Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010

News of the Weird

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Love, Nintendo-Style

Some Japanese citizens have become obsessed with Love Plus, a Nintendo DS dating simulation that presents them with a young, attractive, mouthy, digital "girlfriend" who begs for attention. The touch-screen lover demands to hold hands, kiss and have sweet nothings whispered in her ear. How can men so easily become addicted to such vicarious experiences, you ask? According to one player, going by the name of "Koh," writing at the Boing Boing Web site, it "comes down to the fact that men are simple." (In December, Reuters reported that Japanese player “SAL9000” held a marriage ceremony in Tokyo—in front of real-live people, he “married” his Love Plus girlfriend. Prior to the ceremony, the man reportedly took his digital lover on a vacation to Guam.)

Obsessions

Unless Stephen Gough, 50, changes his mind about his decision to not wear pants, he risks spending the rest of his life behind bars, according to a January ruling of Scotland's Perth Sheriff Court. Gough, known as Britain's "naked rambler," is a free-lance nudist who has roamed the United Kingdom countryside for years, though his travels have been interrupted by numerous jail stints for violating public decency. He was released from Perth Prison in December after his latest stay, but seconds later shucked his clothes and was re-arrested. At his most recent trial, Gough acted as his own lawyer and persuaded the judge to let him be naked in court.

Least Competent Criminals

(1) Shane Williams-Allen, 19, was arrested in Tavares, Fla., in January and charged with burglarizing an unmarked police car and stealing several items, including handcuffs and a Taser gun. Eventually, Williams-Allen called the police for help after he accidentally cuffed himself. Officers said he also accidentally Tasered himself in the foot. (2) In January, police in Oakland, Calif., were conducting a manhunt for suspects allegedly involved in a home invasion. Police called off their search when officers encountered four men wedged between two buildings they had unsuccessfully tried to squeeze through during their escape.

Recurring Themes

The Whole Truth and Nothing But: Last August, an applicant for the police force in Montgomery, Ala., following directions to be truthful during the job interview, admitted that he owned child pornography. Instead of being hired, he was arrested. In January, 170 miles to the south in Pensacola, Fla., another law-enforcement applicant, Clarence Burnette, 25, admitted to owning child pornography—during his interview to become a sheriff's deputy. Similarly, instead of being hired, he was arrested. (The Montgomery applicant, who also confessed to having sex with an underage girl, is now serving 30 years in prison.)

Latest Religious Messages

In December, televangelist Rod Parsley informed his flock that he urgently needed several million dollars because of financial problems attributed directly to Satan. According to a report in The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, Parsley's World Harvest Church was facing a $3 million deficit for the quarter ending in December. Earlier in the year, the church had to pay a $3.1 million settlement because a 2-year-old boy reportedly received cuts and welts during a spanking at its day-care center. Wrote Parsley, "Will you help me take back what the devil stole?"

A Montana-based sect is fighting to remain viable, six months after the death of its "Mother," the Jesus-channeling Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Several aspirants have tried to claim her mantle, but the sect's council of elders declared them all to be charlatans, and membership rolls have dwindled. The church was similarly challenged in 1990, when “Mother” forecast nuclear doomsday and financed the construction of large underground bunkers (which are still available) on a mountainside north of Yellowstone National Park. The council is also having trouble with finding volunteers to transcribe the 22,000 hours of video and audio in which “Mother” set out the justifications for the sect.

Questionable Judgments

  • Only four days after the January earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships made a port call at a private enclave about 60 miles up Haiti's coastline. The ships turned loose hundreds of frolickers for "jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks," according to a report in London's The Guardian. Guards employed by the cruise line manned the resort's 12-foot-high fences. (Reportedly, some of the passengers declined to leave the ships because they were too upset by the unfolding disaster to enjoy themselves.) Royal Caribbean said it had made a large donation to the rescue effort and promised to send proceeds from the port's thriving craft stores.
  • The Need for Parental Licensing: In January, as punishment for her 12-year-old son's bad grade in school, a Warm Springs, Ga., mother allegedly forced the boy to club his pet hamster to death with a hammer. Lynn Middlebrooks Geter, 38, was arrested after the kid told his teacher, who called the state children's services agency.

2010 Chuck Shepherd