The Patient Will See You Now
Professional patients now help train would-be doctors, especially in the most delicate and dreaded of exams (gynecological and prostate), where a becalming technique improves outcomes. One “teaching associate” of Eastern Virginia Medical School told The Washington Post in September that the helpers act as “enthusiastic surgical dummies” to 65 medical colleges, guiding rookie fingers through the trainer’s own private parts. The prostate associate might helpfully caution, “No need for speed here,” especially since he will be bending over for as many as nine probings a day. A gynecological teaching associate, mentoring the nervous speculum-wielder, might wittily congratulate pupils on having a front-row sight line the “GTA” will never witness: an up-close view of her own cervix.
Latest Religious Messages
American Sharia: (1) U.S. parents have a right to home-school their kids, but are subject to varying degrees of regulation, with Texas the most lax, and one El Paso family will have a day before the Texas Supreme Court after one of its kids was reported declining to study because education was useless since he was waiting to be “raptured” (as described in the Bible’s Book of Revelation). (2) U.S. courts increasingly allow customers to sign away state and federal rights by agreeing to contracts providing private arbitration for disputes rather than access to courts — even if the contract explicitly requires only religious resolutions rather than secular, constitutional ones. A November New York Times investigation examined contracts ranging from Scientology’s requirement that fraud claims by members be resolved only by Scientologists — to various consumer issues from home repairs to real estate sales limited to dockets of Christian clerics.
Leading Economic Indicators
— First-World Spending: According to estimates released by the National Retail Federation in September, 157 million Americans “planned to celebrate” Halloween, spending a total of $6.9 billion, of which $2.5 billion would be on costumes, including $350 million dressing up family pets.
— At a ceremony in Kabul in November, prominent Afghan developer Khalilullah Frozi signed a $95 million contract to build an 8,800-unit township and was, according to a New York Times dispatch, toasted for his role in the country’s economic rebirth. However, at nightfall, Frozi headed back to prison to resume his 15-year sentence for defrauding Kabul Bank of nearly $1 billion in depositors’ money. Because he remains one of Afghanistan’s elite, arrangements were made for him to work days but spend his nights in prison (in comfortable quarters). Said one Western official, laconically, “(I)f you have stolen enough money, you can get away with it.”
Before the terrorist murders gripped Paris, President Francois Hollande and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani had been trying to arrange a formal dinner during Rouhani’s planned visit to the city to celebrate the two countries’ role in the recent accord limiting Iran’s nuclear development. France’s RTL radio news reported that “dinner” is apparently more vexing than “nuclear weaponry” — as Rouhani demanded an alcohol-free meal, which was nixed by Hollande, who insisted that the French never dine without wine.
— Skeptics feared it was just a matter of time, anyway, until the “political correctness” movement turned its attention to dignity for thieves. San Francisco’s SFGate.com reported in November on a discussion in an upscale neighborhood about whether someone committing petty, nonviolent theft should be referred to by the “offensive” term “criminal” (rather than as, for example, “the person who stole my bicycle,” since “criminal” implies a harsher level of evil and fails to acknowledge factors that might have caused momentary desperation by a person in severe need).
— Reginald Gildersleeve, 55 and free on bond with an extensive rap sheet, was waving a gun as he threatened a clerk and tried to rob a store in Chicago on Halloween night — until a customer (licensed to carry) drew his own gun and, with multiple shots, killed Gildersleeve. Closer inspection revealed Gildersleeve’s weapon to be merely a paintball gun, leading the deceased man’s stepson to complain later that “Some people (the licensed shooter) don’t actually know how to use guns. They go to firing ranges, but it’s not the same … as a bullet going into flesh. … Someone’s got to answer for that.”
Least Competent Criminals
Nicholas Allegretto, 23, was convicted of shoplifting in Cambridge, England, in October (in absentia, because he is still at large). The prosecutor knows Allegretto is his man because, shortly after the February theft, police released a surveillance photo of Allegretto leaving the store with the unpaid-for item, and Allegretto had come to a police station to complain that the suddenly public picture made him look guilty. In fact, he claimed, he intended to pay for the item but had gotten distracted (and besides, he added, his body language often looks somewhat “dodgy,” anyway).
A News of the Weird Classic (January 2011)
Name in the News: Sought as a suspect in a convenience store killing in Largo, Florida, in December (2010) (and an example of the highly revealing “Three First Names” theory of criminal liability), Mr. Larry Joe Jerry — who actually has four first names: Larry Joe Jerry Jr. (He was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 42 years in prison.)