Katie Scarvey column: New that made us go 'hmmmmmm…'

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 7, 2007

It’s the end of the year –time to look back on some news that raised eyebrows.

Let there be peace on earth (but not in Loma Linda). The Loma Linda Homeowners’ Association threatened to fine Lisa Jensen over her display of a peace symbol-shaped wreath. Jensen was notified by letter that her fellow homeowners were offended and wanted the wreath removed.

According to homeowners’ association president Bob Kearns: “The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it. It’s also an anti-Christ sign. That’s how it started.”

Jenson was ultimately allowed to keep her wreath, but in protest neighbors on each side put up holiday hawks clutching little hand grenades in their talons.

OK, I made that last part up.

Does he teach ethics, too? Prof. David Weale at the University of Prince Edward Island was upset that one of his classes had an enrollment of 95. To get numbers down, he offered students full credit, with a B-minus grade, to stop coming to class. More than a fifth of the class accepted. After administrators heard of the scheme, Weale was suspended. The class? History of Christianity.

That’s ionric: Amarillo, Texas welcomed home eighth place national spelling bee contestant Caitlin Campbell with a billboard — but misspelled her name as “Cambell.”

Because $92 million saved is $92 million that can go to our executives: Despite reporting staggering profits of more than $18 billion for the first half of 2006, ExxonMobil announced it would fight the U.S. Justice Department over $92 million the company owes in the still-unfinished 1989 Exxon Valdez oil-spill cleanup. (In January, long-time chairman and CEO Lee Raymond received a retirement and severance package of approximately $400 million.)

Nothing says Merry Christmas like Nazis and suicidal snowmen: A hardware store owner in Oberlin, Ohio, pulled a holiday window display called “The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men” by artist Keith McGuckin that featured gingerbread men dressed as Nazi storm troopers; a headless snowman under a hair dryer was allowed to remain. A window McGuckin created last year featured a kid concocting crystal meth with his new chemistry set.

Or he’ll sic Barney on you: Andy Griffith filed a suit last month demanding that William Fenrick, who had legally changed his name to Andy Griffith to help himself get elected sheriff, change it back.

Some family members have more value than others, campaign-wise: Randall Terry, who ran for Florida state senate (and won) on a family values platform, acknowledged that his two adopted children were absent in family photos used in campaign mailers. (Son Jamiel is gay and daughter Tila had a child out of wedlock.)

Proof that some people have too much time on their hands: On Oct. 4, Akira Haraguchi, a mental health counselor, recited the value of pi for 16 straight hours (with a five-minute break each hour) — to 100,000 decimal places. The feat broke his old record of 83,431.

Every soccer mom should have one: An Uzi submachine gun was offered as a prize in a youth sports association raffle in Weaverville.

Score one for the Fuhrer: Before a playoff game, the soccer team at Forestview High School in Gastonia played a 90-second excerpt from a speech by Nazi propoganda minister Joseph Goebbels over the stadium P.A.

And then Wynn entered his own blue period: A day after finalizing a deal to sell his prized Picasso painting for $139 million, billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn accidentally poked a hole in it with his elbow in front of Barbara Walters.

Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or kscarvey@salisburypost.com.