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News of the Weird

Meals 2.0

6/10/2015

Silicon Valley code-writers and engineers work long hours — with apparently little time for “food” as we know it. Eating is “time wasted,” in the words of celebrity inventor Elon Musk, and normal meals a “marketing facade,” said another valley bigwig. The New York Times reported in May that techies are eagerly scarfing down generic (but nutrient-laden) liquids like Schmilk and People Chow, largely for ease of preparation, to speed their return to work. The Times food editor described one product as “oat flour” washed down with “the worst glass of milk ever.” “Pancake batter,” according to a Times reporter.

 

Distracted Americans

Air travelers last year left $675,000 in (obviously) spare change in airport screening bins, reported the Transportation Security Administration in April. Of the cars reported stolen in 2014, 44,828 were with keys left inside them, according to an April National Insurance Crime Bureau release. American credit card holders fail to claim “about $4 billion” in earned “rewards” each year, according to CardHub.com’s 2015 Credit Card Rewards Report.

 

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Our least hardy generation

Nursing student Jennifer Burbella filed a lawsuit against Misericordia University (near Scranton, Pennsylvania) for not helping her enough to pass a required course that she failed twice. The professional caregiver-to-be complained of stress so severe that she needed a distraction-free room and extra time for the exam, but claims she deserved even more special treatment.

 

Wrong direction

In March, following the departure of Zayn Malik from the British band One Direction, an executive with the Peninsula employment law firm in Manchester told London’s Daily Telegraph that he had received “hundreds” of calls from employers seeking advice about workers who were requesting “compassionate” leave because Malik’s resignation had left them distraught. (Also, a spokeswoman for the charity Young Minds told the Telegraph she was concerned about Malik fans self-harming.)

 

Fine points of the law

Britain’s Home Office, judging requests for asylum by immigrants threatened with deportation but who fear oppressive treatment if returned to their home countries, recently turned down asylum for Nigerian lesbian activist Aderonke Apata, 47, apparently because the office doubted her orientation. Though Apata had submitted testimonials (and even photographs) “proving” her homosexuality, the Home Office was skeptical because she had children from a previous heterosexual relationship. On the other hand, an immigration court in England ruled in April that a Libyan man, identified only as “HU,” could not be deported since he is a career criminal and a chronic drunk who would be so unlikely to reform his drinking that he would surely face a lifetime of prison in Libya.

The continuing crisis

Suspended Catholic Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 63, was sentenced in May to more than five years in prison for running a meth distribution ring from Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he also operated a sex shop to launder the drug profits.

 

People different from us

Walter Merrick, 66, was charged with aggravated assault in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey, Louisiana, in March after an altercation with neighbor Clarence Sturdivant, 64, over the comparative merits of Busch and Budweiser beers. Bud-man Sturdivant fired the only shot, but a sheriff’s deputy said Merrick was the aggressor — since he had offered Sturdivant only a Busch.

 

The Pervo-American community

Rusty Sills, 56, previously an “underwear bandit” in West Des Moines, Iowa, was arrested in Pinellas Park, Florida, in March and charged with stealing women’s shoes — sometimes “replacing” them with shoes he no longer fancied. (Police found about 100 pairs in his van.)

 

Is this a great country or what?

Faced with a government fee accepted by most real estate investors who view it as a routine cost of doing business, wealthy Arizona investor Wayne Howard balked. Instead of the ordinary filing-fee rate of $50 for registering a property deed, he demanded that all 2,922 of his deeds be recorded for $500, and when the Pinal County treasurer turned him down, he told the official he would simply use his pull in the legislature to change the law and get his 99.6 percent discount that way. (He almost succeeded. The bill passed the state Senate and was favored in the House, but after the Arizona Republic newspaper exposed Howard’s imperial move, it failed, 30-28.) CV

 

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