At a June hearing, a Philadelphia judge became so exasperated at defendant Robert Williams’ seeming cluelessness about his need to keep his probation appointments that she ordered him to take “etiquette” classes before returning to court. Williams, a rap singer and budding music mogul still under court supervision on gun and drug charges from 2008, cavalierly defended his inability to find time for his probation officer by explaining that he was a busy man, working with seven “artists,” with a demanding travel schedule, and uninhibitedly using social media (creating posts that, allegedly, led to threats against the probation officer). Williams, of course, was accompanied to court by a several-man entourage.
An atheist “church” in Lake Charles, La., run by lapsed Pentecostal Jerry DeWitt, conducts periodic services with many of the trappings expected by the pious–except for the need to believe in a supreme being. Such “churches” (reported The New York Times and Washington Post in coincidental stories the same day in June) can help soothe the “biological” needs for survival and avoidance of loneliness by congregational rituals (such as celebrating a sabbath) and in helping find meaning “in something other than (oneself).” For example, atheist Sigfried Gold praised a “rigorous prayer routine” (beseeching a “vivid goddess he created”) in overcoming his weight problem.
NORTH KOREAN ECONOMIC INDICATORS
The business website Quartz reported in June that a popular consumer item in North Korea’s perhaps-improving economy is the refrigerator, made in China and increasingly available as a reward to stellar performers among civil servants and other elites. The appliances, however, cannot reliably store food because the country’s electric grid is so frequently offline and are mostly just status symbols. One item Quartz says often gets displayed in the refrigerator: books.
OUR LITIGIOUS SOCIETY
Shower rooms in health clubs are slippery enough, but Marc Moskowitz, 66, cited the one at the Bally Total Fitness gym on E. 55th St. in New York City as especially dangerous, according to his recent lawsuit to recover expenses for a broken shoulder suffered in a fall. Moskowitz claimed that so much gay male sex was occurring in the shower and locker-room area (unsupervised by Bally) that he had probably slipped on semen.
Rodger Kelly was arrested in St. George, Utah, in June for allegedly raping a female neighbor, but he told police that he committed the act only to “save” her, since he had discovered her “cold” and unconscious. He had violated her body only “to try and get her temperature up,” according to the police report. And the low-price air carrier GoAir of New Delhi announced in June that in the future it would hire only females for the cabin crew–because they weigh less than men (and expects eventually to save the equivalent of $4 million annually in fuel based on average weights).
In May, former schoolteacher Kathleen Cawthorne, 33, of Rustburg, Va., successfully negotiated a reduction in her 11-year sentence for having sex with an underage student. Cawthorne’s punishment was set at only four months in prison when she presented the judge with a clinical diagnosis of “hypersexuality,” supposedly showing that she had little ability to control her desire to seduce the boy.
In May, a jury in Tampa decided that Ralph Wald, 70, was not guilty of murdering a 32-year-old man he had shot in the back three times. He said he had caught the man having sex with his wife (successfully claiming that he thought the man was a dangerous intruder in his home). But Marissa Alexander, 34, of Jacksonville, was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for “aggravated assault” for merely firing a warning shot during an altercation with her estranged husband. The man, Rico Gray, is a serial domestic abuser and admitted that he was threatening Alexander that night and that she never actually pointed her gun directly at him. However, the judge denied Alexander use of the “stand your ground” defense because she had declined to simply walk away from Gray.
FETISHES ON PARADE
According to Chicago police, Gerardo Perez, 50, broke away while on a tour in May of the Chicago Animal Care and Control Facility because he had been struck with a sexual attraction. He was discovered minutes later on his hands and knees beside a pit bull, “appearing to have just had sex with the animal,” according to a report on WMAQ-TV. (2) Shaun Orris, 41, was charged with disorderly conduct in Waukesha, Wis., in June after raising a ruckus outside the Montecito Ristorante Lounge, harassing passersby by loudly expressing his “constitutional right” to have sex with goats.