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Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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More Bang          

American Exceptionalism: Which is more characteristically American—that a Texas company could invent an ordinary rifle that mimics a machine gun or that America’s incomparable legal minds could find a loophole in existing anti-machine gun laws to permit it to be manufactured and sold? The Slide Fire company’s weapon can spray bullets “like a fire hose” from a legal, semiautomatic gun by simple application of muscle, yet an official opinion of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives acknowledges that the agency is powerless to regulate it because of the wording in 1934 and 1986 legislation that otherwise restricts private ownership of machine guns. One gun shop owner told London’s Daily Mail in September that the Slide Fire rifle is “not as easy” to use as a machine gun, but still, “(I)t’s fairly idiot proof.”

The Continuing Crisis

  • Busy Being Superheroes: In separate incidents in early September, people dressed as Batman and Captain America rescued a cat from a burning house in Milton, W.Va., and Superman came to the aid of Wonder Woman in Hollywood, Calif. (The West Virginia pair were performing at a function when they noticed nearby smoke, and Superman and Wonder Woman were posing for tourists’ tips when a passerby got belligerent.) In July, another Superman tackled a shoplifter on the streets of Sheffield, England, where he was appearing at a fundraiser. (However, less elegantly, two Captain Americas and a Spider-Man brawled briefly in May over access to a contested, lucrative Hollywood street corner.)
  • Our Freedom to Doze Off, Now in Danger: The training technology company Mindflash recently revealed a feature for iPads that prevents student inattentiveness during an online course. Facial recognition software notices a user looking away (or, worse, falling asleep) and thus pauses the course at that point until the eager learner re-engages the screen. (Mindflash assured reporters that the program has more serious uses, such as treatment of autism and Alzheimer’s disease.)
  • In an epic failure, according to Madrid’s El Pais newspaper, a 20-story condominium building (“InTempo,” likely the tallest residential edifice in the European Union) in the resort town of Benidorm, Spain, was hastily upsized to a planned 47 stories, but a series of architectural mistakes and developer bankruptcies has left it limping and largely unsold. Most notably, El Pais discovered in 2012 that the then-current design made it impossible to build an elevator shaft to go past the 20th floor because of space limitation. (The architects resigned, and unconfident developers were forced to turn to financing from one of the shakier banks in the country’s feeble economy.)


Oh, Dear!

  • In a YouTube video, reported by the political website rawstory.com in August, well-known tea party activist Jerome Corsi elaborates on the biblical importance of child-bearing and implores followers to “(hold) the line” on the principle that sex “is about the procreation of children” and “not about fun. If you want to have fun, read a book, go to a movie.”
  • Evidently, Surgery Is Kinda Boring: A 36-year-old patient is suing California’s Torrance Memorial Medical Center, claiming that anesthesiologist Patrick Yang decorated her face with stickers while she was unconscious and that an aide took photos for laughs, later allegedly uploading them to Facebook. Dr. Yang and the aide were later disciplined but remained in good standing. Some hospitals (not Torrance Memorial yet) prohibit cellphones in operating rooms at all times.


Bright Ideas        

In the concluding race in September of the Rally de Misiones in Campo Viera, Argentina, it was important for drivers to complete the laps even if they had no chance of winning, but near the end, driver Sebastian Llamosas experienced a throttle malfunction and began coasting, still about a half-mile from the finish line. However, in a move reminiscent of actor Slim Pickens jumping on the atomic bomb in Dr. Strangelove, Llamosas’s quick-thinking partner Mauricio Sainz jumped onto the open engine and accelerated the car by hand while Llamosas steered the final distance.                                       

                                               

© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD