News of the Weird

But Isn’t That Their Skill Set?

In November, lawyer Michael Petersen of Appleton, Wisconsin, was ordered by county judge Philip Kirk (in a sentence for contempt of court) to inform every client he acquires in the following 12 months that Petersen is a “crook,” “cheat,” “thief” and “liar.” Kirk concluded that Peterson had lied about a plea deal with the prosecutor and created phony documents for backup, leading a client to plead guilty to armed robbery when the prosecutor said there was never such a deal. According to the Appleton Post Crescent, Kirk (after dressing down Petersen in colorful language) told him, “I want you to have as much business as a pimp in a nursing home.”


Can’t Possibly Be True

Pastor Thom Miller, 60 (of the United Christian Ministries International in Mansfield, Ohio), told an international news crew recently that he had “married” his 19-year-old pregnant girlfriend (Reba Kerfoot), but that some in his congregation disapprove—because Miller is already married (though his incumbent wife, Belinda, 44, apparently does approve). Said Belinda, “Thom is the love of my life and Reba is the blessing of my life, so it all works.” Said Miller, “Sexually I have no preference and look forward to my time alone with both wives.” (Bonuses: (1) Miller was an enforcer for organized crime in Cleveland until he “found God” in prison. (2) He is annoyed that Ohio recognizes same-sex marriage but not polygamy. (3) The local Mansfield News Journal was apparently scooped on the story but is now catching up.)

Mexican artist Renato Garza Cervera’s work usually involves realistic-looking figures created to startle (e.g., a “piggy bank” as a scowling hog of a man down on all fours), but his recent “gang member” floor rugs seem a career peak. Rejecting bear rugs and lion rugs, Cervera’s “Of Genuine Contemporary Beast” project features exquisitely constructed, life-size, snarling, naked, heavily tattooed men’s bodies (as if skinned) as rugs, representing “modern” beasts—Salvadorean gang members. Actually, Cervera told he intended sympathy: “Societies always invent new beasts in order to make others responsible for their problems.”

Las Vegas police continue to investigate Kimberly Knight after a video surfaced on her fetish pornography website purporting to be of a medical doctor performing a breast-enlargement procedure and then immediately having sex with the patient. KTNV-TV has questioned Knight on the authenticity of the claims, and she seemed to back off slightly, describing the surgeon as a “medical student,” then characterizing the whole thing as a “mistake.” As of early December, Knight had not been charged with a crime.


The Finer Points of the Law

Justice! In September, federal judge Cathy Seibel ordered the town of Liberty, New York (100 miles from New York City), to stand trial for failure to teach police and prosecutors proper free-speech law—thus giving plaintiff Willian Barboza revenge for his arrest for writing a “crude” message on the speeding ticket he paid three years ago. Seibel ruled that Barboza’s phrase (urging intercourse upon the manure-like town) posed no “imminent” threat and, besides, was obviously just a complaint about government services. Seibel also raised the possibility that money damages will come from the prosecutor’s own pocket.

Dr. Bilgin Ciftci was fired in October from Turkey’s Public Health Institution and later charged with violating one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s favorite laws—against “insulting” the president (which carries a maximum four-year prison term)—because Ciftci had joined a Turkish Facebook thread that was denouncing Erdogan with facial images comparing him to the Lord of the Rings character Gollum. The judge, admitting his unfamiliarity, appointed a five-person group of experts to advise him whether the Erdogan-Gollum comparison was “insulting.” (The Lord of the Rings film director Peter Jackson immediately protested that the images depict not Gollum but his benign alter ego Smeagol, making the comparison obviously uninsulting.)


The Job of the Researcher

Scientists from Australia’s University of Queensland have developed “swimsuits” to act as diapers for six giant loggerhead turtles as they study their diets by examining their feces. “To our great surprise,” said one researcher, they “worked perfectly.” The suits were easy to put on, comfortable for the sea turtles to wear (according to the researchers, not the turtles), looked great (ditto), and we were “able to collect the entire fecal sample,” he bragged to a London Daily Telegraph reporter in Sydney.

After all, leeches are interesting and thus someone has to study them, and Mark Siddall, curator of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History, is that person. These leeches are easily found, but only in the rear ends of hippopotamuses, he noted, and told in August that if a creature can exploit a niche others cannot, it has a monopoly on food. “The only part on the hippo that’s vascularized enough to get a good blood meal (is) the rectal region.” (Making life worse for these leeches, they lack the strong jaws of other leeches and must instead use a nose-like organ that, writes Wired, it “snakes” into the vascular tissue.)



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