News of the Weird: Mites Ate the Cheese
The Food and Drug Administration proposed recently to limit the quantity of tiny “mites” that could occupy imported cheese, even though living, crawling mites are a feature desired by aficionados. (“Cheese is absolutely alive!” proclaimed microbiologist Rachel Dutton, who runs the “cheese laboratory” at Harvard University.) In fact, cheese is home to various molds, bacteria and yeasts, which give it flavor, and sellers routinely use blowers to expel excessive critters, but the FDA now wants to limit them to 6 bugs per square inch. However, according to a May report on NPR, lovers of some cheeses, especially the French Mimolette, object, asserting both an indifference to the sight of mites creeping around -- and a fear of taste-loss (since the mites burrow into the hunk, aerating it and extending the flavor).

Ironies

-Energy West, the natural gas supplier in Great Falls, Mont., had tried recently to raise awareness of leaks by distributing scratch-and-sniff cards to residents, demonstrating gas's distinctive, rotten-egg smell. In May, workers cast aside several cartons of leftover cards, which were hauled off and disposed of by crushing -- which released the scent and produced a massive blanket of odor over downtown Great Falls, resulting in a flurry of panicked calls to firefighters about gas leaks.

-Well, Of Course! (1) The Ypsilanti, Mich., City Council voted in May on a resolution that would have required the members always to vote either “yes” or “no” (to thus reduce the recent, annoying number of “abstain” votes). The resolution to ban abstaining failed because three of the seven members abstained. (2) Doctors told a newspaper in Stockholm in April that at least one of Sweden's premier modeling agencies, looking for recruits, had been caught passing out business cards adjacent to the country's largest eating-disorder clinic, forcing the clinic to change its rules on patients taking outside walks.

-The United Nations Conference on Disarmament, a multilateral forum on arms control agreements, was chaired beginning May 27th (until June 23rd) by Iran, which, for that time, at least, had the awkward job of overseeing resolutions on nuclear non-proliferation, which the country is widely thought to be ignoring.

Compelling Explanations

-Unclear on the Concept: (1) Ruben Pavon was identified by surveillance video in Derry, N.H., in April snatching a grill from the front porch of a thrift store. Pavon explained to police that the store's name, “Finders Keepers,” indicated to him that the objects were free for the taking and admitted that he had previously taken items from the porch. (2) In May, Los Angeles police bought back 1,200 guns in one of the periodic U.S. buy-back programs, but they declined to accept the pipe bomb a man said he wanted to sell. “This is not a pipe-bomb buyback,” said Chief Charlie Beck. “Pipe bombs are illegal ... “ The man was promptly arrested.

-Too Much Information: John Casey, 51, was caught by security staff at an Asda supermarket in Washington, England last October after allegedly stealing a slab of beef. He was convicted in May even after offering the compelling explanation that he had concealed the beef underneath other purchases not to avoid paying for it, but only because the sight of the raw meat gave him “flashbacks” to his dead grandmother, who had passed away of a blood clot when Casey was a child.

The Litigious Society

-Keith Judd filed a lawsuit in Iowa in May, in essence to invalidate the 2012 election by having President Obama officially declared a Kenyan and not an American. Judd filed the papers from a federal penitentiary in Texas, where he is serving 17 years for threatening a woman he believed to be a “clone” of the singer Stevie Nicks, because Nicks (or the clone) had tried to sabotage his home improvement company. (Bonus Fact: In the 2012 Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia, Judd, a write-in candidate, defeated President Obama in nine counties and lost the state by only 33,000 votes.)

-Edward Kramer, co-founder of the annual Atlanta fantasy-character convention Dragon*Con, was arrested in 2000 for allegedly having sex with underage boys, but has yet to stand trial in Georgia because he has engineered a never-ending set of legal delays -- if not because of his version of Orthodox Judaism that limits his diet and activities, then it his allegedly poor health. (“As soon as he puts on an orange jumpsuit,” said prosecutor Danny Porter, “he becomes an invalid,” requiring a wheelchair and oxygen tank.) In 2011, after managing to get “house arrest,” he violated it by being caught with an underage boy. Lately, according to a May Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, he files an average of three demands per day from his Gwinnett County, Ga., lockup, each requiring painstaking review before being rejected. Kramer still owns about one-third of Dragon*Con, whose current officials are mortified that they cannot expel a man they consider a child molester.

Perspective

In May, the Florida House of Representatives adjourned for the year without assessing themselves even a nominal increase in health insurance premiums for their own taxpayer-funded deluxe coverage, which will remain at $8.34 per month for individuals ($30 for families). Several days earlier, the House had voted to reject several billion dollars in federal grants for extending health insurance coverage to about a million more poor people in the state's Medicaid program. The House premiums are even lower than those of state senators and rank-and-file state employees, and lower than the premiums of Medicaid recipients who have the ability to pay.

People Different From Us

Apparently running out of space on his body (which is two-thirds tattooed), Brazilian Rodrigo Fernando dos Santos has moved on to his eyeballs. According to the body-modification website BME.com, eyeball-tattooing is safe if done correctly, which involves the artist injecting the ink precisely between the conjunctiva and the sclera layers --with the main risk, of course, that the client can go blind. In April, Sao Paulo tattoo artist Rafael Leao Dias, who said he had studied eyeball work for two years, successfully turned dos Santos's eyes into pools of dark ink. “I cried ink for two days,” he told a local blogger. BME.com said eyeball tattoos have been reported for nearly 2,000 years.

Least Competent Criminals

-Paul Gardener and Chad Leakey were arrested in Tempe, Ariz., in May and charged with a spree of car burglaries. According to police, the men were trying various cars' doors, looking for any that were unlocked, when they inadvertently opened the back door of an unmarked police car. The men had apparently not noticed (until too late) that two uniformed officers were sitting in the front seat and had also failed to notice that cage wiring separated the back seat from the front seat.

-Timothy Adams, 24, was charged with home invasion in May in Gardner, Mass., but only after resident Michael Salame slammed him into the floor. Salame is 70 years old, has had eight heart stents, and is forced to wear special coverings on his arms at night because of nerve damage -- yet Adams apparently went down easily and at one point offered Salame “thousands of dollars” to let him up before police arrived.

Recurring Themes

-Dogs Gone Wild: (1) Oscar, a Lawrence, Mass., K-9, accidentally fired a gun into an occupied home during a police chase in March. He had pawed the trigger while digging into snow where a fleeing suspect had tossed his gun. (No one was injured.) (2) In March, a dog left inside an otherwise unattended, engine-running car accidentally kicked it into gear and pinned an unidentified pedestrian, knocking him unconscious. He was taken to a hospital in York, Pa., and revived. (3) Gregory Lanier, 35, driving his dog in a truck in Sebring, Fla., in February, was shot in the leg when the dog stepped on a .380 caliber pistol. He was not seriously hurt.

Thanks This Week to Dave Ryan, David Rubin, Rebekah Kogelschatz, Dave Abdoo, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.


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