Friday, July 1, 2022

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News of the Weird

The entrepreneurial spirit


Grande Hotel San Calogero, the planned centerpiece of a Sicilian tourist renaissance, is still nowhere close to opening — 61 years after construction began. It took 30 years to build, but then developers fought for 10 years over its management, and only later was a serious drainage deficiency discovered (repair of which Rome’s news site The Local reported in July remains unfunded).


Return on investment

Construction of the ultra-modern Don Quixote airport (in Ciudad Real, Spain, about an hour from Madrid) was finished in 2006, but the $1 billion facility never opened, and in July, was sold to a Chinese investor for the equivalent of $11,000. (Bonus: Fictional character Don Quixote was, himself, noted for delusions of grandeur.)



Unclear on the concept

Overlooked by the roundup of “state fair” foods listed in News of the Weird two weeks ago was the debut in June, at California’s San Diego County Fair, of the deep-fried Slim-Fast bar. A 200-calorie “diet bar” is breaded in pancake batter, fried, dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate.

The continuing crisis

Texas’ highest criminal appeals court agreed on July 17, hours before Clifton Williams was to be executed, to a postponement until they could consider the significance of perhaps-faulty higher math presented to his jury in 2006. Prosecutors had claimed at his trial that the likelihood of another black man having Williams’ DNA profile was 1 in 43 sextillion (43 followed by 21 zeros, or 43 billion trillion). Texas officials have recently recalculated the FBI-developed database and concluded that it was somewhat more likely that a second black man had Williams’ profile — 1 in only 40 billion trillion.


Cutting-edge science

Some owners may be petting their cats all wrong, cautioned recent research in issues of the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science by scientists from University of Lincoln in England and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For example, felines seem to prefer face-caressing, especially between the eyes and ears, and are especially aroused, negatively, by tail-petting, especially at the base. Cats appear to be pickier about how their owners pet them than strangers, according to a Washington Post review of one article. The Wisconsin research revealed that cats better appreciate (or are annoyed less by) music written especially for their pitch (an octave higher) and tempo (mimicking purring) than traditional classical music.


Careless governing

Maine enacted legislation in July to make immigrant asylum-seekers eligible for the state’s General Assistance fund — contrary to Gov. Paul LePage’s aggressive promise to veto the bill. The governor had misunderstood state law and believed legislation would be regarded as vetoed if he merely failed to sign it for 10 days. LePage appeared stunned on the 11th day, according to press reports, that he had had the veto law backward and that asylum-seekers are now eligible for benefits.


Epic clumsiness

A guest at the upscale W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had to be rescued by firefighters in July when he fell off of one machine in the hotel’s exercise room and got his head caught in the one next to it. Rescuers arrived with torches and saws, but managed to pull and push and manipulate the man’s head free (though he had “significant” injuries).


The aristocrats!

Michael Crawford, 68, was arrested when he arrived in Phoenix in July expecting, according to the sheriff’s office, to have sex with a horse. Crawford had allegedly posted an online ad seeking horse owners who would allow him access for brief flings. In arranging the meeting with the undercover deputy, Crawford had volunteered that he would be bringing five shirts with him for the horse to urinate on, as memories of the trip.


Least competent criminals

Irresistible Self-Promotion: Jason Stange, 44, who became a fugitive last year by walking away from a Spokane, Washington, halfway house while on probation for bank robbery, was re-arrested in July in Olympia, Washington, after featuring himself in an extensive newspaper pictorial about a local movie he was starring in. Stange could have chosen a more veiled stage name, but (since it was a horror movie) billed himself merely as “Jason Strange” — making detection easier for U.S. Marshals. CV


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