Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – August 25, 2010

Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is being put under the microscope like no other kind on the market, with fish, shrimp and other catches ground up to hunt for minute traces of oil – far more reassuring than that sniff test that made all the headlines.  And while the dispersant that was dumped into the massive oil spill has consumers nervous, health regulators contend there’s no evidence it builds up in seafood – although they’re working to create a test for it, just in case.  ***MARLAR: And if that test includes all-you-can-eat crab, I’m in.

Financial news: New applications for unemployment rose last week to their highest level in almost six months, the latest evidence that some employers are still cutting their staffs.  First-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Analysts had expected a drop. That’s the highest total since February.  ***MARLAR: But if it makes you feel better, keeping believing Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi when they say the economy is improving.

Montgomery County police said a man wearing a burqa robbed a bank in Silver Spring. Police said the man who robbed a TD Bank branch on Briggs Chaney Road about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday was wearing a “long black burqa over his face.” He also wore jeans and tan boots.  Authorities said the man showed a gun and demanded money. He took an undetermined amount of money and fled.  Police said the man spoke with what they described as “a Middle Eastern accent.” They say a silver car, possibly a Chevrolet, was seen leaving the scene.  The FBI also is helping with the investigation.  ***MARLAR: Since he chose to wear a burqa, how about we use Sharia law to sentence him?  (Not sure what that would be.)

A Baltimore man has been sentenced to a year and a half in jail for faking seizures to get out of paying restaurant bills. City prosecutors said 43-year-old Andrew Palmer pleaded guilty last week to one count of theft scheme, and a judge agreed to impose an 18-month sentence – the maximum Palmer could have received.  Prosecutors said Palmer ate and drank at several restaurants between April and July, and when he couldn’t pay, he would feign a seizure that required medical personnel to respond. The maximum penalty for each individual offense was 90 days in jail because the value of each meal was less than $100.  Court records show Palmer has a long criminal record that includes 40 convictions for theft and dozens more arrests.  ***MARLAR: Good news – in prison you won’t have to fake a seizure to get out of paying for your meals!

Is the Internet keeping your family apart? A new study says families in the U.S. are spending less time together.  And while the study by the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future doesn’t place the blame on the Internet, it does note that the decline in family time does coincide with a rise in Internet use and the popularity of social networks.  ***MARLAR: However, they have noticed a dramatic increase of people texting family in the other room.

A British puppy had a narrow flush with disaster after his 4-year-old master decided to give him a bath in the toilet. Daniel Blair said that he tried to clean the muddy 1-week-old cocker spaniel because he was muddy, and he flushed him down the drain. His mother Alison thought the dog was dead, but a drainage firm was able to locate the beleaguered animal in a pipe 20 yards away from the house using specialist camera gear and they rescued it. The puppy is ok.  ***MARLAR: And because of the blue water, the dog is now going to star in a big-budget version of Blues Clues.

Oops! A demolition crew tore down the wrong house in Carrollton, Ga. The contractor was using a GPS satellite navigation gizmo to guide them. But they got something wrong. Al Byrd says a neighbor called to tell him his boyhood home and family heirlooms had been destroyed and tossed into Dumpsters. The home was unoccupied at the time. Byrd says he’s gotten apologies from the companies involved. But he’s consulting with a lawyer.  ***MARLAR: If he can ever find his phone in the rubble.

Two Indiana men have declared June 15th as “National Man Day” only to find there’s already a romantic holiday that falls on that date.  Joel Longanecker of Celestine and his brother Aaron, of Indianapolis, have for months been rallying thousands to their masculine cause. But it turns out June 15 is also “Sneak a Kiss Day,” a day for sweethearts to steal smooches from their sweeties.  The Man Day organizers urge participants to take part in “manly” activities such as football, hunting or watching Rocky movies. They claim real men don’t “sneak” kisses.  ***MARLAR: What?  Not even the chocolate ones?  I’m such a girly-man.

During the county fair season, the strange food creations return.  One of the newest – a potato-based food in Manhattan, Montana; mashed potato ice cream.  ***MARLAR: Finally, the perfect food: something you can top with both chocolate sauce AND gravy!

In many parts of the nation, kids head back to school this week.  ***MARLAR: There’s nothing more challenging and rewarding than teaching a student to read for the first time.  The 12th grade is a gratifying experience.

Researchers at Yale University say that chocolate may be good for pregnant women.  ***MARLAR: Especially if used as a pickle dip.

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