Lead Story

In November the Texas Board of Education vetoed a proposed selection of history textbooks for use in 1992-’93 when it learned of more than 200 factual errors in the books. Among the mistakes that had escaped authors’, editors’, and publishers’ notice: a reference to Richard Nixon being president when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, and the statement that the Korean conflict was settled by “using the bomb.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Products new to the market: Trolli Gummi Sour Road Pets, candy in the shape of flattened animals with tire tracks across their backs (in a package with a driver giving a thumbs-up sign), from Trolli Inc. in Pompano Beach, Florida; the Motion-Model shoe, specially designed for wearing while shopping, in “wheat,” black, or white ($72); and the Vegiform (from Robert Marketing Inc. of Barrington, Illinois), a plastic mold fitted over growing vegetables to force them into unusual shapes (such as an elf or an old man), so that the user can be written up in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

In September Connecticut police charged Linda Harper with worker-compensation fraud, for failure to report side earnings she received while disabled with a job-related injury, after she confessed that she had earned $600 working as a prostitute for three weeks at the Oak Room Club in Willimantic.

A Japanese businessman bought Playboy, a Belgian racing pigeon, for a surprisingly high $144,000 (twice its reputed value) in August following its victory in the recent prestigious 620-mile Barcelona race.

Laidlaw Transit Inc. disciplined school-bus driver Leon Hayes in June after he charged students on his Seattle bus route a fee ranging from 50 cents to $1 for the privilege of sitting in the back of the bus.

Federal Computer Week recently reported that software originally designed by the federal government to gauge the “structural response of bombs” has passed into the public domain and is now being used by Coors Brewing Company to calculate the force required on a pop top to open the can.

Because top-of-the-line athletic shoes are so often objects of theft in Rio de Janeiro, a Brazilian shoe-manufacturing firm began offering purchasers theft insurance in October. If the shoes are stolen within two months of purchase, the firm, Ibiza, will replace them free, with graduated benefits tapering down to a 25-percent discount after six months. Ibiza wants to discourage customers from fighting robbers to get their shoes back; in September, two customers died and another was injured over athletic shoes. (Also in Rio, six cases of robbery were recently reported in which scissors-wielding kids snipped their victims’ long hair to sell to wig makers.)

Creme de la Weird

In August underground rocker Kevin Michael Allin (“My body is a rock ‘n’ roll temple”), 34, was convicted in Milwaukee of disorderly conduct for jumping into the audience and for “emitting an inappropriate bodily discharge” (defecating) on stage during a concert. After viewing a tape of Allin’s show, the jury at his trial dissented from his view that his performance was art; in response, Allin called them “narrow-minded robotic puppets of society” who looked like his “dead grandmother.” His defense was that not “enough came out” dischargewise to bother anyone, and his opinion that his actions constituted art was backed up by a sociology professor from the University of Texas. Allin has vowed to commit suicide on stage on October 31, 1992.

Least Competent People

Georgia authorities apprehended Ray Rodgers and his two sons, ages 22 and 21, in May as they fled Alabama after being released on bond. The three had been charged with attempting to kill Rodgers’s wife in a 1990 car bombing. According to the Cullman County sheriff, the bombing was the three men’s 12th unsuccessful attempt to kill the woman.

Least Justifiable Homicides

In November police in Capitol Heights, Maryland, charged Jai Ezeman Stevens, 15, with murdering a man who, to Stevens’s dislike, had been playing reggae music on his car stereo. In Glendale, Arizona, Edward L. Mazy, 93, was charged with gunning down Francine Ritter, 39, because she was playing her stereo too loud.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.