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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Prepare for the Rapture

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A company called You’ve Been Left Behind LLC has begun offering an e-mail service to Christians who are preparing for the Rapture, in which all “true” Christians ascend to heaven to meet their Lord. The company, knowing that some Christians believe that the Rapture could occur suddenly, offers a way for customers to say goodbye to their less worthy friends who won’t be ascending to heaven. And, of course, they would be leaving their property behind during the ensuing seven years before Armageddon.

So for $40 a year, Christians can maintain an e-mail list of up to 62 people who would be notified in case of Rapture and can store encrypted electronic documents, such as PINs and powers of attorney.

Cultural Diversity
Dozens of spas operate in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains region because of the area’s mineral springs. Apparently, colonic treatment is a specialty. In fact, in June, the Mashuk-Akva Term spa in Zheleznovodsk unveiled a large monument to the enema: an 800-pound brass syringe bulb held aloft by three angels. One banner said: “Let’s beat constipation.” And the sculptor said, “This device is eternal; it will never change.

We could promote this brand—turn it into a franchise with souvenirs and awards for medical doctors.” Japanese humility is giving way to Western brashness among primary-school parents, according to a June dispatch from Tokyo in The Times of London. “Across Japan, teachers are reporting an astonishing change in the character of parents.” In one school’s performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, there were 25 Snow Whites and no dwarfs after “monster parents” bullied officials into admitting that it was not fair to have just one kid in the title role.

Questionable Judgments
A bus service that shuttles gamblers from Colorado Springs to nearby mountain-town casinos has been awarded $382,000 in Homeland Security anti-terrorism grants, according to a May report by the Colorado Springs Gazette. Federal officials said the grants were part of the Infrastructure Protection Activities program. The money is to be used for “vehicle security,” GPS systems and training drivers, which means, according to a bus company official, teaching them “to be aware of their surroundings, of what’s unusual and the people on board.”

Officials in Chongqing, China, abruptly shut down the lifestyle magazine New Travel Weekly in May after it published photos of lingerie-clad women posing in the rubble of one of the country’s recent earthquake sites. Top members of the editorial staff were fired and the company was ordered into “rectification,” which is a process of self-examination.

Fine Points of the Law
“Everyone knows what an ankle is,” said an official of the association of Texas medical doctors. Not so, said a lawyer representing Texas podiatrists. “You don’t have an ankle,” the podiatrists’ lawyer said. “The foot actually includes the ankle.” A state appeals court in March sided with the medical doctors, but the podiatrists say the battle is not over and that they may continue to treat ankles even though they are licensed to work only on feet.

Least Competent People
Police quickly made an arrest in Hughes, Ark. (pop. 1,800) in May after a Pepsi machine was stolen from a liquor store. Distinct dolly tracks led from the store to a male suspect’s home; allegedly, the machine was standing in his front yard. The armed robber of a Fifth Third Bank in Orlando, Fla., is still at large, but after looking at the surveillance video, a sheriff’s detective said the man was “probably not familiar with handguns.” The man appeared to be pointing his gun at himself during the robbery.

Olympic Games
In preparation for the Olympics in Beijing this summer, Chinese officials have issued a standard chanting routine that all Chinese spectators should employ during competitions. The chant translates to “Olympics! Add fuel!” with two claps, followed by both thumbs up, then “China! Add fuel!” with two more claps and raised fists, according to a June Reuters dispatch.

(“Add fuel” is apparently a traditional motivational chant in China.) Also preparing for the Olympics was Dr. Wei Sheng, the Chinese man who made the Guinness Book of Records for sticking 1,790 needles in his head at one time. In June he stuck himself with 2,008 pins in the Olympic design and colors to commemorate the 2008 Games.

The Aristocrats!
(1) In May, Shauntel Mayo, 29, was convicted in Tyler, Texas, of forcing four children (the youngest beginning at age 5) to perform sex acts on stage for something called the Mineola Swingers Club. Mayo’s jury deliberated only four minutes before finding her guilty. Other adults are scheduled for trial in this case as well. (2) Todd Barkau, 35, and a 44-year-old woman were indicted in May in Kansas City, Mo., on charges of training the woman’s daughter (beginning at age 12) to become a dominatrix whose services were for sale on the Internet.

2008 Chuck Shepherd

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