TRAPPED IN PARADISE
It’s clear, based on a May Time magazine dispatch, that Norway’s felons and miscreants are of a superior class than America’s. When Norway’s brand-new Halden prison opened in April, the country’s King Harald V headlined a glitzy gala that celebrated what has been called the world’s “most humane” lockup. Among the facilities: a sound studio, jogging trails, a guest house for inmates’ visitors and a scrumptious-smelling “kitchen laboratory” where murderers and bandits can learn to cook. Guards are unarmed (half are women) and intermingle with the rapists, drug dealers and others, dining with them and joining them in intramural sports. The recidivist rate for Norwegian prisoners in general is only 20 percent (versus 50 percent to 60 percent in the United States), but it is still too early to tell whether Halden’s prisoners will find life behind bars so pleasant that they don’t mind risking another stretch there by returning to crime.
BROWN EYE REDUCTION
A Portland, Oregon, inventor recently began offering a colorful patch designed to cover the area just below a dog’s tail. The “Rear Gear” is featured on the handmade-crafts’ site, www.etsy.com
YOU PAYING ATTENTION, TIM GEITHNER?
Last November, the government of North Korea made an ultimately disastrous decision to radically devalue its currency, overnight making 100 North Korean won worth 1 North Korean won, and the country’s citizens (as well as, reportedly, the Dear Leader himself) were not pleased. Three months later, without much fanfare, came the official announcement that the government’s (i.e., the Workers’ Party’s) chief finance minister, Pak Nam-gi, had been executed by firing squad.
CAN WE UNDISCOVER THE NOSE LEECH?
Among the new species discovered this year are a “nose” leech, a “Dracula” fish, a “psychedelic” frogfish and a “bombardier” worm, according to scientists at the University of Arizona and medical school researchers in Lima, Peru. The Peru-based leech, which is fanged and probably has been around since the time of the dinosaurs, prefers nasal mucus as a habitat. The “Dracula” fish of Myanmar, with “canine-like fangs,” has an extraordinarily flexible mouth. The multicolored frogfish has apparently adapted to live among the colorful, venomous coral off Bali, Indonesia. The “bombardier” worm, found in California’s Monterey Bay, releases glow-in-the-dark projectiles when threatened.
British and Australian researchers, writing in a journal article in March, concluded that the world’s strongest insect (relative to body weight) is the male dung beetle, which can lift more than 1,100 times its weight (equivalent for an average male human: 80 tons). Since the beetles mate inside dung patties, their every move is a struggle against the resistance posed by the feces. (On the other hand, the researchers also found weaker dung beetles that mated just fine helped not by their strength but by unusually large testicles.)
Madison, Wisconsin, neighbors Nina Bell, 56, and Arnessa Battles, 38, were cited for disorderly conduct in March in a dispute over Battles’s dog’s winter-long output of droppings that had just been revealed by melting snow. According to the police report, by the time an officer arrived on the scene, both of the women had smeared each other’s cars with large quantities of dog poop.
(1) Jacob Collins, 28, was arrested in April and charged with burglary of Matlack’s Hometown Pharmacy in Landisville, New Jersey, despite the fact that the medicine he stole was probably by mistake. Police said they were almost certain Collins was after the painkiller “Oxycontin” but instead swiped a supply of “Oxybutynin,” which treats overactive bladder. (2) On the other hand, Sean Almond, 43, was charged on the same day as Collins for allegedly robbing the Kangaroo Mart on Wilroy Road in Suffolk, Virginia, and could have used some Oxybutynin. Almond was caught immediately after the robbery because his getaway was delayed. He was spotted in a nearby alley, where he had been overcome by a sudden urge to relieve himself.