News of the weird: 06/30

By Chuck Shepherd


What Cannibals Can Teach Us

Researchers studying the human-brain-eating Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea reported in a June journal article that they have identified the specific prion resistance gene that appears to offer complete protection against mad cow disease and perhaps other neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s. The tribe customarily dined on relatives’ brains at funerals (although has abandoned the practice) and, consequently, suffered a major 1950s epidemic that annually wiped out 2 percent of the tribe. According to the lead researcher, survivors with the specific resistance gene demonstrated “a striking example of Darwinian evolution in humans.”

Recurring Themes (All-New Episodes!)

Spouses often disagree politically and vote accordingly, but occasionally one runs for office against the other—as is the case in Bremerton, Washington, where incumbent Councilmember Roy Runyon is being challenged by his wife, Kim Faulkner. Both were mum as to reasons why and, in fact, filed their registration papers together at the same time in May. “We’re different people,” Runyon said. “She might have a different approach.”

India’s media reported in April yet another birth defect in which the surviving baby is treated as a representation of Hindu holiness. A four-armed, four-legged child (medical explanation: remains of an underdeveloped conjoined twin) is worshipped as the reincarnation of the multi-limbed Lord Ganesha, and pilgrims journey from all over India to the birthplace, Dumri-Isri in Jharkhand state. (In a nod to modernity, one witness told a reporter that initially he had thought a photograph of the child was “Photoshopped” but now has seen the baby with his own eyes.)

The law of turkey-baster insemination took a turn in Virginia in April when mother Joyce Bruce was unable to keep sperm-provider Robert Boardwine out of her son’s life. Bruce relied on a state statute that seemed to allow her sole parenthood if the pregnancy was based on assisted-reproduction medical technology. However, the Court of Appeals of Virginia declared that a “kitchen implement” is not “medical technology” and, considering Boardwine’s genuine interest in fatherhood, ruled that he was entitled to joint custody and visitation rights.

Another “Human Right”:

In April, London’s Daily Mail spotted Anna Broom of Gillingham declaring that despite her various disorders that keep her from working, she nonetheless imagines a first-class wedding with champagne, horse-drawn carriage and Mexico honeymoon—all at government expense—because that would be her “human right.” She told a reporter that a small ceremony at a government office would not boost her confidence, but that her “dream” wedding would be just the thing to get her back on a job search.

The most recent exposition of people who tattoo their eyeballs, at the International Tattoo Festival in Caracas, Venezuela, in February, featured the phenomenon’s founder, Mr. Luna Cobra, who said it all started when he tried to create “bright blue” eyes like in the 1984 film “Dune.” (Pigment is injected, permanently, so that it rests under the eye’s thin top layer, the conjunctiva.) When asked what the process feels like, devotee Kylie Garth told BBC News, “It was mentally intense,” resembling an eye poke, pressure and “a bit of sand”—but “no pain.” Mr. Cobra urged young people to get their jobs before trying eye tats, since “you’re going to look frightening forever to the majority of people you encounter.”

Once again, in May, lawyers went to court trying to persuade a judge that some rights under the U.S. Constitution be extended to intelligent apes (in this case, to chimpanzees as “autonomous and self-determining beings” at least as perceptive as, for example, severely mentally ill people who retain rights while institutionalized). Lawyers are, once again, asking for a writ of habeas corpus (now available only to humans) to take chimps Hercules and Leo out of a lab and into a sanctuary. (Adding to the discussion, in the week after the court hearing, a Harvard professor and colleagues, writing in the journal Current Anthropology, hypothesized that chimps could cook foods if given the chance. Tests revealed they resist raw food when they are able to place it into a device that made it taste better, which, in theory, makes them more intelligent than children who eat cookie dough.)

Baffling Perversion:

Some men are compelled to express unrequited love for women by ejaculating onto them or into their beverages. The Minnesota legislature is working to upgrade its law (since a recent defendant, John Robert Lind, was acquitted of adulterating his co-worker’s coffee on the ground that current law requires actually touching the victim). However, Lind (who admitted a total of six climaxes against the co-worker) is an amateur compared to Tetsuya Fukuda, 40, who was finally apprehended in April, at which time he admitted “more than 100” semen attacks on women on trains near Kinshicho, Japan, dating back to 2011. He told police, “I get excited when in close contact with a woman on a crowded train.”

Copyright 2015 Chuck ShepherdDistributed by Universal Uclick

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Copyright 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Distributed by Universal Uclick

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