Columns News of the Weird

News of the Weird


The People’s Liberation Army Daily, a Chinese state-run military newspaper, has declared on its WeChat account that fewer Chinese youth are passing fitness tests to join the army because they are too fat and masturbate too much, resulting in abnormally large testicular veins. The web article cited one town’s statistics, where 56.9 percent of candidates were rejected for failing to meet physical requirements. China’s military quickly beat down the article’s assertion, saying: “The quality of our recruits is guaranteed, and the headwaters of our military will flow long and strong.” [Shanghaiist, 8/24/2017]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Police in Osnabruck, Germany, stopped a vehicle on Aug. 19 and found an unusual trove of drugs inside: Plastic bags filled with about 5,000 ecstasy pills, with a street value of about $46,000 — all in the shape of Donald Trump’s head. The orange tablets depicted Trump’s signature sweep of hair and his rosebud mouth. An unnamed 51-year-old man and his son, 17, also had a large sum of cash and were taken into custody. [NPR, 8/22/2017]

Cultural Diversity

• The Japanese funeral industry demonstrated its forward thinking on Aug. 23 when practitioners gathered for the Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo. Among the displays was a humanoid robot named Pepper who can conduct a Buddhist funeral, complete with chanting and tapping a drum. Pepper is a collaboration between SoftBank and Nissei Eco Co., which wrote the chanting software. Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive adviser, said the robot could step in when priests are not available. [Reuters, 8/23/2017]

• Also at the Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo, four undertakers competed on stage as funeral music played to see who could best display the ancient skills of ritually dressing the dead. The Shinto religion in Japan believes that the dead are impure just after death and that dressing the body purifies the spirit. The contestants dressed live human volunteers and were observed by three judges. Rino Terai, who won the contest, said, “I practiced every day to prepare for this competition.” [Reuters, 8/24/207]

• In Iran, the education department has banned people who are considered “ugly” from being teachers. The list of conditions and features that prevent one from being a teacher includes facial moles, acne, eczema, scars and crossed eyes. Also on the list of unsavory conditions are cancer, bladder stones or color-blindness, none of which can be observed by others. [Metro News, 8/25/2017]


Jeffrey Riegel, 56, of Port Republic, New Jersey, left ’em laughing with his obituary’s parting shot at the Philadelphia Eagles. In it, Riegel asked that eight Eagles players act as pallbearers, “so the Eagles can let me down one last time.” Riegel owned season tickets for 30 years, during which the Eagles never won a Super Bowl. [Associated Press, 8/24/2017]


An Arkansas Highway Patrol officer spotted “an unusual sight” on Aug. 23 on I-30: a black Hummer with a casket strapped to the top of it. When the officer pulled over Kevin M. Cholousky, 39, of Van Buren, Arkansas, he took off and led police on a chase along I-530, where his vehicle was eventually stopped by road spikes. Although the casket was empty, Cholousky was charged in Pulaski County with fictitious tags, reckless driving and fleeing. [Arkansas Online, 8/24/2017]

Latest Religious

Sonogram photos are notoriously difficult to decipher, but one couple in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, are sure theirs shows a man watching over their unborn daughter. “When they gave it to us … Umm, to me, it’s Jesus. And it looks like Jesus,” said mom Alicia Zeek. She and father Zac Smith have two older children, both born with birth defects, and the image is putting them at ease about their third child. “Once … we looked at the picture, I was like — look, babe, we have nothing to worry about,” Smith said. [FOX43, 8/22/2017]

Least Competent Criminals

• Jocsan Feliciano Rosado, 22, was driving a stolen car on Monday, Aug. 21, when he stopped off at a Harbor Freight store in Kissimmee, Florida, to pick up a welder’s helmet for viewing the solar eclipse. As he dawdled next to the vehicle, looking up at the sun with his helmet on, members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit interrupted his reverie and arrested him. [United Press International, 8/22/2017]

• Adam Darrough, 29, of Little Rock, Arkansas, tried to elude officers who had arrived at his girlfriend’s house to arrest him by climbing out a back window. But when that didn’t work, he hid in her attic. Meanwhile, Erinique Hill, 20, held police at bay outside her home. Things went south for Darrough when he fell through the attic floor, and Little Rock police officers arrested him for a number of felonies, including hindering arrest. [Arkansas Online, 8/24/2017]


Tuffy Tuffington, 45, of San Francisco was walking his dogs, Bob and Chuck, when he came up with a way to respond non-violently to a right-wing rally at Crissy Field on Aug. 26. So he launched a Facebook page asking San Franciscans to bring dog poop to spread in the park in advance of the event. “It seemed like a little bit of civil disobedience where we didn’t have to engage with them face to face,” Tuffington said. Contributors to the project also planned to show up on Aug. 27 to “clean up the mess and hug each other.” [The Guardian, 8/24/2017]


Jordan Wills, 22, of Dover, England, provoked the ire of Judge Simon James of the Canterbury Crown Court in Kent when he appeared before the court. Wills called the judge a prick, and when James asked him to refrain from using obscene language, Wills said, “Who are you to tell me what to do?” James replied: “Well, I am the judge … and I need to make it clear to you and others that such behavior is not going to be tolerated.” Wills was found in contempt of court and sentenced to two weeks in jail. [Metro News, 8/24/2017]


A police officer on maternity leave was ticketed and fined 110 pounds after she pulled her car into a bus stop in west London to help her newborn baby, who was choking in the back seat. Rebecca Moore, 31, of Aylesbury, said her son, Riley, was “going a deep shade of red in the face, his eyes were bulging and watering, and he was trying to cough but was struggling.” Moore appealed the fine, but the Harrow Council rejected her appeal, as did the London Tribunals. “The law about stopping in bus stops is exactly the same everywhere in London,” a council spokeswoman said. “You can’t do it.” [Metro News, 8/25/2017]


One reveler at an Aug. 19 street festival in Worcester, Massachusetts, caused a dust-up when he aggressively confronted a police horse. Donald Pagan, 59, was cutting through a column of mounted police when an officer asked him to stop. Instead, Pagan raised his fist “in an attempt to punch the horse in the face,” a police statement said. The horse jumped backward, away from Pagan, which officers noted could have injured Pagan, the horse or the mounted officer. Pagan was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and interfering with a police horse. [Reuters, 8/22/2017]


Epping, New Hampshire, resident Leslie Kahn, 61, found herself trapped in her swimming pool on Aug. 11 after the ladder broke. She was not strong enough to pull herself out of the pool, so she used a pool pole to drag a nearby chair, with her iPad on it, closer. On a community Facebook page, Kahn posted her desperate situation under the heading “911,” and soon police and neighbors showed up to rescue her. [Associated Press, 8/19/2017]

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