Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Scamming the Poor Horny Panda: Australia’s The Age, in a dispatch from Sichuan, China, reports that pandas are procreatively thriving now, thanks to wildlife people’s having outsmarted them. It has already been reported that they used mating videos ("panda porn") to show the bears how, and perhaps unwisely tried giving the males Viagra, but The Age is talking real scam: How do you get males to mate with the dowdier females?

The "trick" is to put a fertile and attractive female into a breeding pen, where she leaves scratchmarks and droppings capable of exciting a male. But, at the last moment, the females are swapped. The zookeepers introduce a new, less popular [female] who has been scented with the urine of the more attractive animals. She is introduced into the mating pen rear end first, so the male cannot see the face of his partner until they have finished copulating. "When the males find out, they get very angry and start fighting the female," Mr. Zhang [Hemin] says. "We have had to use firecrackers and a water hose to separate them."

The New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, apparently jam-packed with oh-so-good-doers, distributes about 1.5 million condoms a month to anyone who asks (even in increments of up to 10,000 over the Internet). All the recipients have to do is promise to pass them out for free within the city, but that’s all on the honor system. (The LifeStyles "ultra-lubricated" that the City distributes sell for about $1 each in drug stores.)

Best Headline (from an AP dispatch on the Wall Street Journal website): "Wal-Mart Workers in China Set Up Communist Party Branch" [The story, from another source with only a slightly-less-delicious headline, is here.]

Can’t Possibly Be True: Sharon Taylor, giving birth at Calderdale Royal Hospital, West Yorkshire, England (according to Britain’s Halifax Courier): "Ashleigh . . . shot out of her mother at such speed that her father failed to catch her, and instead she skidded across the floor and bounced back on her umbilical cord."

A Colorado psychic named Natalie Roberts was sued for charging the lovelorn Timothy Strating $170k yet failing to get his mojo back for him. [Buried lede: There’s actually a guy in Montana sensitive enough to pay a psychic the amount of $170,000 to help him meet women.]

A BBC reporter wandered through China taking in one of the most underrated of all pleasures: the foot-washing. Yes, they’re offered at non-brothels. And no, they’re not expensive (equivalent of, at most, $18, for an hour and a half, since the washers are mostly hustling peasants from the countryside saving for a better life). "I reflected on how it is now China, with her cheap and willing labor, that is massaging the feet of the West. But as I enjoy the easy luxury that my English pounds can buy, I wonder how long it might be before it is the other way around."

Recurring Theme: A Reuters reporter in Mexico City is the latest to have the idea to interview the deep-sea diver who settles for a gov’t job of unclogging a city’s subterranean raw-sewage flows (containing dead car parts, dead animals, and occasionally dead people). In pitch blackness. Fighting water currents. (Tell us what you really think, Julio [Julio Cesar Cu]: "I like diving as a sport. As a job I like it even more. I do a job that benefits a lot of people.")

Updates
Hon. Marion Barry got detained again (again . . again) on a traffic stop. It doesn’t look too serious, but Yr Editor didn’t know that he drives a green Camaro, which is significant because he believes it’s such a rare car in D.C. that cops can easily spot it and target him for harassment. Imagine. Marion Barry. Green Camaro.
Yr Editor told you last Friday [Backstage, 12-15-2006] that you’d be hearing more about this. The Brit who claimed the equivalent $6.6m for getting "sexually disinhibited" as a result of an accident at work has now won and will get the equivalent of about $5.9m.

Housekeeping
As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes.

Below The Fold
An axe-wielding German farmer objected when gov’t inspectors came to enforce a law requiring that cow pens have access to daylight . . . . . A flight school training craft (3 aboard) crashed into a raw sewage tank at a wastewater facility in Gilroy, Calif., leaving no survivors . . . . . The newest variation in an old, old theme (at a bar near St. Louis): mashed-potato wrestling! . . . . . Muslims upgrade: For January’s Eid al-Adha (feast of sacrifice), they can buy the cow or goat to be sacrificed for the poor, over the Internet, and then watch the actual sacrifice . . . . . 70,000 Santas (actually, Grandfather Frosts), marching in Moscow (but a reporter warns that it’s actually kinda Stalin Youth rather than the spirit of the season) . . . . . A marijuana-reform activist, making good use of gov’t stats, estimated the total US pot crop last year was $35 billion, or more than corn and wheat combined . . . . . Brit Richard Townsend falls short, eating only 36 in one minute (versus the world record of 43), and unfortunately, what we’re talking about here is Brussels sprouts.