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SIGNS OF THE TIMES Wednesday, October 22
“Selfie fever” has begun to sully the sacred Islamic pilgrimages to Mecca, according to scholars who complained to Arab News in September. What for centuries has been a hallowed journey intended to renew the spirit of Islam (that all Muslims are called upon to experience at least once) has come, for some in the so-called “Facebook era,” to resemble a trip to Disneyland, with visitors to the Sacred Mosque texting friends the “evidence” of their piety.
HOW IT WORKS Wednesday, July 30
U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration came down hard in July on West Virginia's Freedom Industries for violating chemical safety standards in January, resulting in a 10-day contamination of drinking water for 300,000 residents. OSHA …
NEVER SAW IT Wednesday, August 27
A fire hydrant at 393 University Ave. has brought in more parking ticket revenue (since 2008) than any other hydrant in Toronto — $289,620 on 2,962 violations, according to an August Toronto Star report. While hydrants are usually located at …
JUST IN CASE Wednesday, September 24
China’s insurance companies offer some of the world’s quirkiest policies, according to a September Reuters item from Hong Kong. People’s Insurance Group, for example, will pay out in case a customer’s children display disappointingly “mischievous and destructive” habits. The Ancheng company offers a policy protecting a customer in case his mouth is burned eating “hotpot.”
NEW NORMAL Wednesday, October 22
Just in time for California’s new law requiring explicit consent for students’ sexual activities is the free iPhone/Google app Good2Go, which developer Lee Ann Allman promises will simplify the consent process (and even document it). As described in a September Slate report, Good2Go requires the initiator to send the prospective partner to at least four smartphone screens, wait for a text message,
… BUT I KNOW WHAT I LIKE Wednesday, July 30
Critics praised bad-girl British artist Tracey Emin's 1998 furniture-and-effects exhibit, "My Bed," supposedly representing a failed romantic relationship, featuring mussed sheets and, around the room, empty vodka bottles and used condoms. Prominent …
SOOTHING THE SAVAGE BEAST Wednesday, August 27
A woman hiking in Down Valley Park near Placerville, Colorado, told Denver's KUSA-TV in August of her narrow escape from a mountain lion that had stalked her for a half-hour (crouching menacingly each time she attempted to retreat). At the closest …
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT Wednesday, September 24
New Orleans Juvenile Court Judge Yolanda King, already indicted for falsifying her home address in her 2013 campaign for office, was spotted by a Times-Picayune reporter on Aug. 20 filing three registration papers for the Nov. 4 election in which she swore (under oath) to three different addresses — two of which appeared to be clearly erroneous.
HARSH REALITY Wednesday, October 22
New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell manages his own fantasy league team by “drafting” NFL players for virtual competitions based on their real-life statistics of the previous weekend. Donnell lamented to New Jersey’s The Record in October that he had benched virtual “Larry Donnell” on his fantasy team the week before because he thought his other tight end (“Vernon Davis”) would do better.
JUST LIKE THE POEM! Wednesday, July 30
In July, a large cement "Humpty Dumpty" at Salem, Oregon's Enchanted Forest, made by Roger Tofte in 1970, was ruined when two intruders tried to climb the wall Humpty sat on. The wall crumbled and Humpty suffered a great fall. Tofte said he doubted …
 
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