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March 2000

2 March 2000

A teacher confiscated a student's Pokemon cards because they were against the rules. The intention was to return them at the end of the school day, but they vanished. Accordingly, the boy who owned them sued for $5,000, where equivalent cards in mint condtion sell for $2,160. The judge awarded him $1,500. When told that an appeal, aimed at collecting the full amount he wanted, would probably have little chance of success, he became upset. He said that this comment alone is worth a lawsuit.

A Boston bar's display for Black History Month angered one member of the city coundil enough that licensing officials will consider revoking the venue's alcohol licence.
The display used 'native' statues and more than 20 stuffed monkeys. 'I don't think this is funny at all. I'm proud of my African heritage and I'm insulted', said City Councilor Charles Yancey.
The intricate display's monkeys were hanging from vines and living in straw tree houses. Bar-owner Tom English denies that this 'African jungle display' was meant as a racial joke, although a bartender and patrons did state that it was connected with Black History Month. English said he has put up displays for a decade now, using pirate, cartoon, and other motifs.
Licensing board spokeswoman Kathleen McNally reported that the agency has taken 41 formal complaints regarding the bar so far, in addition to several anonymous complaints and some criticisms from city officials.
A Dorchester group invited English to open his doors to the black community to allow for an appropriate Black History Month celebration.

A woman left her SUV's engine running while she visited a sandwich shop in Missouri. For carjacker Kim Davis, this represented an opportunity. He pushed the woman's six-year-old son, Jake Robel, out the vehicle's door and sped off, reaching 130 km/h. Three other drivers mounted a chase. As they pursued Davis, they noticed Robel caught up in a seat belt: 'We saw the kid hanging out the side of the car bouncing', in the words of one. The child died before the other motorists were able to bring the SUV to a stop.
Davis then tried to make a run for it, so five people from the other vehicles wrestled him to the ground and tied him in place with rope. Davis is being charged with second-degree murder.

Someone in a Toronto control room 'threw the wrong switch', so a surprise rounded out a World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event at Silver City Polo Park and 16 other cinemas in Canada. This resulted in several hundred children seing explicit porn.
'What an introduction to sex', said one parent, Ivy Allaman, referring to the naked kneeling woman who was seen performing fellatio in the clip. 'The most he's ever seen before is kissing', she said.
Although the lights were coming up at this point, many people delayed for a while, gathering their coats rather slowly as the porn played on each nine-by-18-metre screen with digital surround sound. One parent recounted: 'Some kids were screaming and stuff, some were white as a ghost and some adults were laughing.' This was an unexpected birthday present for his 11-year-old son, but the man grabbed his other, younger son to obscure the view. At least that family were refunded the equivalent of 70 US dollars .
Famouse Players later explained that they had hired Bell ExpressVu to download the satellite feed and broadcast it to theatres. The latter's VP of technology said that the tech responsible for programming the satellite signals accidentally switched to adult channel Venus. 'It's totally the most terrible thing we could have done', he said. The company are rewiring its system in aims of locking out all adult stations permanently.

7 March 2000

UndercoverWear of Massachusetts planned to donate $200,000 and 20,000 nightgowns to homeless shelters. Their plan involved asking customers to send photos of themselves in their 'ugliest nightie'. For each photograph received, a shelter would receive one new $40 nightgown and some cash. However, the National Coalition for the Homeless refused the participation of their member agencies. Executive director Mary Ann Gleason explained that the lingerie company 'exploited women' with its 'sometimes naughty' products. And the ugly nightie idea 'just felt weird to me'.

As a follow-up to my piece on the Black History Month display in a US bar, the Boston Herald reports that a stuffed gorilla wearing a crown had been featured at the bar for Martin Luther King Day. The Boston Licensing Commission meet later this week to decide the bar's fate.

Some ask 'why pay so much for so little?' of the fashions that accompany nubile bodies down the catwalk. No more, if Yohji Yamamoto has his way. In a recent high-power fashion show, his models were quilted and padded, with oversized fur hats and mittens.
He feels that seasonality should be taken seriously. For those who would only be satisfied with bare legs, he cut little dresses from imitation fur - keeping only selected bits of the body warm. Other models wore lambskin parkas and camel hair coat-dresses. All models wore winter hats or other headgear, and the obligatory 'bridal' finale featured an Inuit baby.

Quote of the day: George W. Bush, who is trying to follow his father to the US Presidency, may be following his father's vice-president instead. He told students at a New Hampshire primary school: 'This is Preservation Month. I appreciate preservation. This is what you do when you run for president. You've got to preserve'. The students were actually observing 'Perseverance Month'.

This item is just in case you need any added faith in the US government. the US Census Bureau have incorrectly addressed 120 million letters telling Americans to expect a census questionnaire. The error involved the addition of an extra digit to the beginning of street addresses. Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt blamed the error on a contractor who was paid $5.6 million for the job. That contractor's identity was not disclosed. The mistake was discovered by chance last week by a postal manager in the New England area.

After 88-year-old Florida man Deo Dubbs was arrested for buying crack cocaine, he worried that the arrest might 'spoil whatever reputation I have' at the Senior Friendship Center.
Regarding his drug-buying habits, he said: 'I really have nothing else to do. I get lonely and get tired of watching the tube.' Given that he faces up to five years in prison, boredom may not be his only concern in the naer future.
Dubbs bought two rocks of crack cocaine after haggling the price down with an undercover police officer.

11 March 2000

All in the cards
Maria Morales was promised a free palm reading by a woman in a supermarket. After two palm and tarot-card readings at a nearby house, Morales was convinced the woman knew more about her life than any normal person possibly could.
At her final meeting with Morales, the woman, known to Morales and others as Patty, asked whether she could bless Morales's jewellery overnight. This included two gold bracelete, two gold necklaces, and various rings. Among these were a 2.7-carat diamond engagement ring, a half-carat diamond 'promise ring', and three ruby rings.
Surprisingly, Patty could not be located at her house in the following days. Morales finally asked a neighbour whether Patty was all right and was told that the house had been vacant for some time.
Morales said that she now returns to the building every few hours in hopes that the psychic woman will reappear. She has also filed a police report. Morales later said: 'Like a fool, I believed her.'

Do it yourself next time
A Montreal couple sought a discreet photographer who would take erotic pictures of them. They found a suitable-seeming man at an annual Love and Seduction Show. Some time after the shoot, which cost $900, this photographer, Michel Letourneau, asked for permission to use their images, in darkened and slightly altered form, on his business cards. They asked to see the result first but never heard back from him. About two months later, the female half of the couple found herself and her husband on a poster in a sex shop.
Their photos were also reproduced on the photographer's Web site and in adverts in an erotic magazine. The couple are seeking an injuunction and Letourneau's negatives. They claim that they may suffer professionally because of the incident: the husband works as a sales representative for a multinational company, and the wife is a child-care worker.
The legal papers state: 'The photos taken of the couple contain nudity and are extremely personal, intimate and of a private nature.'
When visiting another sex shop near Valentine's Day, the wife was prevented by staff from tearing down one of the relevant posters.

If you liked Alien...
According to AFP reports, a Chinese farmer grew to adulthood with the partially developed foetus of an identical twin inside him. The Xinhua news agency reported that this was discovered via ultrasound after the Shaanxi (northern province) man hurt his stomach at work. The six-kilo cyst contained an ossified foetus.
The man underwent surgery at Hanzhong medical school, after carrying the dead but still-developing - thanks to the spleen artery - cyst for 28 years. The thing had genitals the size of those of a three-year-old boy but also featured a foetal-style navel.
His family said he had a particularly large stomach since birth.

I present to you used popcorn
Otherwise known as 'old maids', those tough kernels that didn't pop are available for purchase in the US under the name 'Pop Nots'. They are currently available only in butter flavour.
The packet describes old maids as having more 'real corn' flavour than the popped kernels.
Actually, they aren't factory rejects, we are told. 'We figured out a way to half-pop every piece and soften up the kernel so you can enjoy the great corn flavor you love in every bite of PopNots!', says the marketing material. I have no news as to whether the venture is being coo-opted by the Dentists' Cabal.

How does this fit into the aliens' masterplan
When Mike Roberts arrived home to find the back-door glass broken and a stranger bleeding on his couch, it seemed obvious that this was a would-be burglar. But let's not make assumptions. After Roberts grabbed the man, threw him on the floor, and screamed at him, the man denied breaking and entering. He claimed that he had been abducted by aliens two hours earlier in Davenport, Iowa, and was deposited in the house.
Brian Waddington stuck to this story when questioned by police. He is now being held on $13000 bond. Roberts is annoyed by the whole thing, especially that 'he acted like he belonged there'.

Mardi Gras knickers and knockers knocked
And in Louisiana, the Gretna City Council has decided to legalise the throwing of knickers from Mardi Gras parade floats into the audience. Originally, this behaviour was determined to be outlawed by an ordinance banning the throwing of anything representing 'male or female genitalia .. not limited to, condoms and inflatable paraphernalia'. The recent decision was made after a local marching club argued that 'panties have been a legitimate throw for Mardi Gras for years'.
'So we're pro-panties - it's on the record', said city council member Vincent Cox.
The hand that giveth also taketh away. Enforcement of laws against another Mardi Gras throwing tradition - throwing beads from balconies to reward women who flash their breasts - began in earnest after Playboy magazine gave advice on how to get the best photos of the breasts. 'There's no huge crackdown on Carnival fun', said a police spokesman, but 'it would be irresponsible of us not to respond. After all, we are the police department'.

17 March 2000

According to UPI reports, Robert William Handley has been refused in his attempt to change his name. An Ohio judge decided that it would not be appropriate for Handley to become 'Santa Claus' legally.
Handley's portrayal of Santa is supposedly respectful, and he does look the part: gut, beard, and all. So what's the problem. The judge explained that it would traumatise children to find Santa's name in the Columbus newspaper's obituaries column: Judge Thomas Stone's opinion said: 'An obituary for Santa Claus would be the inevitable result of a name change to Santa Claus. The sorrow caused from the sight of such an obituary should be avoided.'
Stone also said he doubts anyone can live up to the high ideal of Santa Claus, who is an important part of American culture.
Handley disagreed, saying that children who believe in Santa either can't read the paper or wouldn't read the obituaries. He added, 'What kind of parent would tell their child, "Oh look, Santa is dead. I don't have to get you a Christmas present"?'. Good thing I'm not a parent, I guess.

Government agencies often set an example of equal opportunity employment People were shocked when a blind snack bar worker at a Rhode Island state traffic court building was duped by a patron.
Richard Fracasso, who can tell the difference between light and dark, was surprised when a friend asked him why he had a mixture of $1 and $20 notes in the $20 slot of the till. Although Fracasso can distinguish coins by their feel, he relies on customers to tell him how much change they expect.
He did remember one woman who often said she was giving him a $20 bill. On her return, she asked change from $20 when buying apple juice, and he checked the bill in an electronic scanner he 'keeps for emergencies'. It was indeed a $1 bill. After Fracasso called security, Pamela Bingham was fired from the court clerk position she had held for two months.
If you ever go to Providence, Rhode Island, remember to ask for change from $1000.

When two homeless men were looking for food in a St. Louis, Missouri, flat, they found a frozen baby. Instead of eating it, they contacted authorities.
Kim Allen, the owner of the building, said she gave birth on 4 July, 1993, and left the body in a freezer. An inquiry continues as to whether or not the 42-year-old woman killed the baby by freezing it or merely broke the law by not disposing of the body legally.
A police spokesman said: 'She is obviously a troubled woman. She lived in that apartment while her baby was in the freezer.'

I don't need to say much about my final item. They did reattach the arm. 'The boy was alone when he walked up to the animal's cage Wednesday and stuck his arm inside. The tiger is his uncle's pet and was being kept in a chain-link cage in the Houston suburb of Channelview.'

29 March 2000

Dixons asked its technicians to list the weirdest objects they found in customers' PCs in the last six months. The list includes love letters and severed fingers.
One claimed to have found a fingertip that the user had lost when attempting to intall a graphics card: the ill-balanced monitor hit the lid of the case and left the digit inside. Among other computer fauna, a five-centimetre-long spider and a dead mouse featured.
Some items were superstition-related. One tech said the animal's wishbone inside the case was intended to act as a talisman and stop the machine crashing. Another user wanted the unit to smell nice so put potpourri inside it.
Dixons quizzed experts who were part of PC World's 'healthcheck' sessions wherein customers have technicians poke about inside their machines and tell them how to get the most from existing or new components.
The sessions cost £39.99, money well spent by one user after a technician found £125 inside the relevant computer and returned it. The owner explained that he had bought the machine second-hand at a church fair. As for the love letters, the customer denied knowing anything about them.

Police in Cilacap, Java, arrested a shaman for tricking women into having sex with him. He told his female patients his healing powers allowed him to grant their wishes. First, the woman was to bathe and lie naked in his house. Then, a police spokesman said, Shaman Suryono told them that 'while in the room if a man approached them looking like Suryono it was actually a genie who would make their wishes come true as long as they did what this supposed genie said'. The women paid the healer for the privelege. At least 35 women were taken in by the 36-year-old man.

Gateway Computers, known for their dappled boxes, are trying to corner the idiot market. Their new line of machines includes the Gateway Astro, which costs only £549 and gives you an iMac-esque all-in-one machine, including speakers and 15-inchish monitor. This follows from the findings of a 'why don't you have a computer' survey wherein 2/3 of UK respondents said they were too poor to own a PC and about half said they were too stupid. Well, okay, specifically, machines were 'difficult to use' for 51 per cent and were difficult to set up for 43 per cent. Keep reading.
The survey respondents also indicated other issues. Twenty per cent of people said they had argued with their partner about setting up electrical goods at home - some of these having trouble setting up their toasters. (Whether this was a question designed to weed out silly responses was not mentioned. To be fair, this was only about 10 people out of about 1000.)

For what it's worth, German Chancellor Schroeder must pay DM686 per month to be chauffered to and from official engagements in a bullet-proof limousine. Were he to use this car for personal business, he would have to pay much more by way of taxes, so his solution is to drive his wife's Volkswagen. His bodyguards follow in a bullet-proof limousine. For more of what it's worth, Guinness paid for a moustache study, which indicated that some Guinness indeed goes to waste within facial hair.

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© 2000 Anna Shefl