News of the Weird11/13/2013
A Piece of the Action
“Fantasy sports” are hugely popular, but when fans “draft” players for their teams, they “own” only the players’ statistics. Recently, Wall Street and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs created Fantex Holdings, which will allow investors to buy actual pieces of real players, namely, rights to 20 percent of the player’s lifetime earnings (including licensing and product endorsement deals). The firm told The New York Times in October that it will soon stage an “IPO” for budding NFL star Arian Foster and hopes to sign up many more athletes, plus singers and actors similarly early in their careers.
In December China joined only a handful of countries (and 29 U.S. states) by strengthening the rights of elderly parents to demand support from their adult children — not only financially (which has been the law for more than a decade) but now allowing lawsuits by parents who feel emotionally ignored, as well. An October Associated Press feature on one rural extended family dramatized China’s cultural shift away from its proverbial “first virtue” of family honor. Zhang Zefang, 94, said she did not even understand the concept of “lawsuit” when a local official explained it, but only that she deserved better from the children she had raised and who now allegedly resent her neediness. (A village court promptly ordered several family members to contribute support for Zhang.)
Latest Religious Messages
Recent separate testings in 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna yielded a conclusion that 86 percent of the holy water in the country’s churches was not safe to drink — most commonly infected with diarrhea-causing E.coli and Campylobacter. University of Vienna researchers found samples with up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, and the busier the church, the higher the count. …
Various studies show “churchgoers” to be happier, more optimistic and healthier than other people, leading some atheists and agnostics to wonder whether the church experience could be fruitfully replicated but minus the belief in God. Hence, the “Sunday Assembly” was created in London, and has now spread to New York City and Melbourne, Australia, with 18 other hoped-for openings by year’s end, according to a September report in The Week. Founders seek such benefits as “a sense of community,” “a thought-provoking (secular) sermon,” “group singing” and an “ethos of self-improvement,” exemplified by the motto “live better, help often, wonder more,” and they hope that eventually Sunday Assembly will organize Sunday school, weddings, funerals and “non-religious baptisms.”
“You hired a convicted prostitute and thief to handle state money?” asked an incredulous Connecticut state legislator in September when he learned that Suki Handly had been employed from 2008 to 2012 passing out welfare benefits in the state’s Manchester distribution center and that $44,000 was missing. Furthermore, Handly and two others had been found guilty of theft in Connecticut in 2010, yet word of her prostitution and 2010 convictions were not known to state investigators until a chance audit in 2012. (State hiring offices of course promised to strengthen background checks.)
People With Worse Sex Lives Than Yours
(1) Optometrist Robert Deck III, 48, was arraigned in Oakland County, Mich., in October on an indecent exposure charge after an August incident in which he allegedly began to masturbate in his office while fitting a female patient with contact lenses. (2) Edward Falcone, 57, a retired woodshop teacher at Brooklyn High School of the Arts, was arrested for public lewdness in October after students on a school bus reported a motorist masturbating as he followed the bus. (3) Leslie Bailey, 28, was convicted of misdemeanor lewd conduct in San Francisco in October after being spotted by a BART train operator on separate occasions, incompletely clothed, thrusting his hips against an empty seat.
Least Competent Criminals
Ariel Sinclair, 23, an assistant manager at a Rite Aid drugstore in Virginia Beach, Va., was charged in October with stealing $6,000 from the store’s Virginia State Lottery machine. According to police, access to the machine requires an authorized fingerprint, which she supplied, apparently failing to think ahead that this would eventually be difficult to explain. “We work a lot of different cases,” said a police spokesman, and “some are (easier) than others.”
(1) Among the things responders mentioned in Public Policy Polling’s October release as being viewed more favorably than the U.S. Congress were hermorrhoids, the DMV and toenail fungus. The same firm’s polling earlier in the year showed Congress less likable than root canals, head lice, colonoscopies and Donald Trump, but back then, Congress did beat out telemarketers, ebola virus and meth labs. (2) Among the reported personal-residence expenditures provoking Pope Francis in October to remove Limburg, Germany, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst: his bathtub (equivalent of about $20,000), cupboards and carpentry ($550,000) and artwork ($690,000). (Days later, the Vatican announced that the church would open a soup kitchen at the bishop’s mansion.) CV