News of the Weird September 24 2008
LEAD STORY: The Other "Fight Clubs" Are for Sissies: At the August Dog Brothers "Gathering of the Pack" in Southern California, it was "Anything goes," according to one warrior (looking to fight with "blunted knives"). A Reuters reporter witnessed two men without padding beat each other with heavy sticks and two others fight with electrically charged knives. The latter duel ended when, during a wrestling hold, one slipped a hand free and planted a 1,000-volt surge. The action seems exhilarating. Said one, "I've never felt better than when I'm doing this." Another: "Honestly, I wish I could find a church with the same spirit of support and love as I feel here." Said "Crafty Dog" Denny, it's "higher consciousness through harder contact."
Government in Action: Florida's nation-leading epidemic of mortgage fraud was facilitated by state regulators who permitted 2,200 people with finance-crime records to become professional "loan originators," part of the total of 10,000 with rap sheets allowed to work in the industry over an eight-year period, according to a July investigation by the Miami Herald. At least 20 registered brokers kept their licenses after fraud convictions. A 2006 state law required criminal background checks for broker licensing, but fewer than half were ever done, reported the Herald. And the crisis continues, according to a Virginia research firm, which found in August that almost one-fourth of new mortgage fraud in the United States emanates from Florida (mostly on scams exploiting people who face foreclosure).
A cautionary note about "early voting" was registered in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, Texas, in May, when Mayor Becky Miller built a nine-point lead in early balloting before a Dallas Morning News report on fanciful parts of her biography caused election-day voters to cast her out. In her campaign, she had emotionally referred to a brother killed in the Vietnam War, but her father said her only brother is still alive and was never in the military (which Miller "explained" by alleging that her dad has Alzheimer's). She later gave a name for her brother, but the Morning News found that that soldier, unlike Miller, is black. Miller also claimed to be a backup singer for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne (and once engaged to the Eagles' Don Henley), but spokesmen for each said they never heard of her (which she "explained" by saying she was earlier known as "Pinky").
Two Cheers for Democracy: 1) Angela Tuttle was elected constable in Hancock County, Tenn., in August, simply because she showed up and voted. There were no candidates on the ballot, and thus her own write-in vote for herself carried the election, 1-0. 2) After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's party retained control in India in the July elections, supporter (and Assam state legislator) Kishor Samrite decided to give traditional Hindu thanks for the victory. He sacrificed 200 goats and four buffaloes at a temple in Gauhati.
Police Blotter: Paul Baldwin, 48, was ordered held on $10,000 bail in Portsmouth, N.H., in May after his arrest for stealing a can of beer, which seems expensive except that it was Baldwin's 152nd arrest. When a judge asked if he wanted a lawyer appointed for him, Baldwin said, "I don't need a lawyer. I've been in this court more than you have."
Crimes From All Over: 1) A gentle armed robber was being sought in July in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; he took $25 from a man at gunpoint, but then hugged him before he left. 2) Arrested in Tampa in the span of 23 hours on July 1 and July 2: Mr. Telly Savalas Cheatam (grand theft auto) and Mr. Telly Savalas Wimbley (trespassing).
Unclear on the Concept: 1) In July, St. Mary's Airport on the Isles of Scilly (off the southwest coast of England) posted a vacancy announcement for air traffic controller that added, helpfully, that applications were available in alternative languages, "in larger text or Braille." 2) Police were called to a home in Wichita, Kan., in June after two young men had been arguing over which was more deserving of the street name C-Thug. The fight ended when a woman old enough to be their mother came along and stabbed one of the "thugs."
Illinois requires all state employees to pass an annual 10-question, multiple-choice "ethics" test (whose format lends itself to simplistic answers that, for instance, most college students might handle easily). In January, state ethics officials declined to accept the passing grades of 65 Southern Illinois University professors because they finished "too quickly." Asserted a reviewing state official, anyone who failed to spend at least 10 minutes on the test was being unreasonable.
Creme de la Weird: Charlie Van Wilkes Jr., 31, was arrested in Danielsville, Ga., in August and charged with possession of drugs and burglary tools. The arrest report noted that Wilkes had a "large lump in the front of his blue jeans, with wires running from inside his pants and hanging down dragging the ground" as he walked. Wilkes explained that he was wearing a "homemade vibrator," hooked to a battery. Wrote the officer, "A small motor had been removed from an item and placed inside a pill bottle, and then wrapped in a piece of pipe insulation before being placed inside Wilkes' pants for a pleasurable sensation."
Least Competent Criminals: Oblivious: 1) In August in Billings, Mont., federal officers recognized Wyoming fugitive Sterling Wolfname, 26, on the street, but the man tried to give a different name, even though "Wolfname" was tattooed on the side of his head. 2) Fugitive Willie Vickers, 46, was arrested in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in July on old burglary warrants after he volunteered to help a woman and a police officer get into her locked car. Vickers said he had lots of experience with locked cars, seemingly oblivious of tipping the officer to run his name through the computer.
© 2008 CHUCK SHEPHERD