Burning desires

Entrepreneurs in Wisconsin and South Korea have recently introduced products to encourage cremation as an alternative to burial (in Korea mainly because land for burial is scarce). Two Wisconsin women sell pendants and blown-glass sculptures to display ashes in a more attractive setting than in urns. A South Korean man found a way to treat ashes at extremely high temperatures so they can be molded directly into beads to be worn or kept in decorative jars.

All you need is lumps

Calgary, Alberta, construction worker Michael Pearse, 22, an admitted hot-head, pleaded guilty to making threats in 1996 while trying to find a friend's ex-girlfriend, but at his sentencing hearing in November 1998 said he is now a gentle man and had the report of a government neuropsychologist as evidence. The cause of his change: In February 1998, Pearse was hit in the head and knocked out by a crowbar that bounced off a wall after he swung it, and when he came to, he had an amnesia that had turned him into what the doctor said is a "considerate, caring, benign guy," with no aggression at all. The judge postponed sentencing so he could think things over.

Dead heat

Dead heat

As in every election, several candidates who died during the campaign remained on the ballot, including Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block, who took eventual winner Lee Baca down to the wire even though he died four days before the election. In the Yakima, Wash., race for county coroner, incumbent Leonard Birkinbine was re-elected, although he died two days before; he was running unopposed because his only challenger, John Reynolds, had died on Sept. 14, the day before the primary (which he won).

Emptying the pot

A ballot question in the District of Columbia, allowing the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical purposes, was voted on, and the results were counted by computer, but so far the outcome is not known. After the ballots were printed but before election day, a federal law authored by U.S. Rep. Robert Barr of Georgia passed, forbidding D.C. from spending any money on the medical-marijuana initiative, which includes the money needed to type up the computer-generated results and release them to the public.


The Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Arkansas, surgeon Fay Boozman, said during the campaign that a "rape exception" for abortion is not necessary because the stress of rape produces hormonal changes in the woman that prevent conception. He did not produce research but said his statement was based on general knowledge in the medical community.

Shirley you jest

In a long-shot campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Republican Crystal Young, 57, said that the reason she qualifies for Social Security disability payments is because of the pain she experiences from once having had electromagnetic needles implanted in her body by actress Shirley MacLaine. MacLaine denied ever meeting Young.



In an era when Hollywood stars support causes such as Farm Aid and ending child labor, actor Wilford Brimley became the spokesperson this fall opposing Arizona's Proposition 201, which sought to ban cockfighting (and which ultimately passed). Brimley lives in Utah, but he drove regularly across the border to attend cockfights. "They're magnificent," he said of the roosters. "It's always thrilling to watch."

Show us your writs

Voters in Newport, Maine, voted almost 3-1 against a proposed ordinance that would make female public toplessness illegal. The issue had been forced by the propensity of Desiree Davis, 34, to mow her mother's lawn without a shirt.

Identity crisis

Police in Winston-Salem, N.C., arrested Sidney Reuben Smith, 48, in November after he applied for a checking account at a BB&T bank branch, claiming to be Jerry Cain and possessing Cain's ID. A bank officer called the police. The real Jerry Cain had passed away three weeks earlier after a long illness, a fact known to all at the bank since his widow, Melinda Cain, is a teller there.


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