ANNALS OF INVENTION
Although Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the alleged 9/11 mastermind) was waterboarded 183 times among several extreme interrogation techniques, he and his CIA captors eventually reached a moderated state. In 2003, though still housed in a “black site” in Romania, “KSM” asked permission to design a household vacuum cleaner, and the highest echelons of the agency co-operated, according to a former senior CIA analyst, speaking to the Associated Press in July. In reality, when a detainee exhausts his intelligence value, the agency’s main mission is to keep him “sane,” in case he’s later put on trial, and the vacuum cleaner project was thought likely to engage KSM, who, 15 years before the murders of nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, had earned a mechanical engineering degree from North Carolina A&T State University.
BREAST MILK LOLLIPOPS?!
The gourmet lollipop company Lollyphile announced its latest flavor in June: Breast Milk Lollipops (four for $10). Owner Jason Darling said it “slowly dawned on” him that his friends were “producing milk so delicious it could turn a screaming, furious child into a docile, contented one. I knew I had to capture that flavor.”
The Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop franchisers, already with a lineup of sometimes-unappreciated flavors such as buffalo chicken wing soda, briefly experimented in June with “ranch dressing” soda, a mistaken adventure that co-founder Rob Powells jokingly blamed on his business partner. And brewmaster John Maier of Rogue Ales in Newport, Ore., pointed out that “wild yeasts” have been used in beer for centuries and thus (according to a June report on FoodBeast.com) his company’s Beard Beer (from yeast of beards, including at one time, his own) should be regarded as a traditional brew.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION
During a June debate in a House Rules Committee hearing on abortion legislation, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas, himself an obstetrician/gynecologist, criticized a proposal to outlaw abortion at the 20-week limit (where a fetus is said to begin to feel pain), insisting on an earlier ban, at 15 or 16 weeks. “Watch a sonogram of a 15-week-old baby,” said Burgess, “and they have movements that are purposeful… If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs.” Thus, “If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”
In June, Barbour County, W.Va., firefighters, called to a farm in Belington, rescued the horse “Rowdy,” whose entire body was somehow trapped inside an industrial-sized tire. Rowdy’s owner said she believes Rowdy had an altercation with some of the other horses.
A staff report by Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce released in June and using data from Wisconsin (because of the state’s comprehensive record-keeping) found that taxpayers wind up paying out at least $75 million a year in “safety net” assistance to the state’s Wal-Mart workers (food stamps, Medicaid, school lunches, earned-income tax credits, etc.) allegedly because the company’s wages and benefits are so meager. The report, an update on 2004 numbers that were less than half those found this time around, estimated that Wal-Mart families accounted for more than 9,000 Wisconsin Medicaid enrollees. The $75 million, covering 75 stores, represents a low-end estimate with the high end about $130 million.
PEOPLE DIFFERENT FROM US
Melanie Typaldos, 57, and her husband, Richard Loveman, 54, in Buda, Texas, are supposedly part of a growing trend of people keeping pet capybaras (giant, semi-aquatic guinea pigs that are the world’s largest rodents, at more than 100 pounds). “Gary” sometimes lounges on the couple’s marital bed and frolics in the above-ground pool the couple installed for him. Although Melanie and Richard keep other, more traditional, animals at their home (they told London’s Daily Mail in June), Gary is, of course, the only one as large as a human but with the distinctive body and head of a rat.
LEAST COMPETENT PEOPLE
Apprentice Brooklyn, N.Y., tree-trimmer David Fleischer, 21 (and son of the company owner), had to be rescued by firefighters in July after he apparently violated the cardinal rule in the business by cutting lower branches first–until he was stranded at the top of the tree. “He is a good boy,” said “Izzy” Fleischer, “but he is learning.” And emergency crews in Fort Worth, Texas, responded to a Quik Trip gas station in June when an unidentified man got his finger caught in his car’s gas cap after he poured in some additive. Rescuers had to use a hammer and screwdriver to break the plastic around the cap and finally freed the man’s hand, unscathed, after a 20-minute struggle.