Chuck Shepherd - Weekender Wire Services

News of the weird: Ladies, would you wear scorpions on your nails?

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Glaciers and Gender

University of Oregon professor Mark Carey produced a 10,300-word journal article in January proposing a new sensitivity to Earth’s melting icecaps: a “feminist glaciology framework” to “generate robust analysis of gender, power and epistemologies” with a goal of more “just and equitable” “human-ice interactions.” The jargonized, densely worded tract suggests that melting icecaps can be properly understood only with more input from female scientists since, somehow, research so far disproportionately emphasizes climate change’s impact on males. (The New York Post reported that the paper was funded by a National Science Foundation grant of $412,930.)


Trying to put (as a critic charged) “lipstick on a pig,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder boasted in March that the lead-in-the-water crisis plaguing the city of Flint for months now had actually spurred job growth. Though Snyder has been heavily criticized for tight-fisted budgeting that enabled the crisis, 81 temporary workers have been recently hired — to hand out bottled water so that residents would not have to hydrate themselves with poisoned municipal water.

Can’t possibly be true

1. A senior federal administrative law judge recently claimed (and then, for good measure, repeated and emphasized) that, in his experience, “3-year-olds and 4-year-olds” do not need the help of lawyers to advocate for them in immigration proceedings. Teaching those kids their rights, Judge Jack Weil said, “takes a lot of time” and “a lot of patience,” but there is no need for government to provide lawyers. (Weil, a U.S. Department of Justice employee, was contesting an American Civil Liberties Union claim at a recent deposition in an immigration case in Seattle.)

2. Homeless people frequently store their few possessions in commandeered shopping carts, but New Yorker Sonia Gonzalez, 60, became a legend recently on Manhattan’s West Side by maneuvering a stunning, block-long assemblage of more than 20 carts’ worth of possessions along the sidewalks. Among the contents: an air conditioner, a laundry hamper, shower curtain rods, a wire shelving unit, wooden pallets, suitcases and, of course, bottles and cans. She moved along by pushing carts two or three at a time, a few feet at a time, blocking entrances to stores in the process. (The day after a New York Post story on Gonzalez’s caravan, Mayor DiBlasio ordered city workers to junk everything not essential, leaving her with about one cart’s worth.)

Questionable judgments

Mexico’s latest female accessorizing craze is shellacking tiny dead scorpions onto fingernails, using the second-most venomous species of the arachnid, selling briskly at the Miss Unas parlor in Durango. In fact, while in town (according to a London Daily Mail dispatch from Durango), shoppers may check out the Raices restaurant, which pioneered tacos filled with still-wriggling scorpions (that had been soaked in surgical alcohol to neutralize the venom).

Latest religious messages

Power of Prayer:

1. Businessman Induvalu Suresh cut off, and donated, the little finger of his left hand recently at the Hindu pilgrimage site Tirupati, India, as homage to the gods for the granting of bail to prominent India leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, who are charged with fraudulent business practices in a case heavily politically weighted.

2. In October, a regional court in Nizhegorodsky, Russia, decided that the Russian Orthodox Church could pay off part of a debt for its new boiler spiritually. According to an Associated Press dispatch from Moscow, the church can settle the remaining debt, equivalent to $6,585, to the boiler company by paying $2,525 in rubles and the remainder by prayer.


1. In a suburb of Newcastle, Australia, in February, workers using a crane extracted a 1-ton snake-like mass of sewage (mostly “wet wipes” unwisely flushed down toilets) from an underground pipe — with the gummed-together sludge reaching a height of more than 20 feet when the crane finally yanked the whole thing up. Said a representative of the water company, “(Y)ou’ll flush the toilet, and the wet wipe will disappear,” and you think (wrongly) it’s therefore “flushable.”

2. Making Canada Great Again: Syrian refugees arriving at the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, have been warmly greeted personally in a video by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but in March some were inadvertently booked into the same hotel that was hosting the fifth annual VancouFur convention of “furries.” Anthropomorphic, full-suited tigers, dogs, bears, foxes, etc., roamed the hotel, leading London’s The Independent to report that the child refugees loved every minute, playing with the furries and posing for pictures.

Leading economic indicators

The Cash Economy: China’s Peoples Daily reported in January that Mr. Cai Zhanjiang (described as “tuhao,” or “uncultured but still well-off”) had just purchased a new truck from a dealer by driving another truck to the showroom and unloading 100,000 renminbi (about $15,300 U.S.) entirely in small bills — a stash weighing about a half-ton. also noted a story from June 2015 in which a man (likely also tuhao) bought a new vehicle with the equivalent of $104,670 — almost all in coins.


1. The Tennessee senate voted in February to make its official state rifle the .50-caliber Barrett M82 rifle (big in the sniper community, with a range of 1.1 miles).

2. The Lance Toland Associates insurance company of Georgia said in February that it has issued Taurus handguns to each of its 12 employees as a required-carry for apparently dangerous aircraft insurance work.

3. University of Houston recommendations for faculty on the imminent extension of the right to open-carry firearms on state campuses included admonitions that professors “be careful discussing sensitive topics” and “not ‘go there’ if you sense anger.”

Recurring themes

In rural China, the black market for female corpses — even already-buried corpses — thrives still (as mentioned years ago by News of the Weird). According to legend dating back 30 centuries, men who die as bachelors will spend eternity alone, and thus their families arrange “ghost weddings,” in which a corpse (presumably freshly buried) is stolen and relocated alongside the man. (Perhaps more important to the surviving family is the other part of the legend — that any bachelor corpse will “return” to haunt the family.)

Least competent criminals

Needed to Take His “Job” Seriously: A man broke into the ATM at a Bank of America in Phoenix on March 1, but was in police custody a few minutes later. He walked away from the machine cleanly, but happened to spot actor Bill Murray on the street (he was visiting friends in the city) and could not resist stopping to chat with Murray about the movie “Zombieland.” The delay allowed witnesses to the robbery to catch up to the man and identify him for police.

A News of the Weird classic (October 2011)

An option for suicide “with elegance and euphoria” is how Lithuanian-born Ph.D. candidate Julijonas Urbonas (London’s Royal College of Art) described his “Euthanasia (Roller) Coaster,” currently (2011) on the drawing board. Urbonas’ model of “gravitational aesthetics” would be a one-third-mile-long, 1,600-foot-high thrill ride engineered to supply 10 Gs of centrifugal force (a spin at about 220 mph) to induce cerebral hypoxia, forcing blood away from the head and denying oxygen to the brain. Euphoria (and disorientation and anxiety, but not pain) would likely precede the brain’s shutdown. Urbonas insisted that users would have the option through the first two minutes of the three-minute ride to rethink their decision and bail out (or else to push the final “FALL” button).

Reach Weekender at [email protected] Read more weird news at; send items to WeirdNews, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Florida, 33679.

Scorpions on nails, too many shopping carts and offsetting debt by prayer top

Chuck Shepherd

Weekender Wire Services


Reach Weekender at [email protected] Read more weird news at; send items to WeirdNews, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Florida, 33679.