OUR NEWEST HUMAN RIGHT
Of the world’s seven billion people, an estimated 2.6 billion do not have toilet access, and every day a reported 4,000 children die from sanitation-related illnesses. But in May, in Portland, Ore., Douglas Eki and “Jason” Doctolero were awarded $332,000 for wrongful firing because they complained about being inconvenienced at work by not having an easily available toilet. Menzies Aviation had arranged for the men to use facilities at nearby businesses at their Portland International Airport site, but the men said they felt unwelcome at those places and continued to complain (and use buckets). One juror said afterward that having easy access to a toilet was a “basic human right,” citing the “dignity [of] being able to go to the bathroom within 30 seconds or a minute.” Said Doctolero, “Hopefully, no one will have to suffer what I went through.”
JIM BAKKER LIVES!
Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker still owes the IRS a reported $6 million and now sells a line of “survival” products to help true believers live through the coming apocalypse. (It is unclear whether believers need to “survive,” since the popular reading of the apocalypse casts it as a fast track to heaven for the faithful.) The Talking Points Memo blog did some comparative shopping and found many of Bakker’s items to be overpriced by as much as 100 percent. Bakker also offers the devout a $100 Silver Solution Total Body Cleanse Kit, which includes enemas.
HOT CALAMARI ACTION
A 63-year-old woman in South Korea bit into a portion of squid and later felt “bug-like organisms” moving around in her mouth. According to doctors at the National Center for Biotechnology Information in Bethesda, Md., writing in a recent paper, the squid had probably expelled its spermatophores as if it were attempting insemination. (When squid is eaten in the West, the internal organs have been removed, but apparently not in South Korea.) A scientist who has worked with squid commented on the professional network Science 2.0, “I’ve probably had hundreds of spermatophores ejaculate on my fingers and never felt a sting.”
HIGH TECH MEETS ADULT DIAPERS
A start-up venture in Singapore announced in June that it has developed an adult diaper made of “Sofshell,” a substance that hardens on contact and redistributes weight–so that if seniors fall on their rear ends, the impact will be absorbed with a lesser risk of broken bones. One of the developers demonstrated by dropping a bowling ball on a cellphone protected by the material, and the phone suffered not a scratch.
IT’S DANGEROUS BEING A MALE SPIDER
Researchers at the National University of Singapore described, in a recent issue of the journal Biology Letters, how a certain species of male tropical spider seemingly improves its chances of successful mating by castrating itself after releasing sperm. The scientists hypothesize that testes-removal makes the male nimbler and better able to trick and outflank competitor males that attempt to reinseminate the same females. Improving their strategic mobility also enables the male to avoid being killed by the female, which is yet another hazard in the spider-mating process.
Scientists from Lund University’s Primate Research Station Furuvik in Sweden announced in May that they had evidence that chimpanzees are able to delay using weapons they encounter, hide them and retrieve them later for use against “foes.” The weapons were stones and chunks of concrete, and the foes were visitors to the zoo who annoyed the chimps. According to the researchers, the 33-year-old chimp Santino also took pains to hide the weapons in locations where they could be accessed easily for the element of surprise against the visitors.