An Inclusive Litany


Taking a cue from the legal assault on tobacco, Eric Julber, a lawyer from Carmel, California, is preparing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all coffee drinkers in North America. Julber cites the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to back up his contention that coffee suppliers are no better than street-corner pushers. Symptoms of caffeine ingestion include:

  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • excitement
  • insomnia
  • flushed face
  • diuresis (frequent urination)
  • gastrointestinal disturbance
  • muscle twitching
  • rambling flow of thought and speech
  • Tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia
  • periods of inexhaustibility
  • psychomotor agitation

What's more, according to the manual, "Caffeine-Induced Disorders may be characterized by symptoms (e.g., Panic Attacks) that resemble primary mental disorders (e.g., Panic Disorder versus Caffeine-Induced Anxiety Disorder, With Panic Attacks, With Onset During Intoxication)."

The manual also describes "Caffeine Withdrawal" thus: "A characteristic withdrawal syndrome.... Drowsiness, fatigue and mood changes from coffee withdrawal can mimic Amphetamine or Cocaine Withdrawal." Symptoms include "headache," "marked anxiety or depression," "nausea or vomiting" and "worsened cognitive performance (especially on vigilance tasks)." Symptoms "can begin within 12 hours of cessation of caffeine use, peak around 24-40 hours and last up to 1 week."

[Ed.: Mr. Julber is a rather determined wag who understands the silliness his lawsuit represents.]


From Jesse Jackson's speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, August 27, 1996, keyword "take":
Certainly, these stakes are very high in 1996. We have the burden and the obligation to win for yet unborn generations. What shall we do economically?

We have $6 trillion in private and public pension funds. Why can't we take five percent of that money, $300 billion, government secured—use that money to reinvest in our infrastructure and put America back to work. We did it for Poland. We made for Poland 40-year loans at three quarters of one percent, first payment due in 10 years. If we can rebuild Poland and Europe and Japan, we can build Chicago and Atlanta and Memphis and Nashville. We can rebuild America.


When Kenji Kawamura of Hawthorne, California, showed up to vote in the 1994 elections, he discovered that his dog, Sam, was also registered.


The 1996 convention of the Modern Language Association featured panels on "Queering the Renaissance: Comparative Continental Perspectives," "The Novel, Queer Theory, and Narrativity," and three panels on "Victorian Sexual Dissidence": "male-male sexual dissidence," "female-feminist aestheticism," and "revisionary decadence." Attendees could also learn more about "Androgyny and Absolutism: The figure of the androgyne, especially in courtly society, as well as theories of same-sex gender paradigms and their relations to forms of power."

Perhaps considering deconstructionist analysis allows critics and educators to disregard intent of a text's author, it should come as no surprise that there was also an especially candid panel called "Famous Books You Have Not Read. Famous texts you have discussed, evaluated, cited, taught, or bought but have not read. Blurb, acknowledgments, or bibliography scanning as reading. Strong versus weak not reading. General theories, dissimulation strategies, confessions."

A Texas study determined that seniors are 360 percent more likely to receive electric shock treatment than 64-year-olds not yet eligible for Medicare.

According to the New York Post, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, after sponsoring a bill severely restricting gifts and donations that corporations and lobbyists can give to lawmakers, ordered his staff to inform companies and lobbyists that all gifts to him should be made three days before the new law was to take effect.

David Ackerman in Yoga Journal, May/June 1996:
I have been drinking the middle third of my early morning urine for almost twenty years and feel that it has enhanced my well-being. Along with a regular hatha yoga practice and a healthy vegetarian diet, drinking one's urine can truly improve your health. It's an easy, cost-effective adjunct to a healthy regimen. Once you overcome the cultural bias against "pee," you will find that it is not at all unpleasurable to the taste—in fact, it's quite palatable. It becomes another morning bathroom habit, like washing and brushing your teeth.
[Ed.: ...and feeding Vaal.]

Education Life reports that a sex survey of 1,000 Northern Illinois University students asked them to rate 11 sex acts as either "abstinent" or "not abstinent." Ten percent of them rated anal intercourse as abstinent behavior. More than 25 percent put oral-anal contact in the abstinent category. A third of the respondents classified oral-genital sex as abstinent. Six percent said that vaginal intercourse was also abstinent.

From the introduction to Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations, edited by Carol J. Adams and Josephine Donovan, published by Duke University Press:
We believe that feminism is [a] transformative philosophy that embraces the amelioration of life on earth for all life-forms, for all natural entities. We believe that all oppressions are interconnected; no one creature will be free until all are free—from abuse, degradation, exploitation, pollution, and commercialization. Women and animals have shared these oppressions historically, and until the mentality of domination is ended in all its forms, these afflictions will continue.
In one of the essays in the volume, "Thinking Like a Chicken: Farm Animals and the Feminine Connection," Karen Davis describes Viva, "the first chicken I ever really knew":
Viva was not only strong-willed and alert; she was expressive and responsive. One of the most touching things about her was her voice. She would always talk to me with her frail "peep" which never got any louder and seemed to come from somewhere in the center of her body which pulsed her tail at precisely the same time. Also, rarely, she gave a little trill. Often after one of her ordeals, in which her legs would get caught in her wings, causing her terrible confusion and distress, I would sit talking to her, stroking her beautiful back and her feet that were so soft between the toes and on the bottoms, and she would carry on the dialogue with me, her tail feathers twitching in a kind of unison with each of her utterances.
In "Beyond Just-So Stories: Narrative, Animals and Ethics," Linda Vance describes herself communing with a frog:
I lay still, belly down and legs splayed out; she did the same, but she was floating, and the movement of water eased her toward me. We looked back and forth at each other, the sun warming our backs.

USA Today, August 12, 1996:
Lawyers for three women who will join the previously all-male Citadel Military College Aug. 24 argue to federal judge Weston Houck today in Charleston, S.C., that the school's plan for accommodating the female cadets is discriminatory. Among the objections:

  • Kicking out pregnant cadets is a civil-rights violation because pregnancy has to be treated as temporary disability.

  • Latches can't be put on the women's dorm rooms; they must be on men's as well.

  • Qualifications for the Citadel's governing board must be changed because, as written, no woman would be eligible for some time.
The lawyers also want more specifics on the Citadel's plan for sexual-harassment training, scholarship money for women, and adding women staffers.

The Citadel agreed to admit women in June after the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in the case of Virginia Military Institute, ended single-sex education at state schools.

[Ed.: Citadel requires at least 42 push-ups of its male students in a two-minute interval; for women it is 18. Women are also allowed an extra 19 percent on their time to run two miles. The ACLU's $6.7 million bill for legal work that won Shannon Faulkner a single day at The Citadel took 653 hours to prepare at an extra cost of $105,000. While the ACLU took the Faulkner case "pro bono"—free to the client—a civil-rights law permits large fees for "prevailing parties."]

USA Today, August 12, 1996:
The Anderson, Ind., City Council has tentatively approved a city ordinance that would require cats to be on leashes. Some cat lovers want to derail the measure before a final vote on Sept. 12. Animal-protection activist Katherine Harvey called the proposal medieval and cursed City Attorney J.D. Gillespie, who presented it. "I hate you," Harvey told Gillespie, "I hope you die."

Eric Cohen, in the August 12, 1996 Weekly Standard, describes a classroom session called "Intergroup Relations/Cultural Awareness Training," attended by disadvantaged youths aged 16 to 24 at the Washington, D.C., Job Corps Center:
"Our black ancestors helped to make America rich," the teacher explains. "We had a hand in the greatness of this country." One black student shouts, "Backbone!" A Latino student wonders, "Then why haven't there been any black presidents?"

The teacher is ready. She's probably faced this query before. "We've had a black president. His name is Abraham Lincoln. His name is Warren Harding. And there are others. Abraham Lincoln's mother was a black slave who sat in the kitchen while Mr. Lincoln took his oath of office. I have a little book that lists them all, all the black presidents."

She pauses, peering out at her class of high-school dropouts. Every one of them seems to be new to this story of Lincoln's mother. The teacher continues, "There is no reason for your mouths to be open. They wouldn't be if you understood the history behind the slavemaster's relationship with the African-American female. No one wants you to know this, but it's there. Just go to any African-American-university library. You just need to read. That's where you get this information."

The reaction is immediate. Intense. "I have been lied to my whole life by people I've trusted," exclaims one enlightened student. "By your teachers!" another commiserates. "That's right," says a third: "His mom was in the kitchen."

[Ed.: President Harding, who came from a strongly abolitionist Ohio family background, was rumored to be part black as part of an unsuccessful whispering campaign against him when he ran for president on the Republican ticket in 1920. That would, of course, also explain President Lincoln's racial designation.

In 1995 the General Accounting Office audited six different Job Corps sites and concluded that a third of enrollees drop out within the first three months, that only 36 percent complete vocational training, and that only about 14 percent of all "terminees" received jobs relating to their training. Despite months of training and placement assistance, the employment rate of the program's participants is only slightly highter than that of non-participants, and the GAO "could not attribute the higher earnings to... training rather than to chance alone." Furthermore, many employers stated that they had not hired students allegedly placed at their businesses, while other nominal employers could not be located.]


Under proposed FCC regulations designed to force broadcasters to show at least three hours of "children's educational programming" a week, "The Smurfs" count as educational programming, while "The Flintstones" do not.

Each year the new vintage of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild bears a label designed by a well-known artist. The latest features a discreet drawing of a nude adolescent by Balthus. But following complaints by anti-porn activists, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms rejected the labels. All bottles sold in the United States will have a blank space where the drawing was.

A memo from the Heartland Area Education Agency, Johnston, Iowa, March 31, 1996:
I am writing to respond to your question regarding appropriate procedures to follow when a staffing team can not agree, or come to consensus, in determining whether a particular student's disability is related to bringing a weapon to school. As you are aware, these situations and the decisions surrounding them are difficult. And, unfortunately, the frequency of these events is increasing at an alarming rate.

We have held a number of manifestation determination conferences in the schools Heartland serves, but this is the first to my knowledge in which the staffing team could not resolve the disability relatedness issue. Therefore I sought legal council [sic]. The attorney stated that it is not uncommon for staffing teams to have difficulty in determining disability relatedness and has dealt with this concern in other AEA's and school districts. The advice was: In cases in which a staffing team can not reach consensus in determining whether a particular student's disability is related to bringing a weapon to school, assume the disability is related and proceed accordingly. This conservative approach gives the student the benefit of doubt, provides them [sic] with specific due process rights, and is more legally defensible for the school district than to assume the disability is not related. In summary, if no clear determination can be made, assume the disability is related to the behavior at issue.

I want to close by commending you and the staffing team for your adherence to following the procedures for determining disability relatedness in weapons related incidents. Not an easy task. Emotions can run high and clear thinking can be clouded. But as I understand how you have proceded [sic] in this case, you have done a very fine job.

Please feel free to contact me for further clarification or if any other questions remain.


James Stumme, Ed.D., Director
Division of Special Education

cc: Linda Holloway
Staffing Team

Letter to the editor, Valley News, White River Junction, Vermont, June 16, 1996:
The comic strip Garfield is neither humorous nor insightful. Never has been, never will be.

But unfortunately it's more than just not funny. The cat is blended from all the Biblical faults—sloth, greed, envy and meanness, and the strip depends on the distortions of caricature for its effects. But there is one device above all others that places the strip beyond the pale: It repeatedly uses lethal violence as a source of humor. The violence is assumed to be natural and justified because the victims are a special class. They are a special class because they look different.

Garfield celebrates the killing of spiders for no reason other than they are spiders. I have tried to teach my children to kill only for food, defense or compassion, and to try to maintain a high degree of awareness of the lives we take as a means of understanding our part in the circle of life of the Earth. We hold that it's not all right to kill, curse or deny an education or a job because of differences of appearance. That's prejudice. I resent being exposed to an unregenerate proponent of prejudice in my daily paper.

Please put the cat out, for good. Use the money saved to support a new strip.

The Boston Globe, August 11, 1996:
Advocates for the homeless are protesting that a recent [Cambridge] City Council order barring people from taking cans from curbside recycling bins will hurt desperately poor people who survive by redeeming cans for cash.

The council acted by unanimous vote after hearing complaints from homeowners about noisy, late-night can-pickers. The resolution asks police to help the Department of Public Works enforce a rarely used 1992 law that levies $25 fines against second-time offenders who steal recyclable materials.

Cambridge is one of several cities around the state—including Boston and Somerville—that during the last decade have drafted ordinances saying that cans, bottles and plastic left in curbside recycling bins are the property of the city.

The point behind these laws, officials in these cities say, is to prevent thieves from stealing what little profitability a city might have in its recycling program....

[Ed.: Spurred by concerns over illicit recycling, the Boston City Council proposed to require city residents to place garbage bags on the curb the morning of trash pickup, not the night before.]


Washington Post columnist Judy Mann reviews Marion Winik's book, First Comes Love:
Marion Winik, a commentator with National Public Radio, was 24 years old, an inspiring poet living in New York, when she met Mario Anthony Heubach, an openly gay ice skater. She found his "combination of James Dean cool and genuine niceness ... wildly attractive." ... Marion was sitting in his lap within an hour of their first meeting.

She was a heavy heroin user, and he used just about everything but, an omission she quickly repaired. In a revealing note about her heroin use, she writes, "The minute someone said I shouldn't do something or I couldn't have something, this is not allowed, don't go in here, stay away, every cell in my body rushed toward it, every synapse in my brain started firing. I had to turn that no into a yes or die trying."

She used the same approach toward Tony, who was not much interested in having sex with her. She, on the other hand, was obsessed. Once she caught him French-kissing an old boyfriend, and she flew into a furniture-destroying rage...

They ended up settling in Austin and were married in March 1986. He took her name, discarding that of his father, whom he hated... Beauty, she writes, "had so much to do with it. I loved being with Tony because he was so beautiful." Sometimes he comes across as spoiled and self-centered, but then so does she. It is a testament to just how powerfully women are conditioned that she was determined to complete herself by having a family....

Tony tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS in 1985. At the time he figured he had been infected for three years. Remarkably, Marion, who had been sharing needles with him as well as occasional unsafe sex, was not infected. Her sister's heroin-using husband was also infected, although the sister was not, which got Marion to thinking the sisters had some kind of immunity....

The couple tried to minimize the risk of unprotected sex by limiting it to Marion's ovulation cycle. At the dawn of Ovulation Day, as she put it, she gave up all substances that were ever suspected of having harmful effects on fetuses.

The first baby, a boy, died in utero, days before he was to be born. The loss sent Tony back to drugs. He hit Marion, the first of many such incidents as he spiraled into despair. By the time their two other young sons were born, Tony was back to using cocaine and heroin.... By 1994 Marion realized that for her sake and her children's, she had to get Tony out of her house. She filed for divorce, severing the last tie that bound him to the living.

How could she? you might ask. She did what women too often fail to do: stop caring for abusive husbands and start caring for themselves and their children. At the end, however, she showed extraordinary courage and love for Tony by helping him die with a lethal overdose of Numbutal before he entered the final, humiliating stages of AIDS.

First Comes Love is a surprisingly intense and intimate book that leaves you wondering about the lengths to which people will go in defying norms.

[Ed.: The book jacket endorsements also include numerous praises for Ms. Winik's "courage."]

Some titles of courses at American colleges and universities, as cited by William H. Honan in the New York Times, July 3, 1996:

  • "Thinking Queer" and "The Souls of Animals" (Bowdoin College)
  • "Sports as a Metaphor for Life" (Harvard Divinity School)
  • "History of Sex" and "Love and Sex in Japanese Literature" (Wesleyan University)
  • "The Year My Voice Broke" (Sarah Lawrence College)
  • "Renaissance Sexualities" (Skidmore College)
  • "For Every Pharaoh there is a Moses" (Amherst College)
  • "Sex, Sin, and Kin in Early Europe" and "Queer Texts and Contexts" (Swarthmore College)
  • "Sexuality in Global Perspective" (Duke University)

An Associated Press dispatch from Detroit, August 10, 1996:
Three days after Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins was ousted by the voters, the Detroit Free Press apologized on its front page yesterday for misquoting the black congresswoman as saying "I hate" the white race.

A tape recording showed that she said "I don't like" the white race, the newspaper reported.

"We want to apologize for a serious mistake: We misquoted US Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins in the July 17 Free Press," executive editor Robert G. McGruder said in a letter to readers.

Collins, 57, lost a seven-way Democratic primary by a 20-point margin Tuesday in her Detroit district, which is 70 percent black.

The quotation was not the only issue. Collins came under fire for missing more votes last year than all but two house members; one had a liver transplant and the other was in prison.

Also, the Justice Department and House Ethics Committee are investigating allegations the three-term congresswoman misused office, campaign and scholarship funds. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Collins had been quoted as saying: "All white people, I don't believe are intolerant. That's why I say, I love the individuals, but I hate the race."

But she actually said: "All white people, I don't believe are intolerant. That's why I say, I love the individuals, but I don't like the race."

McGruder said Collins made the statement in an interview with States News Service of Washington, which provided the Free Press with a tape and a correct transcript.

Collins had issued a statement in July saying she was falsely quoted. She also blamed a "deceitful" reporter for the story.


Soon after the federal government set up subsidies in 1954 for producers of wool and mohair, ostensibly a vital strategic commodity for manufacturing military uniforms, Dacron and other synthetics displaced wool's importance by the early 1960s. Still, it took until 1993 for Congress to abolish what by then had become a $100 million program, after receiving embarrassing press for what the New York Times called the "mohair toilet seat." But in April 1996, the subsidy came back to life when Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) sponsored the formation of a National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, empowered with up to $50 million to "enhance production and marketing of sheep or goat products in the United States."

A couple in Lawrence, Massachusetts, were charged with animal cruelty for leaving their dog locked in their car in 90 degree heat. Their children were also in the car, but there is no law against that in the state of Massachusetts.

Letter to the editor, Syracuse Herald American, June 16, 1996:
As Father's Day approaches, I am disappointed to say I cannot receive any honor or respect on this day. The same goes for Valentine's Day.

You see, I am a single bachelor without a soul mate and without a child of my own.

I would like to establish a day for all singles.

Single people deserve a day of honor, too. It is a tough life as a single. It's tough not finding the right one and being lonely.

I would like to see a day called Singles Day.

I would like it to be on a Sunday in August and to receive the same status as the other major special days.

From an astrological forecast for the 1996 Republican National Convention issued during the previous winter by Timothy Thayer of Astrodata Astrology Services in San Diego, the city in which the convention would be held:
From an astrological perspective, the local reaction to the convention will be hostile, particularly from the rank-and-file hotel and restaurant workers. There will also be hostility among the conventioneers themselves. Party leadership will be thrown into confusion as dramatic events unfold. H. Ross Perot's influence will play a big role as recent scandals and party revolts stun the nation. The potential for extreme emotional reactions will be strongest on August 12 and 16.

From the perspective of astrological feng shui, the convention center's structure and design have the potential for calamity. The hall itself is constructed of glass ceilings and heavy steel girders, which are adverse feng shui conditions. The convention hall is set on a north-south axis, with the media positioned to the north and the dais to the south. From a feng shui perspective, all of the speakers will be more at the mercy of the media than they would be if the positions were reversed. The principle is the same as when an army wages war from the south to the north: even though individual battles are won, the war is ultimately lost.

[Ed.: As a matter of fact, Republican party leaders and delegates avoided issues of public controversy to such an extent that the '96 convention was widely criticized for its bland resemblance to an "info-mercial." Party leadership was not thrown into confusion, restaurant and hotel workers were apparently happy to get all the business they could, there were no scandals of note, and H. Ross Perot played no role in the proceedings whatsoever.

The Boston Globe reports that California real estate brokers are now expected to take a course on feng shui and otherwise familiarize themselves with the concept to better cater to their clients. The Washington Post reports that even Donald Trump is a feng shui practitioner.]

The Veteran Service Directorate at the Army's Reserve Personnel Center found a novel way to "improve response time" in dealing with a backlog of requests for information on military records: they are throwing out all requests received prior to 1995. In the interest of better "customer service," officials said the processing time, now around a year, should be reduced to about 120 days after the old requests are disposed of.


Letter to the editor, the New Yorker, June 17, 1996:
One day, I met a little black girl and her puppy in front of the grocery, and I asked her the dog's name. "Nigger," she said. I was stunned. "Who gave him that name?" I asked. "My daddy." Not only did that little girl's daddy have a wicked sense of humor, but he was also a great tactician: I was just a neighbor, but in my white skin I represented a power structure, and so I could not address that man's dog.

USA Today, August 2, 1996:
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say Lake and Koochiching counties missed the Wednesday state-imposed deadline for removing the word "squaw" from names of geographic features. Lake County proposed renaming Squaw Creek and Squaw Bay to "Politically Correct Creek" and "Politically Correct Bay." State officials said no.
[Ed.: The controversy erupted after two high school students determined that the word "squaw" comes from the Ojibwa word for "vagina."]

H. Mellor in Policy Review, July/August, 1996:
The sharp knock at the door provoked a frown on the face of Taalib-Din Abdul Uqdah. As the co-owner and manager of Cornrows & Co., the first African hairbraiding salon in the District of Columbia, Uqdah was in the midst of another busy day, and the persistent knocking was an unwelcome interruption.

Uqdah found himself face-to-face with the enforcement officers from the D.C. Board of Cosmetology, who demanded to see Uqdah's cosmetology license. Uqdah replied he had not realized that he needed one, and promised to apply promptly.

Imagine his surprise when he found out that in order to braid hair in the District of Columbia, he had to complete at least 1,500 hours of prescribed training (more than eight months full time) in one of a handful of licensed cosmetology schools, which charged between $3,500 and $5,000. Applicants were required to master chemical and heat treatments of hair (which are irrelevant to braiding) and spend 125 hours practicing shampooing techniques. Each of the ten people employed by Uqdah had to be trained this way, and as a manager, Uqdah was required to take further training.

Unable to afford such time and expense, Uqdah and his wife, Pamela, decided to stay open without a license. Soon the cosmetology police returned, this time with a cease-and-desist order. Uqdah faced a choice: close up his business for months while he went to school, or continue to operate without a license and confront the prospect of hefty fines and up to 90 days in jail.

[Ed.: In New York, African-style hair braiders are required by a 1994 law to be trained in hair cutting and face shaving, even though they don't perform these services. What's more, the 900-hour course they are required by state law to complete is not taught by any cosmetology school in New York. The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology requires braiders to attend 1,500 hours of classes to get their license, despite the fact that the cosmetology schools do not teach hairbraiding, and the licensing examination does not test for it.]