CHINA’S RED BULL
Chinese media reported that on May 4, at the Xiaogan Middle School in Hubei province, high school students studying for the all-important national college entrance exam worked through the evening while hooked up to intravenous drips of amino acids to fight fatigue. A director of the school’s Office of Academic Affairs reasoned that before the IVs were hung, weary students complained of losing too much time running back and forth to the school’s infirmary for energy injections. After the media reports, there was a public backlash, but less against the notion that China was placing too much importance on the exams than against reports that the government was subsidizing the cost of the injections.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
Desmond Hatchett, 33, was summoned to court in Knoxville, Tenn., in May so that a judge could chastise him for again failing to make child-support payments. Official records show that Hatchett has at least 30 children (ages 14 down to “toddler”) by at least 11 women. He said at a 2009 court appearance that he was “through” siring children and apparently has taken proper precautions since then. And in Milwaukee, Wis., in April, Sean Patrick was sentenced to 30 years in prison for owing more than $146,000 for 12 children by 10 mothers, and the city’s Journal Sentinel newspaper reported that, before being locked up, two convicted pimps, Derrick Avery and Todd Carter, had fathered, respectively, 15 kids by seven women and 16 children with “several” mothers.
NOT YOUR CHILD’S POPSICLE
Chilean artist Sebastian Errazuriz recently created “Christian popsicles” made from wine that Errazuriz obtained by trickery after a priest consecrated it into “the blood of Christ.” The popsicle’s stick is actually a figure of Jesus on the cross, as sort of a reward for finishing the treat. Also, The Icecreamists shop in London, England, recently began offering a popsicle made with absinthe–and holy water from a spring in Lourdes, France, which many Catholics revere for its healing powers. The “Vice Lolly” sells for the equivalent of about $29.
FINE POINTS OF THE LAW
In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled, 3-0, that it is not necessarily improper under federal law for Minute Maid to name a beverage “Pomegranate Blueberry” even though those two ingredients constitute only 0.5 percent of the contents. A competing seller of pomegranate juices had sued in 2008, pointing out that 99.4 percent of the Minute Maid beverage was merely apple and grape juices. Minute Maid’s owner, Coca-Cola, called the competitor’s complaint “baseless.”
Almost all companies that collect customer data publish their policies on how they keep the data “private” (even though those “privacy” policies almost always explain just precisely the ways they intend not to keep the data “private”–and are not required to by law). Researchers writing in the journal I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society (summarized in an April post on the blog TechDirt.com) found that if typical consumers bothered to read all of the detailed privacy policies they encountered, it would take from 181 to 304 hours per year (22-38 workdays), depending on shopping habits. If every consumer in America did it, it would take from 40 billion to 67 billion hours a year, or 5 billion to 8.3 billion workdays a year.
In April, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it was fining Google for deliberately impeding the agency’s investigation into the company’s collection of wireless data by its roaming Street View vehicles and that the agency had decided, based on Google’s “ability to pay,” that it needed to double its staff-proposed fine in order to “deter future misconduct.” Hence, it raised Google’s fine from $12,000 to $25,000. As pointed out by ProPublica.org, during the previous quarter year, Google made profits of $2.89 billion, or $25,000 every 68 seconds.
In April, police in Newtown Township, Pa., searched (unsuccessfully, it turns out) for a “skinny” black male, between ages 35 and 45, wearing a black tracksuit. He had indecently exposed himself at a place of business–the offices of the Bucks County Association for the Blind (although, obviously, at least one sighted person reported his description).
MARION BERRY SPEAKS
District of Columbia Councilman Marion Barry initially was scorned in May for criticizing the influx of “Asian” shopkeepers into the ward that he represents. “They got to go. I’ll say that right now.” Later, after re-thinking the issue, Barry announced that his ward should be “the model of diversity,” and issued an apology to Asian-Americans. But, he lamented, America has always been tough on immigrants. “The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell.” (The preferred terms are “Polish” or “Poles.”)