Thursday, October 2, 2008

Off Beat News

Cultural Diversity

"In many ways," reported the Los Angeles Times in August, the Torajans of Indonesia's Sulawesi Island "spend a lifetime preparing for their demise," in that the most glorious highlight of their existence appears to be planning the elaborate celebration of the end of it. In fact, taking one's last breath is only the beginning of a lengthy tribute, such as the one for Toraja's last king, who died in 2003 but has not been put away yet, pending completion of the necessary ritual animal sacrifices. (In the interim, the deceased is considered more "sick" than "dead.") Said one local ("cheerfully," according to the Times), "Torajans! (We) live to die!" [Los Angeles Times, 8-14-08]

Castrillo de Murcia, Spain, lacks a "running of the bulls" tradition, but since 1620, it has included in its annual El Colacho festival a "leaping over the babies." In late May, the town's infants are laid on mattresses in the village square, and people in red-and-yellow devil costumes jump over them and keep running, to symbolize the vanquishing of demons from their lives. [Spiegel, 8-28-08]

Toward a More Accessible Anglican Church

In August, Birmingham Cathedral announced plans to open a series of wine bars in London, as (according to an official) one of the "alternative ways" of engaging non-church-goers. [BBC News, 9-1-08]

The new church curate in Dursley, Gloustershire, is Rev. Skye Denno, 29, a married mother of two, whose down time is spent in biker boots, hot pants, a dog collar and her six piercings, listening to the Sex Pistols. Said she, "I don't do it to be difficult. (I) think it makes me more approachable." [Daily Telegraph (London), 9-8-08]

The Continuing Crisis

The Nebraska legislature's new "safe haven" law for unwanted babies, like other states' laws, allows them to be dropped off anonymously at hospitals to discourage abortions (and neglect by unfit parents). However, unlike other states' laws, Nebraska's applies not just to infants, but "minors," because, said Sen. Tom White, "All children deserve our protection." In September, the first two non-infants were abandoned, as exasperated parents gave up on rebellious sons aged 11 and 15, and critics say the law could apply to those up to age 19. [Lincoln Journal Star, 9-15-08]

In August, the U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new rules for train and bus drivers returning to work from drug-use suspensions. They must now be tested first by a strip search to detect devices for cheating (such as artificial penises), and if none is found, they may re-dress themselves, but a monitor must still "directly watch the urine as it goes from the employee's body into the collection container." Not surprisingly, several unions have challenged the rule in court. [Railway Age, 8-13-08]

In July, Abbie Hawkins, 19, a hotel receptionist in Norwich, England, said she found a baby bat nestled inside the padded bra she had been wearing for several hours. "When I was driving to work, I felt a slight vibration but I thought it was just my mobile phone in my jacket pocket," she told the Daily Telegraph. Hawkins had fetched the bra off of a clothesline that morning, where it had been hanging overnight. First reaction: "I thought how mean I was for disturbing it." [Daily Telegraph, 7-8-08]

Fine Points of the Law

Joey Bergamine, 19, who is preparing for a re-trial in Fayetteville, N.C., on a DUI charge stemming from a July 2007 incident, will argue that he should have been advised of his right to have a lawyer present when his father kicked open his bedroom door hours after the incident to help police officers who had come to question him. Joey's father is the police chief of Fayetteville, and Joey's lawyer said entering a locked room, as well as the subsequent interrogation, constituted "police" action and not "parental" action, and since his dad failed to "Mirandize" him, the charge should be dismissed. [Fayetteville Observer, 8-16-08]

Least Competent Criminals:

More Ways to Consume That Heavenly Food: The fourth annual Big Tex Choice award for best taste this year (at a precursor event to September's Texas State Fair) went to Glen Kusak's chicken fried bacon. [Dallas Morning News, 9-2-08]

Earlier this summer, fourth-generation candymaker Joseph Marini III introduced chocolate-covered bacon bon-bons at his stand on California's Santa Cruz Boardwalk. [MSNBC-AP, 8-8-08]

For the more sophisticated, restaurateur Don Yovicsin of Waltham, Mass., serves bacon-infused Absolut vodka (allowed to sit for four weeks' time and then filtered of the bits) (and for a Bacon Bloody Mary, add mix, a lime wedge, "barbecue rub" and a Slim Jim). [Boston Herald, 9-3-08]

Undignified Deaths

A 21-year-old man fishing off Jones Beach on New York's Long Island in July was killed when he yanked his line back too quickly, propelling his 3-ounce lead sinker out of the water, where it struck his head and penetrated his brain. [Newsday, 7-29-08]

A 32-year-old man lounging beside a pool in Leland, N.C., in August was killed when a burst of wind dislodged a canopy umbrella, thrusting the tip into his skull. [Wilmington Star News, 8-9-08]

A 79-year-old motorist watching a crane lift a steeple onto a new church in Oklahoma City in July was killed when the crane toppled over and crushed his car. [KOCO-TV (Oklahoma City), 7-24-08]


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