Odds & Ends
Dateline: Romania—Romanian senators—perhaps fearing magical repercussions—have rejected a proposal to tax their country’s witches and fortune tellers. Lawmakers Alin Popoviciu and Cristi Dugulescu of the ruling Democratic Liberal Party had drafted a law that would require witches and fortune tellers to produce receipts. The law, aimed at increasing revenue for the cash-strapped country, would also have held the soothsayers liable for wrong predictions. On Sept. 7, however, Romania’s Senate voted down the proposal. Popoviciu claimed lawmakers were frightened of being cursed.
Dateline: West Virginia—Microsoft Corp. and the chief rules enforcer for Xbox Live are apologizing to an entire West Virginia town after kicking a 26-year-old man off the home video game network for saying he is from “Fort Gay”—even though he is. Josh Moore was surprised to learn Microsoft deemed the hometown listed on his user profile “offensive” and suspended his Xbox Live account because of it. Despite the fact that Fort Gay is an actual town of about 800 in Wayne County, near the Kentucky border, the rules enforcement team at Xbox Live refused to believe it. Moore contacted customer service and told them, “Look in my account. Fort Gay is a real place.” The customer service rep was having none of it, though, and told Moore if he put Fort Gay back in his profile, Xbox Live would cancel his account and keep his $12 monthly membership fee—which he had paid two years in advance. “I told him, Google it—25514,” Moore responded, adding his hometown ZIP code. “He said, ‘I can’t help you.’ ” David Thompson, mayor of Fort Gay, even tried to intervene. The mayor told WSAZ-TV in Huntington he was informed by Microsoft that the city’s official name didn’t make any difference. The world “gay” was offensive in any context. Stephen Toulouse, director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, later told the Associated Press that this was a “miscommunication.” Moore’s gaming account has since been restored, and Toulouse has apologized to residents of the no longer offensive West Virginia town.
Dateline: Indiana—Police and school officials conducting an investigation into sexual harassment claims at Delphi Community High School turned up evidence of a mild “wedgie.” Superintendent Ralph Walker told the Journal and Courier in Lafayette the parents of a freshman at the school reported that their son was hazed in a sexual manner by three older students in a locker room earlier this month. Walker said both the school and Delphi police followed up on the report. After talking to several student witnesses, it was determined that the incident involved an attempted wedgie. “What happened was far from what this young man and his parents are putting forth,” Walker told the newspaper. “It came down to three junior boys trying to give the freshmen student a wedgie. He asked them to stop, and they did.” Walker said the three older students will be disciplined. Police refused to press charges. The name of the student and his parents have not been released.
Dateline: Illinois—A man pulled over by Naperville police for driving 100 mph in a 50 mph zone told police he had just gotten his car washed and “was trying to dry it off.” The excuse, however, didn’t wash with local law enforcement. According to the Naperville Sun, 24-year-old Lucas Wright was charged with a misdemeanor count of speeding 40 mph or more over the posted limit. His car was towed and temporarily impounded.
Dateline: Oregon—A homeless man who broke into a home in Beaverton just to hang out in the hot tub was arrested after calling 911 to ask for towels, hot chocolate and a hug. Mark Eskelsen had been soaking in the private tub for several hours on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 30, when he decided to phone emergency services and ask for help. After identifying himself as “the sheriff of Washington County” he outlined his problem: He had been sitting in the tub for about 10 hours, his voice was hoarse from yelling and his fingers looked like prunes. “I just need a hug and a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows in it,” Eskelsen told dispatchers. Neighbors had already called 911, concerned about the unidentified man yelling inside the fenced pool area. Beaverton police eventually arrived and arrested the naked Eskelsen. He pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal trespass and improper use of the 911 system. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.