Top 10 Offbeat Stories of the Day – July 11th, 2012

Top 10 Offbeat Stories of the Day – July 11th, 2012

Randall Munroe…, David vs. mentally…, Remember the story…, Women of Color…, mocks deaf man…, German mayor designates…, Tom Cruise Gets Visitation Rights…, The Nazi…, Canada stripping Visas…,  Man, Dead for nearly 2 years…1. Randall Munroe of xkcd has launched a new series called “What if?”. What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

The answer turns out to be “a lot of things”, and they all happen very quickly, and it doesn’t end well for the batter (or the pitcher). I sat down with some physics books, a Nolan Ryan action figure, and a bunch of videotapes of nuclear tests and tried to sort it all out. What follows is my best guess at a nanosecond-by-nanosecond portrait:

2. David vs. mentally challenged Goliath: Man fights AT&T over $1 million phone bill

Most months, the phone bill for Michael Smith’s small Ipswich manufacturing firm runs about $700. But one weekend in 2009, phone hackers somehow managed to use his phone system to make hundreds of calls to the African nation of Somalia.

3. Remember the story of the boy who locked his bike to a tree and went off to die in WWI, only to have the tree grow around the bike? About that..

In 1914, a young man leaned his bicycle against a tree, left Vashon Island, Washington, and went off to war, never to return. The tree did what trees do, and two became as one. So goes the legend of Vashon’s infamous tree bike — a poignant, romantic, tragic story.

 4. Utah magazine’s “Women of Color” features only white women.

If you were the editor of Utah Valley Magazine, and you needed a headline to accompany your editor’s note for the “Women’s Issue,” and you had selected this photograph of your female staffers to illustrate it, what would you pick for a headline? How about the one thing the photo most certainly does not depict?

5. TSA agent allegedly mocks deaf man, then steals and eats his candy.

teaandtheatre, who is deaf, writes about an upsetting incident of “ableist” or “audist” harassment he claims to have received from the TSA, while going through a screening at the Louisville, Kentucky airport. He explains that he was returning home from the National Association for the Deaf’sbiennial conference, with friends who’d attended the same event for deaf rights advocacy. He writes on Tumblr that he wrote the post as a kind of heads-up for other deaf folks, but it has gone viral outside of that community. Snip:

6. German mayor designates parking spaces just for men

A small town in Germany’s Black Forest best known for its cuckoo clocks and beautiful scenery is making headlines thanks to its mayor’s new parking policy, which designates special parking spaces for male drivers because they are harder to get into. Triberg Mayor Gallus Strobel told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung he hopes to “challenge political correctness” with his new policy, adding that the tight spaces will be an “attraction” for ambitious drivers.

 7. Tom Cruise Gets Visitation Rights? Why Don’t We, Ask Ex-Scientologists Cut Off From Family Members.

Fans of Katie Holmes are celebrating that she seemed to get just about everything she wanted in her divorce settlement with Tom Cruise — reportedly, she’s getting primary custody of Suri, and Tom will get visitation rights. And with Katie registering with a Catholic Church in Manhattan, it’s a good bet that Suri will be shielded from her father’s controversial religion, Scientology.

 8. The Nazi breeding program that resurrected an extinct species

An indelible characteristic of fascist ideology is the celebration of a mythic past, an over-the-top nostalgic fixation often accompanied by attempts to restore things to the way they used to be “back in the good ol’ days”. For the Nazis, this meant a return to Old Germania — the old Germany of the Nibelungenlied — a time of (supposed) unparalleled prosperity, happiness, and pride.

9. Canada stripping Visas from foreign strippers.

What’s this debate over Canada’s move to ban foreign strippers, escorts and massage-parlor workers really about? On one side, you have the Adult Entertainment Association, which is upset that the government is stripping away a pool of potential moneymaking workers, whereas on the other side, you have the government, which is saying that cutting back on human trafficking and exploitation is at the heart of the decision.

10. Man, dead for nearly 2 years, found mummified, sitting in chair inside Jackson home

Jackson police and prosecutors are considering charges against a woman who kept her dead boyfriend inside their Cooper Street home for nearly two years. On July 6, police found Charles William Zigler dead, covered up in a living room chair, said Lt. Chris Simpson. A medical examiner determined Zigler died of natural causes sometime around Christmas 2010.

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