LEAD STORY: Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence said recently that he would install a prosthetic eye with a camera and wireless transmitter (of the size now used for colonoscopies) into the socket from which one of his eyes had been removed as the result of a childhood accident. He hopes to control the prosthetic eye in the same way that his muscles control his good eye, to record what his eyes see, and his first project will be a documentary on people’s attitudes about privacy in an “Orwellian society.” Says Spence: The “best way to make a connection [with an interviewee] is through eye contact. ... When you bring in a camera, people change.”
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION: Artist Beth Grossman created her wall exhibit, Seats of Power, to encourage citizens to greater activism in local affairs around Brisbane, Calif. (just south of San Francisco Bay). The “Seats” are upholstered cushions individually tailored with the buttprints of each of the 10 City Council members, who allowed Grossman to photograph them from behind, clothed, through a sheet of Plexiglas pressed against their posteriors to simulate being seated. All 10 cooperated, including Mayor Sepi Richardson, who said she had been considering her “legacy” lately, “but I never thought it would be my butt.”
Small-Town Politics: 1) Resident Tony Randall of Ashland, N.H. (pop., 2,000), a surveyor by trade who was elected chief of the town’s 12-member police force in March, promised he would know more about his job by September, when he will finish police academy training. 2) The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that a March meeting of the Medina, Ohio, City Council required a recess when all members engaged in serial giggling over one person’s flatulence. 3) Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer of Snellville, Ga., involved in a recent feud with an aggressive City Council member, called on police Chief Roy Whitehead to escort him to the men’s room at City Hall for his safety.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with the impossible task of “regulating” 18,000 makers of drug devices (and thousands of other companies and enforcing 123 new federal laws since 1988), has had virtually no increase in staff in 15 years. It’s little wonder, then, that the AM2PAT company of Angier, N.C., was not caught before bacteria in its pre-filled syringes were linked to five deaths and hundreds of illnesses in December 2007. Subsequently inspected, AM2PAT’s saline and heparin syringes were found to contain “debris” and “sediment” and to be “muddy” and “dingy brown” in color. Furthermore, according to a February report in the Raleigh News & Observer, the required “clean [air] room” was found to be just a room with a fan, and the company’s “chief microbiologist” was revealed to be a teenager who had dropped out of high school. The company’s owner has fled to his native India to avoid prosecution.
THE HOMELAND IS SECURE: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration ruled in January that a post-9/11 federal maritime law, which requires comprehensive background credentials for mariners holding U.S. Coast Guard authorization on U.S. waters, applies even to the two “mule skinners” who work, in tourist season, dressed in colonial costumes at the Hugh Moore Park in Easton, Pa. The park’s lone mule-pulled boat is operated in a 2-mile-long canal that is near nothing of strategic significance, said the park director.
In addition to addressing the usual state homeland security concerns, Kentucky’s statute requires anyone licensed as a first responder to disasters to take an oath against dueling (“I, being a citizen of this state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons ... nor have I sent or accepted a challenge [to duel], nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge [to duel], so help me God”). Another provision requires the state Homeland Security Office’s executive director to “publicize” a legislative finding that “reliance upon Almighty God” is necessary to homeland security.
POLICE BLOTTER: Police were called to the Aliso (Calif.) Town Center on March 15 after a woman telephoned 911 to report being attacked near the center’s fountain by another woman, who had flung her dog’s feces at her and her infant. The flinger was said to be upset about complaints from passers-by about the enema she was giving her dog in public.
Names in the News: Charged in Albuquerque in February with giving her daughter marijuana: Ms. Jodi Weed. The victim of a January beating by her middle school classmates in Tampa (for the obvious reason): Miss Special Harris. Charged with arson and destruction of property in Charleston, W.Va., in March: Mr. J. Edgar Hoover. Charged with prostitution in Tampa in February: Ms. Ho Suk Kim.
FINE POINTS OF THE LAW: The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal agreed in February to hear the charge brought by Roxanne Stevenson that she was turned down illegally for a clerk’s job by the city of Kelowna because she smokes. Smoking itself is not covered by the law, and a city official said Stevenson frequently used sick leave at a previous job and that, during her interview, she “reeked” of smoke and coughed constantly. Lawyers interviewed by the Vancouver Sun said, however, that employers cannot discriminate on account of health status or addiction without offering to accommodate the worker’s condition.
THE MIRACLE DRUG: Alcohol Was Involved: 1) A 19-year-old University of Colorado student required emergency assistance in March after spending all evening badgering fellow party-goers to hit him in the face. Finally, at 2 a.m., someone complied, resulting in a broken nose and massive bleeding. 2) A National City Bank in downtown Pittsburgh was broken into on March 7, inadvertently, when an intoxicated man accidentally tripped and crashed through the front window (narrowly avoiding decapitation). 3) According to sheriff’s reports, a man reported to Huntsville (Ala.) Hospital on Feb. 18 after having passed out drunk with an ex-girlfriend and waking up with a sewing needle in his urethra.
RECURRING THEMES: That Sacred Institution (as practiced in villages in India): 1) To prevent mysterious illnesses in the village, two 7-year-old girls were married, separately, to frogs (Palli Pudupet, Tamil Nadu state; January). 2) To bring prosperity to the village, an elder married off two trees to each other (Subhash Nagar, West Bengal state; February). 3) To overcome the effect of a baby’s odd-looking tooth, which is said to portend death by a tiger unless remedied, the 18-month-old boy was married off to a female dog (Jaipur District, Orissa state; February).
UNDIGNIFIED DEATHS: 1) A motorist survived a crash on Feb. 4 near Los Banos, Calif., though his car fell down a 200-foot cliff. After he climbed back to the highway and sought help, he was accidentally hit and killed by another driver. 2) A 60-year-old man, celebrating his retirement from a transportation company in Ritto, Japan, in December, was killed when three co-workers tossed him playfully into the air and then apparently miscommunicated as to who would catch him.
A NEWS OF THE WEIRD CLASSIC (AUGUST 1997): News of the Weird reported that hard-luck Oklahoma rapist Darron Bennalford Anderson had received a 2,200-year sentence in a Tulsa court in 1994 but had won a new trial. Unfortunately for him, he was reconvicted in 1996 and resentenced, to more than 90 additional centuries behind bars (a total of 11,250 years, including 40 centuries each for rape and sodomy, 17 centuries for kidnapping, 10 centuries for burglary and robbery, and five centuries for grand larceny). In July 1997, the state Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the grand larceny charge, as double jeopardy on the robbery conviction, speeding Anderson’s release date up 500 years to 12,744 A.D.
© 2009 CHUCK SHEPHERD