At press time, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board was still considering what to do about Pittsburgh Common Pleas Judge H. Patrick McFalls Jr., based on recent alleged incidents: creating a disturbance at an airport ticket counter (while visiting Charlotte, N.C., late December); "giving" his $60,000 car to a young man and not remembering it so that he later called in a stolen car report (Feb. 5); being arrested for creating a disturbance with a cab driver about the fare (while visiting Miami Beach, Feb. 11); removing his pants at a restaurant (Feb. 14); being arrested at a theater for becoming boisterous during a movie (March 30); allowing his pants to fall down several times while having an animated conversation on the street (March 30).
That just-washed feline
Spanish inventor Andres Diaz made the first U.S. sale of his $20,000, side-loading, automatic cat washing machine late last year to a Miami company, PetClean USA. The three-cycle, 37-nozzle machine processes the cat in 30 minutes, and Diaz swears the cat doesn't mind it. (And in March, Antrim, Northern Ireland, inventor Trevor Graham was awarded about $8,500 from the Winston Churchill Foundation to study mobile dog-washing equipment in the U.S.)
Do or dialect
South Korea's baby-boomer parents in increasing numbers are sending their preschool youngsters for outpatient mouth surgery to snip the tissue under the tongue because they believe more tongue freedom will permit the children to pronounce the difficult "l" and "r" sounds that have long stigmatized many Asians when speaking English. "Learning English is almost the national religion" in South Korea, according to one educator quoted in a March Los Angeles Times report, but many authorities in South Korea say Asians' pronunciation trouble is purely cultural and that only a very few people are born with tight-enough tongues to be helped by these "frenectomies."
Closing the Gap
New on the market: Vladimir Markov's "anti-rape" jeans, with a locked, coded steel top button designed to discourage attackers who haven't time to figure out how to open it (Croatia). And college student inventors' pulsating vest composed of eight cellular phones vibrating units sewn in to touch acupuncture-friendly parts of the abdomen (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore).
Tyson Foods CEO John Tyson was awarded a $2.1 million bonus last year despite a dismal economic performance and a federal indictment for smuggling in illegal aliens to work at 15 plants in nine states. (Tyson officials said the alien problem must have been 15 individual managers out of control.)
The fungus among us
"Quorn," an edible, nutritious fungus that its manufacturer says looks and tastes "like chicken," made its U.S. debut in January from the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical house AstraZeneca. Quorn (also known as mycoprotein) is sold as chickenlike nuggets or in lasagna or as a ground beef-like substance and is high in protein and fiber and low in calories. Said a sports nutritionist quoted by the Associated Press: "I think it's got a lot of potential. We just have to make sure 'fungus' is not going to appear on the label."
A Manitoba, Canada, farmer filed a lawsuit in January against four doctors and the Brandon Regional Health Authority after he contracted the flesh-eating-bacteria disease while undergoing colon surgery. The man had to have his buttocks amputated.
The Girl Scouts recently began offering merit badges in stress-reduction to scouts from ages 8 to 11. And a Colorado artist created a line of hand-painted figurines in the images of serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and Ed Gein (March). And Britain's Medical Research Council reported that British men's sperm counts continued to drop, probably because of exposure to industrial pollutants, and are now proportionately about one-third the level of hamsters' sperm counts (March).
P.D. aided by P.U.
Also, in the last month: A 32-year-old man, fleeing into the woods on foot after a police traffic stop, was quickly captured after being incapacitated by a skunk's spray (Lewiston, Maine). And the Sioux City, Iowa, city council made yet another official request to the Federal Aviation Administration to change its airport designation, which is SUX.