An Inclusive Litany


Newsweek, October 31, 1994:
In Boston, Van Nuys, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., ... the U.S. Postal Service has removed clocks and other "non-user-friendly items" such as bulletin boards and calendars from 30 lobbies.... This is not about keeping customers from watching their lives tick away while buying stamps, says Postal Service spokesperson Sandra Harding. "Clocks look bureaucratic," she says. "They are not an imperative part of the post-office experience."

The London Times:
Two men stole a ten-foot pile of rusty scrap steel, not knowing it was a $51,000 environmentally compatible piece of art representing a heap of rusty scrap steel.

An administrator at the University of California at Santa Cruz has started a campaign against racist phrases such as "a nip in the air" and "a chink in one's armor."

In Utah, the Labor Department has barred KRT Drywall-Acoustical from working on any federal contracts because it has no female employees. The government didn't buy KRT's assertion that it was difficult to find women willing and able to lug around 120-pound drywall sheets all day.

Disappointed that the "Goods for Guns" exchange program pulled in only 313 guns one year, one-tenth the number of the previous year's gun exchange program, New York City businessman Fernando Mateo announced that he would go on a hunger strike. Mateo stated "I'm letting people know I don't have much to give them anymore but myself. I'm going to sacrifice until they come through and they deliver the guns to the precincts."


The Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that the Eden School District discriminated against a young woman because the school failed to take action on her sexual harassment complaint. The woman and her harasser are both six years old.


For ten years, Velma Williamson and Theresa Taylor have given free haircuts to people who could not afford them, including men at Duluth, Minnesota's Union Gospel Mission. But the two don't have barber's licenses, so the state Board of Barber Examiners has told them to stop, or else face 90 days in jail and a $700 fine.

The Washington Post:
Frank Georgi wants to build a theme park recreating East German totalitarianism, complete with May Day parades, an Erich Honecker look-alike, secret police, and closed-circuit TV sets showing old propaganda movies. Visitors could apply to leave, but at the risk of ostracism and petty harassment.

Rent control laws in New York have resulted in a number of creative schemes for paying less for an apartment than its actual market value.

In one, a tenant who is renting an apartment for $400, but which is actually worth $1,200, takes in a roommate who is eager to pay the fair market rent of $600 a month. The official tenant is then able to pocket the $200 difference, despite a law that allows tenants only a ten percent increase on the rent they can charge. The roommate has no incentive to report the primary tenant, since the roommate also has a great deal on an apartment. In many cases the roommate does not know how much the tenant is paying, and how much windfall profit is involved.

In another scheme, the roommate manages to pay the landlord directly with his own check, perhaps after convincing the primary tenant to withhold rent for some reason. If the landlord makes the mistake of cashing the roommate's check, rather than that of the primary tenant, the roommate legally becomes the tenant in residence and is entitled to a new lease in his name upon renewal.

In another, the tenant maintains a voter's registration card and driver's license, along with perhaps a credit card or two, at the address of the rent-controlled apartment, while moving elsewhere. This is sufficient compliance with the vague primary residence law, and usually enough to frustrate any private investigator that the landlord hires.

In another, a tenant who was otherwise planning to move out of the apartment demands a large fee from the landlord for doing so.

In another, a tenant in a building that is about to convert to co-op status refuses to buy the apartment from the landlord, instead preferring to continue his advantageous position of paying less than market rent. Another approach is to buy the apartment at the bargain basement prices the law requires of landlords, then turn around and sell it at an immense profit.

In another, a prospective tenant of a professional suite (which, along with other commercial property, are not subject to rent controls) installs a bed or sleep couch and starts living there. Even if the Certificate of Occupancy and the lease calls for professional use only, and even if the residency was achieved through deception, the apartment automatically becomes rent-regulated due to the severe housing shortage in New York, a predictable result of rent control laws.

Four women living in a Hampton, Virginia, public housing project were threatened with eviction because they cleaned up a playground without asking permission.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Public Health Service sponsored a minority AIDS conference that featured a panel titled "Is AIDS Medical Genocide?" According to a Public Health Service official, the panel was included to "address many of the AIDS theories that have gained currency over the years in both ethnic and nonethnic communities." The panel included Abdul Alim Muhammad, the health minister of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, who has some theories of his own. On a radio talk show in 1987, he speculated that AIDS was "perhaps hatched in the international banking community as a means of depopulating Africa ... so that the Europeans and perhaps even the Russians, the South Africans and the Israelis could have a depopulated continent" so they could plunder its mineral resources. "Maybe the Americans and Russians had such a plan or scheme."


When Klaus Matthiesen, environment minister of the German state of North Rhine Westphalia, condemned daily showers as a threat to the environment because they use water and heat unnecessarily, special interest groups reacted swiftly. "Not taking a shower every day in the summer would be crazy," said Hans Joachim Keller, president of the German Public Health Movement. Achim Tilmes of the German Bath Society added: "Some people even need to shower twice a day."

The First National Lesbian Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, officially banned the handing out of leaflets as "inherently coercive." Leafleting, a spokesperson for the conference explained, puts "the woman you're handing something to in a position where she has to say no, and everyone knows how difficult in this culture it is to say no."

A Long Island housing activist instructed some street people: "You are houseless but not homeless because home is wherever you are."

Some feedback from readers of Copy Editor: The National Newsletter for Professional Copy Editors. Readers were asked simply, "What has been your biggest change in style or usage this year?" The replies appeared in the December 1994/January 1995 issue.
Jack Vaughn, copy and slot editor, The Sacramento Bee:
When we had the Mexican Chiapas uprising, readers objected to the phrase peasant uprising or peasant rebellion. So we banned peasant, changing it to rural or another more specific word. The thought was that (a) peasant is a word that has a pejorative meaning as well as a literal one and that (b) it's not very specific....

Pamela Dugan, copy desk chief, The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Our official style is still to use American Indian, but we'll allow Native American when a person prefers it. We make allowances for people's stated preferences with, for example, Hispanic or Latino and black or African American, and American Indian and Native American seem to be in that category.

Kimberly Travis, copy editor, Endless Vacation magazine:
We've changed Native American to American Indian. We wanted to be accurate and correct and still get to the point.

Caesar Andrews, executive editor, Rockland Journal-News (West Nyack, N.Y.):
We're trying to clarify Hispanic and make the distinction that as a Hispanic you can be black or white. That does not always come across clearly in population and demographic-type stories. Where it's appropriate, we don't presume that there's a black and a white and a Hispanic. We're in the process of figuring out how to deal with this issue and do it in an accurate sense that is not too convoluted.

Charlotte Wiggers, managing editor, Essence:
We had been capping black and lowercasing white, and now we are uppercasing white as well. If you do it for one, you need to do it for the other.

Peter Jeffrey, copy chief, Working Woman:
Over the past years we have formalized what had already been a tendency to blend African-American with our use of black. We use African-American on first reference and black thereafter, so as to acknowledge African-American without replacing black. We felt that African-American was gaining currency and had a lot of etymological legitimacy, but since it's rather long and it can be awkward when used exclusively, we decided to mix the two forms.

Bill Fink, copy desk chief, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
We never used to allow the term African American, for most of the usual arguments. Now we have an informal policy of using black and African American pretty much interchangeably. We usually go with what the source that's covered prefers.

Darrell Turner, copy editor, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette:
We no longer use the term the disabled. We now say people with disabilities.

From an Associated Press story from Chicago:
Clarence Notree barely had time to act when a gunman burst into the elementary-school gym. As the bullets flew, the physical-education teacher spread out his arms to shield the children and pushed them out a door to safety. He got shot in the wrist. His school and community lauded Notree as a hero, but the Chicago Board of Education insisted that he wasn't entitled to worker's compensation. They said saving the children's lives was not part of his job.

NBC news analyst and former New York Times reporter Gwen Ifill on "Meet the Press" following the 1994 election:
The Democrats are being blamed more than Republicans because they ran in 1992 saying, "If you elect us we will get all of these things done. We'll have a Democratic White House; we'll have a Democratic Congress; and all of the gridlock you saw in the past will fade away." Instead, they look like the gang who couldn't shoot straight; they couldn't get anything through. Now that's not exactly true, because in fact they've gotten a lot of things through, important things like, uh, uh, I can't think of any right now.


In the interests of protecting the ozone layer, the Air Force announced plans to retrofit all its nuclear missiles with cooling systems that do not use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The ICBMs will continue to carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, each capable of wiping out an entire city.

According to the European, a "girl gang" known as the Lesbian Avengers protested the statue outside Buckingham Palace commemorating Queen Victoria, who, the Avengers believed, had never "acknowledged the existence of lesbians." Gathered around the statue, the Avengers "ate fire, banged drums," and waved placards conveying their disapproval.

A student at an English course at the University of Michigan had her grade reduced for writing "Congressman" rather than the preferred "Congressperson."

Louise Lee in the Wall Street Journal:
Many companies are quite formal about how to be casual. Southland, for example, put on a "fashion show" with employees modeling what is—and isn't—OK to wear on dress-down day. For further reference, the company has compiled a two-inch-thick binder packed with full-color catalog clippings, each pasted into sections marked "appropriate" and "inappropriate." (A photo of a woman wearing black spandex exercise shorts and a tight-fitting tank top fell into the latter category.)

In addition, the Dallas-based convenience-store chain has formed an eight-member "Employee Dress Code Committee" to resolve any future disputes over questionable dress.

Determining what is perfectly casual from what is way too casual can be tricky. At Picadilly Cafeterias Inc., of Baton Rouge, La., bluejeans are forbidden, but not black or green jeans. Shorts are prohibited, so why not the culotte-like "skort," an odd cross between shorts and a skirt? "I don't know how to answer that," confesses Scott Bozzell, a vice president who recently held a special meeting with supervisors to clarify the company's casual-dress rules. "I guess the design of skorts itself isn't distasteful."

For workers at conservative companies, the chance to break free from business suits may be just too much to handle. Houston-based American General Corp. tried a Casual Day Pilot Program, but found "the definition of casual was perceived to be broader" than intended, says John Pluhowski, company spokesman.

On dress-down day, employees of the insurance company wore Santa Claus and Easter Bunny outfits, T-shirts advertising booze and tight pants under oversized baggy shirts hanging to the knees. No one was sent home, not even the worker who dressed as a duck.

"If you came as a duck, you went home as a duck, but you were expected not to return as a duck," Mr. Pluhowski says. After a six-month trial, casual day at American General got the ax.

A spokesman for the NAACP said that a Republican proposal to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare and Social Security benefits "could exacerbate racial divisions" because black life expectancy was shorter than that of whites.


When the European community proposed a code governing sexual harassment in the workplace, a delegation of British women marched to EC headquarters in Brussels to voice their opposition. The women, all models who had posed for British tabloids, feared the measure, which specifically bans nude pinups in the workplace, would cost them work.

After University of Pennsylvania undergraduate Gregory Pavlik wrote a column in the Daily Pennsylvanian critical of affirmative action, he was told he would be investigated for racial harassment by the university's Judicial Inquiry Office. When told that charges would be dropped if he agreed to a meeting with the group of students who had accused him, he refused. In protest, a group of black students stole and destroyed a press run of the newspaper. They reiterated their racial harassment charge, and defended their own actions as an example of free expression.

Faced with First Amendment constraints, the university agreed not to prosecute Pavlik. In fact, the only people punished in the incident were the police who arrested the students who destroyed the papers. One officer was suspended, and a follow-up report by the university recommended that the campus police begin keeping race and sex information on their detainees, "to determine if [arrest policy] has an adverse impact on any groups and if the policy is applied in a consistent, non-discriminatory manner."

Lebanese-born Rashid Baz went on trial in late October 1994, accused of shooting at a van full of Hasidic Jewish students after they cut him off on New York's Brooklyn Bridge. One student was killed in the March attack; three were wounded. His lawyer argued that Baz was suffering from ethnic rage.

Defense attorney Eric Sears argued that his client grew up in Beirut amid civil war, violence and an atmosphere of hatred, all of which rendered him temporarily insane. In Baz's case, argued Sears, the violence in Beirut, "besides being constant and random, was often brutal. The house you left in the morning could be rubble that night," he declared in his opening statement at the trial. "Those years inevitably left scars on his personality."

Michael Perlman in the Valley Optimist Magazine, Northampton, Massachusetts, August 24, 1994:
A friend who recently moved to South Deerfield told me that her roommate did something a little odd while they were jogging together. They had jogged into Sunderland and paused by the monumental sycamore tree—one of New England's largest—that grows near the center of town. On an impulse, my friend's roommate embraced the tree and "gave it a big smackeroo."

Could it be that my roommate's friend's affection for the Sunderland sycamore represented a welling up of the ecological (or, more precisely, arboreal) id?

If you surmise that my question is a leading one, you're right on the money. But what it leads to is another, much larger realm of questions. Why does your average passerby think it's weird to kiss trees? Is there in his or her response to the tree-kisser an analogue to homophobia? Why is it forbidden to make love with trees? Are we (if I may coin a phrase) an ecophobic society? And if, with whatever difficulties and setbacks, American society is coming to realize that bisexuality and homosexuality are in and of themselves as healthy as heterosexuality, why do we lag in recognizing the inherent healthiness of erotic, even sexual, connections with nonhuman nature? Why are we so conflicted about—to broach a concept—our natural ecosexuality?


The vice chairman of the United States Postal Service stated that African Americans are over-represented among postal workers in major cities, often at the expense of Latinos. Tirso del Junco, who is himself Hispanic, said that postal service management in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami "is driven by blacks—they must open the doors of opportunity to everyone," reported the Los Angeles Times. Postal Service officials denied del Junco's accusations and argued that hiring is based on the results of a test open to anyone. "The managers do not control the hiring of employees—the register controls it," said Charly Amos, the Postal Service Manager for Affirmative Action.

Rapper Ice-T, in an interview with Black Elegance magazine, nostalgically reflected on his life as a Los Angeles pimp before he became famous: "Bein' a pimp was real cool, rollin' around with 20 Gs in my pocket, fly perm dipped, and gold jewelry hangin' down, because I was like a psychiatrist to the prostitutes."

A September fundraiser for Senator Edward Kennedy's 1994 reelection bid was held at the house of Brad Whitford, a member of the Boston-area rock group Aerosmith. At the event, Kennedy was asked to name his favorite Aerosmith song. Seeing that his boss was stumped, an aide yelled, "Walk This Way," one of the band's most popular numbers. Kennedy missed the reference and began walking toward the aide.

Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon has compiled a list of the "Top 10 frivolous lawsuits" filed by Missouri prisoners. Included in the list: one prisoner filed a suit claiming that the cost of junk food in a prison commissary is too high; another charged that the limit on Kool-Aid refills is cruel and unusual. A convicted murderer wanted the state to give him an axe so he could build a "sweat lodge" in which to conduct American Indian ceremonies. A prisoner sued the Buchanan County jail for making escape too easy (although he broke his leg during a failed attempt), while another complained that nicotine patches are not provided free to inmates who want to quit smoking. One lawsuit demanded that prisoners be served butter and not just margarine, while another argued that "male inmates should be allowed to wear female apparel such as bras, panties, lipstick, and artificial fingernails. Another lawsuit demanded that convicts working in prison libraries should be paid the same rate as attorneys. The No. 1 lawsuit, and the only one among them not to have been dismissed yet: a complaint that there are no salad bars or brunches on weekends and holidays.

In their book Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies, Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, both university professors and self-described feminists, report on the use of acronyms as a form of shorthand among some academic feminists. IDPOL, or "identity politics," represents the belief that people and their ideas are defined entirely by membership in an oppressed or oppressor group. TOTAL REJ represents the contention that "our culture... is so infused with patriarchal thinking that it must be torn up root and branch if genuine change is to occur." WORDMAGIC signifies the effort to uncover the supposedly masculinist roots of words and phrases most would consider gender-neutral, such as "the thrust of an argument." BIODENIAL represents the idea that biology is completely unrelated to male or female experience, such as the assertion that "the pain of childbirth is socially constructed by patriarchy and would not happen in a feminist society."

Peter Jennings on ABC Radio, November 14, 1994, commenting on the recent election that brought the Republican Party control of the House, Senate, and many governorships:
Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week... Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old.


When Crystal Storm came to Philadelphia to earn a living as a nude dancer, she advertised her measurements as 121-24-36. Officials from the weights and measures division of the Department of Licenses and Inspection came calling to make sure her license was in order, for which they had legal authority ever since nude dancing became a licensed profession. They measured Ms. Storm's bustline and determined that her claims were not true: her bust measured a mere 50 inches. Ms. Storm claimed the quoted measurement was in centimeters, to which Department official Frank Antico said, "That's deceptive advertising."

An electronic message posted to several news groups in the world-wide USENET forum:
(Leor Jacobi)

I just found out that the makers of Teva sandals are being BOYCOTTED by the AFL-CIO for their union-busting activities, so I am strongly urging all vegans to NOT BUY THIS SANDAL.

I can see no reason why we should support companies who exploit humans or animals.

If you're interested in other vegan sandals and can't find them, Aesop, P.O. Box 315, North Cambridge, MA 02140, has a complete catalog of vegan footwear.


The Boston Sunday Herald, November 20, 1994:
A Somerville house painter was weak but still dedicated as he entered the second week of a hunger strike aimed at forcing his cable company to carry a Portuguese channel in Cambridge and Somerville. "I'm tired and cold," Manuel Bonifacio said yesterday. "The doctor is going to check me to make sure everything is OK so far."

Bonifacio, 39, the host of "Here We Speak Portuguese" on local-access stations in Cambridge and Somerville, has subsisted on juice and water since he began his hunger strike. Four other hunger strikers are making the same demand in New Bedford and Fall River. So far, cable officials have only encouraged Bonifacio and the others to eat.


Illinois state motor vehicles officials refused to grant the automobile of a Chicago man a license, because state law requires that all cars pass an emissions test. Since the car was electric and had no emissions, there was no way to test it.

The following letter to the Wall Street Journal (August 31, 1994) concerns the story of Frank Balun, a Hillside, New Jersey man who set a passive squirrel trap for a rat that had been eating his garden vegetables. After the rat became trapped, Balun called the state Humane Society to pick it up. However, the rat started to struggle to escape from the trap, so Balun hit it on the head with a broom handle, killing it.

Balun was then charged with "needlessly abusing a rodent" by the Humane Society, whose director said, "It may only be a rat, but it's a living creature, and there is no reason to abuse a living creature." If convicted, he faced a $10,000 fine.

The charge was eventually dropped following widespread public ridicule and enthusiastic support from Health Board chief Angelo Bonano, who called the charges "absolutely preposterous," adding, "we encourage people to kill rats because they carry disease!"

Note the spurious name at the end of the letter:

With respect to your defamatory editorial that attempted humor over the wanton and vicious murder of a poor defenseless rodent (or the Latin mus as the name "rats" prefer to call themselves) at the hands of a white human male who is 100 times the size of the victim, I must protest ("Oh, Rats!" Aug. 11).

It is well and good that you beat your breasts in justification that the "grandfather" was only protecting his grandchildren, but this is at the expense of another fact. The poor murdered creature was simply foraging for food to feed her own family, certainly less a threat than, say, a raccoon. Would you express a similar satisfaction had farmer MacGregor caught and killed Peter in Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"? I rather doubt it. But Peter was a rodent, too.

MUS, or "rats," if you insist, have a particular problem. They are not considered attractive because of their long and hairless tails. Their close cousins, mice on the other hand, receive greater understanding, and even respect. A mouse was responsible for creating a multibillion-dollar international company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Sadly, due to human prejudice as exhibited by your editorial, this would not have been the case had he been named "Dickey Rat."

"Oh, Rats" can be said as a curse, but it can also be expressed as a plea for mercy, compassion and understanding. It would be best for all to remember we are all God's creatures, and therefore not editorialize that some exterminations are more justifiable than others.

—Billion Basp
MUS Anti-Defamation League
New York

The Washington Post, November 17, 1994:
[D.C. mayor-elect Marion Barry] is devoting long hours to examining the District's budget, for which deficit projections have worsened dramatically in recent weeks.

Taking the lead in that effort are former city administrator Elijah B. Rogers and former deputy mayor Ivanhoe Donaldson, who pleaded guilty in 1985 to stealing $190,000 in city funds.


The Washington Times, August 26, 1994:
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, says he owns an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and keeps it in his Washington home....

The AR-15 is classified as a "machine gun" under the D.C. law. In other words, it's illegal to possess such a powerful weapon in the nation's capital....

Mr. Rockefeller was busy working on the crime bill yesterday and had no immediate comment.

Following a year of $500 million in losses and the start of a new year that found the Postal Service running expenses of $215 million more than expected, Postmaster General Marvin Runyon announced the possibility of large cash bonuses for his top managers if the total loss for the current year could be kept to only $1.3 billion.

Under heavy criticism for allowing members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and diplomats to park for free at reserved parking spots at Washington airports, the Senate voted to change this practice. Signs that previously announced reserved parking for Congress, the diplomatic corps, and Supreme Court justices have been replaced by signs reading simply, "Reserved Parking/Authorized Users Only." Still, the only authorized users are members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Amidst the overall collapse of the Cuban economy, the Cuban government recently began a crackdown on those it believes has have earned too much money in the small private sector. So far, more than 370 people have been charged with "illegal enrichment."

Daimion Osby, a black 18-year-old who shot two unarmed blacks in a Fort Worth parking lot in 1993, got a deadlocked jury after his lawyer argued that he suffered from "urban survival syndrome"—the fear that inner-city residents have of other people in that area.

"Roid rage," mood swings associated with steroid use, was used to defend 19-year-old Troy Matthew Gentzler, who admitted tossing rocks at passing cars near York, Pennsylvania, injuring several.

In Los Angeles, Moosa Hanoukai had his charges reduced from murder to voluntary manslaughter after beating his wife to death with a wrench. His lawyer said that Hanoukai's wife had psychologically emasculated him—calling him names, forcing him to sleep on the floor—thus destroying his self-esteem.

A form used by Michael Hunter during training sessions for dormitory resident advisers and desk attendants at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey:
I, (name), hereby have permission to be imperfect with regards to homophobia and heterosexism. It is O.K. if I don't know all of the answers or if at times my ignorance and misunderstandings become obvious. I have permission to ask questions that appear stupid. I have permission to struggle with these issues and be up front and honest about my feelings. I am a product of this homophobic/heterosexist culture, and I am who I am. I don't have to feel guilty about what I know or believe, but I do need to take responsibility for what I can do now:

  • Trying to learn as much as I can.

  • Struggling to change my false/inaccurate beliefs or oppressive attitudes.

  • Learning what I can do to make a difference.


Landlords in Provo, Utah, who rent apartments to Brigham Young University students are discriminating against non-Mormons in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, ACLU lawyers charged in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court. By conforming with BYU's off-campus housing policy, which strictly segregates male and female tenants, the landlords are also discriminating on the basis of gender and family status, the complaint charged.

Jonathan Alter in Newsweek, September 19, 1994:
On the day her resignation was announced in the New York Times, Anna Quindlen's column was a perfect illustration of why newspaper readers will miss her so much. The ostensible subject was the Barbie doll. Before Quindlen's 1990 debut, explaining "why there's no PMS Barbie" might have been considered beneath the standards of the Times op-ed page. Now it's another example of the new standard she set.

A television station in Jacksonville, Florida, cancelled the Reverend Jerry Falwell's show after receiving numerous complaints from viewers. In recent months, Falwell has become obsessed with Bill Clinton's sexual improprieties, discussing them in some detail on his show. One woman said that she complained after her 9-year-old son asked what oral sex was after hearing Falwell discuss it.

From Enforcement Guidance on Preemployment Disability-Related Injuries, a set of guidelines issued in May 1994 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The guidelines show employers how to conduct job interviews in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act:
Under the law, an employer may not ask about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability until after the employer determines that the applicant is qualified for the job and makes a conditional job offer. This is to ensure that an applicant's possible hidden disability is not considered by the employer. Employers may ask, however, about an applicant's ability to perform specific job-related functions.


R [interviewer] may ask an applicant questions such as, "Do you regularly eat three meals per day?" or "How much do you weigh?" Such inquiries are not likely to elicit information about a disability because there are a number of reasons why an individual may or may not regularly eat meals or may have a high or low weight. R may not ask questions such as, "Do you need to eat a number of small snacks at regular intervals throughout the day in order to maintain your energy level?" Such inquiries are likely to elicit information about a disability (e.g., diabetes).

R is hiring a word processor and asks an applicant how he broke his arm. This is not prohibited. However, R may not go on to ask how extensive the break is, when the arm is expected to heal, or whether the applicant will have full use of the arm in the future.

R may ask an applicant, "How many Mondays or Fridays were you absent last year on leave other than approved vacation leave?" R may not ask, "How many days were you sick last year?" or "How many separate episodes of sickness did you have last year?"

R may ask an applicant with one leg who applies for a job as a telephone linesperson to describe or demonstrate how she would perform her duties, because R may reasonably believe that having one leg interferes with the ability to climb telephone poles.

Members of the California Psychological Association have agreed to provide free psychotherapy to people who turn guns in at local police stations. Anyone who brings a gun to a Contra Costa County police station through 1994 will receive a coupon entitling the bearer to $300 worth of psychological care—either individual, marital, or group therapy. The program is the brainchild of psychologist David O'Grady, who says the program should appeal to women who feel insecure and "want other means of coping with their fears" and to men "who know hey have problems controlling their anger and want better skills."

National Public Radio reporter Sunni Khalid on C-SPAN's "Journalists Roundtable," October 14, 1994:
I think there's a big difference when people told Father Aristide to sort of moderate his views; they were concerned about people being dragged through the streets, killed and necklaced. I don't think that is what Newt Gingrich has in mind. I think he's looking at a more scientific, a more civil way of lynching people.

Promotional jacket text for Ariel Dorfman's The Emperor's Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds. Dorfman is also the author of How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic.
Nothing could seem more innocent than Babar the Elephant, the Lone Ranger, Donald Duck, or the Reader's Digest. Yet, in this daring book, Ariel Dorfman explores the hidden political and social messages behind the smiling faces that inhabit those familiar books, comics, and magazines. In so doing, he provides a stunning map to the secret world inside the most successful cultural symbols of our time.

Dorfman first examines the meteoric rise of Babar the elephant from orphan to king of the jungle and the way stories like his teach the young a rosy version of underdevelopment and colonialism. He then turns to purely American comic-book figures and shows how Donald Duck, the Lone Ranger, Superman, and other heroes offer a set of simple, disarming answers to the deepest dilemmas of our time without ever calling an established value into question. Along the way, with wit and wily style, he raises a series of always provocative questions: Why does the Lone Ranger really have that mask? Why do Disney comics teem with uncles and nephews but no mothers and fathers? How could a comic book help overthrow a government? How does an "adult's" magazine like the Reader's Digest continually transform us into children?

Here is a book that will appeal to those who want to understand the connection between politics and culture, between Ronald Reagan and Mickey Mouse, between economic theories of development and children's literature. It is for those who are fascinated by the mass media, for parents and teachers who are worried about what their children are watching and reading, for anyone who wants to understand the way ideas are produced and manipulated in the twentieth century.


Basketball all-star Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns charged that he was misquoted in a new book about him. The book was his autobiography.

Haywood Burns, a dean and professor at CUNY School of Queens College, from the Empire State Report, April 1994:
In meeting the challenge of diversity, New Yorkers must neither accentuate nor submerge our differences. We need to learn to accept and respect them, with an acceptance and respect that goes beyond mere tolerance, to an appreciation and even a celebration of both the riches and strength we all bring to another, and of the great unity that is possible in diversity.

In Women, Celibacy, and Passion, Sally Cline condemns "restaurant tables automatically laid for two" as a symbol of "society's onerous insistence on coupledom."

In Florida, Hillsborough Country Judge Dan Perry threw out charges of cruelty to animals against Manuel Machin for shooting a possum he treed in his backyard. Assistant State Attorney Jan McDonald had attempted to portray Machin in a very bad light, telling the court, "he raises his rifle into the air and fires a shot—a possum falls. This is a very, very serious case." The judge, though, dismissed the cruelty charge against Machin, agreeing with the defense's claim that "we're not talking about a fuzzy little dog here, we're talking about a varmint, we're talking about a nasty, filthy creature."


Twenty percent of French women, according to a survey reported in the newsmagazine Le Point, do not think an interviewer should be censured for asking a job applicant to disrobe.

Promotional material for Shannon Bell's Reading, Writing and Rewriting the Prostitute Body, published by Indiana University Press:
Bell shows how the flesh-and-blood sexual female body engaged in sexual interaction for payment has no inherent meaning and is signified differently in different cultures or discourses. The author contends that modernity has produced "the prostitute" as the other within the categorical other woman.

A Maine professor who was fired when he kissed a female student filed a court suit, arguing that the incident was the result of "sexual obsessiveness" that amounted to a disability under the Federal Rehabilitation Act.

Garrett Redmond, a school board trustee in Half Moon Bay, California, has proposed to eliminate homework in the Cabrillo Unified School District because it's "inherently unfair." Some kids, apparently, have more time than others to spend on homework, plus not everyone has a computer or a good place in which to work. Redmond explained:
"We have students who can tap into the Internet and CD-ROMs in their own bedroom, and have a vast array of information at their fingertips. But the unfortunate people who live in hovels with the entire family sharing one or two rooms—how is that kid supposed to do their [sic] homework?"

To bolster his case, Redmond has even claimed that homework is contrary to "family values": since kids can spend up to five or six hours on their schoolwork, it means "goodbye to any time to spend with their parents."


When a Los Angeles city agency proposed allocating $175,000 for three street paintings on Hollywood Boulevard, critics attacked the move as wasteful. They noted that the artworks, which would be painted directly onto the road bed, would fade under the tire treads within a couple of days.

The Kentucky Commission on Women rejected South Central Bell's plan to gradually phase out discriminatory "Men Working" signs, insisting instead that there be immediate and remedial change. Furthermore, even if the telephone company decided to abandon written signs in favor of a symbol of a person working, the commission would still object. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Laura White declared that the symbol would be gender-biased because "it looks like it has pants on," a statement that is itself biased.

After serving a six-month prison sentence for cocaine possession, Marion Barry sought re-election for the office of mayor of Washington, D.C. Barry was assisted in this endeavor by the 75-member Coalition of Ex-Offenders, a group of felons who went door to door campaigning for him. According to organizer Rhozier "Roach" Brown, a convicted murderer, drug dealer, and thief, the Coalition members were especially helpful because they went into the toughest neighborhoods to register the District's substantial criminal population, most of whom were unaware of a 1976 law that gave them voting rights.

Following Mayor Barry's successful re-election campaign, a federal judge transferred parole supervision of Mr. Brown from the D.C. parole board to a federal board. This was because Mr. Brown, who was now serving as an assistant to the mayor, had inexplicably been released early by the D.C. board from his prison sentence and, due to a "clerical error," freed of his obligation to repay $45,000 to an orphanage he was convicted of swindling.


In "Toward a Feminist Algebra," a paper presented at a 1993 meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, Maryanne Campbell and Randall K. Campbell-Wright concluded that women are discouraged from studying math because word problems used to test students' grasp of mathematical concepts refer to situations fraught with sexist stereotypes.

The authors noted their disapproval of a particular problem in which a girl and her boyfriend run toward each other—even though the girl's slower speed is explained by the fact that she is carrying luggage—because it described exclusively heterosexual involvement. They objected to another problem about a contractor and the contractor's workers—worded so as not to specify their sex—because students would supposedly envision the workers as male. However, they approved of a problem about Sue and Debbie, "a couple financing their $70,000 home."

In conclusion, the authors called for problems "presenting female heroes and breaking gender stereotypes," "analyzing sex similarities and differences intentionally," and "affirming women's experiences."

Colorado federal prison inmate James Howard, who is serving a 10-year sentence for car theft, has brought a lawsuit against the prison for not allowing him to practice his "religion," which is Satanism.

A federal court agreed, with U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham ruling that "we ought to give the devil his due," quoting from another case dealing with Satanism. Prison officials had warned that the materials which Howard said he needed for his devotions—candles, incense, a gong, a black robe, a chalice, and a wooden staff—could threaten prison security, but the judge said the inmate's religious rights had to take precedence.

Howard said he plans to practice "destruction rituals," which he described as a way to visualize people's death, purging anger towards them without doing them any harm. However, Dr. Carl Raschke, an author of a book on Satanism and teacher of religious studies at the University of Denver, said that such rituals are commonly intended to kill people, and he called the judge's decision "reprehensible."


When Carol Bentz of Manchester, Maryland, wanted to have her dying pet, a blue heron named Steve, stuffed and donated to a local high school, she discovered that transporting a dead heron, which is a protected bird, is punishable by a federal fine of up to $5,000 and six months in jail and a state fine of $1,000 and one year in jail. While looking for someone with a permit to transport a dead heron, she also discovered that a special permit was required to "salvage" a dead heron. Once the dead heron is "salvaged," a private citizen is not allowed to possess a stuffed heron. When Bentz finally located a law enforcement agent of the Fish and Wildlife Service, he told her that she should freeze the bird while he started the paperwork moving on her permits. Once he discovered the location of the high school the dead bird would be donated to, that meant more permits. Finally the bird was moved and prepared by a taxidermist specially licensed for preparing protected birds. Said Bentz of the ordeal: "The government made me angry. I thought it was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard in my life."

Course description for "Sex Work: The Labor of Pornography," an art history course offered by Kelly Dennis at the University of California at Santa Cruz:
Examines pornography not only as a representational genre but as the representation of class-based labor largely unaccounted for by contemporary pornography debates. Is pornography simply a gender issue?

...and this is from another course from Ms. Dennis, "State of the Art: Aesthetics of Government Patronage and Censorship in the 20th Century":

While Hagel [sic] claimed that the State is founded on Art, U.S. government policy locates the keystone of the nation state in the family, despite the latter's social and economic obsolescence since the nineteenth century. Course examines the moral and political substance and subtext of contemporary arts censorship up to and including recent NEA controversies.

Sentenced to be hanged for murdering two bank tellers during a robbery, Washington state death-row inmate Mitchell Rupe told the court that the state shouldn't hang him because he is too fat. The inmate claimed that because of his 409-pound weight, it was possible that he would be decapitated in the process, thus violating the constitutional ban against "cruel and unusual punishment." Although Washington state law permits the alternative of lethal injection, Rupe said he didn't like that form of execution because it is "morally repugnant."

After three Berkeley residents voiced concern that a proposed subsidized housing project would attract drug abusers, alcoholics and crime (as had several such projects in the past), they were accused of "housing discrimination" against the handicapped and threatened by lawsuits by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD investigators demanded every article, flier and letter to the editor they had written, as well as minutes from every public meeting at which any of the three spoke, or face a $100,000 fine or jail time.

In New York City, HUD launched a similar investigation of the Irving Place Community Coalition, a group opposed to placing another home for the mentally ill in a neighborhood already saturated with such homes. HUD demanded to see membership lists, memos, and even the diaries of the plan's opponents.


Issues debated at the national convention of the National Education Association included abortion, nuclear waste, pesticides, and the economic embargo of Haiti. A motion to limit debate to subjects directly related to education was defeated.

A North Carolina man imprisoned on bank-robbery charges has filed suit against the bank, claiming that it overstated the loss from one of his robberies. In the suit, the bank robber complained that the bank's estimate of $272,000 taken was overstated and caused the judge in his case to sentence him more severely than if the smaller, more accurate figure had been entered into evidence.

Guns sold in Fulton County, Georgia, will now be required to bear warning labels, thanks to an initiative sponsored by county commissioner John O'Callaghan. The ordinance mandates that gun dealers affix labels on all weapons, informing would-be purchasers that guns are a leading cause of murder and suicide; dealers must also post notices to this effect in their stores.


MacArthur Foundation "genius grant"-winner Susan McClary, from Getting Down Off the Beanstalk: The Presence of a Woman's Voice in Janika Vandervelde's Genesis II:
Beethoven's symphonies add two other dimensions to the history of style: assaultive pelvic pounding ... and sexual violence. The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release.

[Ed.: McClary comments that the works of Gustave Mahler and Richard Strauss are likewise "filled with themes of male masturbation."]

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) tried to impress visiting constituents with his commitment to the environment by telling them how he had helped dig channels for bull trout at a Montana ranch. When asked by the visitors if he had obtained the needed federal wetlands permit, Baucus admitted that he didn't know. Baucus is the principal sponsor of the bill that reauthorizes federal regulation of wetlands.

Two ex-GIs brought a suit against the Veterans' Administration before the Supreme Court, arguing that they had missed the entire ten-year eligibility period for veteran's educational benefits because they were too drunk to notice the time slipping by.

A Meridian, Mississippi man has filed a lawsuit against "God," claiming that the Bible discriminates against blacks and homosexuals. Joel Ford filed the suit on September 14th and not only wants the Bible changed to eliminate such "racist" and "homophobic" references, but he wants Oxford University Press to pay him $45 million in damages.


To improve safety standards at the Rocky Flats, Colorado, nuclear weapons plant, managers of the facility revised the procedure for changing a light bulb in a criticality beacon, which warns workers of spontaneous nuclear accidents. Replacing the bulb, which used to be a 12-step process that took 12 workers 4.15 hours to complete, became a 33-step procedure that takes at least 43 people 1,087.1 hours to complete.

The steps call for a lead planner to meet with six other people at a work-control meeting; talk with other workers who have done the job before; meet again; get signatures from five people at the work-control meeting; get the project plans approved by separate officials overseeing safety, logistics, environmental, maintenance, operations, waste management, and plant scheduling; wait for a monthly criticality beacon test; direct electricians to replace the bulb; and then test and verify the repair.

After Torrington Hide and Metal of Wyoming was found to be contaminated under the federal Superfund law, the company promptly declared bankruptcy to protect itself from creditors. Searching for a liable party, the Environmental Protection Agency then sued the five largest companies that contributed to the toxic site. To deflect part of the $1.25 million cleanup fine the EPA was demanding, four of these five companies turned around and sued 54 third parties identified as potential contributors to the mess. Since Russ Zimmer's name appeared on two cancelled checks, he was named among the smaller entities and forced to pay $3,500 as part of the court settlement. One bill was for a bag of dog chow, and the other was for a $4.85 bag of seed he sold to the company. Other defendants included the St. Joseph's Children's Home and a South Dakota volunteer fire department.

Men who were carrying refrigerators on their backs during "refrigerator races" sued the manufacturer because the appliances carried insufficient warnings of possible injury from such activity.

A New York man who deliberately leapt in front of a moving subway train was awarded $650,000 because the train had failed to stop in time to avoid mangling him.

The San Francisco Giants were sued for giving away Father's Day gifts to men only.

Two Marines alleged discrimination because the Marine Corps had discharged them for "being chronically overweight."

The Salvation Army has been sued on the grounds that it violated an employee's right to freedom of religion after it dismissed a woman for using agency equipment to copy materials describing Satanic rituals.

A psychic won $986,000 in a suit against her doctor, claiming that undergoing a CAT scan procedure had led to the suppression of her psychic powers, and thus her ability to make a living.

A left-handed postal clerk accused the Postal Service of discriminatory bias in setting up filing cases "for the convenience of right-handed clerks."

A psychology professor complained that she had been the victim of sexual harassment by the presence of mistletoe at a Christmas party. Presumably, the mistletoe constitutes an implied threat of being kissed.

A Michigan man was awarded worker's compensation benefits because he had become an alcoholic while working for the Stroh's Brewery Company. Stroh's did not, of course, require the man to drink, but he nonetheless charged that his drinking problem was aggravated by the job-site availability of free beer, a benefit that had been demanded and won by his union.

In Florida, a man filed a lawsuit as a result of a haircut that he claimed was so bad that it induced a panic-anxiety attack and interfered with his "right to enjoy life."

Douglas Hartman, an air traffic controller from Aurora, Illinois, brought suit against the federal government for sexual harassment after he and other controllers attended a series of "diversity workshops" sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration. Attendance wasn't required, but according to Joseph Bellino, former executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, they were told they would be considered racist or sexist if they didn't attend.

According to accounts by participants, men were subjected to a "sexual harassment gauntlet" in which they were required to walk past a line of women who fondled them and made obscene remarks about their sexual prowess. Female employees were prompted to talk about being raped and abused, and to recall their first sexual experiences. Minorities were directed to describe humiliating experiences of racism, and white employees had to sit in on sessions in which black employees verbally attacked them. According to the controllers, employees who refused to play along were coerced by groups of five or six "facilitators" to take part.

Hartman said that many employees were disturbed by the sessions, some seeking professional help, and that after the sexual harassment gauntlet, several women apologized to him.

According to a report issued by the inspector general of the Department of Energy, guards at DOE laboratories earn overtime pay for using exercise equipment as part of union requirements.

Anita Roddick, owner and founder of The Body Shop, comments on her time spent in Cuba in Tatler, October 1993. The Body Shop, which has several hundred retail outlets world-wide, specializes in a variety of natural skin-care products. Company policy forbids the marketing of products that involve animal testing.

In Cuba, on the other hand, a simple bar of soap is bound to be quite scarce. One woman told a foreign journalist that she hadn't been able to wash her daughter properly for over two and a half months. As for animal rights, there are also reports that due to chronic food shortages, the number of cats and dogs in Havana has been dwindling.

Since the "special period" when Soviet investment was suddenly withdrawn, Cubans have lost an average of 20 pounds each. The fact itself reads like the stuff of propaganda. The reality was altogether different. What amazed me was how quickly you could fall in love with the economics of less. There are no ads, no billboards, no graffiti, no shops, no cars. People perch on the sea wall in couples, in groups, and talk. They are affectionate and caring, with a real sense of unity and an honest reverence for Fidel Castro.

Everybody seems to be working for public good rather than private greed. In the morning, I would see clusters of volunteers—government ministers, white- and blue-collar workers—heading out into the countryside to work in the fields. They all do it for 10 days each month.

The threat that Cuba poses to Western business interests is that it is a society that knows how to live without excess, without consumerism or commercialism. That is the revolution America fears. It has the best healthcare system in the world, with one doctor to every 196 citizens (the States manages a 1:405 ratio). It has almost 100-per-cent literacy. If a system that exists under such severe economic restraints can manage such achievements, there is surely a lot it can teach us.

One thing that really struck me was the enthusiasm of the foreign diplomats I encountered. One went so far as to mention Utopia. For myself, I felt there was no horizon I could not get above or beyond in Cuba. I remember with such affection waking up and thinking, "Here I am where I ought to be, because here I could belong."

[Ed.: Note that when people are impoverished in a capitalist economy, it is a vice, but in a socialist economy it is a virtue. Also ask yourself: if we had a 1:1 ratio of doctors to patients, what would that suggest about the quality of our health?]


Former NBC News reporter Bob Herbert discusses proposed funding for midnight basketball leagues in a New York Times column, August 17, 1994:
Programs designed to aid inner city youths... are not pork.... "Pork!" scream the demagogues. "Give us the death penalty!" The next time you or a loved one find yourself trapped in the nightmare of a violent crime, ask yourself if it wouldn't have been better for the "perp" to have been off playing basketball somewhere. You may find yourself suddenly in favor of even an imperfect attempt at prevention.

In Great Britain, hard-core juvenile criminals were sent abroad with social workers, at taxpayers' expense, for such rehabilitative exercises as a boat ride on the Nile, swimming with the dolphins off Ireland, skiing in the Pyrenees, Hiking in Portugal, and bungee-jumping in Australia. Objecting to what critics referred to as "Crooks' Tours," Home Secretary Michael Howard denounced the program's administrators as "having more money than sense."

Lawyer's Weekly USA, June 6, 1994:
"I conclude that [a Postal Service supervisor] became fearful of [an employee] and believed that [he] was mentally imbalanced and capable of" violence, the court said...

The court said it would have been permissible to fire the employee "for his irascibility alone." However, the Post Office tolerated his irascibility for some time and only fired him when his boss became afraid that he was capable of a shooting spree. This was discrimination based on a perceived handicap, the court said.

Former NBC News president Michael Gartner in USA Today, September 27, 1994:
[Hillary's] role has been a success. She awakened the nation. She educated the nation. She enlightened the nation.... For when a nation gets two leaders for the price of one—a Franklin and Eleanor, a Bill and Hillary—it can tackle twice as many problems, find twice as many solutions, make twice as much progress.


At the close of the first year of the Clinton administration, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget received an envelope that was stamped SPECIAL, PRIORITY, and SPECIAL HANDLING, and that was taped shut. Inside was an envelope stamped PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVERNMENT and VIA COURIER that was taped shut. Inside that was another envelope stamped SECRET three times. Inside the final envelope was a letter from a Cabinet official concerning the appointment of an aide to become a member of the President's Management Council. The council was entrusted with implementing the administration's reinventing government plans.

As part of freshman orientation at the University of Pennsylvania, trained facilitators provide students with, as the Facilitators' Guide calls it, "examples of racial, gender-related, religious, and homophobic incidents of harassment that have taken place at the University over the past few years." The odd purpose of discussing these examples (the more serious of which are listed below) was to show incoming freshmen how pervasive discrimination was at Penn.

  1. A white student punched a black student in an elevator.
  2. "Racist and sexist slurs" were yelled at a fraternity party when "African-American strippers" had been hired to entertain the members.
  3. A lecturer "continually referred to African-American students in his class as 'ex-slaves.' "

Physics professor Michael Cohen protested that, of the three incidents, an investigation had determined that the punching incident simply did not happen. Another investigation determined that the fraternity party involved no racial slurs; the strippers were both black and white. As for the third incident, an investigation had concluded that the lecturer in question had only referred to African-Americans as "ex-slaves" once in his twenty-two years of teaching, and then only to point out that he, too, was an "ex-slave" as part of the same sentence.

Freshmen at Penn are also expected to participate in an ongoing series of seminars held inside residence halls. Among them are Cultural Perspective and Discrimination; Race and Masculinity; The Roots and Manifestations of Racism; Fear of Difference: The Importance of Racial Identity for All Students; Latinos and Bicultural Stress; Preventing Harassment: Everyone's Responsibility; Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals in Protestantism; Gays and Lesbians in the Jewish Community; Who Is a Sexual Minority?—Everyone; Liberating Women Through Religion; Violence Against Women; Acquaintance Rape: A Workshop for Men; Lies I Use to Prove my Masculinity; and The Challenge for the White Male.

When journalist Richard Bernstein visited campus, he was handed a flyer calling on Community House to observe "Gay Jeans Day" as part of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Awareness Week. The flyer was issued by Liz Golden, the program assistant for diversity education, who explained that "I have taken it upon myself to ask all people to show their support for gay civil rights by wearing jeans on March 28." (The number of students who don't wear jeans is ordinarily quite low, of course.) Golden went on, "The purpose of having an In-House version of this campuswide event is to personalize it and make it more visible both to those who do and don't support the notions of Gay pride and personal freedom." Moreover, the week after Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Awareness Week, "there will be a program to deal with what came up for House members in response to the Day. The program will be required for RA's [resident advisers], Managers and the Diversity Board Members."

What actually came up one year was several student protesters who stood near the gay and lesbian participants, and who held out a placard declaring: "Heterosexual Footwear Day—Wear Shoes if You Are a Heterosexual" and "Don't Bend for a Friend." The Penn administration put this on the list of "incidents of harassment" to be read to freshmen in years to come.

A female political science professor interviewed for the book Professing Feminism received a paper from a student consisting of a single sentence: "Freud was a cancer-ridden, cigar-smoking misogynist."

Several weeks after a forty-year-old woman was killed by a mountain lion in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a trust fund set up for the woman's two children had received $9,000, while a fund set up for the cub of the lioness, which was tracked down and killed a week after the incident, had received $21,000.

When the Board of Health of Northampton, Massachusetts, proposed a ban on roosters in residential areas because of their loud crowing early in the morning, some residents objected (half-seriously) that the ban discriminated against males because it did not include chickens.


The Detroit News:
Joanne Flynn, a former vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co., sued the company alleging that she was denied a promotion and then fired because of her gender. The person who got the promotion and who eventually booted Flynn was Doris Smith—another woman. A federal jury found the firm guilty of gender discrimination.

In Port Bolivar, Texas, Marinus Van Leuzen, a 73-year-old immigrant from Holland, decided to build his retirement home on some property he had owned for more than 20 years, less than half an acre of land. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, however, determined his property to be "wetlands," and that as part of the construction he deposited "illegal fill material" on the property—even though the Corps' authority extends only to the filling of "navigable water" of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act.

As part of the court order, Van Leuzen must post a billboard (six feet off the ground, 10 feet high, 20 feet across) announcing his crime, and must put $350 a month into a special account for eight years. At the end of this eight years the money will be used to move his house. During the intervening years Mr. Van Leuzen must also spend a significant portion of his life savings to "restore" the land to its "pre-adulterated" condition, when it was home to a muddy bait camp: a cross between a campground and a fishing bait store, complete with outdoor latrines and scattered beer cans. Most nearby residents considered the bait camp an eyesore; few, if any, regarded it as an ecologically valuable wetland.

In downtown Boise, Idaho, Hanover Construction Co. needed a permit to fill in 26 square feet of "wetland" caused by a leaking pipe. After waiting 450 days for the Army Corps of Engineers to make a decision, the company gave up and withdrew its application. The town of Tiverton, Rhode Island, had to wait nearly two years for a permit from the Corps to fill in 44 square yards of wetland for a mosquito-control project.


President Clinton's 1994 crime bill included a provision for midnight basketball leagues, which would ostensibly provide the opportunity for inner-city youths to play basketball at late hours rather than commit crimes. Asked whether he would want his own daughters up at midnight playing basketball, Vice President Gore had no comment. The provision also requires that a certain percentage of HIV-positive players be represented on each team.

[Ed.: How do you stop five black guys from robbing a store? Throw 'em a basketball. Ha, Ha, Ha! What previously was an objectionable joke is now law.]

An Arizona woman who was scalded when she spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself as she held it between her legs while driving, was awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages and $160,000 in compensatory damages when she sued the corporation. An Ohio woman sued Burger King eight days later after she, too, scalded herself. She is seeking $65,000 in damages because the coffee was "too hot" and its packaging was defective.

Both companies say they serve the coffee at about 180 degrees—as opposed to the 140 degrees that is typical for home brewing—because it makes the coffee taste better. Ted Lingle, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association, suggests that warning labels are in order—that consumers can no longer be assumed to know that hot things burn.

In New York schools, $24,160 was paid for a consultant, whose expertise was in ethnic music, to evaluate a school math program. The same amount was paid for a New Jersey real estate lawyer to "coordinate community school district activities" in compliance with a federal program. Another consultant was paid $4,000 to determine whether the city's Board of Education needed a consultant. He decided that it did, and gave himself the job.

After New Yorker Alphonso Pecou hacked his wife to death and set her body on fire in front of his four children a decade ago, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state mental institution. Pecou recently requested spiritual counseling in addition to psychiatric treatment. After Jewish, Catholic and Protestant clergy on the hospital staff failed to make any headway with Pecou, authorities contacted Alpha Omega Bundu, self-described "primate and pastor" of the United Church of Salvation in Brooklyn. The Kingsboro Psychiatric Center paid Bundu the standard fee of $500 for his counseling and "diagnosis" after Bundu declared that Pecou was possessed by a pack of demons and performed an exorcism on the spot. Bundu then presented the state Department of Mental health with an additional bill of $12,000.


In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency, together with the Army Corps of Engineers, issued a memorandum to all EPA regional administrators to produce a "cluster of new cases... to provide an early deterrent to potential violations which might otherwise occur..."

In Missouri, when corn farmer Rick McGown repaired a sunken levee on his property, he was accused of illegally filling a wetland after an Army Corps official found a "cattail" growing on the land. McGown pointed out that the plant is a strain of sorghum he planted. If the corps wins its suit, the farmer will have to give the government one-third of his farm and pay a $7,500 fine.

After a normal spring thaw, the Idaho transportation department wanted to get rid of the mud-and-gravel mixture that collects on the sides of snowplowed dirt roads. Farmer Bud Koster allowed the department to dump this muck onto a part of his pasture. The Corps later ruled that Koster had illegally filled a wetland and told him to convert other property to a wetland, remove the dirt, or pay a fine.

In Nevada, a rancher who repaired irrigation ditches dug 75 years ago has been accused of "redirecting streams."

Farmers in North Dakota have been charged with illegally destroying habitats for migratory birds when they drained potholes in their fields.

Bernard Goode, the Corps of Engineers' representative while the agency tightened wetlands regulations in 1989, counts the following as "wetlands": corn, wheat, and alfalfa fields in active production; abandoned or fallow farm fields and pastures; dry woods above the 100-year floodplain; weed-covered vacant lots; depressions in sanitary landfills; dredged material disposal areas; moist tundra; pine-palmetto flatlands, and dry desert swashes. The National Law Journal adds, "woody areas, dry desert furrows, corn fields that were once marshy ... prairie potholes ... pools of spring rain or melting snow ... [and] Arctic tundra are wetlands." Under federal wetlands regulations, as much as 60 percent of the total U.S. land area is "wet," as is 40 percent of the state of California and 90 percent of Alaska. An area as small as a coffee table and dry for all but one week out of the year can be declared a wetland.

An Army Corps of Engineers ruling warns property owners that if, in dragging a tree stump from their land, chunks of moist dirt should fall off, that might constitute filling a wetland.

From Math for a Change, a mathematics textbook written by Kevin J. Mistrik and Robert C. Thul, who teach at Catholic high schools in Chicago. The workbook, published by the Mathematics Teachers' Association of Chicago and Vicinity, contains "thirty-one situations of injustice that need mathematics in order to be fully understood":
In 1992 Ryne Sandberg of the Chicago Cubs made approximately $7,000,000. He played 158 games. An average Catholic-high-school teacher makes approximately $30,000 per years working eight hours a day over a 180-day school year.

  1. Calculate how much that teacher gets paid per day, and compare that with what Ryne Sandberg was paid per game in 1992.

  2. Assuming that a ballplayer's workday is six hours, compare the average teacher's pay per hour with that of Mr. Sandberg.

  3. How many years would it take a teacher to make as much money as Ryne did?

  4. Is it fair for Ryne Sandberg to make so much more than a teacher? When answering this question, be sure to take into consideration the good each person contributes to society, the amount of time and money each has to invest in order to prepare for work, and other factors that may be pertinent.

Though the public is not permitted to check books out of the Library of Congress, legislators may remove the library's books for as long as they want. As a result, many volumes have been missing for decades; an estimated 30,000 of the library's 16.4 million books are gone and considered stolen. Among the missing: two $7,500 collections of nineteenth-century Italian architectural drawings, a $6,000 nineteenth-century treatise on cactuses, two $1,500 volumes on Navajo rituals, and Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book.

Schools in the Washington D.C. suburb of Suitland, Maryland, have accommodated special classes on "how to behave when getting arrested." The two-hour class includes demonstrations of how to be handcuffed, advice not to resist or complain, and information that students might be expected to be stopped for wearing baggy pants, acting suspiciously, or because "someone may have called to complain about the kids' presence."