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Legal briefs get foiled 

In July, Colorado House Bill 01-1221 became the state's law, banning aluminum underpants. The purpose of the law is to discourage shoplifters from using their metal undies to get past electronic theft detectors at the doorways of stores. The new regulation does provide an exception that allows people to don aluminum briefs and bras if they can prove they wear them for a "personal" reason.

Booboo job

In July, an otherwise-successful Hooters restaurant in Augusta, Ga., was forced to file for bankruptcy protection because of a jury verdict earlier in the year penalizing it $11.9 million. The big fine was levied because the local Hooters affiliate had sent out unsolicited fax advertising to about 1,300 potential customers. A previously obscure 1991 federal law bans advertising solicitations by fax and sets a penalty of up to $500 per transmission. Such fax advertising was fairly widespread until the Hooters verdict (and continues even today by firms apparently unaware of the court decision). A Hooters executive said that Congress could not possibly have intended a $12 million penalty for "a few pieces of paper out of a fax machine."

Nuke nook

Researchers at Japan's Central Research Institute of Electrical Power Industry are actively studying whether compact nuclear reactors (the size of a broom closet and housed in a building's basement) could be used to provide electricity for population-intensive blocks of office and apartment buildings in downtown Tokyo. According to the British magazine New Scientist, the buildings would use Rapid-L reactors, originally designed to produce power for moon stations.

Fools rush in

The Northampton (England) Borough Council recently ordered Ruby Barber to remove the two-year-old barbed-wire fence around her home because it might possibly injure someone who "foolishly" tried to climb it to come onto her property. Just before she put it up, she had been burglarized three times; since then, not once.

Every vote counts

Texas has created tiny "tax districts" in nonresidential business areas which allow developers to move a single "voter" into the district, approve proposed public-works projects and move out. In a recent series, The Dallas Morning News reported that businesses in a nonresidential tax district in the town of Denton needed a voter and that Dell Computer, which is located in the district, promised a laptop computer to the first person who would relocate and register to vote there. Jerry Drake, an assistant city attorney in Denton, accepted the offer, moved into a trailer in the district to establish residency, voted on the pro-development agenda and then moved back to his home in town. The agenda passed 1-0. Drake insisted that he accepted the computer only for enduring the inconvenience of relocation and not as a bribe for his unanimous vote.

Sex and the city

Because of the ravages of AIDS, Kenya's president Daniel arap Moi recently urged his countrymen to refrain from sex altogether for the next two years. However, the government of population-dwindling Singapore has instituted subsidies, paid vacations and education opportunities in order to increase procreation. Singapore's establishmentarian Straits Times newspaper has even published a "Make-Out Guide" on how to have semi-public sex and what supplies are needed: lubricants, music, towelettes and the like. Meanwhile, Malaysian Sen. Jamilah Ibrahim (a woman) introduced legislation in August to limit nighttime work by women so they could be available for conjugal duty.

Snake, rattle & woe

Michael Dean Messer of Waynesville, N.C., was bitten in August by his pet four-foot-long timber rattlesnake, which he had taken outside "for some exercise" after coaxing it to swallow a hen's egg because he was so "worried about him `not` eating `lately`." Said Messer, "My dog got him upset." Two days later, in Fayette County, Va., Alfred "Pooch" Preast was hospitalized after taking a bite on the hand from a timber rattler, but Preast was bitten in the middle of a worship service at the Pentecostal House of Prayer. Preast's uncle is regarded as a snake-handling legend in the area, and his brother said Pooch was showing off for his new girlfriend. She also had been raised in a snake-handling family but dropped out.

Wayne, Wayne go away

Arrested and charged with murder: Kevin Wayne Coffey (Port Arthur, Texas, July); Terry Wayne Freeman (Peoria, Ill., August); Michael Wayne Farmer (arrested in Wamego, Kan., and charged with a Baltimore murder, August); Dallas Wayne Shults (Sevier County, Tenn., August); Donald Wayne Darling II (Florence, Ala., July). Being sought as a murder suspect: Lewis Wayne Seay (Moreland, Ga., August). Committed suicide while on the lam as a murder suspect: David Wayne Outlaw Sr. (Dallas, August). Executed for murder: Jerald Wayne Harjo (Macalester, Okla., July).

Public nuisances

Lawyer Christina Gulotta was fined $13,000 and suffered a mistrial ruling in a medical malpractice case because she refused to stop dramatically frowning at nearly every adverse ruling by the judge (Suffolk County, N.Y.). Ã? Police in Calgary, Alberta, asked the public to stop bringing suspected bombs down to the station after one such helpful citizen did. The resulting blast sent officers scurrying and put holes in the wall of the station.

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