John Weigel and Olaf Danielson are engaged in a frenzied battle of “extreme birdwatching,” each hoping to close out 2016 as the new North American champ of the American Birding Association, and a September Smithsonian piece had Weigel ahead, 763 to 759. Danielson is perhaps better known for doing much of his birding in the nude (and is the author of the provocatively titled volume Boobies, Peckers and Tits–all common names of popular birds). The old one-year record was 749, and the association attributes the larger numbers this year to El Nino, which has disrupted food supplies and driven birds into different locations.
Senate bill 1342, passed in the Idaho legislature earlier in 2016, authorizes schools to use the Bible as a reference in classrooms (despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s having specifically condemned a previous version of the bill ever since 1964). The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sage Dixon, said he thought his law was nonetheless constitutional because, “The little Supreme Court in my head says this is OK.” (Even so, Gov. C.L. Otter vetoed the bill.)
FINE POINTS OF THE LAW
The Arizona legislature passed a child-molestation law recently that made any adult contact with children’s genitals a criminal act, but unlike in other states’ similar laws, neglected to include a requirement that the outlawed contact be for “sexual” purposes. Consequently, in principle, parents may be criminally liable, for example, for bathing a baby or changing its diaper. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in September that it is up to the legislature to change the law, but some lawmakers professed indifference, confident that district attorneys will use good judgment about whom to prosecute.
FUN WITH PENNIES
Robert Napolitan, 34, was arrested in Taylor, Pennsylvania, in September and charged with theft of a drum containing 300,000 pennies from his employer, Pyne Freight Lines. That steel drum weighs several tons and, of course, netted Napolitan only $3,000. (By contrast, in New York City’s Diamond District in September, a brazen thief made off with a 5-gallon drum containing 86 pounds of something else–gold flakes, valued at more than $1 million–and is still at large.) And for some reason, according to a High Point, North Carolina, TV report, Larry Hall of Randolph County took seven-plus weeks out of his life recently and glued pennies to cover (except for windows and chrome) his 2000 Chevrolet Blazer (a total of 51,300 coins).
The 1,496-page German novel Bottom’s Dream, translated into (broken) English, more than twice as long as War and Peace, recently reached U.S. bookstores as a 13-pound behemoth, bound with a 14-inch spine that, based on a September Wall Street Journal description, will almost surely go unread. The story follows two translators and their teenage daughter over a single day as they try to interpret the works of Edgar Allen Poe, making for slow going for anyone not already conversant with Poe.
While other vehicle safety-control engineers work on actually slowing down cars and buses when a risk is detected on the road ahead, one of Volvo’s recent innovations appears aimed merely at bullying pedestrians to get out of the way. According to a September report on Treehugger.com, the safety “control” for a Volvo bus consists of progressively louder horn-honking to scare off the pedestrian.
SIMPLE AS THAT
British farmer Pip Simpson, who lost nearly 300 sheep to rustlers in recent years, recently sprayed his remaining herd of almost 800 sheep a bright luminous orange (harmless, he said, though the sheep’s opinions are unknown) to make them less attractive to thieves. And Saudi Arabia switched to the 365-day Gregorian calendar on Oct. 2, in part to reduce government expenses. Bureaucrats had been using the Islamic lunar Hijri (354- day) calendar, but now must work a three percent longer year for the same salaries.
LATEST RELIGIOUS MESSAGES
In 2014, British entrepreneur Azad Chaiwala, 33, created the matchmaking service Second Wife–because, just as men have trouble finding that special person, some Mormons, Muslims and others have at least as much trouble finding that special additional person. (Most clients, he said, are in the United States and the United Kingdom, though bigamy is illegal in both places.) The service was so successful that Chaiwala this year inaugurated Polygamy.com, which he adamantly defended as a moral alternative to adultery and one-night-stand services such as Tinder.
PEOPLE WITH ISSUES
Based on recent convictions for indecent exposure, Anthony Hardison, 50, has a public masturbation habit, and it is apparently so bad that he engaged once again in August–while he was in the lobby of the sheriff’s office in Seattle, where he had reported to register as a sex offender. He was arrested.