Sexting During Surgery, Inquisitive Tortoises and Epically Inept Crime Sprees

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IT’S FACEBOOK’S WORLD NOW Up-and-coming Sicilian mobster Domenico Palazzotto, 28, was outed in August by Italy's L'Espresso magazine as the owner of an ineffectively pseudonymous Facebook page showing off his muscled, bare-chested body and perhaps recruiting members. One fan asked, "Do I need to send a [resume]?" "Yes, brother," came the reply. "We need to consider your criminal record. We do not take people with clean records." Palazzotto … [Read more...]

Crappy Flights, Pheromone Parties and Elephant Dung Beer

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CRAPPY FLIGHTS The May 28 US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia had to be diverted to Kansas City after a passenger's service dog did what dogs do, in the aisle, twice (an hour apart). One passenger used the terms "lingering smell," "dry heaving" and "throwing up" in describing the situation. And on a recent (perhaps July) Delta flight from Beijing to Detroit, a Chinese couple apparently nonchalantly laid down paper on their … [Read more...]

Unconventional Food Prep, Silent Disco and How Dexter Nearly Killed A Woman For Real

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PERSPECTIVE Jeff Mizanskey, 61, is a poster child for one well-known criticism of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws–that nonviolent marijuana users (and small-time sellers) may wind up doing decades of hard time and in fact more time than some sociopathic offenders serve for heinous offenses. Mizanskey is 20 years into a life sentence with no possibility of parole for several violations of Missouri's "prior and persistent drug offender" law, … [Read more...]

Cat Apps, EPA Follies and Nude Art

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CAT NANNY Facial recognition software, increasingly important to global anti-terrorism operations, is being brought to... cats. Taiwanese developer Mu-Chi Sung announced in July plans for marketing the software as part of a cat health device so that owners, especially those with multiple cats, can better monitor their cats' eating habits. Sung first had to overcome the problem of how to get the cat to stick its head through a slot in the … [Read more...]

Modern Warfare, Human Cannons & The Coke Hippo Time Bomb

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MODERN WARFARE The leader of the devout Sunni jihadist group Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, making a rare, solemn appearance in July, wore a flashy silver wristwatch that various video analysts described as either a Rolex or an Omega Seafarer or a feature-laden Saudi Arabian-made timepiece that sells for only about $560. A week earlier, a Syrian anti-government rebel leader was shown in a video exhorting his troops from notes he had made … [Read more...]

Toilet Training, Scary Nana Mizuki Fans and Banning Pet Tattoos

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TOILET TRAINING Enric Girona recently donated his prototype pet commode to the town of El Vendrell, Spain, hoping to spark worldwide interest. Conscientious owners would train their dogs on the station–a hole in the ground with a flush handle–which is connected to the sewer system, as is the drain grid next to it (for tinkling). The platform, which appears to occupy about 20 square feet of surface, is self- cleaning (although not too clean, said … [Read more...]

Rocking Messiahs, Cranking Candidates and Cartwheel-Free Zones

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ROCKING “MESSIAH” Prominent theoretical chemist David Glowacki was ejected from a classical music concert at England's Bristol Old Vic in June for disrupting a performance of Handel's "Messiah" by attempting to crowd-surf in front of the stage. Dr. Glowacki, an expert in non-equilibrium molecular reaction dynamics and who is presently a visiting scientist at Stanford University, was attending a special "informal" performance at which audience … [Read more...]

Criminal Studies, Milking Robots and Mold Races

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LEARNING IS NOT A CRIME California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo has a huge, 350-student "viticulture and enology" program, preparing its majors for an industry critical to the state's economy (and with a venerable international cachet)–but puritanical state law continues to hobble it. Many in Cal Poly's four-year winemaking program must arrange for a fifth year–after they turn 21–because, otherwise, faculty and … [Read more...]

Fake Famous Hispanic Democrats, Judges Who Like Cleavage and Failed Stripper Romance

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MAN OF THE PEOPLE? Scott Fistler, twice a loser for electoral office in Phoenix, Arizona, as a Republican, decided in November 2013 that his luck might improve as a Democrat with a name change, and legally became "Cesar Chavez," expecting to poll better in a heavily Hispanic, Democratic congressional district. ("Cesar Chavez" is of course the name of the legendary labor organizer.) Furthermore, according to a June report in the Arizona Capitol … [Read more...]

Hamster Butt Photos, Frozen Gurus and Armed Postal Employees

TOO CUTE! Marking Japan's latest unfathomable social trend, two paperback photo books–both consisting only of portraits of the rear ends of hamsters–have experienced surprising and still-growing printing runs. Japanese society has long seemed easily captured by anything considered "kawaii" (or "cute"), according to a May Wall Street Journal dispatch, and a representative of one book's publisher called his volume "delightfully cute." "I can't … [Read more...]