July 29, 2008

News of the Day: July 29

Posted in News, Offbeat tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:42 pm by Katharine Lackey

  • An Israeli student has apologized for taking Obama’s prayer, which was published in a paper, Religous News Service reports. I updated my previous blog on the subject earlier.
  • Olympic horses are being treated like rock-stars aboard their flight to Beijing, the New York Times reports. “The horses fly with an entourage — team grooms, veterinarians and at least one ‘flying groom,’ an equine flight attendant whose job is to make the horse as comfortable as possible,” Times reports
  • Officials at an animal shelter in Camden County, NJ, were surprised to receive a 44-pound cat who appears to have escaped from its house, the Courier-Post reports. Nicknamed Princess Chunk, it is unclear how the cat escaped its rightful owner, “She’s built like a quarterback,” said one shelter volunteer. “I mean, how do you lose a 44-pound cat?!”
  • A British family has fulfilled its quest of visiting all 50 states (plus D.C.) in the U.S., the Hattiesburg American reports. “People in America don’t realize what history they do have,” the wife and mother says. Yes, because our history only dates back 300 years, whereas England’s goes back many more centuries.
  • A New Zealand inventor has created a jetpack that he plans to market next year at $100,000 a piece, the New York Times reports. “There is nothing that even comes close to the dream that the jetpack allows you to achieve,” one man says.
  • Two groups in St. Louis are holding prayers at gasoline pumps to ask God for lower prices, The News & Observer reports. The group thinks their prayers are being answered as gas prices have lowered in the past two weeks. What happens when they go back up again?
  • A phony Joker was arrested in Michigan after he attempted to steal items related to “The Dark Knight” movie from a local theater in Three Rivers, the Detroit Free Press reports. “…police officers who were dispatched early Sunday to the Three Rivers 6 theater arrived to find employees restraining a man wearing a purple suit, a green wig and face paint in the style of Batman’s nemesis in ‘The Dark Knight.'”
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July 28, 2008

Knights v. Rabbit: Round Two

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , , at 9:47 pm by Katharine Lackey

Apparently the UK is facing an invasion of rabbits — leading the Army to take on the new enemy after the fuzzy little creatures began destroying the remains of ancient buildings under a military training site.

The Roman and Bronze Age artifacts underneath the site have been under attack for ages.

At least this species of rabbit aren’t the spawn of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

“Runaway!”

Sorry, I can’t resist a Monty Python reference.

July 25, 2008

The UFO Question

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , , at 5:20 pm by Katharine Lackey

Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 14 flight, revealed this week that he not only believes in aliens, but he has been privy to government cover ups for the past 60 years revealing that the extraterrestrials have visited our humble planet, The Lede says.

During an interview with a British radio show, Mitchell said he was “privileged enough to be in on the fact that we’ve been visited on this planet and the U.F.O. phenomena is real.”

There was more: Mitchell said he had intelligence “that we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real – though it’s been covered up by governments for the last 60 years or so”.

While we’ve grown used to the theorist sprouting conspiracies of government cover ups and “actual” photos for years, Mitchell would appear to be a more credible source, although The Guardian does raise questions about that.

There was his claim to the culture magazine Cabinet a few years ago that he had conducted unofficial experiments in extrasensory perception during the Apollo 14 mission, trying to make contact via telepathy with collaborators back on Earth. (The experiment failed, but let’s not dwell on that.)

More recently, the ex-astronaut apparently stated that he had been healed from afar of kidney cancer, the Guardian says.

Personally, I’ve always been on a fence with the whole ET thing… I believe that the universe is too big for there not to be another life-form out there, but I’m don’t think we’ve been visited or abducted.

As the main character in Contact says, “If it were just us, it’d be an awful waste of space.”

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Bad Names

Posted in Offbeat tagged at 3:23 pm by Katharine Lackey

Parents can be so cruel.

In New Zealand, a girl was taken into the court’s protection until her name could be changed, the New Zealand Herald reports.

New Zealand children have been given names such as Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and Benson and Hedges(twins). The girls name, “Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii” could be changed after she went before a court to tell of her embarrassment.

I understand you want your child’s name to be unique — but come on.

Talula’s name is just one in a string of bad names in the country. Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and Benson and Hedges(twins), were named all approved by registration officials, while Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit, have been blocked by registration officials. (I wonder if the Bus Shelter name is in reference to where the child was conceived?)

And I thought some of Hollywood’s children names were bad — Apple, Indiana August, Fifi-Trixiebelle to name only a few.

To the parents of these children: Really? I mean, seriously. You want your child to be embarrassed and bullied? I guess celebrities can afford the psychological treatment the child will need when grown up, but still.

Silver lining: At least their last names aren’t Hell.

First Amendment and License Plates

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , at 12:19 am by Katharine Lackey

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment of the Constitution maintains the most fundamental principles held dearly in this country. And yet, it contains, within itself, a sort of contradiction. What do you do when the separation of church and state and the freedom of religious practice go against each other?

The legislature in South Carolina passed a bill that approved a Christian license plate design, which has a cross and the words ‘I believe.’ The governor hasn’t signed the bill into law just yet, but if he did, South Carolina would become the first state to offer a religious-themed plate.

This is causing quite a stir with talk of challenges from the ACLU and the American Jewish Congress.

‘’The whole issue here is that people are trying to get the state to endorse their religion, and that’s wrong,’’ Dr. T. Jeremey Gunn, director of the A.C.L.U. Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, told The Times in June.

While license plates are protected by freedom of speech, they are also regulated in states to avoid profanities. However, even those laws aren’t clear cut with a number of plates without obscenities being disapproved. Vermont, at least, does not allow religious sentiments of any kind on its plates and disapproved a plate that reference a passage in the Bible.

I’m not sure about this one, myself. If South Carolina were to create a number of plates representing different and varying religions, then perhaps it woudl be okay as it wouldn’t seem that they were supporting one religion over another.

Even then, though, the law says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (the Supreme Court ruled this can apply to states).

July 22, 2008

China using Spider-Man like tactics

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , , at 12:08 am by Katharine Lackey

Police on Segways … shooting… webs?

Yup, you read that right. China is mobilizing anti-terrorism forces to protect the city during the Olympics, fully equipped with SWAT teams on Segways shooting Spider-Man like nets, USA Today reports.

The Spider-Man like devices are actually guns that shoot a nylon net that ensnares suspects.

Concerns have also been raised as to whether police could fall of the Segways as a result of the recoil of the gun, although the Segway apparently has a stabilizing mechanism that takes care of this.

Other security systems are also in place including a reward of $73,000 for anyone who warns police of a major terrorist threat.

Police at roadblocks now inspect all Beijing-bound vehicles on every route into the Chinese capital. Subway riders within the city undergo baggage checks.

Vice President Xi Jinping told a “mobilization” rally held off Tiananmen Square last week that “a safe Olympics is the most significant symbol of a successful Olympics in Beijing and also the most important symbol to display the national image of China.”

Another extra security system: surface-to-air missiles around the major Olympics venue.

Photo and graphic from USA Today.

July 15, 2008

And you thought your day was crappy

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , , at 10:36 pm by Katharine Lackey

In what has to be the funniest story I’ve read in quite some time, Penn State’s student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, reports, “One crappy day: Local man irked by toilet explosion.”(Being a college newspaper, The Daily Collegian is able to use words other newspapers would cringe at throughout the story, making the article all the more entertaining.)

The story gets my attention from the start because of its double-meaning headline “crappy” — love it.

The lead is also first-rate, again not something you would ever find in a professional paper.

John O’Brien began his day yesterday with his pants around his ankles, scrambling for cover as a fountain of sewer water and waste erupted into his bathroom.

“I was doing my business, sitting on my toilet, and the toilet blew sewer water into my butt,” he said.

The State College resident started his day the way he always does. He woke up, drank a cup of coffee, grabbed a book and relaxed on his porcelain throne — “The toilet is where a man does his best thinking,” O’Brien said.

So the toilet explodes and O’Brien goes running for the shower, only to find feces is also spewing from its orifices.

The man even remarks that there was no way he could have been behind the spill.

The floor and toilet was covered in much more fecal matter than he could have created on his own, and five to 10 gallons of water, he said.

“The poo was more than I would produce,” he said.

Apparently, this man is also a father and is glad it was him on the toilet instead of his daughters.

“They have open areas that can get infected easily. I would never want this to happen to my girls,” he said.

And, finally, the last remarkable quote in the article:

O’Brien said the eruption reminded him of a French bidet, a plumbing fixture meant to replace toilet paper that shoots water at its users.

“I don’t think they meant for that though,” he said.

July 12, 2008

Trading names for gas money

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , , at 11:50 pm by Katharine Lackey

What would you do in exchange for a $100 gas gift card?

Well if you’re David Partin, you would allow three radio shows hosts to name your unborn child Dixon Willoughby Partin.

“If nothing else, he’s going to have a damn good story behind his name and it will give him something to talk about,” Partin, 26, said of his future son, due Dec. 28.

Not to mention — scar him for life. Your son’s 8th grade class will no doubt shorten his name to “Dix” and giggle in the way that only 8th graders entering puberty can.

Congratulations sir, you just sold the name of your son for a measly $100. We all are hurting by high gas prices, but please — this goes a little too far and is another example of ‘only in America’

Iran: Photoshop Suckiness

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , at 10:25 pm by Katharine Lackey

Many of you have heard about Iran’s photoshop fiasco. It seems that in order to cover up a mis-fired missile, Iran photoshopped a fourth missile into a photo taken during its launch test, which is proclaimed successful.

Since the photoshop mishap was announced, others have doctored Iran’s missiles even more. Take a look here.

My favorite is the take on AT&T’s ‘More bars in more places’

July 10, 2008

Giving new meaning to the phrase “Bite me”

Posted in Offbeat tagged , at 9:52 pm by Katharine Lackey

A dispute over who was next in line at a meat market in Tampa on Monday turned violent, leading to the loss of a woman’s fingertip, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Jacqueline Wimbush, 39, was next in line at the Aliana Meat Market (which fills orders for oxtails, beef hearts, cow heads, salted pig tails, hog jaw and burnt cow skin) when Pamela Bumpers, 33, tried to cut in front of her. Unsuccessful, Bumpers got angry and pushed Wimbush, leading to an all out brawl between the two women. At one point, Wimbush reached toward Bumpers face, when she heard a disturbing crunch. A second later, she noticed her fingertip on the floor.

Amazingly enough, this wasn’t Wimbush’s first brush with losing a finger. Twelve years ago, the woman was in a brawl that resulted in the severing of her middle finger, which was salvaged. This time, however, Wimbush wasn’t so lucky as her left hand ringer finger could not be reattached and doctors had to remove some bone.

But the story doesn’t even end there.

“She’s been in some fights,” writes the Times. “Some” being the operative word — Wimbush has an impressive record with 30 arrests and prison time for robbery and grand theft. Bumpers, too, has a record with a prior guilty plea for aggravated battery.

Now, Wimbush, who works at a day care center and has children of her own, wonders if any man will want to put a ring on her finger, she tells the Times, “I don’t know who’s going to put a ring on a nub.”