Dispatch from the Edge: Week of 11/11/11

Posted on November 11, 2011

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By Michael Devlin

Looking past the unfortunate events at Penn State, whose details have been nauseatingly rehashed over this week is no easy task. But the remainder of the sports world has hardly been quiet in the interim.  Perhaps the most compelling story on the wires is the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was abducted on Wednesday night by armed men from his home in his native Venezuela.

At press time, Ramos’s fate is still unknown; authorities assert that he has likely been taken for a ransom, but no demands have been made to ensure his release.  Throughout Mexico, Central, and South America, kidnappings have lately become something of a cottage industry, and travel to Venezuela in particular has been discouraged by the U.S. government. A great many pro ballplayers hail from Latin American countries, but most will only travel home with bodyguards. It is unclear what kind of security Ramos was holding down.

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Many fans who witnessed October 23rd’s New Orleans Saints-Indianapolis Colts game on NBC were treated to a bizarre sight— a seemingly unexplainable streak of lights in the sky behind New Orleans’ St. Louis Cathedral. The video quickly became viral, with adherents in paranormal phenomena claiming that it was evidence of a visit by extraterrestrials. But this week, NBC cameraman R.D. Willis, who was behind the incredible shot, emerged to explain to the media that what they were seeing was no UFO, but the result of time lapse footage. The extremely slow camera speed caught real planes, and because the film stretched over such a long period of time, it appeared that they were moving at impossible speeds.

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A truly bizarre story hit the news this week from across the pond, where former rugby player Chris Birch claimed that he was rendered gay by a stroke. Birch was turning back flips when he fell and broke his neck, suffering a stroke shortly afterward from the trauma. When the 26-year old Welsh athlete woke up, he states that he immediately found himself attracted to men. He lost weight, shaved his head in a punk-rock style, became a hairdresser, and took a teenage boyfriend. While doctors have generally dismissed Birch’s assertions, some medical professionals have stated strokes can be devastating enough to alter human personality.