Angry Gamers and Recycled Snot

WHAT IS IT WITH THE MILITARY AND CATCH-22s?

David Henderson, a Korean War veteran long suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, applied 15 days past the deadline for enhanced care under a 2001 veterans-benefits law and thus was, as required by the statute, disqualified from the additional benefits. Henderson’s doctor pointed out that major disorders such as Henderson’s often leave victims unable to understand concepts like “deadlines.” As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer asked, during argument on the case in December, did Congress (which wrote the statute) really intend to deprive Henderson of care because of the very disability for which he sought help?

BAD TASTE IN MUSIC

Fredrik Hjelmqvist, 45, owner of an audio shop in Stockholm, demonstrated in November his system of broadcasting music from his stomach. He swallowed a plastic capsule containing a battery-operated audio set-up, then connected an amplifier to a stethoscope and held it against his belly, and began playing recorded music, including the Village People’s “YMCA,” until the battery died three hours later. Hjelmqvist admitted that the audio quality was poor but still hopes to sell the system for the equivalent of about $17,000.

FOWL DEALINGS

(1) Gloria Clark, 62, was charged in the death of her 98-year-old mother in St. George, South Carolina, in December after the mother’s body was found among squalid conditions at her home. Though Clark denied she had been neglectful, the mother’s pet parrot might have disagreed. According to the police report, the parrot, in the mother’s bedroom, continually squawked—mimicking “Help me! Help me!” followed by the sound of laughter. (2) An unnamed Danish man traveled to Vienna, Austria, in July for a trial on his lawsuit against the man who had sold him a defective cockatoo for the equivalent of about $15,000. In a demonstration for the judge in the courtroom’s hallway, the bird flew “lopsided,” with the probable cause (according to the purchaser) chronic gout. The judge’s decision was not reported.

AND YOU HAVE TO SEPARATE OUT YOUR BOOGERS…

An official release of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment in July apparently cleared up a matter of controversy (according to a report in SF Weekly): Human semen is one organic waste product not required to be disposed of in special “compost” bags under the city’s mandatory composting law. “Snot,” however, must be properly bagged.

NOT PLAYING GAMES

Darren Suchon, 42 and unemployed (and usually home all day), was charged in October with reckless driving and assault, among other things, for allegedly running his girlfriend off the road in his zeal to catch her after she drove away with his Sony PlayStation console. She had just left for work, and Suchon weaved through traffic in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, then bumped her car when he caught up with her at a traffic light, forcing her off the road. According to witnesses, Suchon rushed the car, “clawing” at it, screaming that he would “break the [expletive] window” if he didn’t get his game back.

INCOMPETENT CRIMINALS

(1) Murder suspect Earle Barranco, 24, was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, in November, three weeks after allegedly killing a man in a New York City diner. Barranco was spotted at a Charlotte Bobcats basketball game, mugging for the arena’s JumboTron while decked out in the distinctive jewelry he wore during the alleged murder. At the next Bobcats game a few days later, with police monitoring that same seat, Barranco was arrested. (2) Dennis Davis, 40, and his wife were convicted in October in Britain’s Staines Magistrates’ Court of manufacturing a line of pirated music CDs. Davis initially denied ownership of the pirated stash but was unable to explain why the CDs bore his company’s label with his own photo on it.

SUE’VE GOTTA BE KIDDING

(1) In July, a 5-year-old boy in Dublin, Ireland, was awarded the equivalent of about $9,900 from a shopkeeper who had grabbed his arm and accused him, erroneously, of being a thief. Under the law, the boy had to prove that he has, at age 5, a “reputation in the community” for truth-telling and that his reputation had been damaged. (2) A New York City judge ruled in October that an 87-year-old woman who was accidentally knocked down by several kids racing bicycles on the sidewalk could sue the kids, including one who was 4 years old (and who is thus legally presumed to understand the difference between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” behavior).

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