News of the Weird11/27/2013
Everybody Needs a Hug
After its launch was delayed for a month by the Madison, Wis., city attorney, the Snuggle House was cleared and scheduled to open on Nov. 15 to provide in-bed, pajama-clad “intimate, non-sexual touch(ing)” for $60 an hour. “So many people,” said assistant manager Emily Noon, “don’t have a significant other in their lives” and “just need to be held” (including, she said, the elderly and hospice patients, who are part of the target clientele). The city’s delay was, a spokesman said, to assure that Snuggle House had protocols for dealing with “risky” situations in which a customer refuses to take “no sex” for an answer. (Snuggle House has prominent surveillance cameras and panic buttons for the staff.)
The California genetic testing company 23andMe was recently awarded a patent for a computer program that lets parents, by running probabilities through the known relevant cell and DNA variables (of 240-plus conditions and traits), predict their “perfect” baby. Of course, the program can provide only the percentage likelihoods, and a company spokeswoman, anticipating a backlash against the concept of “designer babies,” rejected the idea that 23andMe would work with fertility clinics. …
Update: Person-to-person fecal transplants have been mentioned here several times for the bizarre but therapeutic idea that gastrointestinal illness results from an imbalance between healthy and unhealthy gut bacteria — and that a transplant of healthier antigens may relieve the sickness. But what happens if no “compatible” donor is available? Emma Allen-Vercoe and her team at Canada’s University of Guelph are thus creating artificial gut bacteria (“robogut”) under demanding control conditions, for implantation. (Allen-Vercoe grumbled to Popular Science in August that the most disagreeable part of the job is disposing of excess sludge — the process for which causes “the whole building” to “smell like poop.”) …
(1) Artist David Cerny, fed up with the collapse of the governing parties in the Czech Republic, launched a barge on the River Vitava in Prague in October, holding a gigantic purple hand with middle finger extended, aimed at Prague Castle (the office of President Milos Zeman). (2) In a November protest against Russia’s “police state,” artist Pyotr Pavlensky, in front of horrified tourists at Moscow’s Red Square, nailed the skin of his scrotum into cobblestones near Lenin’s Mausoleum. Pavlensky, who was arrested, earlier called his stunt “a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of contemporary Russian society.”
Cliches Come to Life
Terry Jenkins, 25, was arrested for domestic battery in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in September after, according to the police report, he had asked his girlfriend and her female cousin for a bedroom menage a trois. He then allegedly became enraged when the women paid more attention to each other than to him.
American Psychiatric Association members have been engaged in well-publicized academic brawls over the last 10 years about the contents of APA’s signature publication, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, whose fifth edition (DSM-V) was released in May. However, despite the thorough airing of contentious viewpoints as to what is and is not a mental illness, its final “consensus” nevertheless labeled “pedophilia” as a sexual “orientation” rather than a “disorder.” Falling under outside criticism almost immediately, APA in October reopened the debate, calling the labeling a “mistake.” (A “sexual orientation” in many state and local jurisdictions affords anti-discrimination rights.)
Least Competent Criminals
Recurring Themes: (1) Steven Campbell, 51, entering a courthouse in Kelso, Wash., in November for a hearing on his previous arrest for possession of methamphetamine, apparently failed to consider that he would be searched and was forced to hand over to courthouse screeners a three-inch methamphetamine pipe with suspected meth residue on it. (2) Andrew Laviguer, 57, was captured and accused of robbing several banks in Oregon and Washington in September, including the Wells Fargo branch in Portland, Ore., that ended the spree (and on whose counter he had mistakenly left his car keys when he fled).
Fine Points of the Law
(1) Hells Angels, which in the old days reputedly handled thieves in a different way, filed a lawsuit this time, in October, against Dillard’s department stores — alleging a violation of its Hells Angels Motorcycle Club trademark by a similar design on one of the store’s T-shirts. (2) A 43-year-old Canadian man is not guilty, argued his lawyer in court in November, of violating a local Dubai law on public insults, even though he used the “f-word,” because he had merely uttered “(fuck) off” and not “(fuck) you.” Explained the lawyer, “(fuck) off” is simply a demand (in Canada, anyway) that someone leave you alone. CV