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News of the Weird

Unusual Hobby

Social media have given us the dubious opportunity to document all manner of celebratory, mournful, hilarious and contemplative events. And so they have opened the door to fame for “Paul Flart” (real name: Doug), a 31-year-old hospital security guard who took to Instagram in March to share with the world his “sphincter sirens.” Flart spent a lot of time sitting around at the front desk with nothing to do, but, he noticed, “The lobby has really great acoustics, and naturally, we all fart. One day I ripped a rather nice one and got really good sound from it, so the next time it happened I recorded it and sent it to my group chat.” Those lucky friends encouraged him to go viral and helped him choose his Insta handle, Paul Flart. Today, he’s racked up more than 20,000 followers, according to Vice. Unfortunately, hospital management isn’t among them, and on Aug. 23, Flart was fired from his job. But he’s not deflated; he plans to expand his reach: “We can do Paul Flart on vacation, you know, throw in like a Hawaiian shirt and a hat … and then just fart around Florida.” [Vice, 8/23/2018]

Government in Action

The public works department in San Francisco gets, on average, 65 calls every day with complaints about feces on the sidewalk. Public works director Mohammed Nuru and the city’s mayor, London Breed, put their heads together and came up with a solution: the Poop Patrol. In mid-September, five public works employees with a steam cleaner will begin scouring poop “hot spots,” such as the Civic Center, Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, during the afternoons to clean up what nature has left behind. (Another team also cleans overnight.) Officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that the waste comes from dogs and people, and the mayor recently allotted about $1 million for new public restrooms. “I just want the city to be clean,” Mayor Breed said, “and I want to make sure we’re providing the resources so that it can be.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14/2018]

Bright Idea

— As his trial got underway on Aug. 22, Chinese University of Hong Kong associate professor Khaw Kim-sun pleaded not guilty to a breathtaking murder plot. Prosecutors say that in 2015, Khaw filled a yoga ball with carbon monoxide, then left it in the trunk of his wife’s car, where it slowly leaked the noxious gas and killed his wife and their 16-year-old daughter. The BBC reported that Khaw was angry because his wife wouldn’t divorce him so that he could be with a student with whom he was having an affair. When colleagues caught Khaw filling the ball, he said he was going to use it to kill rabbits, but in his statement to police, he said the gas was to kill rats in his home. He is charged with two counts of murder. [BBC, 8/23/2018]

— Jeffrey Tomerlin, 45, was charged with assault on Aug. 19 after he hurled a soft, fluffy, edible weapon at his ex-girlfriend. When Tomerlin saw his ex in a car with her new boyfriend, he walked up to her window and threw a biscuit at her face. He also charged the car, banging on it and saying he would kill them, reported WKRN, earning additional charges of public intoxication and vandalism. It was not clear whether the biscuit damaged the ex-girlfriend’s face. [WKRN, 8/21/2018]

Florida. Says It All

On Aug. 20, the Miami Herald endorsed Republican Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, who was running to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to represent a district that includes parts of Miami and Miami Beach. (She lost her primary bid on Aug. 28.) Rodriguez Aguilera has been a city official and a business executive, the Herald noted, but conceded, “We realize that Rodriguez Aguilera is an unusual candidate.” Before she was a candidate, Rodriguez Aguilera appeared on Spanish-language television programs to talk about her experience of being abducted by aliens when she was 7 years old. Three beings, two women and a man who reminded her of Jesus Christ, spoke to her “telepathically” and took her aboard their spaceship. Inside, she saw “round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship,” and she said she has communicated with them several times since then. However, editorial page editor Nancy Ancrum didn’t think Rodriguez Aguilera’s beliefs or past experiences compromised her as an effective public servant. “Here’s why we chose her: She’s not crazy,” Ancrum told The Washington Post. “I don’t think we went off the rails here.” [Washington Post, 8/20/2018]


Mohamad Zayid Abdihdy, 24, declared that he’s “going back to hookah” after a fiery incident on Aug. 25 involving his e-cigarette. The cellphone store worker was in an HDTV Outlet store in Anaheim, California, buying a new television when the smoking device exploded in his pants pocket. “The gentleman, he is running … and he is screaming and yelling,” store manager Antelmolare Guzman told NBC4. “Apparently, all of his right leg was completely burnt all the way down. Part of his private parts were also kind of affected.” While Abdihdy ran to the restroom to see to his burns, Guzman put out the still-flaming e-cig on the store’s floor. Abdihdy, who did not go to the hospital, said he still can’t walk on his leg. [NBC4, 8/28/2018]

Sorry You Missed It

At least one competitor dressed up as Donald Trump at the World Gravy Wrestling Championships in Lancashire, England, on Aug. 27. As grapplers slipped and slid in the slimy mess, even the referee got toppled a few times. United Press International reported that both men and women participated to support the East Lancashire Hospice. [UPI, 8/27/2018]

The Meth Made Me Do It

Mason Tackett of Floyd County, Kentucky, told WYMT that neighbors called him on Aug. 26 to say his cousin, Phillip Hagans, was carrying items out of Tackett’s house. When Tackett returned home, he said, “It looked like he was packing up for a yard sale when he come out.” Hagans was “lying, throwing his hands, saying stuff like, ‘I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it.’ … He did pull a gun on me,” Tackett said. But what he really couldn’t understand was Hagans’ choice of items to steal: a cheese grater, an empty Lysol bottle and soap. “Who steals a cheese grater?” Tackett asked. “He stole my soap. Who steals soap? … Must have been a bad batch (of methamphetamine) around here ’cause Floyd County has gone crazy in the last four days.” Hagans was charged with receiving stolen property and being a convicted felon with a firearm. [WYMT, 8/26/2018]

Extreme Measures

A man named Tang from Sichuan Province, China, promised his girlfriend, Yang, that he would buy an expensive luxury car for her. The only problem was that he didn’t have the money. So he cooked up a scheme, inviting Yang and her brothers to the Chengdu car dealership on Aug. 16, where he had allegedly put down a 10,000 yuan payment. Tang asked the group to wait there while he went to get the cash, but instead, according to Shanghaiist, he went to a supermarket and bought a fruit knife. Outside, he found a secluded spot and cut up his own arms, then called Yang and said he had been robbed at knifepoint of the 750,000 yuan he had supposedly withdrawn for the car. While her brothers took Tang to the hospital, Yang waited for police, who eventually excised the story from Tang. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a 500 yuan fine. [Shanghaiist, 8/23/2018]