2017-06-15 / News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

BY CHUCK SHEPHERD
Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate

The new power nap

If high-schoolers seem stressed by active lifestyles and competitive pressures, and consequently fail to sleep the recommended nine to 10 hours a day, it must be a good idea for the federal government to give grants (including to Las Cruces High School in New Mexico) to purchase comfy, $14,000 “nap pods” that drive out the racket with soft music, for 20 minutes a shot during those frenzied classroom days. A May NPR report based on Las Cruces’ experience quoted favorable reviews by students, backed by a doctor and a nurse practitioner who pointed to research showing that adequate sleep “can” boost memory and attention and thus “can” improve school performance (and therefore must be a great use of federal education dollars).

Unclear on the concept

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam argues that his “hands are tied” by “federal food laws” and that fresh, “all-natural” milk with the cream skimmed off the top cannot be sold in Florida as “milk” (or “skim milk”) but must be labeled “imitation milk” —unless the “all-natural” milk adds (artificial) vitamin A to the product. A family farm in the panhandle (Ocheesee Creamery) decided to challenge the law, and Putnam, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, said he would try to resolve the issue soon.

Inexplicable

(1) It recently became necessary for Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski to acquire a bigger home in the Los Angeles area because their 33,000 “bunny”- related items (stuffed bunnies, antique bunnies, bunny paintings, bunny dinnerware, etc.) needed more space. (2) The world’s only museum devoted to the “house cat” allows self-guided tours in Sylva, N.C., where curator Harold Sims displays 10,000 artifacts including a genuine petrified cat (with whiskers) pulled from a 16th-century English chimney. (3) Brantford, Ontario, real estate agent Kyle Jansink, speaking for unidentified sellers, said he accepted the challenge of selling the meticulously maintained home “as is” — still packed with the sellers’ clown-related items (dolls, miniatures, porcelain statues, paintings).

Compelling explanations

¦ They’re “therapists,” not “strippers,” argued New York City’s Penthouse Executive Club, creatively characterizing its dancers to avoid $3 million in back taxes, but the state’s appeals board ruled against it in April. Penthouse had insisted that its performers were more akin to counselors for lonely men, and that the club’s “door charge” was an untaxable fee for therapeutic health services.

¦ James Pelletier, 46, was arrested in Hollis, Maine, in May after he fired a BB gun point-blank at his two sons, ages 9 and 11 — but only, he said, as a “rite of passage” into maturity (perhaps thinking the experience would help them become as mature as their father). He said if the kids knew how it felt to get shot, perhaps they would not be so quick to fire their own guns.

The continuing crisis

You mean Jethro and Abby, too? In contrast to the exciting work of the TV series (near the top of broadcast ratings for the last decade), real agents in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have labored over computer screens eight to 10 hours a day for two months now employing their facial-recognition software — just to scour websites to identify victims of nude-photo postings of military personnel that came to light earlier this year. “(Y)ou get pretty burned out,” said the NCIS director. A simple word search of “uniformed military nude” got nearly 80 million hits, according to a May Associated Press dispatch from the Quantico Marine base, where the 20 investigators labor side-by-side.

Military allies in odd places

(1) In April, three days after ISIS fighters reportedly executed 25 villagers about 50 miles south of Kirkuk, Iraq, the three murderers were themselves killed (and eight more wounded) when a pack of wild boars overran their position and gnawed them into martyrdom. (2) In April, a Russian naval reconnaissance ship sank in the Black Sea off of Turkey (likely op: Syria-related) when it collided with a livestock barge flying the flag of Togo. All aboard the Russian ship were rescued; the much-heavier Togolese vessel suffered barely a scratch.

Oops

¦ In May, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley apparently mindlessly signed the proclamation designating a special day for the late Tre Hummons (submitted by his grieving father, to honor the son’s “sacrifice”). Tre Hummons was killed in 2015 by a police officer — but only after Tre had just shot and killed another Cincinnati police officer.

¦ Winneshiek County (Iowa) Engineer

Lee Bjerke said he had no idea how the driver of the loaded 18-wheeler had missed the “Load Limit 3 Tons” sign at the entrance of the small, rickety bridge near Cresco in May, but in seconds, the span was wiped out, and the tractor-trailer had become part of the Turkey River. The loaded grain truck weighed more than 30 tons. ¦

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