The Scrapbook of Unusual Issues
his section includes a number of items from here and there, mainly
from newspapers, that struck us as amusing, out of the ordinary, or
just plain weird. All of them involve issues that can make for interest-
ing discussions or subjects for writing assignments. (There’s no reason critical
thinking subjects have to be dull.) Like the essays in Appendix 1, these present
opportunities to exercise your critical thinking skills.
Pig Mistreated by Pig-Sitter The pig now wears bandages and is
healing fom a pressure wound and neck
In a disturbing sign that the nation’s infection.
obesity epidemic has now spread to Schmitz said she cried for three days
pigs, a woman wants abuse charges filed after discovering he pet’s weight problem.
against an acquaintance who was pet- “That pig is my life,” said Schmitz, who
sitting for her potbellied pig and allowed has a tattoo of Alaina’s name.
the animal to get fat.
Michelle Schmitz said her pig, Alaina Ghost Mystery Debugged
Templeton, weighed 50 pounds when
Schmitz left her with a co-worker in Albuquerque, N.M.—Those seeking evi-
Winona, Minn., who offered to care for dence of a deeper and more profound
the animal in February, when Schmitz reality underlying our everyday world
went on medical leave to recover from will apparently not find it at the Santa Fe,
ankle surgeries. N.M., courthouse.
Nine months later, the pig weighed An investigator specializing in all
150 pounds. It took veterinarians 4½ things bizarre has debugged the mystery
hours to surgically remove the pig’s of the Santa Fe Courthouse Ghost—a
collar, the Winona Daily News reported. specter captured on a flurry surveillance
Officers are investigatiing whether Alaina videotape.
was abused by the sitter’s neglect and “In the end, it was in fact a bug or
overfeeding. insect of some sort that was on the lens
Investigator Jeff Mueller of the Winona of the surveillance camera,” said Benjamin
County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday Radford, a paranormal investigator and
that no charges had been filed against the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer
pig-sitter, whose name was not released. magazine.
Schmitz, 22, said she bottle-fed Alaina The image—a glowing spot drifting in
when she was just 11 days old and kept front of a patrol car parked beneath some
her on a strict diet to keep her weight trees—generated more than 132,000
at about 50 pounds. When she tried to hits on YouTube since Santa Fe County
recover the pig in April, Schmitz said Deputy Alfred Arana first noticed the
the co-worker wouldn’t return her calls. image June 15.
She said that she didn’t know where the Radford drove to Santa Fe to watch
woman lived and that when she finally the original video, ruling out a couple
found the woman’s farm on Saturday, of theories. After various tests, Radford
she discovered Alaina’s neck had grown shelled out $9 for 1,750 ladybugs and
around her collar and the pig had trouble put the bugs on the camera casing. “Sure
breathing. enough, we got the ghost,” he said.
500 APPENDIX 2 THE SCRAPBOOK OF UNUSUAL ISSUES
Traffic-Stopping Chilies I wish I had my engagement ring. I miss
wearing it, and I’m beginning to resent
London—Super spicy chili sauce sparked my husband over this.
road closures and evacuations in central Please tell me, Abby, am I being petty
London after passers-by complained that a and materialistic, or does my husband
chemical emanating from a Thai restaurant have no right to keep the ring from me?
was burning their throats, police said.
Reports of a strong smell wafting from —Ringless in Indiana
a restaurant in the heart of London’s
bustling Soho district this week prompted DEAR RINGLESS: Your husband had
the Londond Fire Brigade to send a no right to take the ring. It was given to
chemical response team, a Metropolitan you with the promise of marriage, and
Police spokesman said. you have kept your part of the bargain.
Smashing down the door of the Is he controlling? Does he owe people
suspected source—the Thai Cottage money? Could that be why he wants you
restaurant—they seized the culprit: extra- to appear less affluent than you are? If he
hot bird’s eye chilies that had been left didn’t want you to enjoy it, why would
dry-frying.They were being prepared for a he buy it for you in the first place?
batch of nam prik pao, a spicy Thai sauce, Your letter set off alarm bells. If you’re
restaurant owner Sue Wasboonma said. smart, you’ll start looking closely at all
“The smoke didn’t go up into the sky financial records. Something is up, and
because of the rain and the heavy air,” she your husband is not being open about it.
said.“It’s the hottest thing we make.” His behavior was reprehensible. If I were
you, I’d be suspicious—very suspicious.
—Compiled from the Associated Press
October 5 and November 2, 2007 —September 13, 2007
Bling on Bride’s Finger Causes Binge Drinking on Campus Is Cause
Husband Unease for Parents’ Concern
DEAR ABBY: I was married a year ago. DEAR ABBY: Our daughter “Jill” is a 19-
During our honeymoon, my husband year-old college freshman. She recently
started telling me I could not wear my revealed in a friend’s Web diary that she
wedding band and engagement ring had “chugged” an entire pitcher of beer
together—they were “too flashy,” and and had to be carried to her dorm room,
he didn’t want people to think he had where her roommate (also drunk) made
money. . . . Being a brand-new bride, and her drink water until she threw up.“First
excited about being able to wear both time drunk,” she wrote—then ended with
my rings, I refused his request. the chilling words,“. . . and I can’t wait to
Over the past year he has brought do it again.”
it up again often, saying I should wear Needless to say, my wife and I are
only my wedding band. I love my rings extremely worried about Jill’s binge
and want to wear both. He selected my drinking. Our problem is that the diary
engagement ring himself, and we picked is supposed to be off-limits for my wife
out my wedding band together, so I don’t and me.
understand why he didn’t buy me a As I see it, her mother and I have
smaller engagement ring or suggest that three options: (1) Wait and say nothing,
I get a simpler wedding band. I wouldn’t but continue to monitor the situation
have cared if my rings were smaller, but to see if the “first drunk” was a one-time
now that I have them, I love wearing occurrence;(2) call the college and express
them, and I don’t want to stop. concern that they’re not doing enough to
I always take my rings off when I’m in keep alcohol off campus and away from
the shower.Three weeks ago, while I was underage drinkers; or (3) speak directly to
taking my shower, my husband took my Jill, admit we’re guilty of reading her diary,
engagement ring. Now he refuses to give and try to discuss the danger of binge
it back to me. Every time I look at my drinking (knowing that such a discussion
hand and see my lonely wedding band, may not be well received).
STRANGE STUFF: NEWS OUT OF THE ORDINARY 501
Abby, our daughter has always been nonthreatening way that you expect her
close to us and generally shared her to obey the law and protect her own
thoughts and feelings. She’s our oldest safety and well-being.
and has usually shown good judgment. Binge drinking among college students
Any help you can offer would be greatly has very serious health and safety
appreciated. implications. Alcohol poisoning can
be fatal, and girls who get blind drunk
—Concerned Parents in New York make themselves vulnerable to sexual
DEAR PARENTS: You cannot ignore this assault. Your daughter is on the verge of
and hope it will go away. Speak to your adulthood, and she needs to be equipped
daughter and don’t apologize. I’m sad to to make mature, responsible decisions
say that binge drinking is a real problem about things that could affect her health
on many college campuses. Let Jill know and her future.
the alarm that her disclosure has caused
—June 13, 2003
you. Assure her of your love and support,
and inform her in a nonjudgmental and
Strange Stuff: News Out of the Ordinary
Golf-Ball Retriever’s Jail Term had signed his online petition to “Free
Tees Off Public the Whetstone One.”
London—For 10 years John Collinson Doodle Crosses the Line
made a modest living diving for lost
golf balls and selling them for 20 cents Mount Lebanon, Pa. — A school sus-
each. But after police caught him on a pended an 11-year-old girl for drawing
midnight expedition, a court frowned two teachers with arrows through their
on his unusual job and jailed him for six heads, saying the stick figures were more
months for theft. death threat than doodle.
The sentence provoked a public Becca Johnson, an honor-roll sixth
outcry, made the 36-year-old father of grader at Mellon Middle School, drew the
two a cause célèbre and prompted picture on the back of a vocabulary test
lawmakers, celebrities and the British on which she had gotten a D.
media to campaign for this release. “That’s my way of saying I’m angry,”
Police arrested Collinson in August Becca said, adding she meant no harm to
at Whetstone Golf Course in Leicester, the teachers.
central England. He and a colleague had The stick figures, on a crudely drawn
fished 1,158 balls from Lily Pond, the gallows with arrows in their heads,
bane of hundreds of golfers playing the had the names of Becca’s teacher and a
difficult par 3 fifth hole. substitute teacher written underneath.
Collinson, who made roughly $21,500 Another teacher spotted the doodle in
a year collecting balls at courses the girl’s binder Tuesday and reported it,
throughout the country, claimed in his prompting the three-day suspension.
defense they didn’t belong to anyone. He Becca’s parents, Philip and Barbara
told a jury at Leicester Crown Court last Johnson, denied the school’s contention
week he even filled out tax returns on his the drawings were “terrorist threats.”
earnings. But the judge jailed him, saying, “She had done poorly on a test that was
“It is obvious you show no remorse and handed back to her.We’ve always told her
no intention of quitting.” that you can’t take your feelings out on
Gavin Dunnett, managing director of your teacher, so write about it or draw it,
UK Lakeballs—a firm that buys balls from as a catharsis,” Barbara Johnson said.
hundreds of divers and sells more than Brief Lapse in Judgment?
a million worldwide every year via the
Internet—said Thursday that recovered Poway — A high school vice principal
balls are not stolen, but are abandoned was placed on leave Wednesday after she
property. He said more than 2,000 people allegedly lifted girls’ skirts—in front of
502 APPENDIX 2 THE SCRAPBOOK OF UNUSUAL ISSUES
male students and adults—to make sure district investigates the allegations
they weren’t wearing thong underwear at concerning the dance last Friday for
a dance. students at Rancho Bernardo High
“Everyone saw everything,” said Kim School.
Teal, whose 15-year-old daughter attended Girls said they were told to line up
the dance but was not checked. “It was a outside the gym before entering the
big peep show.” dance so Wilson could check their
Rita Wilson was placed on adminis- underwear. Those wearing thongs were
trative leave Wednesday while the school turned away.
Cities Give Psychics License to Entertain, Not Exorcise
Believers in the occult and thrill- In the city of Sacramento, the
seekers are the bread and butter of safeguards in place for several years are
psychic parlors. working, officials said. . . .
For a few dollars, psychics foretell a In San Francisco and other cities
client’s future by gazing into a crystal ball without license laws, psychic swindles
or reading a palm. are on the rise, authorities said.
Such transactions are legal enter- One of Cater’s biggest cases involved
tainment, said Detective Jan Cater of the Ingrid, a Sonoma County woman who
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. said she paid more than $265,000 over
What is illegal, she said, is when clients five years to “psychics” Louie Stevens and
are led to believe that they are cursed Nancy Uwnawich. The couple convinced
and must pay large sums of money to Ingrid, 66, that she had a curse that had
purge the evil. to be removed by them—or she would
“So-called psychics terrify people into suffer, Ingrid said.
believing that awful things will happen After wiping out her savings, Ingrid
to them . . . unless they pay to have the told the pair she had no more cash—
curses removed, Cater said. except for $2,000 in her son’s college
Sacramento and other cities require trust fund.
that psychics and others in the “seer” “What’s more important—your health
trades undergo background checks or your son?”Uwnawich shouted,according
before receiving a license issued by the to Ingrid.
police department. Ingrid said she gave them the $2,000. . . .
But other communities, including An arrest warrant has been issued for
unincorporated sections of Sacramento Uwnawich, who remains at large.
County, have no requirements—a situation
that, according to Cater, can lead to big- —By Edgar Sanchez
time swindles. BEE STAFF WRITER
“Psychic fraud isn’t a major problem in
the unincorporated areas (of the county),
but it has the potential to be,” Cater said.
Monogamy? Don’t Cheat Yourself
DEAR ANN: Why do you come down so many countries, adultery is accepted and
hard on married men who cheat? I don’t shrugged off as nothing to get excited
understand why you believe monogamy about.The wife gets the financial support
is the only “right” way when it comes to and social position, and the mistress gets
marriage. If monogamy works so well, the sex. This sounds like a fair exchange
how come so many men cheat and so to me.
many women want divorces? The truth is, there is not a woman on
Many other cultures openly accept the planet who can fully satisfy the needs
polygamy. Even the Bible says a man of a powerful male. When women quit
can have more than one wife. And in asking men to make them the center
STRANGE STUFF: NEWS OUT OF THE ORDINARY 503
of their universe and learn to accept a in your life would go for it. And without
strong man’s desire for more than one their cooperation, you’re not going to get
female companion, families will live very far. Of course, if you would like to
together longer, more happily and with live in one of those foreign countries that
less rancor. condones adultery, be my guest. Most
women would be delighted to see you
—Truth Hurts In Texas go. A few might even be willing to buy
DEAR AUSTIN: Men in biblical times you a ticket.
had multiple wives in order to ensure an
—Ann Landers (By permission of Esther
abundance of offspring because so many
P. Lederer and Creators Syndicate, Inc.)
women died in childbirth. It was not a
license to cheat.
I am sure your approach appeals to a
lot of men, but I doubt that the women
Writer to “Dear Abby” Faces Child-Porn Counts
MILWAUKEE—A man who wrote to agonized over whether to report Weiser,
“Dear Abby” for advice on how to handle since the column’s credibility is based on
his fantasies about having sex with anonymity given those seeking advice.
young girls was charged Wednesday with “I lost sleep. Didn’t sleep for days,
possessing child pornography after the because I really believe this man wrote
columnist turned him in, authorities say. to me genuinely seeking help,” she said.“I
Paul Weiser, 28, was charged with three was torn, because my readers do turn to
counts of possession of child pornography. me for help, yet there was the priority of
He was ordered released on $10,000 bail the safety of those young girls.”
on condition he avoid computers and She was said to be traveling on Wednes-
contact with anyone under 18. day and did not return a call seeking
Police said 40 pornographic photo- comment.
graphs of children were found in his Weiser could get up to five years in
computer after his arrest Monday. prison and a $10,000 fine on each count,
“He acknowledges he needs help and if convicted.
denies ever acting upon any desires,” said He did not speak during Wednesday’s
prosecutor Paul Tiffin. court hearing except to answer “yes”
“Dear Abby” columnist Jeanne Phillips, when asked if he understood the
daughter of column founder Pauline proceedings.
Phillips, called police after receiving the A preliminary hearing was set for
letter. March 25.
Jeanne Phillips, who shares her
mother’s pen name, Abigail Van Buren, —Associated Press
told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she
Strange Stuff: News Out of the Ordinary
“Whites” Send a Message caricature on the team logo. The team is
called the Reds.
GREELEY, Colo. — Unable to persuade The university team said it chose a
a local school to change a mascot name white man as its mascot to try to raise
that offends them, some students at the awareness of stereotypes that some
University of Northern Colorado have cultures endure.
named their intramural basketball team “The message is ‘Let’s do something
“The Fighting Whites.” that will let people see the other side
The students are upset with Eaton of what it’s like to be a mascot,” said
High School for using an American Indian Solomon Little Owl, a team member
504 APPENDIX 2 THE SCRAPBOOK OF UNUSUAL ISSUES
and director of Native American Student touch with the American Civil Liberties
Services at the university. Union.
The team, made up of American Indians,
Latinos and Anglos, wears jerseys that say, Dummy Is No Woman
“Every thanks going to be all white.” RENTON, Wash. — A woman with a full-
“It’s not meant to be vicious. It is size mannequin buckled into the front
meant to be humorous,” said Ray White, a seat of her minivan tried to sneak into
Mohawk American Indian on the team. the car pool lane on Interstate 405 and
No “ATHEISTS”Allowed became involved in a chain of crashes
that backed up traffic for hours Tuesday
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Steven Miles morning, according to the Washington
has tooled around Gainesville, Fla., for State Patrol.
16 years with a license plate that says Susan Aeschliman-Hill, 59, of Kent,
“ATHEIST.” Wash., acknowledged using the dummy—
To Miles, it is a form of self-expression, complete with a woman’s sweater, make-
one he is happy to spend a few extra up and wig—to drive illegally in the car
dollars every year to keep. pool lane. “When traffic gets real bad, I
But to the state of Florida now, the tag sometimes use (the mannequin),” she said.
is “obscene or objectionable,” according State Patrol Trooper Monica Hunter
to a letter Miles received last month from said the woman likely will be cited for
the Department of Highway Safety and driving in the high-occupancy vehicle
Motor Vehicles. lane and making an unsafe lane change.
“The plate must be canceled,” the “Her passenger wasn’t breathing, and
department ordered. that’s one of our requirements,” Hunter
Miles said he is incensed and that said.
giving up his tag is out of the question.
The vice president of Atheists of — By Rick Nelson, compiled from the
Florida said he intends to fight and is in Associated Press
Christian School Expels Nude Dancer’s Daughter
A Sacramento private school has expelled daughter is the one who goes to school
a kindergarten student three weeks there, not me, and they’re turning her
before the end of the school year, saying away.”
her mother’s work as a nude dancer Silvas, who is single, said school
clashes with its Christian philosophy. administrators telephoned her last week
Christina Silvas, 24, of Rancho Cordova and told her that in response to persistent
said one reason she took the job as a rumors, a parent went to the strip club’s
dancer at Gold Club Centerfolds off Web site, downloaded pictures of Silvas
Highway 50 was so she could afford the and brought them to school staff. Silvas
$400 monthly tuition at Capital Christian told them she does dance at the all-nude
School. bar, which doesn’t serve alcohol, and
“If you choose to do the wrong thing subsequently met with Cole.
willfully, then God’s word instructs me As head pastor of Capital Christian,
as to what my responsibility is,” said Rick which at 4,000 members is one of the
Cole, head pastor of Capital Christian largest Assemblies of God churches in the
Center. “I need to be faithful to my country, Cole had final say on the matter.
calling.” Silvas said Cole told her not only will
Silvas, who previously worked at the her 5-year-old daughter be expelled, but
church as a Sunday school teacher, has a as long as she keeps her job at the club,
different view. neither she nor her daughter can attend
“I thought the church was supposed church there.
to accept everybody,” she said.“That’s my Silvas said her daughter enjoys the
understanding of what God is about. My school’s daily worship sessions and was
ILL BOY’S NEW HURDLE: SCHOOL DRUG RULES 505
looking forward to the end-of-the-year help her and even waive tuition for the
pool party and graduation ceremony. She month of June.
hasn’t told the girl why she won’t be able “My understanding was she would
to go to school next week. come back to me after thinking about it
“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m and let me know her decision,” Cole said.
going to tell her,” she said. “It’s very stunning to me to see it on the
Silvas said that when she enrolled news. We’ve been thrust into this media
her daughter, she signed a statement craze, but not by our desire.”
that stipulated she would abide by Silvas said the decision is not simple
the school’s Christian commitment/ and couldn’t be made that quickly.
philosophy and that “weekly church “I have other expenses besides my
attendance is necessary for continued daughter’s tuition,” she said. “I am also
enrollment at CCS.” concerned with providing a comfortable
The statement also reads, in part,“CCS life for my daughter.”
is interested in maintaining a partnership Silvas said she feels she is being
with our parents regarding the standards demonized.
and criteria of a Christian learning “I’m trying to let them know we’re
structure that involves the entire family.” not evil because of our work, and we do
By working as an exotic dancer and have an awareness of God. My job is legal,
refusing to change her vocation, Silvas it’s not illegal.”
violated the school’s philosophy, Cole Though Silvas is considering legal
said. action, experts in education law say that
“She was not in compliance with may not be a good option.
what she agreed to,” he said. “There’s a “In a private school, it’s hard to make
commitment form that parents sign.They a breach of contract action because they
agree to our Christian commitment and have the right to kick a kid out at any
standard of living.” time for any reason,” said Michael Sorgen,
Seeking a resolution, Silvas and Cole an education lawyer in San Francisco.
met privately Tuesday. “I talked to her Even though the school has the legal
for over an hour, letting her know how right to expel the child, that doesn’t
much God cares about her and loves her make it right, Sorgen said.
and that he has a much better plan for
her than what she is doing with her life —By Erika Chavez
right now,” Cole said. BEE STAFF WRITER
He promised that if Silvas quit her job,
he and the church would forgive her,
Ill Boy’s New Hurdle: School Drug Rules
Life just got more complicated for an personally, off the school grounds, she
8-year-old boy and his mother who’s said.
had great success battling his mental “It makes him feel he’s not normal,
disorders with a doctor-approved that he’s being treated differently. He
marijuana therapy. wonders why he’s being targeted. He just
The youngster’s medical condition wants to be normal,” she said.
has improved so dramatically that he can She hopes to persuade school officials
now attend public school, but school to change their minds and allow the
officials won’t permit a school nurse to capsules to be given on campus.
administer his cannabis capsules and The woman, whose name is being
won’t let him take the pills himself on withheld by The Bee to protect the boy’s
campus, the child’s mother said Monday. identity, has been treating her son with
“Other kids get their medication,” she medical cannabis for the past year, at
complained. But the drug her son needs home and at the private school he had
daily at 1 P.M. must be delivered by her been attending.
506 APPENDIX 2 THE SCRAPBOOK OF UNUSUAL ISSUES
But in April, they moved from Rocklin medical marijuana and the possession
to El Dorado County. She presented her of the drug by the patient or a primary
son’s new school with the required caregiver.
permission slip for students who need A school district cannot be legally
medication at school, a form she and the defined as a “primary caregiver,” Barber
boy’s doctor signed. said.
The day before the boy was to report Because the district has a zero-tolerance
to his new school, however, a message policy, students are not permitted to have
left on the family answering machine in their possession or to self-administer
informed the mother that her son’s drugs of any kind, she said.
recommended medication could not be The boy’s mother said the school
administered on campus. district is relying on a technicality to
So, she says, she’s been forced to drive dodge responsibility.
a round trip of 26 miles each noontime “There is no ‘prescription’ for ‘oral
to remove him from the school grounds, cannabis,’” the capsule she prepares in a
give him his capsules, and return him to five-hour cooking and drying process at
class. home, she said.
Vicki L. Barber, superintendent of the El But it is a part of her son’s “individual
Dorado County Office of Education, said education plan” or IEP, the state’s
she could not comment on any specific “prescription” for helping children with
case. But she said state law permits schools special needs, the mother said.
to dispense drugs only when they are School district officials would not
formally “prescribed” by a physician. The comment on the boy’s specific IEP.
boy’s doctor made a “recommendation,”
and there is a difference, Barber added, —By Wayne Wilson
between a “prescription” and a doctor’s BEE STAFF WRITER
Proposition 215, the Compassionate
Use Act of 1996, permits the use of
A letter to the editor of the local paper by one of your authors:
5 Million Teenagers Perfect
You recently ran an Associated Press story missed the best point of the piece by
that first appeared in the New York Times leaving them out. Shields said: “It would
about a Port Orchard, Wash., Eagle Scout be a disservice to all the other members
who was given a week to abandon his to allow someone to selectively obey or
atheism or be kicked out of Boy Scouts ignore our rules.”
of America. Boy Scout law requires scouts The Times piece then added,“As for the
to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, other 11 points of the Scout Law,Mr.Shields
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, could not say whether anyone had been
brave, clean and reverent. An atheist, of ejected for being untrustworthy, disloyal,
course, finds it difficult to be reverent in un-helpful, unfriendly, discourteous, un-
the intended sense of the term. kind, disobedient, cheerless, unthrifty,
Unfortunately, you ended the article cowardly or sloppy.”
with a paraphrase from Gregg Shields, a I for one believe it is a credit to
Boy Scout spokesman: “Mr. Shields said scouting that none of those 5 million
for the Boy Scouts to insist on anything teenage boys has ever been found guilty
less would be unfair to the 5 million of any of those other 11 defects.
But there were two more sentences —Richard Parker, Chico
in the New York Times article, and you
STRANGE STUFF: NEWS OUT OF THE ORDINARY 507
Strange Stuff: News Out of the Ordinary
As if the goings-on of government weren’t Gray suggests that married men don’t
scary enough, the state of North Carolina produce as much testosterone after they
is calling in a Ghostbusters-like group shift from dating to parenting roles.
to do a paranormal screening of the old “Married men, particularly fathers,
state Capitol. are less likely to engage in dominance
Although there have been no sightings interaction and aggression,” he said.“That
of a huge marshmallow man, staffers at the means less risk taking, less conflicts
Capitol say they have heard floorboards or other behaviors that could lead, for
creak with invisible footsteps, keys jangle, example, to death by homicide.
and doors squeak open and shut. And couldn’t it be Mother Nature’s
“To be honest with you, I’ve always way of keeping men from straying? After
made it a rule to be out of the building all, other studies have found that men
at quitting time,” said Raymond Beck, the with high levels of testosterone were
Capitol historian. “I’ve had enough of more likely to commit adultery than
those strange vibes here that I don’t like those with less of the stuff.
sticking around after it gets dark.” “That’s an interesting question,” Gray
Researchers from the Ghost Research said.“That’s a topic that will be harder to
Foundation will give the 162-year-old get at.”
Raleigh landmark where the governor
Is Skydiving Dog Cruelty?
has his offices a “spectral inspection,”
using infrared cameras, electromagnetic Animal lovers are howling over a
field detectors and audio recorders. skydiving dog.
The Capitol has gone through a The parachuting dachshund, known
number of night watchmen who begged as Brutus the Skydiving Dog, is set to
off the duty after one night of creepy perform at this weekend’s Air and Space
noises, Beck said. show at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
But Owen J. Jackson, 84, managed “What we feel is this is cruelty to
the job for 12 years before retiring in animals,” said Shirley Cram, shelter
1990. He apparently never was slimed, director and treasurer for the Volunteers
and strains of gospel hymns, the thump- for Inter-valley Animals. “It’s exploiting
thump-thumps that followed him down the dog. It certainly isn’t fun for that dog
stairs and the angry slams of doors never to jump out of the plane.”
bothered him, Jackson said. Brutus’ skydiving partner disagrees.
“You get used to something like that,” “He gets all excited when I’m getting
Jackson said.“I think there’s a couple (of) my gear ready,” said Ron Sirull of Delray
million dollars buried somewhere there, Beach, Fla., contending Brutus enjoys his
and they’re just trying to tell us where aerial activities. He added,“He’s totally up
it was.” for it.”
It’s Hormonal Sirull said his dog’s veterinarian and
the Arizona Humane Society have signed
A Harvard research team has found that off the activity being safe for man’s best
married men, whether fathers or not, friend.
have significantly less testosterone than Brutus is tucked into a special pouch
single men, regardless of age or overall affixed to his owner’s chest for the jump
health status. and dons custom-made goggles for what
Anthropology graduate student Peter Sirull calls his “fleafall.” While Sirull has
Gray and his colleagues also found that 1,000 jumps, Brutus has logged 100.
men who spent lots of time with their “That’s equal to 700 jumps in dog
wives had even lower testosterone levels years,” his owner joked.
than other married men. The team tested
58 men in the Boston area, according to —Compiled by Caroline Liss from the
an article in a recent Harvard University Associated Press and Washington Post. In
Gazette. SAC BEE, 1 Nov. 2002.
508 APPENDIX 2 THE SCRAPBOOK OF UNUSUAL ISSUES
10 Commandments Monument Must Go
MONTGOMERY, Ala.—A Ten Command- granite block, is one of the first things
ments monument in the rotunda of visitors see upon entering the building.
Alabama’s judicial building violates “Its sloping top and the religious air
the Constitution’s ban on government of the tablets unequivocally call to mind
promotion of religion, a federal judge an open Bible resting on a podium,”
ruled Monday. Thompson said.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson In his ruling, Thompson said he found
gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the monument to be more than just a
who had the 5,300-pound granite display of the Ten Commandments.
monument installed in the state building, “The court is impressed that the
30 days to remove it. monument and its immediate surround-
Thompson said previous court rulings ings are, in essence, a consecrated place, a
have allowed displays on government religious sanctuary, within the walls of the
property if they have a secular purpose and courthouse,”Thompson wrote.
do not foster “excessive government en- An appeal is expected. Neither Moore
tanglement with religion.” He said the Ten nor his lead attorney, Stephen Melchior,
Commandments monument fails this test. had any immediate comment. An assistant
“His fundamental, if not sole, purpose to Melchior said they were reserving
in displaying the monument was non- comment until they had read the opinion.
secular; and the monument’s primary Moore fought to display a wooden
effect advances religion,”Thompson said. plaque of the commandments on his
Moore testified during the trial that courtroom wall in Etowah County
the commandments are the moral before he won election as chief justice in
foundation of American law. He said the November 2000.
monument acknowledges God, but does “The basic issue is whether we will
not force anyone to follow the justice’s still be able to acknowledge God under
conservative Christian religious beliefs. the First Amendment, or whether we will
A lawsuit seeking removal of the not be able to acknowledge God,” Moore
monument argued that it promoted testified.
the judge’s faith in violation of the The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director
Constitution. of Americans United for Separation of
Moore installed the monument after Church and State, call the ruling a setback
the building closed on the night of July 31, for “Moore’s religious crusade.”
2001, without telling any other justices. “It’s high time Moore learned that the
“This monument was snuck in during source of U.S. law is the Constitution and
the middle of the night, and they can not the Bible,” Lynn said.
sneak it out just as easily. It’s a gross One of Moore’s supporters, Alabama
violation of the rights of the citizens of Christian Coalition President John Giles,
Alabama,” said Morris Dees, lead counsel said he believes there may be a backlash
and co-founder of the Southern Poverty against the ruling in Alabama.
Law Center. He urged Moore to remove “I am afraid the judge’s order putting a
the monument immediately. 30-day limit on removal of the monument
The monument, which features the will lead to an uprising of citizens protesting
King James Bible version of the Ten removal of that monument,” Giles said.
Commandments sitting on top of a —Associated Press
Teen Claims Bias After School Bars Her Bid to Be Prom King
SACRAMENTO—An 18-year-old Encina Kristine Lester said Thursday that
High School senior is not being allowed to school officials told her that her name
run for prom king because . . . she is a female. would not be on the ballot because only
MARINE GENERAL:“IT’S FUN TO SHOOT SOME PEOPLE” 509
males can run for king and only females Officials with the San Juan Unified
can run for queen. School District back Encina Principal
“I just wanted to do something Myrtle Berry’s decision and denied that
different,” said Lester, who is openly gay there was any discrimination involved.
and plans to wear a tuxedo at Saturday’s “We don’t discriminate,” said district
prom. “I’m not the feminine type to run spokeswoman Deidra Powell.
Lester said she believes the school is —Sandy Louey
discriminating against her because of her
Point, Click . . . Fire!
According to a Knight-Ridder newspaper practice) or a .30-06 caliber hunting rifle
article, a gent from Texas has now made it for the pigs that range on the ranch.
possible to hunt pigs and kill them from More than 350 people have signed
anywhere you can carry your laptop. John up as members of Live-Shot.com. They
Lockwood, who is a San Antonio body come from as far away as Hong Kong,
shop estimator, has set up a computer- France, and Peru. But they’d better give
directed firing range operated from a it their best shot soon, as Representative
trailer installation on a 220-acre ranch 15 Todd Smith, a Republican member of the
miles east of Boerne, Texas. Patrons can state legislature, has introduced a bill that
use their computers to sight, aim, and would prohibit remote control hunting
fire either a .22 caliber rifle (for target in Texas.
■ Boerne, United States—The Latest Internet Craze . . . Hunting Wild Animals Online: John Lockwood,
owner of the real-time, online hunting and shooting Web site Live-Shot.com, demonstrates how one can
use the Internet to shoot targets on a ranch outside Boerne, Texas, 26 February, 2005. Now anyone with a
computer and a modem can log on and fire real weapons, but the idea of Internet hunting has generated
plenty of criticism. A Republican representative in the Texas Legislature, Todd Smith, himself an occasional
hunter, has offered a bill to ban the practice. “I don’t think we should be able to kill God’s creatures with
the click of a mouse,” Smith said. “I think hunters are offended by the concept, much less non-hunters.”
510 APPENDIX 2 THE SCRAPBOOK OF UNUSUAL ISSUES
Marine General:“It’s Fun to Shoot Some People”
WASHINGTON—A decorated Marine Thursday, Gen. Mike Hagee, Comman-
Corps general said,“It’s fun to shoot some dant of the Marine Corps, issued a state-
people” and poked fun at the manhood ment saying: “Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks
of some Afghans as he described the with a great deal of candor. I have counseled
wars U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and him concerning his remarks, and he agrees
Afghanistan. he should have chosen his words more
His boss, the commandant of the carefully.”
Marine Corps, said Thursday that the Hagee also said, “While I understand
comments reflected “the unfortunate that some people may take issue with the
and harsh realities of war” but that the comments made by him, I also know he
general has been asked to watch his intended to reflect the unfortunate and
words in public. harsh realities of war.”
Lt. Gen James Mattis, a career infantry Among Marines, Mattis is regarded as a
officer who is now in charge of fighting general and an expert in the art
developing better ways to train and of warfare. Among his decorations are the
equip Marines, made the comments Bronze Star with a combat distinguishing
Tuesday while speaking to a forum in device and a combat action ribbon,
San Diego. awarded for close-quarters fighting.
According to an audio recording, he He is the commanding general of the
said:“Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight.You Marine Corps Combat Development
know, it’s a hell of a hoot. . . . It’s fun to Command in Quantico, Va., and deputy
shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront commandant for combat development.
with you—I like brawling.” The Council on American Islamic
He added: “You go into Afghanistan, Relations, a Muslim civil liberties group,
you got guys who slap women around called on the Pentagon to discipline
for five years because they didn’t wear a Mattis for the remarks.
veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no “We do not need generals who treat
manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot the grim business of war as a sporting
of fun to shoot them.” event,” said the council’s executive
His comments were met with director, Nihad Awad. “These disturbing
laughter and applause from the audience. remarks are indicative of an apparent
Mattis was speaking during a panel indifference to the value of human life.”
discussion hosted by the Armed Forces
Communications and Electronics Asso- —By John J. Lumpkin
ciation, a spokeswoman for the general ASSOCIATED PRESS
Women’s Affair Not Adultery, Court Rules
CONCORD, N.H. — If a married woman A Family Court judge decided Mayer
has sex with another woman, is that and Sian Blanchflower’s relationship did
adultery? The New Hampshire Supreme constitute adultery, but Mayer appealed
Court, ruling in a divorce case, says no. to the Supreme Court, arguing that gay
The court was asked to review a sex is not adultery under New Hampshire
case in which a husband accused his divorce law.
wife of adultery after she had a sexual Three of the five justices agreed. Two
relationship with another woman. Robin others—generally considered the court’s
Mayer of Brownsville, Vt., was named in more conservative members—did not.
the divorce proceedings of David and Part of the problem is that New
Sian Blanchflower of Hanover. Hampshire’s divorce laws do not define
IN SHORT . . . 511
adultery. So the court looked up “adultery” New Hampshire court’s majority opinion
in Webster’s dictionary and found that it is unintentionally trivializing same-sex
mentions intercourse. And it found an 1878 relations and violating modern notions of
case that referred to adultery as“intercourse the sanctity of marriage.
from which spurious issue may arise.” A sexual relationship, whether heter-
Other states have defined adultery in osexual or homosexual, is “exactly an
broader terms—beyond intercourse—to equivalent betrayal and that, I think, is
include gay sex. the ordinary meaning most people would
Marcus Hurn, a professor at Franklin give,” he said.
Pierce Law Center, suggested that the
In Short . . .
She is Barbie’s oldest friend, happily shelves across the nation following
married and visibly pregnant with her complaints from customers, a company
second child—and some parents think spokeswoman said.
she’s a little too real for children. The
pregnant version of Midge, which pops —Associated Press; from The Sacramento
out a curled-up baby when her belly is Bee, December 26, 2002
opened, has been pulled from Wal-Mart