Professional Training Required: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced in August that it had contract work for up to 2,100 language specialists to transcribe wiretaps, with immediate needs in the Atlanta field office for 144 Spanish experts, along with 12 for Vietnamese, and nine each for Korean, Farsi and “Ebonics.” Ebonics is recognized by some linguists as the “nonstandard” form of English spoken by African-Americans. (In one example cited by the Associated Press, offered by Stanford professor John Rickford, “th” endings are pronounced as “f,” e.g., “both” as “boaf.”)
The Continuing Crisis
Texas State Rep. Joe Driver, an 18-year House veteran whose website notes his opposition to “big spending habits of liberals in government,” was revealed in August to have been routinely double-billing the government for travel expenses and to have been genuinely surprised to learn that voters and colleagues might find that improper. Wrote the Associated Press: “Driver insists he thought the double-billing was perfectly appropriate—until talking about it with the AP,” at which point he appeared to change his mind. “Well, it doesn’t sound (appropriate) now (if) you bring it up that way,” he admitted. “(To learn that) pretty well screws my week.” For at least five years, Driver had been collecting from the government for expenses already reimbursed by his re-election campaign.
Every weekend for the last four years, parishioners from the New Beginnings Ministries church in Warsaw, Ohio, have gathered in front of The Fox Hole strip club in nearby Newcastle and tried to shame customers by photographing them and posting their license plate numbers on the Internet, and brandishing hellfire-threatening signs. Recently, however, Fox Hole’s strippers joined the duel, congregating on Sundays in front of New Beginnings, wearing bikinis and “see-through” shorts, dancing scandalously, squirting each other with jumbo water guns, and wielding their own Bible-quoting signs to greet the day’s worshippers.
An Indian in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia lives completely isolated from humans—the last survivor of his never-contacted tribe. However, the government has taken the unprecedented step of protecting 31 square miles of his habitat, monitored against trespass by technology including heat-sensitive flyovers—even though developers point out that 31 square miles of farming could produce food for many more Brazilians than “one.” The man was spotted 15 years ago, appearing to be about 30 years old (and leaving one of the spotters with an arrow in the chest), but has left only clues since then, and three years ago, the government stopped looking for him.
Democracy in Action
Wisconsin law permits independent candidates five-word statements to accompany their names on the ballot, to signal voters just as the words “Republican” and “Democrat” are signals, but Milwaukee Assembly candidate Ieshuh Griffin was ruled in July to have gone too far with her statement (“NOT the ‘whiteman’s bitch’”) (her capitalization and punctuation). Griffin said the decision baffled her since “everyone” she spoke with understood exactly what she meant.
Mark Reckless, elected to the British House of Commons only two months earlier, apologized in July for failing to vote on a budget bill that required a late-night session to pass. He explained that he had had a drink or two while waiting for the session to begin and barely remembered what happened (except for “someone asking me to vote”).
The Weirdo-American Community
John Theodore Anderson (also known, in his court filings, as “John-Theodore:Anderson) filed a lawsuit in August against an Alpine, Utah, attorney who had acquired land from a man who Anderson said owed him $4,000 for “consulting” work. The attorney, and the previous owner, denied Anderson’s claim, provoking Anderson to file a lien on the land—for $918 billion (a mark-up only quixotically related to the $4,000). However, by the time Anderson got around to filing the lawsuit to defend the lien, his $4,000 claim had become $38 quadrillion (38 thousand trillion dollars).
More British Local Council Wisdom: (1) Nottinghamshire County Council recently refused, for the third time, to issue a disabledparking permit to British Army Cpl. Johno Lee, whose right leg was amputated below the knee following an explosion in Iraq. Lee said a staff member told him he was “young” and that his situation “might get better.” (2) The Romford council’s housing administrator ruled in July that, notwithstanding sweltering temperatures and kids’ summer vacations, vinyl wading pools were prohibited—as safety hazards, in that firefighters could possibly trip over them if responding to emergencies.
More Poor Multitaskers: (1) A 47-year-old woman accidentally drove off a boat ramp in Sacramento County, Calif., in August and drowned, as she had become distracted on a cell phone call with her daughter. (2) In Cincinnati in August, Colondra Hamilton, 32, was arrested after a routine traffic stop. Officers said they found Hamilton with her pants unbuttoned, a sex toy in her lap, and a computer playing a video in the passenger seat.
Illustrations by Tom Briscoe. Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or visit www.newsoftheweird.com.