*In November in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Kenneth J. Nowicki, age 34, was formally charged with disorderly conduct. According to the police complaint, Nowicki picked out three kids in a park, left them candy and a cup, and asked them via typewritten instructions to spit into the cup after eating the candy. He told police he is preoccupied with saliva and uses it for sexual gratification.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
*The German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported the introduction of a "Letter Bomb" toy in stores in the Philippines in October. It urges kids to "have fun and become a terrorist." The toy resembles an airmail envelope; the instructions say to write the target's name on it, clap on it vigorously, and then present it to the victim within seven seconds so it will "explode" in his or her hand. Sales are brisk.
*A July New York Post article described the rapidly expanding retail market for bullet-resistant clothing (leather jackets, sneakers, mink coats, bras), including denim jeans with 25 percent Kevlar, which the manufacturer believes will sell because of their unique appearance rather than their bullet-repelling properties. And the Village Voice reported in November that a New York City security gadget store sells an ordinary-looking chair with electric plates on the seat and on a shelf extending from an arm; it can detect if someone is hiding a metal object in the rectum or mouth.
Too Much Time on Their Hands
*State University College in New Paltz, New York, hosted controversial, sex-related academic conferences on the weekends of October 31 and November 7. The first included tips on sadomasochism and the use of sex toys; the second, concerning women's bodies in art, featured exhibits such as a female graduate student in a body suit, suspended from a ceiling and being hosed down by two men while a woman lying underneath her and wearing a G-string had hot wax dripped on her body.
Unclear on the Concept
*In November the Dayton Daily News reported that a vandal preying on local libraries is still on the loose after two years of incidents. The vandal targets books that, as he once wrote, are an "affront to public decency [and that] corrupt young children," such as those on homosexuality or the United Nations. He smears them with human feces.
*In August in Sharnbrook, England, Emma Webster, age fifteen, revealed she was pregnant and that the father was Sean Stewart, age eleven. Emma said to London's Daily Mail: "I think he will be a good father. He may only be eleven, but he is quite mature and responsible."
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Thinning the Herd
*A 38-year-old man passed away in Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, in November, a couple of hours after going to a friend's home to see his snakes. According to the friend, the man playfully reached into a cobra's tank and was bitten. Refusing to go to the hospital, he said, "I'm a man. I can handle it." He went to a bar, where he bragged that he had just been bitten by a cobra. An hour later he was dead.
*On the morning of November 11, two friends, residents of Whitney, Texas, about 25 miles north of Waco, did what they often did when they encountered each other on empty farm roads: They drove their pickups directly at each other in a game of chicken. That morning they collided at about 60 mph. One man was saved by his seat belt. The other was not wearing his; he died at the scene.
-- By Chuck Shepherd