Chengdu, China, barber Liu Deyuan, 53, is one of the few who still provide traditional "eye-shaving," in which he holds the eye open and runs a razor across the lids' inner surfaces. Then, using a thin metal rod with a round tip, he gently massages the inside of each lid. Liu told a reporter for the Chengdu Business Daily in April that he had never had an accident (though the reporter apparently could not be enticed to experience the treatment himself, preferring merely to observe), and a highly satisfied customer reported afterward that his eyes felt "moist" and his vision "clearer." A local hospital official said eye-shaving can scrape away scar tissue and stimulate the eyes to lubricate the eye sockets.
-- One of April's most popular Internet images consisted of face shots of the current 20 contestants for Miss South Korea -- revealing that all 20 appeared eerily similar, and Westernized. Commented one Web site, "Korea's plastic surgery mayhem is finally converging on the same face." Wrote a South Korean commenter, "Girls here consider eye surgery just like using makeup." Wrote another, "I loved this episode of the Twilight Zone." The country has the highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita in the world.
-- Michinoku Farm of Tokyo finally agreed in May to withdraw its whale meat dog chews, but only after angering environmentalists for having favored the country's pampered canines over endangered North Atlantic fin whales, which were the source of the chews. The meat was purchased from Iceland, which openly defies the international moratorium on whale meat. (Japan officially disagrees with world consensus on which species are endangered.)
-- A marriage-encouraging initiative in the Sehore district of India's Madhya Pradesh state awards gifts and financial assistance to couples agreeing to wed in mass ceremonies, but the country also suffers from a notorious toilet shortage. Consequently, the district announced in May that to qualify for the government benefits, the groom must submit to officials a photo of himself beside his own toilet to prove that he and his wife will have home sanitation.
Latest Religious Messages
-- Recurring Theme (People Purporting to Speak for Islam): (1) A Saudi judge ruled in April that it was finally time for Ali al-Khawahir, 24, to suffer for stabbing another boy in the back when Ali was 14. The victim was paralyzed, and under Saudi justice, Ali must also be struck with paralysis or else raise the equivalent of about $260,000 to compensate the victim. (2) Saudi cleric Abdullah Mohamed al-Daoud in May urged his 100,000 Twitter followers to "sexually harass female cashiers" to discourage them from working outside the home. (He is the one who urged in February that babies be veiled to protect them from sexual harassment.)
-- Closer to God Than You Are: (1) Crystal McVea, author of a recent book chronicling her near-death experience, told a "Fox & Friends" TV host in April that among her most vivid memories of the incident was getting so close to God that she could "smell" him. (2) In May, Anna Pierre, a candidate for mayor of North Miami, Fla., announced on her Facebook page that she had secured the endorsement of Jesus Christ. That would be doubly fortunate for her since a month earlier, she had complained that unknown people had been leaving bad-luck Vodou-ritual feathers, food scraps and candles on her doorstep. (Jesus' stroke is apparently not what it used to be: She finished seventh in the race.)
-- Religious Messages From All Over: (1) A catering company in Leicestershire, England, became a holy site in May after the Hindu owner found an eggplant that resembles the elephant-headed Lord Ganesh. He said that he prays to it now twice daily and has so far welcomed about 80 visiting worshippers. (2) As part of his recent U.S. tour, the Dalai Lama, introduced to a University of Maryland audience by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, greeted the governor on stage by rubbing noses with him.
-- Expectant North Carolina parents Adam and Heather Barrington (who is due in July) have disclosed that they will accept underwater midwifing from the Sirius Institute of Pahoa, Hawaii, which arranges for the mother to swim with dolphins pre- and post-natally. "It is about reconnecting as humans with the dolphins so we can ... learn from one another," said Heather. Said Adam: "Dolphins are very intelligent and healing, which ... calms mother and baby. ..." Biologists writing for the Discovery Channel, however, reminded readers that underwater births are extraordinarily dangerous and that dolphins are "wild animals" that gang-rape female dolphins and "toss, beat and kill small porpoises." Said another, the Barringtons' plan is "possibly the worst idea ever."
-- Local Governments at Work: (1) Washington, D.C., began registering its dogs this year by their primary breeds and, faced with many owners who claimed not to know their dog's heritage, quixotically settled on the Mexican hairless dog, or "xoloitzcuintli" (pronounced "show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee," according to The Washington Post) as the breed that will be listed in city records for those dogs. An official said the decision might encourage owners to learn more about their dog's breed. (2) Of all the businesses that could fall out of favor with a local government, it was the restaurant Bacon Bacon that was shut down in May by the city of San Francisco -- because of neighbors' complaints about the smell! (The fragrance of bacon is widely experienced as entrancing all across America.) A petition to overturn the ruling was underway at press time.
-- More than 50 Iowa sex offenders have open-carry gun permits, thanks to a 2-year-old state law that requires any disapproving sheriff to demonstrate "probable cause" in advance that a sex offender will use a gun illegally in order to reject his application. Before that, a sheriff could use a sex offender's previous felony conviction as sufficient cause. Said Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar, "(J)ust the presence of a gun on a hip could be a threat to get (sex-crime victims) to cooperate."
Congress established the Interagency Working Group in 2009 to set guidelines on advertising healthy foods to children, and public comments on the guidelines are now being posted. General Mills appeared among the most alarmed by the IWG proposals, according to its comments on the Federal Trade Commission Web site (as disclosed by Scientific American in May). Of the 100 most commonly consumed foods and beverages in America, GM asserted, 88 would fail the IWG standards, and if everyone in America started following the health recommendations, General Mills would lose $503 billion per year in sales -- unless, of course, it altered part of its product line.
Least Competent Criminals
Dennis Gholston, 45, with outstanding traffic warrants in Pennsylvania, decided in May that, even though alone in his car, he could not resist using a high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) on the New Jersey Turnpike near Carteret. His decision was even more unsound because, according to the officer who stopped him for the HOV violation, Gholston was hauling about $4,000 worth of heroin in the car, and he was charged with intent to distribute.
A News of the Weird Classic (December 2009)
But What If the Device Falls Into the Wrong Hands? A 55-year-old British man whose bowel was ruptured in a nearly catastrophic traffic accident has been fitted with a bionic sphincter that opens and closes with a remote controller. Ged Galvin had originally endured 13 surgeries in a 13-week hospital stay and had grown frustrated with using a colostomy bag until surgeon Norman Williams of the Royal London Hospital proposed the imaginative operation. Dr. Williams, who was interviewed along with Galvin for a November 2009 feature in London's Daily Mail, wrapped a muscle transplanted from Galvin's leg around the sphincter and attached electrodes to tighten or loosen its grip.
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