You cannot be serious 

Not My Fault

(1) Amy Mueller filed a lawsuit recently against Samy’s Bar and Grill in Joliet, Ill., after she willingly tried to climb onto the bar to dance in May 2006 but fell and broke her ankle. Samy’s should have had a “ladder” or other climbing aid, said Mueller’s lawyer. (2) Jeromy Jackson and his family filed a $10 million lawsuit in Morgantown, W.Va., in August against McDonald’s because there was cheese on his Quarter-Pounder, which triggered a severe allergic reaction that required hospital treatment. Jackson’s lawyer said the family’s order was painstakingly clear that the burger should be cheeseless, but apparently, after being served, Jackson failed to lift the bun to check.

Compelling Explanations

(1) Cheveon Ford, 21, was arrested in Pensacola, Fla., in July and charged with making false 911 calls; according to authorities, Ford’s only explanation was that he had no more minutes on his phone and knew that 911 calls were free. (2) In Rochester, N.Y., in June, Eric Kennedy, 38, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for molesting an underage girl over a three-year period, which he partly attributed to his poor eyesight, in that at times he might have mistaken the girl for her mother, with whom he was living.


Florida state Rep. Bob Allen was a co-sponsor earlier in 2007 of legislation to increase the penalty for “public lewdness and indecent exposure,” such as trolling for sex partners in public restrooms (upping the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony). The bill did not pass, which was lucky for Rep. Allen, who was arrested in July in a men’s room in Titusville when undercover officers said he entered and exited three times in the space of a few minutes, peered over a restroom stall and offered oral sex for $20.

After a 25-year-old woman was accused of murdering her father and sister (and wounding her mother) in July in Sydney, Australia, authorities revealed that she had been diagnosed with a psychotic illness in 2006. However, she had been discouraged from seeking psychiatric treatment by her parents because they are Scientologists, who by doctrine reject psychiatry and psychotropic-drug treatment.

Great Moments in Anger Management: Raul Ponce Jr., 20, was arrested in San Diego in April and charged with killing his teenage girlfriend by stabbing her 122 times; he was arrested later that day at his anger-management class. And Rev. Robert Nichols, who for several years had been teaching anger-management classes for accused criminals in Gary, Ind., was arrested in July and charged with beating his wife.

Grrlzz With Attitude

(1) A 12-year-old girl was sentenced in Perth, Australia, in July to two months’ detention for stealing a car and leading police on a harrowing high-speed chase. According to court records, she has already been convicted of more than 60 crimes. (2) A 7-year-old named Alisha told reporters in Reidsville, N.C., in August that she was just being a good daughter when she challenged the man who tried to rob her mom (a convenience store clerk). “I was pushing on him and telling him to ‘back away, back away, man.’” (Her aggressiveness foiled the robbery, but the man got away. Said Alisha, “He should be locked up by his gills and towed to the police.”)

The Benefits of Eye Damage

An estimated 50 followers of Hira Ratan Manek live in the Atlanta area, according to an August Journal-Constitution report, and regularly follow his teaching to stare directly into the sun, supposedly for energy and clarity of thought. Ophthalmologists consulted by the newspaper expressed alarm, even though Manek advises to start at 10 seconds’ time and gradually increase (to 45 minutes!) and to stare only when the sun is near the horizon.

Fine Points of the Law

(1) In July, a federal appeals court ruled that no one could challenge President Bush’s order permitting warrantless eavesdropping on phone calls into and out of the United States, unless it was a person actually eavesdropped on. However, according to law professors cited by the Los Angeles Times, anyone who could prove that would be barred under other national security laws from revealing that fact in public. (2) Pamir Safi will soon be retried in Lincoln, Neb., accused of raping a woman in 2004 (after a hung jury in the first trial), but this time, Judge Jeffre Cheuvront has prohibited prosecutors from using the terms “rape” or “sexual assault” in front of the jury because they might prejudice Safi, who claims the sex was consensual. The alleged victim said she feels humiliated to refer to the incident as mere “sex.”

People Different From Us

The Orient Industry Co. of Tokyo each month turns out 80 life-size, anatomically correct and finely detailed “love dolls” that retail for the equivalent of $850 to $5,500 each, for men who would rather hang out with toys than women, according to a July Reuters dispatch. The more expensive models are admirably life-like, made of silicon and with 35 movable joints. Reuters found one customer, Mr. “Ta-Bo,” who owns at least two dozen of them (each with a name), even though he claims to be seeing five real women on the side. “Sex with human girls was better,” he said, “but I hate the process of dating.”

In July, a tractor-trailer overturned on Walker Road in Norridgewock, Maine, and its contents of nitrogen-concentrated chicken manure spilled onto rusted cars and the rest of the property of junk dealer Richard White. Days later, “There’s stuff still 20 feet up the tree,” he said. “It was like a tsunami wave of hot chicken (manure),” he told the Waterville Morning Sentinel. White grumbled that the truck company was slow on the cleanup, probably, he said, because his property is largely junk. “They think I’m a hick and don’t matter. But my life didn’t smell like this before.” And “I hate flies.”

Recurring Themes

Another prominent company of very large dancers is flourishing (this one in Cuba), performing with remarkable grace the forms of classical ballet, and even popular steps, despite sometimes thundering across the stage, “convey(ing) an excitement akin to a stampede,” according to a July New York Times dispatch from Havana. Like others (such as Henri Oguike’s Big Ballet in the U.K.), Danza Voluminosa is home to talented ballerinas who happen to be much too hefty (several around 300 pounds) for traditional troupes. Danza capitalizes on its bulk by offering storylines on gluttony, fat prejudice and the psychological problems of obesity.

Recent Alarming Headlines

(1) “(British National Health Service) Dentists Turn Away Patients With Bad Teeth” (a May report in London’s Daily Telegraph) (compensation is sufficient only for routine treatments). (2) “Indian Lawyers Tie Man to Tree, Beat Him” (a May Reuters report from Lucknow, India) (the man had declined to marry one lawyer’s niece). (3) “Principal Admits Throwing Excrement (at a kid)” (an April story in the Toronto Star) (said suspended principal Maria Pantalone, “I couldn’t take it anymore”).


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Chuck Shepherd

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