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Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Our Cold, Dead Hands     

The semi-obscure Florida Statute 790.15 took center stage in January following a Miami Herald report of a resident of the town of Big Pine Key who routinely target-shoots his handgun in his yard, with impunity, to the consternation of neighbors. The statute permits open firing on private property (except shooting over a public right of way or an occupied dwelling), and several cities have tried, unsuccessfully, to restrict that right, citing “public safety” in residential neighborhoods. (A 2011 lobbying campaign by the National Rifle Association, and a state supreme court decision, nixed any change in the law.) “Negligent” shooting is illegal, but only a misdemeanor. Thus, even skillful shooting next door to a daycare center or in a small yard that abuts a high-trafficked pedestrian street is likely perfectly legal. One Florida legislator who was originally from Alaska noted that even in Anchorage people cannot fire at will in their yards.                                    

 

Questionable Judgments

The makers of a product called Poo-Pourri garnered a “coveted” advertising award from USA Today in December as one of the five worst ads of the year. Toilet users concerned about smell are encouraged to spray Poo-Pourri on the commode pre-use, and in the television ad, a British-accented female sits on the throne, extolling the product. Opening line: “You would not believe the mother lode I just dropped.” (Nonetheless, USA Today still found two other ads that upset its editors more.)                                              

 

The Continuing Crisis     

World’s Laziest Dog Sitter: Tyler Smith, 23, was charged in December with violating the city animal care ordinance in Greenville, S.C., after a photograph was posted on Facebook of his father’s dog being lowered by rope from the second-story balcony of an apartment. According to the posting, it was time for the dog to make a call of nature, but it was raining, and Smith preferred not to go downstairs with him.                            

 

Perspective          

Three million Americans are infected with hepatitis C (as are millions more overseas), but a very recent drug, Sovaldi, completely cures it with 84 daily doses. However, its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, has somehow determined that a fair U.S. price for the drug should be $1,000 per pill ($84,000 for the total treatment). Shouldn’t Gilead reduce the price once it has recouped its expensive investment, asked an NPR reporter in December? “That’s very unlikely we would do that,” said Gilead’s Gregg Alton, but “I appreciate the thought.” (According to NPR, Gilead “developed” Sovaldi merely by buying Sovaldi’s actual developer for $11 billion. At $84,000 per patient, Gilead would “recoup” that investment from the first 150,000 customers, leaving 2.85 million more U.S. patients to pay $84,000 each, for an income of $239 billion.)                                                                                                                     

 

Recurring Themes            

Stories That Never Get Old: Police in the Los Angeles suburb of Harbor City were searching in February for the man suspected of stealing surveillance cameras from a home, but not before he apparently failed to distinguish between the camera (which he took with him) and the recording unit (which remained in the home and captured his face clearly as he removed the camera).                                           

 

A News of the Weird Classic (November 2010)           

Can’t Possibly Be True: Kyle Johnson shattered his skull so badly in a high-speed longboard accident in June (2010) that ordinary “decompressive craniectomy” (temporarily removing half of the skull to relieve pressure) would have been inadequate. Instead, doctors at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah, removed both halves, leaving only a thin strip of bone (after placing Johnson in a drug-induced coma) and kept the skull frozen to prevent brittleness. After the swelling subsided, they reattached both halves of the skull to his head and woke him up gradually over a week’s time. Johnson admits some memory problems and cognitive dysfunction, most notably his inability to focus on more than one concept at a time—even when they are part of the same scene, such as two crayons on a table. Johnson said he probably won’t go back to the longboard (but would try snowmobiling).         

 

© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD