Weirdness  - 25Apr97
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sat, 31 May 97 15:42:41 -0700
Subject: Weirdness  - 25Apr97
Excerpted-from: WEIRDNUZ.481 (News of the Weird, April 25, 1997)
by Chuck Shepherd
* The Times of London reported in March that when an employee of the James
Beauchamp law firm in Edgbaston, England, recently killed himself, the firm
billed his mother about $20,000 for the expense of settling his officework.
Included was a bill for about $2,300 to go to his home to find out why he
didn't show up at work (thus finding his body), plus about $500 for
identifying the body for the coroner, plus about $250 to go to his mother's
home, knock on her door, and tell her that her son was dead. (After
unfavorable publicity, the firm withdrew the bill.)
* In April, commenting on the breakthroughs in cloning, Ann Northrop, a
columnist for a New York lesbian and gay publication, argued that cloning
could give women total control over reproduction: "Men are now totally
irrelevant," she wrote. "Men are going to have a very hard time justifying
their existence on the planet." And a week later, two Rutgers University
researchers reported confirming that an alternative nervous-system route to
sexual arousal exists, from the cervix to the neck to the brain, thus
accounting for why some spinal-cord-injured people can nevertheless have
orgasms. One of the researchers said it might thus be possible to induce
orgasm chemically by stimulating the specific neurotransmitter.
* In November, as part of a growing trend to micromanage school curricula,
the New York legislature required that all public school students age 8 and
above receive formal instruction in the Irish potato famine of the 1840's.
That follows a requirement that students be given instruction weekly on how
animals fit into "the economy of nature." (New Jersey already requires
instruction on the potato famine, via amendment to its law requiring
instruction on the Holocaust.)
* In January in an experiment to exercise better crowd control over
opposition-party demonstrations in Jakarta, Indonesia, the local police
chief put seven cobras in a glass case in front of the main police station
and said they would be used to intimidate protesters. He said police would
wave the cobras at the crowd, but it was not clear whether officers relished
handling the snakes in the first place or that such crowds would allow the
officers to get close enough for the snakes to strike.
* In December, the Canadian Defence Department issued a 17-page set of
guidelines for manufacturers who wish to compete for new contracts to supply
underwear to the military. Among the most challenging requirements are that
one pair must be able to be worn for six-month stints in the field and that
the garment must be invisible to night-vision goggles so that a skivvy-clad
soldier does not offer a target to snipers.
* The Sunday Times of London reported in December that 300 tons of
humanitarian aid from Western countries was sitting in Bosnian warehouses
because it is useless. Included were birth control pills with an expiration
date of 1986, weight-reduction tablets from Britain, mouthwash from the U.
S., and chemical waste from Germany. According to the Times, some war-zone
drivers have been killed transporting these supplies, and the German
chemicals by law cannot be returned, thus creating a hazardous-waste
disposal problem for Bosnians.
[Hmmmm... is this the solution to the problem of getting rid of spent
nuclear fuels? -psl]
* The Associated Press reported in February on Ms. Myassar Abul-Hawa, 52,
the first female taxicab driver in Jordan. Her business is brisk, in part
because some devout Muslim men ask for her by name to chauffeur their wives
and daughters so they won't be alone with male drivers. (As is sometimes
the case in the U.S., Abul- Hawa turned to taxi-driving when she could not
put to use her degree in English literature.)
* In the last six months, several reports have surfaced from the old Soviet
Union countries that nearly-bankrupt factories have been forced to pay their
workers merchandise instead of cash. Included were eggs paid to farm
workers in Klyuchi, Siberia; old train cars given to railroad workers in
Ukraine; salaries of from 33 to 42 brassieres a month by an underwear
factory in Volgograd, Russia; and, from another Volgograd factory, rubber
dildos (which are in surplus, according to The Economist magazine, because
the market has turned to electronic vibrators).
Copyright 1997 by Universal Press Syndicate.
© 1997 Peter Langston