DYING TO GET A DATE
Like many in society’s subgroups, people who work in “death” industries or professions in the U.K. may believe it difficult to reach “like-minded” suitors. Hence, Carla Valentine established Dead Meet earlier this year and told Vice.com in October that she has drawn 5,000 sign-ups among morticians, coroners, embalmers, cemetery workers, taxidermists, etc., who share her chagrin that “normal” people are often grossed out or too indiscreet to respect the dignity of her industry’s “clients.” We might, said Valentine, need a sensitive companion at the end of the day to discuss a particularly difficult decomposition. Or, she added, perhaps embalmers make better boyfriends because their work with cosmetics helps them understand why “many women take so long to get ready.”
CAN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE
A passerby shooting video in November outside the Lucky River Chinese restaurant in San Francisco caught an employee banging large slabs of frozen meat on the sidewalk–which was an attempt, said the manager, to defrost them. A KPIX-TV reporter, visiting the precise sidewalk area on the video, found it covered in “blackened gum, cigarette butts and foot-tracked bacteria,” but the manager said the worker had been fired and the meat discarded. (The restaurant’s previous health department rating was 88, which qualifies as “adequate.”)
THIS WEEK IN STERILIZATION CAMPS
India’s Orissa state has established “health camps” to facilitate mass sterilizations to help control the booming population, but procedures were halted in November when Dr. Mahesh Chandra Rout matter-of-factly told BBC News that camps routinely used ordinary bicycle pumps to inflate women’s abdomens. Orissa’s senior health official immediately ended the practice and ordered sterilizations only in hospitals. (Enlarging the abdomen helps the surgeon to operate, but the proper agent is carbon dioxide.)
The Food and Veterinary Administration of Denmark shut down the food supplier Nordic Ingredients in November after learning that it used an ordinary cement mixer to prepare gelatin products for nursing home and hospital patients unable to swallow whole food. An FVA official told a reporter: “It was an orange cement mixer just like bricklayers use. There were layers (of crusty remains) from previous uses.” As many as 12 facilities, including three hospitals, had food on hand from Nordic Ingredients.
Assistant Attorney General Karen Straughn of Maryland issued an official warning recently for consumers to watch out for what might be called “the $100 bill on the windshield” scam. (That is, if you notice a $100 bill tucked under your wiper, do not try to retrieve it; it is likely there to trick you into opening your door to a carjacker.) When questioned by WJLA-TV of Washington, D.C., Straughn admitted there were no actual reports of such attempts–and that the story is a well-known urban legend–but nonetheless defended the warning.
North Hempstead, New York, enforces its dog-littering ordinance with steep $250 fines and street-sign warnings displaying the amount. But insiders have long known that the signs are wrong–that the written regulation calls for fines of only $25–and officials have been discussing how to correct their error while still discouraging littering. According to a November WCBS-TV report, now that residents know the actual amount, the debate is whether to replace the erroneous signs (expensive) or just raise the fine 1,000 percent (to $250) and save money.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
A November order from China’s State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television appears to impose a ban on the use of all idioms–including puns–as part of the government’s crackdown on nonstandard language, especially since that discourages children from learning proper vocabulary and grammar. All mass media outlets must “avoid changing the characters, phrasings and meanings” of words–even though, according to the Beijing reporter for London’s The Guardian, Chinese culture is saturated with puns.
THE CONTINUING CRISIS
As young professionals have embraced urban neighborhoods, locally grown produce has proliferated in community (and even backyard) gardens and is thought to be healthier than pesticide-laden commercial produce. But the New York Post revealed in November (based on state Health Department data) that such gardens in construction-dense New York City are vulnerable to astonishingly high levels of lead and other toxic metals. One community garden in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, for example, showed levels of lead nearly 20 times the safe level.
In November, a clothing store on Yabao Road in Beijing came under criticism for posting a sign, “Chinese Not Admitted,” on its door. An employee told the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper that no one should believe that “we Chinese look down upon ourselves. But some Chinese customers are too annoying.” A legal scholar told the newspaper that China, except for Hong Kong, has no law against racial or ethnic discrimination.