An Inclusive Litany


Barbara Streisand released a stern memo warning Democratic leaders to adopt a more confrontational stance with the Bush administration, which she regards as an illegitimate product of a stolen election. Speaking on behalf of "the working men and women of this country," Ms. Streisand warned against the fate of "our fingers holding the dyke [sic] against the Republican revolution."

[Ed.: A couple of months later, Streisand's spokesman was asked to comment on whether she was taking her own advice, posted at her website, by hanging her clothes up to dry as an energy-saving measure in the midst of California's energy crisis. "Do you really expect me to ask her that?" he said, barely able to contain his guffaws. Ralph Nader added that not only do clotheslines save energy, meaning gas or electricity, "it even feels better when you bring the clothes back from the backyard!" We have yet to hear what feminists think of this proposal.]


Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, April 28, 2001:
While Juan Miguel Gonzalez may be a "high-level figure in the Communist Party" ("Years after raid, Elian's kin describe 'an open wound,' " Page A3, April 22), he is most definitely a hard-working waiter in an Italian restaurant in the tourist area near Havana. (My friends tracked him down during our recent vacation there.)

He is certainly more fully employed than any of the Miami relatives cited. As for the assertion that Elian's family has been afforded more material goods than other Cuban families in the same neighborhood, since the United States is free of such favoritism, we are clearly within our rights to criticize it in other nations.

—Martha Byington


John Thoburn of Reston, Virginia, was jailed over a zoning dispute that hinged on the number of trees and shrubs he planted around the golf course he owns, and where they were supposed to be planted.

In Great Britain, police tracked down a 40-year-old Devon woman after she illegally took a stick from a park that her dog had been playing with.

Responding to rumors of impropriety, organizers of this year's Miss Universe contest demanded proof that Miss France, 19-year-old Elodie Gossuin, was not actually a 27-year-old transvestite cabaret dancer called Nicolas Levanneur.

The incident was widely interpreted as an affront to French womanhood. "I am scandalized, shocked, outraged and profoundly upset," said Genevieve de Fontenay, longtime organizer of the Miss France contest. "There's no doubt that Miss France is a woman. Of course there's no doubt. I've been running this competition for 45 years, do you think that men have never tried to enter before?"


While trying for ten months to find a public school that could accommodate a 15-year-old boy with severe physical and intellectual limitations and a self-mutilation problem, as mandated by federal law, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts paid for him to stay, without schooling, at Boston's prestigious Children's Hospital. The bill came to $619,000, which would pay the annual salaries of a dozen teachers.


Clue T from puzzle number three of the Random House Crostics Volume IV puzzle book reads: "Truman bureaucrat falsely accused by Whittaker Chambers" (two words). The answer: Alger Hiss.

[Ed.: A crossword puzzle that appeared in the Boston Globe refers to poison as a clue for "alar."]


In December, Ohio-based Menusaver, Inc., sued Michigan-based Albie's Foods, Inc., alleging Albie's sold crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in violation of Menusaver's patent. The following is from the official record of U.S. patent 6,004,596, held by Menusaver:


We claim:

1. A sealed crustless sandwich, comprising:

   a first bread layer having a first perimeter surface coplanar to a contact surface;
   at least one filling of an edible food juxtaposed to said contact surface;
   a second bread layer juxtaposed to said at least one filling opposite of said first bread layer, wherein said second bread layer includes a second perimeter surface similar to said first perimeter surface;
   a crimped edge directly between said first perimeter surface and said second perimeter surface for sealing said at least one filling between said first bread layer and said second bread layer;
   wherein a crust portion of said first bread layer and said second bread layer has been removed.

2. The sealed crustless sandwich of claim 1, wherein said at least one filling comprises:

   a first filling;
   a second filling;
   a third filling; and
   wherein said second filling is completely surrounded by said first filling and said third filling for preventing said second filling from engaging said first bread layer and said second bread layer.

3. The sealed crustless sandwich of claim 2, wherein said first filling and third filling have sealed characteristics.

4. The sealed crustless sandwich of claim 3, wherein:

   said first filling is juxtaposed to said first bread layer;
   said third filling is juxtaposed to said second bread layer; and
   an outer edge of said first filling and said third filling are engaged to one another to form a reservoir for retaining said second filling in between.

5. The sealed crustless sandwich of claim 4, wherein said first filling and said third filling are comprised of peanut butter; and said second filling is comprised of a jelly.


Many individuals enjoy sandwiches with meat- or jellylike fillings between two conventional slices of bread. However, some individuals do not enjoy the outer crust associated with the conventional slices of bread and therefore take the time to tear away the outer crust from the desired soft inner portions of the bread. This outer crust portion is then thrown away and wasted. There is currently no method or device for baking bread without having an outer crust. Hence, there is a need for a convenient sandwich that does not have an outer crust and that is not prone to waste of the edible outer crust portions. The present invention provides a method of making a sealed crustless sandwich that can be stored for extended periods of time without an inner filling seeping into the bread portion.

[Ed.: On a related note, the Detroit-based Love Your Neighbor Corp. sued the Love Thy Neighbor Fund Inc., a Florida-based charity, for trademark infringement, alleging "lost sales and profits it would have made but for these wrongful acts." (There has also been arbitration on an associated Internet domain name dispute.) At least 40 other U.S. organizations use some variant of "love thy neighbor" in their names, an expression that can be traced back about 5,700 years.]

From The Magic of the State, by Columbia anthropologist Michael Taussig, published by Routledge in 1997. The New York Times reports that Taussig has come under criticism from other anthropologists for jettisoning traditional enthographic accounts, blending factual and fictional elements. The following is a fictionalized ethnography of a place Taussig refers to as "European Elsewhere" but which the Times says resembles contemporary Venezuela:
The decay. The gloom descending. The rain dripping from the haze on the mountain where life and death ferment in the dankness of plastic everywhere, holy and unclean, garbage everywhere, rocks painted with the national colors, caves with interiors painted with the national colors, people lying still in front of their shrines under giant trees in the stillness of the night.


Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, April 19, 2001:
In Saturday's edition of the Globe you published a piece describing the tax returns of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ("Bush made $894,880, Cheney $36m in 2000," Page A3, April 14). What you left out were the potential tax cuts each would get if the Bush tax cut proposal were approved. Bush would get $38,979, and Cheney would get $2.3 million. Since I assume that both of these men and their families already have everything they could possibly want or need, I ask: What would they do with the money? How would their tax cuts help the economy? Perhaps you should ask them.

—Stan Orel


Speaking at Duke University, Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien said: "When you give money to the poor, they spend it. But when you give tax breaks to the rich, they save it. So giving money to the poor is an investment."

In Tucson, Arizona, a jury awarded a woman $450,000 five years after she sprained an ankle when accidentally stepping in a gopher hole in a public park, an injury she claimed could have been prevented had the city posted adequate warning about burrowing animals.


A 12-year-old New Jersey girl with impaired hearing was ordered to stop using sign language on her school bus because administrators said it was causing a disturbance and leading to safety problems, a position they were unable to explain.

The Albuquerque City Council passed an ordinance allowing the police to confiscate houses where they catch minors drinking beer.

And in Kansas, law enforcement officials strongly opposed a federal forfeiture reform bill that would direct confiscated drug money towards education, saying that if they were not allowed to keep the money, "forfeitures could become extinct in Kansas."

The work of novelist Nadine Gordimer, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999, may be removed from the curriculum in some schools in her native South Africa because some local officials deem her writing racist. The offending book, July's People, which officials described as "deeply racist, superior and patronising," tells the story of a white family that takes shelter in the home of their former servant, who is black, during a futuristic racial civil war. Gordimer, who also had several books banned under the apartheid regime of which she was a fierce opponent, took great offense that anyone could interpret the book as favoring racism.

The same group of provincial officials also called for the removal of works by black African authors such as Zimbabwe's Dambudzo Marachera and South Africa's Njabulo Ndebele, as well as several of Shakespeare's works: Anthony and Cleopatra and Othello because they're both racist, Julius Caesar because it elevates men and is thus sexist, Hamlet because it is "Eurocentric, not optimistic or uplifting," and King Lear because it "lacks the power to excite readers and is full of violence and despair."

[Ed.: The South African national government quickly rallied to Gordminer's defense, the provincial officials apologized, and the Sunday Independent reported that all of the teachers on the panel that issued the criticisms were white.]

Louisiana state Rep. Sharon Weston Broome is leading a legislative effort to condemn Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, not for the familiar reason that it contradicts the Bible's Book of Genesis, but because it "has provided the main rationale for racism."


The New Republic notes that the National Wildlife Federation's new $17.4 million headquarters in the Washington suburb of Reston, Virginia, represents exactly the kind of low-rise, low-density sprawl the organization's position papers regularly denounce. The office complex features a flat, mall-style parking lot, construction of which required the clear-cutting of several acres of pines, poplars, and red maples. There are 285 parking spaces, and only 249 employees.

[Ed.: A sign near Washington's Dupont Circle Metro stop, of all places, reads: "Parking Reserved for Defenders of Wildlife."]

The National Review, April 16, 2001:
The Custard Factory arts center in Birmingham, England... mounted an exhibition in which there is... nothing. There are no paintings on the walls. There is no sculpture. A few empty picture frames invite the visitor to imagine what might be there. A few scraps of paper cling to the walls, also a bus ticket. The show is entitled Exhibition to be Constructed in Your Head.... There have been few visitors....

In the wake of the American Bar Association's long record of taking partisan positions on political questions such as abortion (for), the death penalty (against), needle-exchange programs (for), welfare reform (against), gay adoption (for), and the independent counsel law (for, until the Clinton administration, then against), President Bush ended the quasi-official role in vetting potential judicial appointments the group enjoyed for nearly 50 years.


In India, according to Asian Age, eunuchs have expressed indignation at being listed on the country's census reports as males, and are demanding a separate category than males and females.

Activists from the U.S.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals crossed borders and launched an effort to save the lives of chickens by promoting vegetarianism in Kenya. But for many Kenyans, eating meat is a rare feast, and the everyday staple is a kind of uncooked cornmeal paste that the Wall Street Journal reports "has the texture of bathtub caulking."

The average annual income in Kenya is $300. People live in slums that run with raw sewage. There is also currently a drought. Women on the verge of starvation are forced into prostitution to feed their children. The rate of HIV infection among prostitutes is estimated to be 80 percent.

[Ed. Masai herders expressed indignation and befuddlement that the British would slaughter their diseased herds, since virtually all of their cattle suffer from foot and mouth disease, and they're used to treating it with native herbal remedies.]


The Washington Monthly reports that funding authorized under the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act to provide assistance to AIDS sufferers has helped spawn a culture of fraud and mismanagement among AIDS service providers nationwide. Most of the abuses were uncovered by journalists, community activists, and state and local agencies, not by federal officials charged with oversight of the $1.7 billion program:

  • In Puerto Rico, several officials at the San Juan AIDS Institute were convicted after prosecutors detailed a paper trail of offshore bank accounts, dummy corporations, payments for luxury cars, jet skis, personal maids, and cash payoffs to political benefactors, all using $2.2 million in federal AIDS funds. An official with the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for the program's oversight admitted under oath that his department continually paid millions of dollars to the Institute without ever receiving any financial reports in return.

  • The FBI is investigating the Margaret K. Wright clinic of South Dallas, which misspent tens of thousands of federal dollars targeted for poor African American AIDS sufferers. A county audit revealed that shopping sprees to Neiman Marcus, home applicances, and psychic phone calls had all been billed to the program. "The FBI is also investigating allegations that the clinic bought expensive AIDS drugs that remain unaccounted for and applied federal funds toward treatment of patients who might not have existed," reports the Dallas Morning News.

  • An employee of Central Florida AIDS Resources was jailed for embezzling more than $500,000 from the group, which he spent on Disney tickets, hotels, and restaurants, his monthly credit card bills often exceeding $25,000.

  • The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating a group called Drugs and AIDS Prevention Among African Americans after an audit revealed its director skimmed 10 percent from all Medicaid payments to the group. Another $15,380 earmarked for clients' rental assistance was instead written out to his mother. His wife, assistant chief of the state's HIV/STD prevention section, is also being investigated for her role in awarding the group $684,291 between 1993 and 1997.

  • In California, a state audit revealed that the Los Angeles County AIDS housing program has allowed a whopping $21.8 million of federal money to accumulate since 1993, unspent despite unmet demand.

  • An investigation by the Indianapolis Star revealed that AIDServe, the state's only state-wide AIDS assistance agency, spent hundreds of thousands of federal dollars on their own salaries and other operating costs, while at the same time owing thousands of dollars to clients' landlords, pharmacies, doctors, and dentists, many of whom who are now refusing to provide services to the agency's clients unless paid up front. Another $175,000 raised during a recent AIDS Walk was even seized by a bank to pay for an overdue loan.

  • The Washington Post exposed a cushy AIDS "conference" held in the Virgin Islands that was supposed to highlight HIV/AIDS in poor, developing areas, but to which no local physicians, public health officials, or patients were invited. Joe O'Neill, head of HHS's HIV/AIDS Bureau responsible for oversight of federal funding convened the conference, encouraging invitees to attend using funds from the Ryan White program. O'Neill attended another conference in Rio de Janeiro (between the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana) and then flew to London in time for Christmas shopping. (East coast AIDS service workers have come to refer to an annual San Francisco conference as "spring break.")

  • While pleading poverty on behalf of their programs, many administrators draw hefty salaries far in excess of local mayors, governors, and congressional members. Pat Christen of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation makes $200,000 a year, and Craig Shniderman of the Food and Friends service provider in the District of Columbia makes $163,111 annually. The Washington City Paper reports that after the well-paid director of one D.C. AIDS clinic resigned to become a city council member, which entailed a substantial pay cut, the clinic awarded him a $70,000 consulting contract and even donated a roomful of designer Stickley office furniture because he didn't like his new government-issued desk. (The same clinic has a waiting list for its services.)

  • AIDS service agencies have increasingly turned into bloated bureaucracies. San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter wrote about one AIDS patient suffering from chronic diarrhea who was told to contact case workers and fill out a series of forms upon leaving San Francisco General Hospital for treatment—all to obtain an adult diaper that cost less than a dollar. Instead he rode home on a bus, soaked in his own excrement. The excess of red tape has even led to a new occupational class. In order to gain access to "Case Managers" who dispense funding for services, clients now increasingly rely on "Access Advocates" to assist them in navigating the bureaucratic maze.

  • While AIDS patients in many states are on waiting lists under the federal Drug Assistance Program, San Francisco's AIDS Health Project used part of its $977,701 in Ryan White grants to hold flirting classes and bowling nights. New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis, apparently not in crisis mode, held hair styling and art classes.

  • The New York Post reports that the city's AIDS support office, which budgets $180,000 a week to shelter about 200 homeless AIDS patients, rented a block of 20 rooms at a four-star hotel at $329 per night, greatly annoying other guests.

  • Cutthroat competition for funding among AIDS service providers has led some to direct their federal grant money to hire lobbying firms to advocate for increased funding. The formula that governs distribution of funds counts the cumulative number of AIDS cases within a jurisdiction rather than its current caseload. As a result, San Francisco, which experienced a high death toll early in the epidemic, receives twice the funds per patient than other cities with comparable caseloads such as Chicago or Washington, D.C. General Accounting Office Assistant Director Jerry Fastrup told a congressional hearing: "The U.S. taxpayer has been funding health services for dead people."

[Ed.: The Inspector General of HHS reported in November that AIDS prevention funds earmarked for the Stop AIDS Project of San Francisco had been directed towards workshops that encourage sexual activity, explore taboos, and meet the legal definition of obscenity. These included the "Great Sex Workshop," "Booty Call," and "Leatherf***." In February, the group also used federal funds to sponsor "Guywatch: Blow by Blow," whose advertising read, in part: "What tricks do you want to share to make your man tremble with delight?"]


Education Week, February 21, 2001:
Mr. [Neil] Williams [chairman of the Health and Physical Education Department at Eastern Connecticut State University] dubs dodge ball as the worst remnant of games that a new breed of physical education teachers and health educators say provide little in the way of fitness conditioning and inappropriately use people as targets. Other offenders that share the not-so-flattering spotlight include Duck, Duck, Goose and Red Rover. "Dodge ball is one of those games that encourages aggression and the strong picking on the weak," said Mr. Williams.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission's estimate for dodgeball injuries in 1999 was 2,926, about the same as for injuries from electric corn poppers and considerably less than that for keychains. One is eight times more likely to be injured while bowling, 16 times more likely while playing golf, 33 times more likely from in-line skating, and even eight times more likely to be injured simply by sitting in the bleachers while watching a game.

Dodgeball's most visible critic, Williams also opposes the game of Kickball because it puts "the batter on display for embarrassment in front of all of the rest of the class"; Musical Chairs because failing to find a seat causes a child to feel "embarrassed and punished"; Steal the Bacon because it resembles a "Roman gladiator contest"; and Simon Says because it employs "teacher deception." In their place, Williams suggests relatively noncompetitive pursuits such as fishing, dart-throwing, and motor-boating—activities he admits for adults "do happen to coincide with drinking beer."

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Matt Labash notes that what once was once known simply as Physical Education has matured into a far more expansive discipline, alternately referred to as "kinesiology," "human biodynamics," and "leisure science." A great deal of discourse within the field is critical of the supposed benefits of competition.

Terry Orlick, a sports psychologist at the University of Ottawa, advocates replacing Musical Chairs with a game called Cooperative Musical Hugs; when the music stops, children hug each other. King of the Mountain is to be replaced with People of the Mountain. He also suggests playing with imaginary equipment such as racketless tennis, or playing "strike-outless baseball." "Who said, 'Three strikes and you're out,' anyway?" asks Orlick. "I don't think it was God. So why not just eliminate the possibility?"

John Hichwa, a middle school P.E. teacher, advises that students use make-believe jump ropes. Marianne Torbert of Temple University suggests replacing Simon Says with a game called Birds Fly, in which kids try not to get caught flapping their wings when the teacher calls out the name of a non-flying animal. Of course, children stay in the game if they screw up. Torbert attributes numerous fitness benefits to this game, ranging from "thinking processes" and self control to "shoulder girdle development."

[Ed.: An aquaintence reports that at his son's pricey Montessori school in suburban Boston, Tug of War has been changed to Tug of Peace. This new game consists of " 'Please, take the rope.' 'Oh no, I couldn't, please, you take the rope.' 'No, please, I insist, you take the rope...' " And so on. Incidentally, the boy says he plays the game better than anybody else, and certainly better than any of the girls.

Perhaps related, the Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of children who are overweight has doubled in the last 30 years. Some P.E. theorists speculate that this is because they have become disengaged from a system overly focused on competition.]

In a decision that was later reversed, Penn State denied recognition to a local student chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative group, because its constitution contains a phrase declaring human rights to be "God-given," and thus deserving of protection.


Senator John McCain sent out a letter requesting donations to his political action committee in order to enable him to ban soft money donations. "I hope you will send in a contribution of $75, $50, $25 or whatever you can afford at this time," the letter read. More money "will send a clear message that we have the strength and resources to get our reform agenda passed."

The London Times reports that sixty clowns attending a performers trade union, many in costume, were strongly advised that they should start taking out liability insurance to avoid the sort of lawsuits increasingly filed against their American counterparts. For example, a number of American clowns have been sued by parents whose children swallowed balloons clowns had earlier twisted into animal shapes for them.


The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that twelve Ohio state agencies paid more than $50,000 to Humor Consultants, Inc. over the past three years to help them do their work more effectively, including "contribut(ing) to positive attitudinal perceptions of workplace transitions."


The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the worker's compensation claim of a man who got drunk on a business trip and suffered severe frostbite after passing out in the cold.


A Woodbury, Minnesota teenager sued his high school after being prevented from wearing a sweatshirt that said "Straight Pride" on the front, with stick-figure symbols of a man and woman holding hands on the back.

Threatening legal action, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the Virginia Military Institute to end another of its institutional traditions—cadets standing at attention while a dinner blessing is delivered.


Rep. Major Owens (D, NY) said that plans to restructure the House education subcommittees are endangering black colleges and "going back to the days of separate but equal, where you had one water fountain for colored and one for white people [and] the equal never lasted very long."

Hymnals used in many churches now feature a modified version of what is perhaps the English-speaking world's best-known hymn:
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
In the new version, the second line reads:
That saved and strengthened me
The following is a 1997 St. Louis Post-Dispatch account of machinations that preceded the change:
"I fought hard in our committee that we needed to keep [the word wretch] because that is how the author [John Newton] felt about himself, a former captain of a slave ship," said the Rev. Dr. David P. Polk, project editor of the 1995 Chalice Hymnal.... The "anti-wretch" flank on his committee "wanted to get away from the kinds of expression in hymns that regarded human beings as lowly, worthless, with low or no self-esteem."

Jane Fonda donated $12.5 million for a "gender studies center" at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The gift was named in honor of Harvard Gender Studies professor Carol Gilligan, author of the feminist classic, In a Different Voice, in which she argues men and women have radically different ways of looking at the world: men more separate and abstract-minded, women more connected and empathic. Not surprisingly, Gilligan argues that the female world-view is superior and that it has traditionally been undervalued. By her own report, Fonda's reaction to reading the book may even bolster the veracity of Gilligan's claim: Ms. Fonda wept.

[Ed.: When Gilligan's book was first published it was attacked by others on the feminist Left, on the grounds that the assertion of fundamental differences between men and women undermined the competing idea that gender roles are a mere social construct with no foundation in physical reality.]

An inter-office memorandum at the Internal Revenue Service:
TO: Richard Poprick, Customer Service Division FROM: George Baker, Assistant to the Branch Chief SUBJECT: Support for Kidnapped Child WTA-N-108040-00

Your memorandum raises the following issues:

  1. Can the parents of a minor child who was kidnapped by a person not related to the child take a dependency exemption for the child in the year of the kidnapping if the child is missing at the end of the year?

  2. Can the parents continue to take the exemption in later years if the parents maintain a room for the child and incur expenses to search for the child?
Under section 152(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, the term "dependent" generally includes a child of a taxpayer if the taxpayer provided over half of the child's support for the calendar year in which the taxable year of the taxpayer begins.

Section 1.152-1(a)(2)(I) of the Income Tax Regulation defines the term "support" by example. It states that support "includes food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, education, and the like."

In the absence of any legal authority directly on point, we conclude that the parents should be presumed to meet the support test established by section 152(a) if, before the kidnapping, the parents provided half of the support for the child. Proof of total support for the period before the kidnapping and proof that the parents provided over half that support should suffice.

For taxable years after the year of the kidnapping, although the issue is not free from doubt, we do not think that the parents meet the support test of section 152(a). Even if the parents continue to maintain a room for the child and continue to expend funds searching for the child, we do not think that these expenses constitute support.

If you have any questions please contact me.