News of the weird: 06/02

By Chuck Shepherd

Great Art Class!

Among the requirements of “Visual Arts 104A” at the University of California, San Diego is that, for the final exam, students would make a presentation while nude, in a darkened room. Professor Ricardo Dominguez (who would also be nude for the finals) told KGTV in May that a nude “gesture” was indeed required (and disclosed to students in the first class) as a “performance of self,” a “standard canvas for performance art and body art.” After an inquiry by KGTV, the department chairman announced that nakedness would not be required for course credit – even though Professor Dominguez said in his 11 years teaching the course, no student had ever complained before.

The Litigious Society

Sober Driver Pays: Sapearya Sao, then 25 and sober that night in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, was rammed by a drunk hit-and-run driver (Nathan Wisbeck), who later rammed another drunk driver – but Sao finds himself defending the lawsuit by the two people injured in Wisbeck’s second collision. Sao recently settled the lawsuit brought by that second drunk driver, but still faces a $9.8 million lawsuit brought by the estate of the second drunk driver’s late passenger, which argues that if Sao had not pursued Wisbeck in an attempt to identify him, the second crash would not have occurred. (Of course, that crash also might not have occurred if the second driver – 0.11 blood alcohol – had been sober.)

Wait, What?

British forensic scientist Dr. Brooke Magnanti, 39, has written two best-selling books and inspired a TV series based on her life, but she recently filed a lawsuit accusing her ex-boyfriend of libeling her – by telling people that she was NOT formerly a prostitute. A major part of Magnanti’s biography is how she paid for university studies through prostitution – which has supposedly enhanced her marketability.

Murder “contracts” are ubiquitous in novels and movies, but an actual murder contract cannot be enforced in American courts. However, a recent “contract” case in Norway (according to the Norwegian newspaper Varden, as reported on came down hard on a hit man who got cold feet. The hit man, who stalled repeatedly, was finally sued by the payer, who won a jury verdict (later set aside) for the unrequited killing. Then, because the hit man had attempted to extort even more money from the payer (to find a substitute killer), the hit man was fined the equivalent of $1,200.

Unclear on the Concept

About three-fourths of the 1,580 IRS workers found to have deliberately attempted to evade federal income tax during the last 10 years have nonetheless retained their jobs, according to a May report by the agency’s inspector general. Some even received promotions and performance bonuses (although an internal rule, adopted last year, now forbids such bonuses to one adjudged to owe back taxes).

Latest Religious Messages

The long-time swingers’ club in Nashville, Tennessee (The Social Club), is seeking to relocate to the trendy Madison neighborhood – but near two churches and an upscale private Christian school in a state that bars sex businesses within 1,000 feet of a church or school. The Social Club’s preferred solution: re-open as the United Fellowship Center and attempt to hold services on Sunday mornings, converting, for example, its “dungeon room” into the “choir room.” While courts are reluctant to examine religious doctrine, they often judge cases on “sincerity of belief.” (Any shrieks of “Oh, God!” “Oh, God!” coming from the on-premises swing club are not expected to carry weight with the judges.)

Is This a Great Country or What?

Lightly regulated investors’ “hedge funds” (the province of wealthy people and large institutions) failed in 2014 (for the sixth straight year) to out earn ordinary stock index funds following the S&P 500. However, at hedge funds, underperformance seems unpunishable – as the top 25 fund managers still collectively earned $11.62 billion in fees and salaries (an average of over $464 million each). The best-paid hedge fund manager earned $1.3 billion – more than 48 times what the highest-paid major league baseball player earned.

Bright Ideas

Body cameras for police officers is yesterday’s news. At the Sanmenxia canyon rapids in China’s Henan province, the issue is body cameras for lifeguards. The all-female White Swan Women’s Rafting Rescue Team has complained recently about swimmers deliberately throwing themselves into the water so they could scream for help – in order to fondle the women when they arrived to save them. Attaching cameras to the women’s helmets and legs is expected to deter perverts.

Pets With Issues

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A veterinarian at Brighton (U.K.) Pet Hospital, operating on Garry, age 2, a black-and-white cat with a tumor-like bulge in his abdomen, found instead (and removed) a large collection of shoelaces and hairbands that might soon have cost Garry his life.

Benno, the Belgian Malinois, of Mountain Home, Arkansas, has eaten a ridiculous series of items over his four years, but his latest meal, in April, was 23 live rounds of .308- caliber bullets (all swallowed after Benno had partially gnawed them). Among Benno’s other delicacies: a bra, lawn mower air filter, TV remote, styrofoam peanuts, drywall, magnets, and an entire loaf of bread still in the wrapper.

Least Competent Snake: Owner Aaron Rouse was feeding his python, Winston, a tasty rat in May, using barbecue tongs, when Winston got hold of the tongs and would not let go. Rouse, of Adelaide, Australia, decided not to engage in a tug-of-war, but when he returned (believing Winston would see no food value in the metal clamps), the tongs had been swallowed and were halfway through the snake’s comically bloated body. After taking X-rays (that of course became Internet attractions), a veterinarian at Adelaide University removed the tongs by surgery.

Crime in Florida

Daniel Palmer, 26, was arrested in Miami Beach in April only after he returned to the crime scene area to berate his victim, a New York tourist from whom he had snatched a “fake” necklace at gunpoint. Palmer initially got away, but was upset and returned to confront the tourist, who pointed out Palmer’s car to an officer.

Ms. Joey Mudd, 34, of Largo was arrested in May, along with her husband, Chad, on charges that they routinely shared marijuana and even cocaine with their daughters, aged 13 and 14. Deputies said Ms. Mudd freely admitted that she used the drugs as incentives to get the girls to do their chores and do well in school.


“Abstract impressionist” Mark Rothko has appeared in News of the Weird both for the extraordinary prices people pay to own his uncomplicated paintings and for their sometimes-indistinct differentiation from squiggles made by playful toddlers. Sotheby’s auction house announced in May that his “Untitled, (Blue and Yellow)” had been sold for $46.5 million. The “Untitled” canvas consists of three unevenly edged rectangles – a yellow on top of a blue, on top of a small yellow strip. The Sotheby’s catalog described the piece (presumably, without irony) as one that shows “how truly miraculous a painting can be.”

Copyright 2015 Chuck ShepherdDistributed by Universal Uclick

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Chuck Shepherd
Copyright 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Distributed by Universal Uclick

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