The Intopii computer firm of Helsinki announced in February that it has installed software to assist voters who, studies suggest, tend to select candidates who look like themselves. When a voter uploads his or her photo, the Web site will use facial-recognition software to find those among the 800 candidates in March parliamentary elections who most resemble that voter, to ease the difficult burden of citizenship in a democracy. And in March, incumbent parliamentary candidate Jyrki Kasvi launched the new version of his campaign Web site, written entirely in the Star Trek’s Klingon language.
PEOPLE CONFUSED BY “MOTHER”
The head teacher of Johnstown Primary School in Carmarthen, Wales, ordered in February that there be no Mother’s Day cards in school this year because it might be upsetting to students without a mother. Also in February, a government-funded advisory report to Britain’s National Health Service recommended that medical staffs not use the terms “mum” and “dad” (and use “guardians” or “carers”), especially since the terms might be confusing or alienating to children of gay couples.
CAN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE
The local government’s tourist information center in Swindon, England, told author Mark Sutton that his World War I-themed book, Tell Them of Us, could not be sold in its bookstore unless Sutton demonstrated that he had liability insurance, not for potentially libelous passages but in case readers suffered paper cuts turning the pages. Said Swindon Borough Council spokesman Richard Freeman, “We have to cover every eventuality.”
In February, the government of southwestern China’s Fumin county decided to improve the feng shui (the harmony of the physical environment) for villagers next to mined-out Laoshou mountain, not by planting trees but by spray-painting the mountainside green. An employee at the county “forestry” department declined to comment to an Associated Press reporter.
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
Steven McCuller, 20, was arrested twice in a two-week period for burglary in Pascagoula, Miss., but it was the earlier January arrest that was the more controversial. George Stevenson, 33, a security guard on duty at the Eastwood Townhomes complex, saw McCuller on the grounds late at night and chased him until the pursuit took both men to the nearby Arlington Elementary School, where Stevenson apprehended McCuller and waited for police to arrive. McCuller was charged in that matter, but Stevenson, also, was arrested and charged both with trespassing at a school and carrying a weapon (his service gun) on school grounds, even though no students were present.
EVERYONE HAS A DARK SIDE
Ms. Georgie Audean Buoy, 82, pleaded guilty in February in The Dalles, Ore., to having sex with an 11-year-old boy in her foster care. “[T]his is not the Audean we have known for the last couple of decades,” said her pastor at the Covenant Christian Community Church. And Denver’s City Attorney—and former state court judge—Larry Manzanares was placed on leave in February after a search found one of the state’s stolen laptop computers in his home. Manzanares told KMGH-TV that he had bought it but had no receipt. “It was rather foolish of me to even think about buying a computer from a fellow in a parking lot,” he said. Manzanares has resigned, and a special prosecutor is now investigating. MTW