NewsQuirks 504

Pushing the EnvelopeBritain's Family Planning Association, which receives $3.3 million a year from the government to dispense advice on sex and contraception, announced it would begin selling vibrators and other sex aids by mail order. A spokesperson explained the move was prompted by "people wanting this kind of confidential service" -- particularly the disabled and house-bound who had no other way of getting such aids.The family planning body insisted that its intention was not to titillate or encourage sexual experimentation. "We want to de-stigmatize sex aids for people," the spokesperson said. "We would be very much at the boring end of the market. We're not talking about blow-up dolls or handcuffs."HandicapableHerbert Council, 39, was fined $513 for drunken driving after he smashed his friend's BMW into a tree in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Council, who is blind, said he thought he knew the roads well enough to find his way when, after having a few drinks, he and his friend Jeffrey Hamilton took Hamilton's car for a spin in the rain. Council missed a sharp curve, however, and slammed head first into a tree.Reach Out and Touch SomeoneSomeone impersonating a police officer called a McDonald's in Milwaukee claiming that some money had been stolen from the restaurant. The caller convinced the female manager to strip-search a male employee to look for the money while holding the telephone to the man's genitals so the caller could "hear" the search.Planned ObsolescenceCritics of compact discs say that far from being indestructible, CDs have a shelf life of only 10 to 15 years. Speaking on the National Public Radio show "Anthem," Chicago recording engineer Steve Albini noted that the aluminum used to make CDs deteriorates when it is exposed to oxidizing agents, leaving the discs susceptible to what he calls "CD rot."Most recording industry experts disagree with Albini's charge. What's more, Mark Goorsky, an associate professor of material science and engineering at the University of California at Los Angeles, said the controversy is a moot point "because the next technology coming up will replace this one anyway." Albini, who favors vinyl, called the rapid progression from one recording technology to another a big part of the problem, noting, "With each incremental improvement in digital technologies, everyone wants to discard the old one."Benefits PackageGermany's minister of women, Christine Bergmann, announced that she would submit a bill calling for health, retirement and unemployment benefits for prostitutes. The measure would also give the women a legal right to sue customers who refuse to pay for their services. Bergmann added that prostitutes should be able to retire, with full benefits, by age 60.Curses, Foiled AgainPolice in Victoria, British Columbia, found all the evidence they needed that the driver of a pickup truck was responsible for the death of a bicyclist in a hit-and-run accident. After striking the cyclist, witnesses said the truck crossed a busy six-lane highway and sped off. When police eventually located it in a driveway, they found the victim in the back, apparently having landed there after the collision without the driver's knowing.Second ChancesPolice in Davenport, Iowa, were notified of a man exposing himself on a busy city street by two women who spotted the 34-year-old suspect while driving by. The women explained that they felt it necessary to drive by again for a second look just to make sure.After Kelly Lopez of Salem, Ore., hired a private detective to find out who was regularly making obscene phone calls to her, the detective traced the calls to a telephone in a Marion County jail cellblock and learned that an inmate there had been calling Lopez collect. Authorities advised the woman that she could stop the obscene calls simply by refusing to accept the charges.Pre-Marital AnxietyTown councilors in Hearst, Ontario, voted to end the tradition of locking prospective bridegrooms in cages in the center of town. While on public display, the men usually have eggs and tomatoes thrown at them by townspeople, who pay for the privilege in part to raise a nest egg for the couple, although in one recent incident a would-be groom was given an enema with a grease gun. The councilors acted after local clergy pointed out that some men were so fearful of the practice that they were forgoing marriage altogether.Just Can't Get EnoughWhen police in St. Petersburg, Fla., charged Wayne David Sorg, 29, with exposing himself in public, the suspect explained he used to be a male stripper and missed the attention he got on-stage.Can't Buy HappinessAs more Americans inherit wealth or make fortunes in the stock market, many find themselves burdened by the abundance of money and are flocking to self- help groups to learn how to cope with their new-found affluence. The Washington Times reported that the main problems confronting the rich are fear, anxiety, suspicion and the loss of ambition. "People who suddenly acquire wealth are nervous and apprehensive," Los Angeles psychotherapist James Gottfurcht said. "They're concerned it will all be taken away. Money is symbolic of power, influence and importance. Its importance, coupled with a person's inexperience dealing with large sums, makes fear of loss extremely high."Creative ImpulseAnnette Pappas of Metairie, La., has invented three-legged pantyhose to deal with the problem of runs. Each of the legs has a pocket above it in the panty area. In her patent application, Pappas explained that the wearer tucks the third leg into its pocket until a run develops in one of the leg portions being worn. Then the leg with the run is rolled up into its pocket and the third leg unrolled to replace it.Kathy Harris of Herndon, Va., has invented two machines that combine gambling and exercise. One is a combination exercise bike and slot machine, called Pedal 'N Play. The other, Money Mill, combines a slot machine and treadmill. A timer inside the machines shuts them down if the user fails to continue with both functions. Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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