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Friday, Sept. 20, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Cultural Diversity

Unclear on the Concept: Among people earnestly devoted to palmistry (the foretelling of the future by “expert” examination of the inner surface of the hand), a few in Japan have resorted to what seems like cheating: altering their palm lines with cosmetic surgery. According to a July Daily Beast dispatch from Tokyo, Dr. Takaaki Matsuoka is a leading practitioner, preferring an electric scalpel over laser surgery in that the latter more often eventually heals over, obviously defeating the purpose. He must be careful to add or move only the lines requested by the patient (e.g., “marriage” line, “romance” line, “money-luck” line, “financial success” line).

Latest Religious Messages

  • Smiting Skeptics: Measles, despite being highly contagious, was virtually eradicated in America until a small number of skeptics, using now-discredited “research,” tied childhood vaccinations with the rise of autism, and now the disease is returning. Many members of the Eagle Mountain International Church near Dallas have declined to vaccinate their children, and as of late August, at least 20 church members have experienced the disease. The head pastor denied that he preaches against the immunizations (although she did tell NPR, cryptically, “[T]he [medical] facts are facts, but then we know the truth. That always overcomes facts.”).
  • Outraged Jewish leaders complain periodically about Mormons who, in the name of their church, posthumously baptize deceased Jews (even Holocaust victims)—beneficently, of course, to help them qualify for heaven. Church officials promised to stop, but in 2012 reports still surfaced that not all Mormons got the memo. Thus inspired, a “religious” order called the Satanic Temple conducted a July “pink mass” over the Meridian, Miss., grave of the mother of the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, Rev. Fred Phelps Jr.—posthumously “turning” her gay. (Westboro infamously stages small, hate-saturated demonstrations denouncing homosexuals and American tolerance.) Ten days later, Meridian prosecutors charged a Satanic Temple official with misdemeanor desecration of a grave.

Questionable Judgments

Australia’s chief diplomat in Taipei, Taiwan, said in August that he was suing local veterinarian Yang Dong-sheng for fraud because Dr. Yang backed out of euthanizing the diplomat Kevin Magee’s sick, 10-year-old dog. Instead, Dr. Yang “rescued” the dog, who is now thriving after he patiently treated her. Magee’s lawsuit claims, in essence, that his family vet recommended euthanization, that he had paid for euthanization and that “Benji” should have been put down. Dr. Yang said the fee Magee paid was for “medical care” and not necessarily euthanization. (Benji, frolicking outside when a reporter visited, was not available for comment.)

Squirrels Gone Wild

Smithsonian magazine detailed in August the exhaustive measures that military officials have taken to finally block relentless Richardson’s ground squirrels from tunneling underneath Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and interfering with the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles on 24/7 standby. For example, officials had to use trial and error to plant underground screens deeper into the ground than the squirrels cared to dig. Soon after this report was filed, a bus driver in Gothenburg, Sweden, crashed into a tree (with six passengers requiring hospital treatment) after swerving to avoid a squirrel in the road. On the same day, a New York Times reporter disclosed that his own news monitoring for 2013 revealed that squirrels have caused 50 power outages in 24 states in the U.S. since Memorial Day after invading electric company substations.

Progressive Governments

In August, a judge in Voronezh, Russia, accepted for trial Dmitry Argarkov’s lawsuit against Tinkoff Credit Systems for violating a credit-card contract. Tinkoff had mailed Argarkov its standard fine-print contract, but Argarkov computer-scanned it, changed pro-Tinkoff provisions into pro-Argarkov terms, and signed and returned it, and Tinkoff accepted it without re-reading. At least at this stage of the lawsuit, the judge appeared to say that Argarkov had bested Tinkoff at its own game of oppressive, fine print mumbo-jumbo.

© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD