NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Dec 20 • FEATURE BOTTOM, News, NEWS & VIEWSNo Comments on NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Suspicions Confirmed

Evolution, according to scientists, likely explains why some “prey” develop defense mechanisms to avoid “predators,” i.e., the prey who fail to develop them are unable to procreate (because they’re dead), but a team of scientists from Sweden and Australia recently concluded that something similar happens in a species of fish in which males mate basically by huge-appendaged rape. Growing nine generations of the species in the lab, the researchers concluded that the females who can avoid the “rapist” evolve larger brains than those who fall victim. (Researchers, loosely speaking, thus concluded that as males grow bigger penises, females grow bigger brains to outsmart them.)

Recurring Themes

Whistleblower goes to jail; responsible industry executives make millions. Long-time Mississippi environmental activist Tennie White is 27 months into a 40-month sentence (for “falsifying” three $150 tests in her laboratory), but high-ranking executives at the Kerr-McGee chemical conglomerate made millions on the case White helped expose: leakage of cancer-causing creosote into communities, including White’s Columbus, Mississippi, neighborhood. A detailed investigation by TheIntercept.com in November noted the executives’ brilliant response to the 25,000 creosote lawsuits nationwide: put all the liability into one outlying company (eventually going bankrupt) but selling off, highly profitably, the rest of the firm.

Compelling Explanations

Texas is among the most enthusiastic states for jailing low-income arrestees who cannot pay a money bail, especially during devastating family hardships, and the four Houston bail magistrates are particularly harsh, according to a recent report of the Texas Organizing Project. After hearing one financially overwhelmed woman beg sarcastically that $1,000 bail is “nothing” next to her other bills, unsympathetic magistrate Joe Licata shrugged, “It’s nothing to me, either. It’s job security.”

Pervert — Or Not

(1) When police in Port Orange, Florida, arrested Anthony Coiro, 76, in November, he admitted that he had a stash of “crazy” pornography, some featuring children. However, he adamantly insisted, “I’m not a pedophile. I’m just a pervert,” adding, “a law-abiding pervert.” He faces 52 counts. (2) In November in Osaka, Japan, an unnamed arrestee apparently had his sexual molestation charge (against a woman on a crowded train) dramatically downgraded. “Actually,” the man indignantly told the judge, he is not a pervert — but just a pickpocket (a lesser crime). The victim had testified that the man had brushed against her for “3 seconds” and not the “30” she originally told police.

Weird Quantities Recently in the News

(1) Price tag for one round of a 155mm projectile shot from the Navy’s USS Zumwalt: $800,000. (2) Trees killed in California by the now-5-year-old drought: 102,000,000. (3) Recent finding of “water” farthest from the Earth’s surface: 621 miles down (one-third of the way to the Earth’s “core”). (4) Odds that Statistics Lecturer Nicholas Kapoor (Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut) said he played against in buying a $15 Powerball ticket: 1 in 913,129 (but he won $100,000!). (5) Speed police calculated Hector Faire, 19, reaching in an Oklahoma police chase: 208 mph (but they got him, anyway). (6) Different languages spoken by children in Buffalo, New York, public classrooms: 85.

Perspective

“Sexually-based offenses,” a TV show intones, are “particularly heinous,” but to the small Delaware liberal arts Wesley College (according to the U.S. Department of Education) even an accusation of sexual misconduct is so heinous that there was no need even to interview the alleged wrongdoer before expelling him. (An informal meeting did occur, but only after the investigation was completed.) The expulsion occurred even though the victim herself had not originally accused that particular student. The expelled student’s offense was to have helped set up video for a consensual sex encounter that was (without consent) live-streamed. (The Department of Education accepted a settlement in which Wesley agreed to revamp its code of student rights.)

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