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In September David Hanley, a high school biology teacher in Bakersfield, California, was ordered by the principal to stop his unique classroom demonstrations showing that food is a cultural choice. To make the point, Hanley had eaten live newborn mice in front of two classes. And in Texas in January former agricultural-sciences teacher Dick Pirkey asked to be reinstated; he had been fired in October 1991 after a student, citing Pirkey's suggestion, orally castrated a pig in class.

Seeds of Our Destruction

In early November the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi placed ads in newspapers in 60 U.S. cities proposing that he send hundreds of transcendental meditation followers to bombard those cities with positive vibrations that fight crime--for a fee of 10 cents per day per citizen. The Maharishi guaranteed that crime would be eliminated within five years. So far, all of the 60 cities, including Greensboro, North Carolina (which would have been charged $6.7 million per year), and New York ($266 million) have declined.

In 1975 the Federal Communications Commission considered then denied a formal request from two citizens to investigate religious broadcasters' alleged abuses of reserved "educational" radio channels, but the rumor that the FCC was about to kick religion off the air persisted. Last December, noting that it had now received more than 21 million letters of protest over the past 17 years, the agency issued its annual statement that the public disregard the rumor.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which shipped 200 million condoms to Pakistan in 1991 to combat AIDS and population growth, said that it would halt shipments because of concerns over the country's nuclear weapons program.

In January the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allow the five delegates representing the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories to vote on bills for the first time ever--but only if their votes didn't matter. If the five votes were critical to the outcome, the House would vote again, allowing only the usual 435 voting members to cast ballots.

When President Bush ordered air strikes during his last days in office, Patriot missile launchers were set up as a precaution in Kuwait City--on the fairway for the last six holes of the golf course at the Hunting & Equestrian Club. "I know national security is a priority," golfer Walid Al-Tailji told the Associated Press, "but this is another form of invasion."

In July a federal appeals court reinstated an antitrust lawsuit filed by a homeless man, Gralyn A. Ancar, who had sued several Houston plasma centers for conspiring to hold down fees paid to blood donors.

In November David Harkness was elected to the board of the Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, where his wife is a nurse. They love their jobs but were dismayed to discover that a state law forbids the hospital to employ persons married to each other. In December the happily married couple traveled to Tijuana, where they obtained a divorce.

Oops!

The current Albuquerque yellow pages ad for the law firm of Gaddy, Rakes & Hall, which specializes in personal-injury litigation, contains a typo: "Representing the Seriously Insured."

In December retired Dallas police officer James Leavelle, the man who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when Jack Ruby shot him, was in his home re-creating for newsman Bob Porter just how he had grabbed Ruby's gun to prevent a second shot. Using the same model gun Ruby had used, Leavelle accidentally shot Porter in the arm, sending him to Parkland Hospital, just like Kennedy and Oswald had been.

Over the last several months at least five trucks have accidentally spilled these cargoes on public highways: In November mayonnaise near Levittown, New York, and coconut oil near Manila, and in January chocolate syrup near Shelby, North Carolina, hamburger near Hampton, Illinois, and glue near Pataskala, Ohio.

The Weirdo-American Community

According to a January New York Times story, Jim Pierce, father of 17-year-old tennis pro Mary Pierce, routinely berates and threatens Mary's opponents and officials who make calls against her during matches. At a match between his daughter and a 12-year-old opponent he yelled, "Mary, kill the bitch!" After a different match he charged in a parking lot toward another 12-year-old girl, who had just beaten Mary, and yelled, "You're never gonna amount to anything. You only beat my daughter because you got lucky." Pierce told the Times reporter, "I'm not threatening you . . . but . . . when I go, I want everybody to go with me. You have no idea how my mind works. Anything could happen."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belshwender.

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