Police in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture raided a shoe manufacturer in July and commandeered a list of about 1,500 purchasers of the company’s signature “tosatsu shoes” — shoes with built-in cameras. Investigators have begun visiting the purchasers at home to ask that they hand in the shoes (but, out of fairness, said they would not cause trouble for customers who could produce a legitimate reason for needing to take photographs and video by pointing their shoe at something). The seller was charged with “aiding voyeurism” and fined the equivalent of about $4,500 under a nuisance-prevention law.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Doris Carvalho of Tampa, Florida, is raising venture capital to expand her hobby of crafting high-end handbags from groomed, recycled dog hair (two pounds’ worth for each bag). With investors, she could lower her costs and the $1,000 price tag, since it now takes 50 hours’ labor to make the yarn for her haute couture accessory.
Among the suggestions of the Brisbane, Australia, company Pets Eternal for honoring a deceased pet (made to a reporter in September): keeping a whisker or tooth or lock of hair, or having the remains made into jewelry or mixed with ink to make a tattoo. Overlooked was a new project by the Houston space-flight company Celestis, known for blasting human ashes into orbit (most famously those of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry). Celestis, working with a California company, will soon offer to shoot pets’ remains into orbit ($995) or perhaps even to the moon ($12,000).
The Continuing Crisis
Ontario’s top court rejected Bryan Teskey’s complaint in August over how Roman Catholics continue to be discriminated against by the laws of British royal succession. Even though Ontario (along with many Commonwealth countries) recently removed some aspects of bias (ending the ban on the royal family’s marrying Catholics), Teskey pointed out that Canadian Catholics still do not have a fair shot at becoming king or queen (although Teskey did not claim that he, personally, had been a candidate).
Names in the News: (1) One of the three suspects in an August arrest for making fraudulent purchases at a Jupiter, Florida, shop: Ms. Cherries Waffles Tennis, 19. (2) The president of the Alabama Public Service Commission (who invoked prayer in July as the most effective way to fight federal restrictions on coal-fired power plants): Ms. Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. (3) The investigator for the Ohio state auditor’s office who was ordered by his supervisor in July to end a romantic relationship with another government official: Jim Longerbone.
Venezuela, already in a recession, suffered a particularly cruel blow (according to a September Associated Press dispatch from Caracas) with the recent shortage in availability of breast implants for its beauty-obsessed senoritas. Restrictive currency controls are limiting enhancement surgeries from the 85,000 performed last year and, according to a local joke, will force Venezuelan women to start developing their personalities. (However, according to leading surgeon Dr. Daniel Slobodianik, when potential patients are told their preferred size implant is back-ordered, many merely choose the next-largest available size.)
But It’s About “Safety,” Not “Money”: On the same day in September, Washington, D.C., and New York City made traffic-camera announcements, with Washington declaring a revenue crisis and New York revealing that just one speed camera in Brooklyn had earned the city $77,550 in a single day. The District of Columbia had projected $93 million in annual camera income, but estimated it would collect only $26 million, while New York City, which has many fewer cameras, was marveling at the 1,551 tickets the Brooklyn camera zapped on July 7.
(1) Staci Anne Spence, 42, was hauled to jail for assault in Sandpoint, Idaho, in September, but when the squad car arrived at the station, officers learned that during the ride, she had completely gnawed through the back seat — foam padding and seat cover. (2) A 38-year-old man was taken, unconscious, to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, in August. After allegedly choking his mother-in-law and refusing to cooperate with police, who used a stun gun and chemical spray on him to no effect, he dramatically KO’d himself with an empty beer bottle.
Leonard Decides Whether You Can Be Nervous or Not: Leonard Embody marched up and down a sidewalk in September in front of Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee, in military clothing and with a rifle on his back and a GoPro camcorder attached to his chest — just his latest street demonstration supporting Tennessee’s “open carry” gun law. According to a WSMV-TV report, this episode made even some supporters edgy because of the school setting, but Embody failed to see the problem. “Other people may think I look terrifying,” he acknowledged, but he doesn’t think he does, and if you disagree, he suggests psychological counseling. (Tennessee bans guns on school property, but a few inches away, on the sidewalk, Embody has decided that there is no problem.)
Least Competent Criminals
Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Police in West Valley City, Utah, searched for an exceptionally unintimidating man in August after reports that the man tried to rob a Subway sandwich shop and a Family Dollar. In each episode, an employee told the man to wait while the employee went to a back room, but then simply failed to return, leading the “robber,” eventually, to walk away empty-handed. (2) In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in August, Kevin Clarence, 20, was arrested for an inept attempt to rob a supermarket. He entered the store, and only then, according to witnesses, put a plastic garbage bag over his head and decided to wait in line for his opportunity to address a cashier. He quickly got tired of waiting and said, “I’ll be back,” but was caught by police minutes after leaving the store.
In 1993, News of the Weird introduced readers to Kopi Luwak coffee — whose beans had first passed through the digestive tracts of Asian civet cats (to give them, supposedly, a certain tartness, as well as a certain hipster price tag). Canadian entrepreneur Blake Dinkin, 44, believes his Black Ivory Coffee tastes even better because his pre-digested beans are recovered from elephant dung in Thailand — and are less bitter, in that the pachyderms, unlike civets, are herbivores. Dung-farming labor in Thailand may be inexpensive, but it takes 33 pounds of Arabica beans to achieve the precise blend Dinkin demands, and he told NPR in August that he anticipated sales only to upscale resorts in the Middle East (and to one elephant-themed store in Comfort, Texas).
A News of the Weird Classic (October 2010)
Donald Denney and his father (also named Donald Denney) concocted a plan on the telephone for Dad to smuggle a ball of black-tar heroin into the son’s Colorado prison during visiting hours, to be passed by mouth via kiss from a female visitor. However, Dad failed to find a woman with a clean-enough rap sheet to be admitted as a visitor. Still enamored of the plan, however, the father decided to be the carrier himself, and inserted the “package” into his rectum for later transferral to his mouth (though the eventual messy kiss of the son would be awkward). Neither Denney realized, despite audio warnings, that all phone calls were monitored, and in September (2010), prison officials were waiting for the father, with a body-cavity search warrant, as he arrived.