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A shot in the dark



The 287-gun collection of legally blind Philadelphia psychiatrist John Ingui was briefly confiscated by police in August after his landlord discovered the arsenal on a visit to collect overdue rent. Federal officials said Ingui's 60 assault rifles, 150 semiautomatic pistols and 50,000 rounds of ammunition were properly registered and returned them to him.

You light up my life

Because jellyfish genes contain a protein that turns green, scientists have used them frequently in recent years in genetic-modification work, including the protein's introduction into a potato to enable the spud to glow when it needs water (Scottish Agricultural College, June) and its proposed introduction into a Douglas spruce to create Christmas trees with glowing needles (Hertfordshire University, England, October). A similar process can be done with firefly genes, which was proposed for the Douglas spruce project and is also now being done with zebrafish in order to produce organisms that light up when they detect certain water pollutants (University of Cincinnati, December).

The weaker sex

In the December Medical Journal of Australia, an authority on in-vitro fertilization predicted that sexual intercourse will largely fade away as a means of procreation, in favor of technology that can achieve genetic preferences and avoid genetic risks. Such technology, noted another author, would eventually render males unnecessary for reproduction, and in fact, given the growing weakness of Y chromosomes, alternative reproduction methods (such as cloning) would be necessary to assure males' continued existence.

Every dog has its day

In January, Recanati, Italy, enacted animal-rights regulations that are among the world's toughest, including requiring people to respect domestic animals' need to socialize with their own breed and for their "legitimate sexual needs." Also, pets' living quarters must be at least 9.6 square yards, lighted and kept at a comfortable temperature.

Enamel finish

Connersville, Ind. (population 15,500; tooth-decay rate 20 percent higher than the state average), is by far the largest town in the state not to have fluoridated water, but the new city council elected in November is expected to change that. Until now, antifluoride activists had scared the town with claims that "fluoride" was really toxic wastes that the federal government needed to discard and that if it got into Connersville's water supply, it would kill townspeople's brain cells.

Fight the power

Despite his criminal record (rape), his failure to pay income tax and his bizarre testimony, former world heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick won his deportation hearing in Toronto in December and can remain in Canada for at least five more years. At the hearing, Berbick insisted that his record was the result of a conspiracy masterminded by boxer Larry Holmes and that he lost his title to Mike Tyson only because someone pumped gas into his hotel room before the fight. At one point, Berbick yelled out, "Power nap!" and abruptly fell asleep for a few minutes at the table.

Flying high

In November, U.S. Customs finally decided to let in 20 tons of birdseed from Canada after having detained it in Detroit since Aug. 9 because records indicated it had been processed from industrial hemp, which is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant from which marijuana is derived (even though hemp is notoriously nonpsychoactive and, according to an October New York Times report, the Detroit hemp had 1/2800th the potency of even the weakest marijuana).

Noble aspirations

In November, following legislation pushed through by the Labor Party, the seats of the 755 members of Britain's House of Lords who inherited their titles were eliminated, but the members were allowed to elect 92 among them to continue, with each candidate's "campaign" limited to a 75-word written statement. Among the platforms: Viscount Monckton of Brenchley's proposal to muzzle cats outdoors and to oppose fishing with rods, and Lord Colwyn's highlighting his time as chair of the Refreshment Subcommittee.

Impaired judgment

According to a paper leaked to reporters in September, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, was fully prepared in the event of the Second Coming of Christ at New Year's. City manager Mike Richardson, a fundamentalist Christian, had prepared the paper for his religious brethren, noting that the city's swimming pools could be used for mass baptisms; the newly refurbished Jade Stadium was available for saints' meetings; and the recently completed downtown Cathedral Square symbolized a defeat of Satan, who had tried to delay construction.

Let them eat cake

The Boston Globe reported in November that a woman recently evicted from public housing for assaulting a neighbor was temporarily put up for three nights free of charge at a four-star Boston hotel (the Back Bay, at $285 a night) and then at a Holiday Inn for two more nights (at $175 each). According to the Boston Housing Authority, use of the Back Bay was justified because local conventions had used up every other hotel room in the city.

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