffee has long been a News of the Weird staple, begun in 1993 with the first reports that a super-premium market existed for coffee beans digested (and excreted) by certain Asian civet cats, collected, washed and brewed. In June (2013), as news broke that civets were being mistreated—captured and caged solely for their bean-adulterating utility—the American Chemical Society was called on for ideas how to assure that the $227/pound coffee beans had, indeed, been expelled from genuine Asian civets. Hence, “gas chromatography and mass spectrometry” tests were finally developed to assure drinkers, at $80 a cup in California, that they were sipping the real thing.

Thanks this week to Jon Maxwell and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

About Chuck Shepherd

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