Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009

Zombies = Trouble

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If zombies ever attacked society, mankind would probably be doomed—and quickly. That was the conclusion of two university researchers in Ottawa, Ontario, who set up mathematical models for hypothetical zombie attacks based on well-known characteristics of zombie biology from popular fiction. The research correlated to the study of infectious diseases—although, according to a July BBC News report, zombies would be more threatening than virulent diseases because they can regenerate (unless decapitated or incinerated, of course). More troubling was the researchers’ presumption that zombies move slowly, based on older movies. In recent fiction, they’re super-quick, making them nearly invincible.

 Least Competent Criminals

 Lisa Newsome, 42, was arrested in Zachary, La., in August, after allegedly smuggling a 24-can case of beer out of a convenience store. The housecoat-clad Newsome is said to have squeezed the 20-pound case between her legs as she waddled from the beer cooler toward the front of the store and out the door. According to local reports, she was later identified from surveillance camera footage. When police arrested Newsome, she allegedly offered to pull up her dress to demonstrate how she carried the case. A police captain passed on the offer: "I told her, ‘No thanks.’ I wasn't into that."

Armed and Clumsy

 More people who accidentally shot themselves recently: A 44-year-old man, shoving a shotgun down his pants during an argument on the phone with his girlfriend, blew his little toe off (Alameda, Calif., July). A 21-year-old man with a gun in his pocket, stopping in an alley to urinate, shot himself in the thigh (South Bend, Ind., July). A 26-year-old man, teaching gun safety to two people, was killed when he fired his supposedly unloaded gun at his own head (Phoenix, May). A 15-year-old boy impulsively grabbed the gun that was slipping down his pants from his waistband and shot himself in the penis (Brooklyn, N.Y., September).

 People Different From Us

 Geography professor Melanie Patton Renfrew, 54, was convicted in Burbank, Calif., in August of violating a judge's order to stop stalking KNBC-TV weatherman Fritz Coleman. Renfrew had badgered Coleman for two years, via e-mail and telephone calls, for his "error" in terminology, in that he would supposedly confuse "onshore" winds with "offshore" winds ("offshore" winds blow out to sea; "onshore" winds blow in). Coleman, she insisted, needed to apologize.

 The Continuing Crisis

  • In August, Elsie Poncher reluctantly decided to go back on a promise she had made to her late husband. Richard Poncher had purchased a crypt just above the one in which the body of Marilyn Monroe rests in a Los Angeles-area cemetery, so that he could spend eternity lying face down "over Marilyn." But Elsie is in need of money, so she offered the crypt for sale in August, and plans to move Richard to a less prominent place.
  • Ultra-Dangerous Activities: (1) In May, a man in his 20s was killed in a fight at a community center in Calgary, Alberta, following a dominoes tournament. (2) Kenneth Reppke, 54, was charged with assault in Fraser, Mich., in July for allegedly smacking a woman in the head, breaking her glasses, because she refused to sell him Boardwalk and Park Place in a game of Monopoly.

 The Police Department

  • Latest Domestic Disturbance Call: A 78-year-old woman recently kicked her husband in the groin several times because she believed he had an affair 35 years ago (Lynnwood, Wash., May).
  • Unclear on the Concept: In August, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus announced an upgraded training program to teach his officers how to obey the law while off-duty. (The department has had to fire 10 officers so far this year for breaking the law.) Included in McManus’ program is a personal talk to each incoming cadet to stress that police officers must not commit crimes.

 A News of the Weird Classic (May 1996)

 In March 1996, an 18-year-old dockworker at Roadway Express in Dallas was arrested at a local Western Union office and charged with forgery after trying to cash a check made out to his employer. The man produced a homemade photo ID that gave his name as Mr. "Roadway V. Express." After questioning him, the Western Union manager said, "OK, Mr. Express, I'll be right back (with the money)," but went into another room and called the police.

Copyright 2009 Chuck Shepherd