The Entrepreneurial Spirit
The Philippine Broadcasters' Association fined station ABS-CBN $11,600 for a 1988 incident in which it sandwiched the 91-second-long Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks boxing match with one hour of commercials.
The DM Institute for Canine Therapy in San Lobo, California, claims that DM (dog meditation) will cure dogs of "unsightly sniffing urges," "humping," and "hydrant sharing," and states, "With DM, your loving friend will always be there to fetch your cosmic bone."
In August, the Cinema International Corporation shipped live snakes in promotional kits for the voodoo movie The Serpent and the Rainbow to 700 video stores in England. Animal-protection activists complained that the instructions incorrectly stated that the snakes did not have to be fed for the month they were on display.
Animalens Inc., of Wellesley, Massachusetts, markets red contact lenses for chickens at 20 cents a pair, pointing to medical studies showing that chickens seeing red during the day are happier and eat less food. A spokesman said the lenses will improve world egg-laying productivity by $600 million a year.
This year Hammacher Schlemmer offered "The French Chateau Doghouse" for $2,950, not counting such options as a marble floor and down-filled cushions.
From Toto Ltd. of Japan comes the Sound Princess, whose only function is to emit the sound of flushing water so that modest public-rest-room users, who flush to mask the sound of their activity, will not have to waste water.
S&B Shokuhin of Japan markets a gum that shows the chewer's stress level by turning color within three minutes of chewing. Pink or yellow is good, but green indicates an excess of acidity in the saliva.
In September, Valentine and Carol Kwiatkowski, awaiting trial for murdering Valentine's daughter, Anna (allegedly because she was overweight and therefore a drain on family finances), held a yard sale to raise money for their legal defense. Included were some mementos of Anna.
Government in Action
Frank Washington, 32, a Pittsburgh burglary suspect who had eluded police for months, was captured in May but had to be released two days later because of a federal court order to reduce jail overcrowding. A similar order freed Ronnie Fisher from Fulton County (Georgia) jail, but he was arrested again less than an hour later for armed robbery. Los Angeles County jail critics estimate that 100,000 defendants were released prematurely in 1988 because of overcrowding.
The Department of the Air Force recently contracted with Litton Industries to build 173 state-of-the-art fax machines for $421,000 each. In so doing, it rejected a $15,000 Magnavox machine built to the same military specifications (except that it would transmit newspaper-quality pages rather than the Litton machine's magazine-quality pages).
Warden Jerry Gilmore of the Henry C. Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg, Illinois, came under fire last summer for using $180 from the general revenue fund to purchase six skateboards for inmates' use.
Rhode Island tax administrator Gary Clark, applying the state supreme court's test of religious legitimacy, ruled in August that the Rosegate coven of witches is entitled to tax-exempt status.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher has authorized one door of his building as for use only by him and specially authorized VIPs. Two employees in the office next to the door are not permitted to walk out of their office for any reason when the door is scheduled for use.
A General Accounting Office report made public in November revealed that a team of U.S. Customs Office agents broke into a GAO office in 1987 to steal files. One USCO official disputed the evidence, saying the agents were probably just trying to close the transom to prevent terrorists' throwing a bomb through it.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.