In some jurisdictions, a driver can be presumed impaired with a blood alcohol reading as low as .07 (and suggestively impaired at a reading below that), but according to a WMAQ-TV investigation in February, some suburban Chicago police forces allow officers to work with their own personal readings as high as .05. While officers may be barred from driving at that level, they may not, by police union contract, face any discipline if they show up for work with a reading that high.
DEPENDS ON HOW YOU DEFINE ‘FREE’
During the massive February Southern California manhunt for former Los Angeles cop Christopher Dorner, nervous-triggered LAPD officers riddled an SUV with bullets after mistakenly believing Dorner was inside. Instead there were two women, on their early-morning job as newspaper carriers, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck famously promised them a new truck and arranged with a local dealership for a 2013 Ford F-150 ($32,560). But the deal fell through in March when the women discovered that Beck’s “free” truck was hardly free. Rather, it would be taxable as a “donation,” reported on IRS Form 1099, perhaps costing them thousands of dollars.
Sculptor Richard Jackson introduced “Bad Dog” as part of his “Ain’t Painting a Pain” installation at California’s Orange County Museum in February. Outside, to coax visitors in, Jackson’s “Bad Dog’s” hind leg was cocked, with gallons of yellow paint being pumped onto the building. “We’ll see how long it lasts,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “but you never know how people will react.” “Sometimes, people feel they should protect their children from such things, then the kids go home and watch ‘South Park.’”
British “design engineer” Jess Eaton introduced her second “high-fashion” collection in December at London’s White Gallery, this time consisting of supposedly elegant bridal wear made in part with roadkill, cat and alpaca fur, seagull wings and human bones.
MORE GREAT ART!
Australian dilettante David Walsh’s 2-year-old Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart is acquiring a reputation for irreverence. Among the exhibits is Greg Taylor’s “My Beautiful Chair,” which invites a visitor to lie next to a lethal injection chair and experience a countdown, mimicking the time it takes for execution drugs to kill (and then flashing “You Are Dead”). Also, at 2 p.m. each day, a “fresh fecal masterpiece” is created by artist Wim Delvoye, in which a meal from the museum’s restaurant is placed into a transparent grinder that creates slush, turns it brown, and adds an overpowering defecation-like smell. The resulting “masterpiece” is channeled into (also transparent) vats.
Some Third-Worlders eat dirt because they are mentally ill or have no meaningful food. However, diners at Tokyo’s upscale Ne Quittez Pas eat it because it is a trendy dish prepared by prominent chef Toshio Tanabe. Among his courses are soil soup served with a flake of dirty truffle, soil sorbet and the “soil surprise” (a dirt-covered potato ball). (Spoiler alert: It has a truffle center.) Tanabe lightly precooks his dirt and runs it through a sieve to eliminate the crunchiness.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
Among the lingering costs of U.S. wars are disability payments and compensation to veterans’ families, which can continue decades after hostilities end. An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records, released in March, even found two current recipients of Civil War benefits. Vietnam war payments are still about $22 billion a year, World War II, $5 billion, World War I, $20 million, and the 1898 Spanish-American war, about $1,700.
YOUR MONEY AT WORK
Each year, Oklahoma is among the states to receive $150,000 federal grants to operate small, isolated airfields (for Oklahoma, one in the southern part of the state is so seldom used that it’s primarily a restroom stop for passing pilots). The payments are from a 13-year- old congressional fund for about 80 similar airfields (no traffic, no planes kept on site), described by a February Washington Post investigation as “ATM[s] shaped like [airports].” Congress no longer even requires that the annual grants be spent on the actual airports drawing the grants.
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION
U.S. political consultants may recommend to their candidates gestures such as wearing an American flag lapel pin. In India, the advice includes creating the proper suggestive name for the candidate on the ballot. Hence, among those running for office this year (according to a February Hindustan Times report): Frankenstein Momin, Hamletson Dohling, Boldness Nongum and Bombersing Hynniewta, and several Sangmas (related or not): Billykid Sangma, Mafiara Sangma, Rightious Sangma and Winnerson Sangma. More confusing were Hilarius Dkhar and Hilarius Pohchen and especially Adolf Lu Hitler Marak.