Enric Girona recently donated his prototype pet commode to the town of El Vendrell, Spain, hoping to spark worldwide interest. Conscientious owners would train their dogs on the station–a hole in the ground with a flush handle–which is connected to the sewer system, as is the drain grid next to it (for tinkling). The platform, which appears to occupy about 20 square feet of surface, is self- cleaning (although not too clean, said Girona, because dogs are more easily lured with a lingering scent). Spain is already one of the world’s toughest on lazy owners who fail to scoop up after their pets, with fines in El Vendrell as high as the equivalent of $1,000, and in Madrid and Barcelona, $2,000.
TOOK IT TOO FAR
The New York customer service company United Health Programs of America provoked a federal lawsuit in June by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over its employee esprit-de-corps policy of requiring workers to pray to God on the job and to say “I love you” to their managers. According to the EEOC, the feel-good, work-harder campaign was suggested by an aunt of United’s owner and named for an obscure “truth and compassion” movement called “Onionhead.”
REWARDS GONE WRONG
After two third-graders wet their pants on May 15 at Mill Plain Elementary School in Vancouver, Wash., they blamed teachers for too-strictly enforcing their classroom’s “rewards” system, in which good behavior earns students points redeemable for, among other prizes, restroom breaks. A teachers union investigation concluded that the girls were never “denied” toilet access (but the girls’ mothers pointed out that using restroom breaks as a “reward” might be confusing to eight-year-olds).
‘FAN’ IS SHORT FOR ‘FANATIC’
The Japanese snack company Calbee recently staged a promotion around popular singer Nana Mizuki, giving away 10 backstage passes to her Aug. 3 concert in Yokohama to the purchasers of 10 lucky bags of secretly marked potato chips. Her perhaps-hugest fan, Kazuki Fukumoto, 25, was so determined to win one that by the time he was arrested for littering in May, he had bought and dumped 89 cartons of potato chip packages, weighing over 400 pounds, that were found at six locations around the cities of Kobe and Akashi. Police estimate he had spent the equivalent of about $3,000.
IOWA REALLY HATES MEDICAL MARIJUANA
A Davenport, Iowa, jury convicted terminal-cancer patient Benton Mackenzie, 48, in July on four marijuana-growing felonies, even though his purpose was to harvest cannabis oil to treat his bloody lesions and the grapefruit-sized tumor on his buttocks. The judge had barred Mackenzie and his lawyer from even mentioning the illness in court–because of a 2005 Iowa precedent (even though the Iowa legislature has subsequently allowed medical marijuana to treat seizures). Mackenzie’s wife, his 73-year-old parents, his son and a friend were also charged with assisting Mackenzie’s “operation” (though Mackenzie was almost surely the only “customer”). Mackenzie, who testified and was, of course, sworn to tell “the whole truth,” said he was “flabbergasted” to learn that “the whole truth” excludes anything about his illness.
TOOK IT WAY TOO FAR
Britain’s news website Metro.co.uk, combing Facebook pages, located a full photo array from prominent 23-year-old German body art enthusiast Joel Miggler, whose various piercings and implants are impressive enough, but whose centerpieces are the portholes in each cheek that expose the insides of his mouth. (With customized plugs, he can seal the portholes when soup is on the menu.) The holes are currently 36mm wide, but he was said to be actively cheek-stretching, aiming for 40mm. Miggler assures fans that his mother likes “most” of his modifications and that the worst aspect so far is merely that he is forced to take smaller bites when eating. (News of the Weird has reported on researchers creating portholes in cows’ stomachs, but still …)
CAN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE
Until the New York governor and legislature addressed the problem recently, it was legal in the state for narcissistic animal owners to force their dogs and cats to endure permanent, decorative tattoos and piercings. At press time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was poised to sign legislation abolishing the tattooing. And Kayla Oxenham, 23, was arrested in Port Charlotte, Florida, in June and charged with using a stick to burn “brands” into the skin of her two children, ages five and seven. Among her explanations to police: so she could identify them as being hers and because she “forgot how much she loved fire.”
RED FLAGS AT RED CROSS
The American Red Cross boasts of being “transparent and accountable” for the way it spends donations from compassionate people moved to help those in need. But when the public policy watchdog ProPublica asked for some details on how the Red Cross used funds donated for 2012 Hurricane Sandy victims in New York, the organization begged off, claiming that details beyond broad generalities were “trade secrets” that it was entitled to protect, lest its “competitors” copy or exploit the techniques it uses to help people. The Red Cross did release more detailed accounts to the attorney general of New York, but under an agreement of confidentiality.n