Don Aslett, 76, recently opened the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho, as the culmination of a lifelong devotion to tidying up. Highlights are several hundred pre-electric vacuum cleaners plus interactive exhibits to encourage kids to clean their rooms. Aslett told London’s Daily Mail in December that people who don’t understand his dedication must never have experienced the satisfaction of making a toilet bowl sparkle. Also starting early in life, Dustin Kruse, 4, is so knowledgeable about toilet models and plumbing mechanics that the Kohler Co. presented him with an advanced-model “dual flush” commode for Christmas. Dustin, a fan of the Kohler showroom, has been known to explain toilet technology to other showroom visitors.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION!
Predator drones are an important weapon against terrorists in Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries, but in June, an unarmed predator was employed stateside to help catch cattle rustlers. The Department of Homeland Security owns eight predators for surveillance and occasionally assists local law enforcement. The cattle rustlers had been arrested, then jumped bail and holed up on their vast ranch near Lakota, N.D., but the predator spotted their exact location on the property, leading to a raid that ended without bloodshed.
India’s legendarily plodding government bureaucracy had long stymied a snake charmer named Hakkul (a villager in Uttar Pradesh state), who had sought a snake-conservation permit, which had been authorized at one level but delayed locally. In November, finally exasperated, Hakkul walked into the land revenue office in the town of Harraiya with several sacks of snakes (including cobras) and turned them loose, sending clerks and visitors climbing furniture or fleeing. Recent news accounts report that “almost all” of the snakes had been rounded up.
JUST PLAIN WOW
A December news release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned of the dangers of Campylobacter jejuni bacteria infections on a sheep ranch, but apparently only among workers who used a 19th century method of castrating the animals. CDC strongly urged that workers stop biting off the sheep’s genitals and instead use modern tools.
MONEY WELL WASTED
From U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s periodic list of the most “unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects” that the federal government currently funds (announced in December): $75,000 to promote awareness of the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees and poinsettias; $48,700 for promoting the Hawaii Chocolate Festival; $113,227 for a video game preservation center in New York; and $764,825 to study something surely already done adequately by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs–how college students use mobile devices for social networking. Also on Sen. Coburn’s list: $15.3 million in continuing expenses for the famous Alaskan “bridge to nowhere” that was widely ridiculed in 2005 but apparently refuses to die.
Convicted serial rapist Steven Phillips was exonerated in 2008, one of a continuing string of wrongly convicted Dallas-area “criminals” proved innocent by DNA testing, and under a formula by state law, he was awarded about $4 million, tax-free, for his 25 years behind bars. Recently, Phillips’ ex-wife filed a petition in court demanding a portion–even though the couple had been divorced for the last 17 years of his incarceration, and the ex-wife had remarried and had a child. The ex-wife claims it was Phillips who originated the divorce and that she had given up on him only because he had revealed a “disgusting” history as a “peeping tom” and flasher.
In December, Russell Mace, 55, was caught soon after robbing a Union Savings Bank branch in New Milford, Conn. A bank employee had spotted Mace acting “suspicious” in the parking lot, and indeed, he said, Mace entered, robbed the bank of about $3,000, and fled to a waiting car. Police, however, identified the car, which they had noted from Mace’s recent arrest for shoplifting. The “suspicious” behavior the bank employee had noticed, he told police, was Mace, pants down, defecating, in plain view among parked cars.
Tyechia Rembert, 33, was arrested and charged with robbing a Burger King drive-thru cashier in York, Pa., in December but only after making police officers’ job easier. After her clean getaway, she called the restaurant to reassure herself that none of the witnesses had noted her car’s license plate number. None had, but using cellphone records, police traced that call to Rembert.
Not all states have anti-bestiality laws, and Peter Bower’s ongoing case in Ohio exemplifies prosecutors’ frustration. There was evidence that Bower had had sex with a dog (“Maggie”) and had written her “love” letters, and police arrested him in June. Prosecutors were willing to settle the case in November for minimal punishment because the only law Bower could have been charged under is “animal cruelty,” and they explained that they might have had trouble showing harm to the apparently adored dog. At the time of Bower’s arrest, a search had uncovered human-animal pornography and a life-sized inflatable sheep.