An Inclusive Litany


The states of Minnesota and Wisconsin banned the use or sale of bovine somatotropin (bST), a bioengineered pituitary hormone that stimulates lactation in cows, increasing milk production by as much as 25 percent. The ban was engineered by an odd coalition that included environmentalists such as Jeremy Rifkin's Foundation for Economic Trends, which opposes biotechnology, and groups representing small, relatively inefficient farms vulnerable to price decreases.

In 1985 the FDA determined that milk and meat from cows treated with bST was safe for human consumption, and indeed virtually indistinguishable from that of untreated cows, a conclusion echoed in studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Santa Barbara News-Press, December 10, 1992:
Joel Slater dismissed the United States and now he's paying the price.

He isn't a criminal or a draft dodger, just an outspoken footnote to the Reagan era.

Slater renounced his U.S. citizenship five years ago after American forces bombed Libya.

It was a passionate moment of free speech—almost an echo of the spirit that sent tea into Boston Harbor and fueled the American revolution, he said.

But dissent doesn't come cheap.

Since renouncing his citizenship in Australia in 1987, Slater has been deported by various countries four times.... He's now in Santa Barbara: Home to the man he blames for turning America mean and the vacation spot of his possible savior.

"This is Reagan's backyard, and I renounced my citizenship under Reagan," Slater said Wednesday. "Bill Clinton has a vacation home here, and maybe he can reinstate my citizenship with an executive order."

In Vermont, the state Supreme Court has reinstated the handicap-discrimination case of a chambermaid fired by a ski resort for refusing to wear her dentures at work.

University of Virginia medical researchers have embarked on a four-year investigation of constipation that employs video games to help children better control their bowels. With a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, researchers will try to teach children how to ease the passage of bowel movements and determine how success affects family and school life. Children will learn how to control their bowels by operating a video game that is controlled with the aid of electrodes attached to the child's...

The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 1993:
Lawyers defending inner-city criminals are honing a new and startling psychiatric defense: that their clients suffer from an "urban psychosis" that reduces their responsibility for their crimes.

The lawyers argue that day-to-day urban life can induce post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition courts already have recognized in Vietnam veterans, rape victims and battered spouses and children. Some defense lawyers are asking courts to take this condition into account when they determine the guilt and punishment of inner-city residents.


The University of Connecticut's definition of "harassment" includes "misdirected laughter" and "conspicuous exclusion from conversation."

In New York, where work rules stipulate that school custodians be paid up to $80,000 a year, one janitor relaxed on his 34-foot cabin cruiser on school time, another ran a real estate law practice, and others paid off personal loans and bills by hiring "ghost workers" and pocketing the balance of the salary. The same rules require that they only have to wash school windows, walls and furniture once a year and mop school buildings three times.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is considering a civil seizure of the Salvation Army's Santa suits, kettles and bells, after police arrested one of its bell ringers for selling a small amount of marijuana.

French government officials refused to allow a couple to name their daughter Marie Marie Marie because it did not "enrich the French heritage."

After promising to cut fat from city spending, the City Council of Santa Clara, California, approved $13,500 from city emergency funds to send two groups of high-school cheerleaders to compete in a national tournament in Florida. The council at first rejected the motion, but after a performance by the groups, they changed their minds. As one newspaper account put it, the sight of 50 girls in cheerleading outfits "was too much for the council to refuse."

The Department of Health and Human Services announced a crackdown on universities that had billed HHS in the past for expenses that were not related to any research grants they had received from the agency. HHS revealed that the biggest offender was the University of Wisconsin at Madison, whose chief executive officer for the previous several years was Donna Shalala, now Secretary of HHS.

In 1985 the city of New York gave a developer permission to build a thirty-one-story apartment building. After the building was up, the city announced that its officials had misread their own zoning maps and demanded that twelve stories be slashed off the building. As a result of the city's ruling, the developer was forced to spend $1 million to pay for a 7,000-pound robot to smash down the newly illegal floors of the building, floor by floor.

After writing 161 bad checks at the House bank, Democratic Representative Larry Smith of Florida announced that he would not seek reelection. After he left office, the Committee on House Administration decided to hire Smith for two months to compare the House restaurant's operations with those in the private sector, for which he will be paid $18,624.


In their book Sexual Harassment and Teens: A Program for Positive Change, Susan Strauss and Pamela Espeland place "snuggies" sixteenth on the list of "examples of sexually harassing behaviors reported in U.S. high schools." The term "snuggies" is defined as "pulling [another student's] underwear up at the waist so it goes between the buttocks." The next two items on the list are "sexual assault and attempted sexual assault" and "rape."

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched a risk assessment on potential health hazards of inhaling water vapor while taking showers.

State of the World, an annually updated book edited by Worldwatch Institute president Lester Brown, routinely predicts the imminent collapse of civilization through overpopulation, famine, resource depletion, and related environmental catastrophes. The 1993 edition proudly announced its tenth year of publication.

[Ed.: Mr. Brown predicted imminent famine in 1967, 1974, 1984, and 1989. In 1984 he announced, "If we go back to 1950 and look at the economic, agricultural, and social trends, we can see a clean breaking point somewhere around 1973." In the late 1970s he also predicted that oil supplies would soon diminish sharply "with production peaking around 1990." And even "more crucial than oil" is the world's topsoil, which Brown believes is being "lost" to erosion to the tune of 415 million acres of cropland in America alone—half of its cultivated land.]

The Toronto Globe & Mail, February 6, 1993:
The womb compartment is filled with four litres of hot water and two lead weights. It looks and feels like a cross between a flak jacket and Madonna's stage suit. Wearing it for 10 minutes or more can lead to backache, shortness of breath and increased blood pressure. It is a pregnancy simulator for men.

"Take a deep breath and blow it right out. Now hold onto your bulge while I position your breasts," childbirth educator Kate Dixon tells David, a 29-year-old insurance underwriter. She is transforming him into a pregnant man with the help of an Empathy Belly.

David's heavily pregnant wife Yvonne looks on with evident glee. "I sometimes have to remind the women that we're not looking for revenge," says Ms. Dixon.

There are seven couples gathered in Ms. Dixon's farmhouse in Somerset, in the west of England, for their weekly prenatal class. Ms. Dixon, a 31-year-old mother of three, has used the belly with about 100 couples over the past year.

The Empathy Belly is made of waterproof canvas, weighs 12 kilograms and, according to the manufacturer, enables the wearer to experience more than 20 of the typical symptoms of pregnancy. The belly was designed to encourage expectant fathers to empathize more deeply with their pregnant partner.

"The first thing men do is have a quick feel of the breasts," Ms. Dixon remarks as David gropes at his new form.

Under the prodding of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), The National Institutes of Health created an Office of Alternative Medicine charged with studying such practices as "Lakota medicine wheels," mental healing at a distance, "biofield therapeutics," and the use of shark cartilage to treat cancer. A dispute soon erupted over whether the mission of the office was to evaluate alternative treatments scientifically or to take alternative treatments on their own terms by documenting anecdotes.

As part of its program to provide summer jobs, the Washington D.C. government sent 2,500 youths to D.C. Artworks, a nonprofit group that supervised young people playing drums or dancing, among other activities. Paychecks were also supplied to kids who went to Marion Barry's Youth Leadership Institute. Larry Brown, the public affairs director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, explained, "We don't fire any of the kids—it just doesn't do anything to help a 14- or 15-year-old." Youths who fail at one job site are simply transferred to a different job site.

In Brown County, Wisconsin, the local jobs program has paid students for sitting in high school during the summer to make up the detention time they did not serve during the school year. Many youths receive checks for time spent playing basketball. Many jobs programs engage in "job shadowing," paying youths to follow government workers around and watch as them go through the motions of their jobs.

As early as 1969, the General Accounting Office noted that many job recipients "regressed in their conception of what should reasonably be required in return for wages paid." After waiting five hours for his paycheck, one disillusioned 21-year-old remarked, "They tell kids not to sell drugs, that this is the alternative... This is ridiculous."


The Educational Reporter:
Teacher Bruce Janu sentences misbehaving pupils to the Frank Sinatra Detention Club, where they are forced to listen to Sinatra tapes. He has threatened repeat offenders with Tony Bennett and Mel Torme.

The New Yorker magazine reported that artist Nancy Rubins's work, appearing at the Kasmin gallery on Grand Street, consisted of a room "nearly filled" with "old mattresses dotted with mounds of partially mashed Entenmann's cakes and suspended a few inches off the floor." No other information about the exhibit was given.

According to a congressional report, only one out of every four callers actually got through to an Internal Revenue Service office during the period of January 2 to April 24. It was also revealed that during 1993 the IRS answered 89 percent of taxpayers' questions accurately, up from only 63 percent correct in 1989.

In response to a study of his college's race relations, President Claudius Watts of the Citadel Military College ordered the school's band to play "Dixie" at football games in a manner that "will not be taunting."

Anne Taylor Fleming on the "MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour," April 7, 1993:
If either of the two (Madonna or Michael Jackson) is the logical heir to Marilyn Monroe, it is clearly Michael Jackson, who is the more bruised and authentically vulnerable of the two... Not only is he black and white, male and female, but also young and old, hip and square, the crotch-grabbing self-appointed guardian of the world's children.


An epidemiological study conducted at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University focused on the health risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields. Involving over 50,000 male New York City telephone workers, the study showed a higher risk for leukemia for young workers who continued to be employed in the same profession. In particular, cable splicers—the group with the highest EMF exposure—showed high cancer risks in general, and seven times the risk of leukemia. However, when compared with New York males as a whole, the cable splicers actually had a lower rate of cancer.

At California's Humboldt State University, student activists have asked the student body to vote on a measure to replace the school's mascot, a lumberjack, because it is "outdated, sexist, and no longer representative of our views of the ecosystem."

The San Jose Mercury News:
Judge Ruth M. Friedman has ruled that the Department of Motor Vehicles may not dock the pay of an employee for time missed at work, because the employee is a mother of five, afflicted with "inadequate child care and inadequate public transportation" which are "more properly characterized as social problems rather than personal problems."

The case involves Leshbia Morones, a mother of five whose husband also works, and who was docked for 10.1 hours pay for being late 51 times during a 6 month period. Ms. Morones argued, "It's just very, very stressful to have to take care of five kids before going to work. It seems unfair for this agency not to take into consideration human things." "If there is unexpected traffic, or if she has car trouble, she will be late," Judge Friedman ruled.

A group of female artists accused New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art of sexism because 95 percent of the paintings in the museum were by males, whereas 85 percent of the nude statues are female.

In the township of Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, a man who was declared dead after a traffic accident spent two days in a metal box in a mortuary before his cries alerted workers. But Sipho William Mdletshe, 24, became heartbroken because his fiance rejected him, believing him to be a zombie. She refused to believe his story and told nurses at the hospital where she recuperated that he returned from the dead to haunt her.

John Leonard writing in The Nation, February 1, 1993:
A vigorous nation invests in the arts not because it's cost efficient (a sort of seeding for a gross national product of mystery and magic) but because that's how we dream our Republic. These difficult people constitute an antimarket: Their business, instead of selling short, is to surprise us. If we could imagine what they will do next, we wouldn't need them, and we do, not only for pleasure and beauty, or to bind up our psychic wounds, but to bear witness and discover scruple and imagine the Other—all those archeologies of the unspoken and enciphered. And they are also stormbirds, early-warning systems on the seismic fault-lines of the Multiculture, before the cognitive dissonance and the underground tremors convulse us.

...and Mary Gordon writes in the same issue:

In a move that could connect public works programs with the support of the arts, the NEA should change its system of funding. Artists should be given housing and studio space in major cities, and subsidies to enable them to live there. This could revitalize some blasted urban areas—historically, artists have moved to unsavory places and turned them in the public mind from derelict to chic. And it would give artists a way of brushing up against one another in a place that allows for more unorthodox behavior than the academy allows.