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News of the Weird
 

Spreadsheet parenting


Chuck Shepherd September 11th, 2013

Loco parentis: First-time mother Amy Webb proudly notates dozens of data points about her child each day and obsessively tracks their detailed progression by computer on spreadsheets, according to the provocative first-person account she wrote for Slate.com in July.

In categories ranging from ordinary vital signs, to the kid’s progress in sound-making, to dietary reactions, to quantity and quality of each poop, stats are kept 24/7 (even with a bedside laptop to facilitate nighttime entries). She began tracking her own health during pregnancy, but then decided, “Why stop now?” when her daughter was born. Webb’s pediatrician rated the kid’s health as “A-minus,” but the parents’ as “C,” adding: “You guys need to relax. Leave the spreadsheets (out).” Webb and her husband remain confident that their extreme tracking optimizes their chances of raising a healthy daughter.

The litigious society
A lawyer and former spokesman for the judiciary of Kenya filed a petition in July with the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, seeking a retrial of Jesus Christ and naming as defendants the state of Israel, King Herod, various Jewish elders, the former emperor of Rome (Tiberius), and of course Pontius Pilate. Dola Indidis claims that the proceedings before Roman courts did not conform to the rule of law at the time. (Indidis’ claim had been dismissed by the High Court in Nairobi, and a spokesperson for the ICJ said the court has no jurisdiction in such a case, for it is not one between governments.)

Perspective
Researchers can accurately estimate a person’s economic status just by learning which environmental toxins are in his body, concluded a University of Exeter (England) research team recently, using U.S. data. Although “both rich and poor Americans are walking waste dumps,” wrote the website Quartz, reporting the conclusions, poorer people’s typical food leaves lead, cadmium and the banned bisphenol-A, whereas richer people more likely accumulate heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, thallium) from aquatic lean protein (and acquire oxybenzone from the active ingredient in sunscreens). Previous research was thought to show that richer Americans ate healthier (for example, eating fruits and vegetables instead of canned foods), but the Exeter research shows they merely house different toxins.

Strange old world
In May, a Brazilian cancer-fighting foundation, AAPEC, published a series of photos of its new mascot that it hopes will call attention to the dread of testicular cancer, and the initial worldwide reviews demonstrate that, indeed, people may never, ever forget their first glance at “Mr. Balls.” AAPEC described its character as a “friendly snowman in the shape of testicles” -- friendly in the sense of a buck-toothed humanoid with a puffycheeked smile and the body of a huge scrotal sac dotted with small curly hairs and rough skin. As photos of the genial “Senhor Testiculo” circulated in June, he was variously described as “disturbing,” “horrifying,” “terrifying” and “a nightmare.”

Least competent criminals
Recurring Themes: (1) Vade Bradley, 39, was arrested on arson charges in Hayward, Calif., in August after burning down an apartment house carport, totally destroying six vehicles. He was siphoning other people’s gasoline in the carport when he decided to light a cigarette. (2) Richard Boudreaux was charged in January with burglarizing Kenney’s Seafood (where he previously worked) in Slidell, La., when he became the most recent perp to fail to outflank surveillance cameras. He had thought to wear a bucket over his head as he moved through the store -- except he had waited until well inside (within camera range) before actually putting it on.

—Chuck Shepherd

 
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