According to the flabbergasted sheriff of rural Chesterfield County, S.C., “This has completely changed our definition of [what constitutes] an ‘ass-load’ of guns.” Brent Nicholson, 51, had been storing more than 7,000 firearms (most of them likely stolen) in his home and a storage building on his property. Every room of the house was stacked with weapons, and it took four tractor-trailer trips to haul everything away, with help of 100 law-enforcement officers. Nicholson also had 500 chain saws, at least 250 taxidermied deer, elk, and alligator heads, and more. No motive was obvious to deputies. (Nicholson would still be living in the shadows today if he hadn’t run that stop sign on Oct. 21 with bogus license plates on his truck.)

Leading economic indicators

Following the release of Apple’s yearly financials in October (and based on sales of its iPhone 6), the company announced that apart from other assets, it was sitting on $206 billion in cash — about like owning the entire gross domestic product of Venezuela, but all in cash. Another way of expressing it: Using only its cash, Apple could buy every single NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL team, plus the 20 most valuable international soccer teams — and still have plenty left. Or, as the blog pointed out, it could instead simply give every man, woman and child in America $646 (coincidentally, about what a new iPhone 6 sells for).

Even if Armageddon doesn’t happen, the CEO of the massive online retailer believes there is a “10 to 20 percent” chance of a world financial meltdown in the next few years, and he is arranging to be back in business in the aftermath. Patrick Byrnes told the New York Post in November that he has stashed away enough food in a well-fortified facility in Utah’s Granite Mountain to serve his 2,000 employees for “30 to 60 days,” along with several thousand other emergency preparations and $10 million in gold. But, he insisted, he’s not a gun-toting “prepper”; the plan is only about tiding employees over until the Internet and banking systems are back up and running.

The continuing crisis

In November in Harare, Zimbabwe, Mison Sere, 42, was judged winner of the fourth annual “Mister Ugly” contest after showcasing his seemingly random dental arrangement (some teeth there, some not) and “wide range of grotesque facial expressions,” according to an Associated Press dispatch. However, many in the crowd thought their favorite was even uglier and threatened to riot. “I am naturally ugly,” said a jealous (former winner) William Masvinu; “He [Sere] is ugly only when he opens his mouth.”

Cool mom? Mandy Wells, 32, told police that she thought “for a minute” that it was a bad idea, “but did it anyway” — she invited 10 kids (ages 12 to 14) to her home for a party and served beer and marijuana. Wells, of Springtown, Texas, said her daughter, 14, smokes marijuana because the girl (go figure!) suffers from depression.

Wait, what?

Kuala Lumpur International Airport took out ads in two Malaysian daily newspapers in December to find the owners of three Boeing 747-200Fs parked there for months (one for at least a year) and threatening to auction them off in 14 days if not claimed. Two are white, and one is “off-white” (if the reader is checking his inventory). The planes’ last listed owner said it sold them in 2008.

Least competent criminal

Matthew Riggins had told his girlfriend earlier that he and a pal were planning to burglarize some homes around Barefoot Bay in Brevard County, Fla., and was apparently on that mission on Nov. 23 when an alert resident called 911, and the men scrambled. The accomplice was caught several days later, but Riggins himself did not survive the night — having taken refuge in nearby woods and drowning trying to outswim an apparently hungry 11-foot alligator.


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