Friday, Oct. 8, 2010

News of the Weird

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Flunked Marketing

In an attempt to raise its academic profile, Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, commissioned an in-state firm to create a direct-mail campaign highlighting the many benefits of a Drake education. The pitch to potential students, which was rolled out in September in brochures and on Drake's website, is called the "Drake Advantage" and is graphically represented—curiously so, for an academic institution—as "D ."

The Fun of Politics


A 1997 election law in Brazil made it illegal to "degrade or ridicule" political candidates or their parties, making the Brazilian election season vastly different than its U.S. counterpart. However, in August, one week after a protest in Rio de Janeiro by Brazilian comedians, the nation’s Supreme Court acquiesced and suspended the law as unconstitutional.

Civilization in Decline


The Overprivileged in Training: According to Mia Lin, 16, of Framingham, Mass., “the first day of school is like a movie premiere.” That's when she and some of her well-off friends get the opportunity to give fellow students the benefit of their informed summer fashion decisions as they jockey for position in the school's social order. Lin told the Boston Globe that her style is "urban" and shoe-oriented. "I have about 90 pairs. I wear whole outfits just to accent my shoes," including black, red and gold Supra Chad Muska Skytops, which give her "a swagger boost," she said. "Every year is an opportunity to redefine your style."

Recurring Themes

Jonne Wegley joined the Army in 2009, but during basic training he wanted out because he was distracted by troubles at home (his brother was severely injured; his girlfriend ended their relationship). Like others facing similar situations in the Army (some of who have been chronicled in News of the Weird), Wegley decided that his escape plan would be to ask a pal to shoot him in the leg, rendering him unfit for duty (but, he hoped, not too badly hurt). The reluctant pal fired one shot, which resulted in severe damage to Wegley's leg and which has so far required 25 surgeries. (Sources cited by the Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus, Ga., near Wegley's post at Fort Benning, said there are easier, legal ways to leave the Army.)

Creative Sentencing

  • Convicted Pennsylvania embezzler Lanette Sansoni pleaded guilty in August and agreed to reimburse her victim the remaining $200,000 of the $475,000 she had stolen. Judge Joseph Smyth then sentenced Sansoni to house arrest—for 21 years. She can remain out of jail as long as she works and contributes at least $750 a month for restitution.

  • Samuel McMaster Jr. pleaded guilty to securities fraud in August in Albuquerque, N.M., but struck a deal with prosecutors to enable restitution to his two-dozen victims. McMaster fancies himself an expert at poker, and the judge agreed to withhold sentencing for six months to let McMaster prove he could earn at least $7,500 a month for his victims at Las Vegas poker tables.


The Pervo-American Community


DNA Showcases: (1) Michael Edwards Jr., 28, was arrested in July after an incident at a Giant food store in Gaithersburg, Md., in which he followed a customer to her car and sprayed her from a bottle filled with liquid that contained his semen. (2) Michael Lallana, 31, was arrested in Santa Ana, Calif., in August and charged with two separate instances of "discharging" his semen into a female co-worker's water bottle. (3) William Black, 28, was arrested at a Sarasota, Fla., Wal-Mart in September after he grabbed a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue off the magazine rack, retreated to another aisle and masturbated, leaving semen on the floor. (Black said he had been overcome looking at all the "hot girls" among Wal-Mart shoppers.)

2010 Chuck Shepherd