News of the Weird: Artist turns his fat into soap

  • Article by: CHUCK SHEPHERD
  • June 21, 2013 - 12:39 PM

Orestes de la Paz’s exhibit at the Frost Art Museum in Miami in May recalled Chuck Palahniuk’s novel and film “Fight Club,” in which lead character Tyler Durden’s principal income source was making upscale soap using discarded liposuctioned fat fetched from the garbage of cosmetic surgeons. De la Paz told his mentor at Florida International University that he wanted to display his own liposuctioned fat provocatively but decided to make soap when he realized that the fat would otherwise quickly rot. Some visitors to the exhibit were able to wash their hands with the engineered soap, which De la Paz offered for sale at $1,000 a bar.

Ruins ruined

Archaeologists discovered in May that a construction company had bulldozed 2,300-year-old Maya ruins in northern Belize — simply to mine the rocks for road fill to build a highway. A researcher said it could hardly have been an accident, for the ruins were 100 feet high in an otherwise flat landscape, and a Tulane University anthropologist estimated that Maya ruins are being mined for road fill an average of once a day in their ancient habitats. Said another, “to realize” that the Maya created these structures using only stone tools and then “carried these materials on their heads” to build them — and then that bulldozers can almost instantly destroy them — is “mind-boggling.”

Entrepreneurial spirit

As recently as mid-May, people with disabilities had been earning hefty black-market fees by taking strangers into Disneyland and Disney World using the parks’ own liberal “disability” passes (which allow for up to five relatives or guests at a time to accompany the disabled person in skipping the sometimes-hours-long lines and having immediate access to the rides). The pass-holding “guide,” according to NBC’s “Today” show, could charge as much as $200 through advertising on Craigslist and via word-of-mouth to some travel agents. After reports in the New York Post and other outlets, Disney was said in late May to be warning disabled permit-holders not to abuse the privilege.

Old-time treatment

Researchers writing recently in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE disclosed that they had found certain types of dirt that contain antimicrobial agents capable of killing E. coli and the antibiotic-resistant MRSA. According to the article, medical “texts” back to 3000 B.C. mentioned clays that, when rubbed on wounds, reduce inflammation and pain.

Drone in the ’hood

A woman in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood reported to a local news blog in May that she had seen (and her husband briefly talked with) a man who was operating a “drone” from a sidewalk, guiding the noisy device to a point just outside a third-floor window in a private home. The pilot said he was “doing research” and asserted that he was not violating anyone’s privacy because he was on a public sidewalk while the drone was in public airspace. The couple called for a police officer, but by the time one arrived, the pilot and his drone had left, according to a report on the Capitol Hill Seattle blog.

Readers’ choice

According to officials, Bryan Zuniga, 20, was weaving in traffic in his SUV in May near the St. Petersburg, Fla., city limit. But he ran away from a deputy and eventually climbed a fence to a water-treatment plant — and apparently disturbed an alligator residing in a pond. Zuniga was treated at St. Petersburg General Hospital for bites to his face and arm.

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Army Major Nidal Hasan went on trial in June for killing 13 and wounding another 32 in the notorious November 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, but his 43 months in lockup since then have been lucrative. WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth reported in May that Maj. Hasan has earned $278,000 (and counting) in salary and benefits because his pay cannot be stopped until he is convicted. By contrast, some of the 32 surviving victims complain of difficulty wrenching money out of the Army for worker compensation and disability treatment.”

Chose wrong house

Three men broke into a Houston house on May 14 and, although two escaped, one wound up in the hospital and under arrest. The three men kicked in a door and shut the resident in an upstairs closet while they ransacked the house, but they failed to inspect the closet first and thus did not realize that it was the resident’s handgun-storage closet. A few minutes later, the resident emerged, locked and loaded, and wounded one of the men in the shoulder and leg.

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