Lead Story

A federal fish-and-game office in southern California is considering a proposal to junk soon-to-be-obsolete five-gallons-per-flush toilets, which would badly clutter available landfills, by creating toilet-bowl reefs offshore. (An illegal toilet reef in Santa Monica Bay has become a haven for huge oyster beds.) In July a Palm Beach County (Florida) commissioner proposed getting bids from reef-construction firms for slipping the bodies of dead indigents into reefs to reduce the county’s burial expenses.

Well Put

Thomas “Scrappydoo” Baal, trying to discourage a Nevada judge from staying his execution in June: “Let’s get the ball rolling.” When asked his last request: “Bring me a hooker.”

Louisiana state representative Carl Gunter, opposing an exception to an antiabortion bill for victims of incest: “Inbreeding is how we get championship horses.”

Secretary of State James Baker, on the July accord between Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev that would allow a united Germany to choose whether or not to join NATO: “This is a delightful surprise to the extent that it is a surprise, and it is only a surprise to the extent that we anticipated.”

Minnesota state senator Gary Laidig, after his Independent Republican Party lost a late-night senate debate on an antidrug bill: “To members of the minority [the Independent Republican Party], drop your trousers, grab your ankles, and we’ll take it like a minority.” (The debate was broadcast live on local TV.)

Wendy Kemp, an eighth-grader who won a regional spelling bee in Texas in April, commenting on her motivation: “After I lost last year, I went outside and said, ‘I’m going to kick some butt next time.'”

Kathy Oliver, director of a drug treatment program in Portland, Oregon, commenting on the success of giving free clean needles to intravenous drug users: “It proves that IV drug users are . . . willing to go out of their way to protect their health.”

NASA spokesman Bob McMillan, commenting on the photographic success of the Galileo spacecraft in February: “No problems. Everything has gone tickety-boo.”

The sister of the Japanese soldier who resurfaced last year in Malaysia, where he had been hiding since World War II: “I did not hear from him for nearly 50 years, so of course I was worried.”

Circuit court judge Richard Tombrink, barring reporters and the public from a January meeting with three county administrators on recent jail escapes in Hernando, Florida: “If you want a free and open discussion, you can’t allow the public or the press in.”

Anne Perkins, a graduate student at the University of California at Davis, on her study of sexuality of sheep: “It is very difficult to look at the possibility of lesbian sheep because if you are a female sheep, what you do to solicit sex is stand still. Maybe there is a female sheep out there really wanting another female, but there’s just no way for us to know it.”

The wife of Argentine president Carlos Menem, recently barred by her husband from the presidential palace as part of their ongoing domestic troubles, responded to a previous divorce filing in which Menem claimed she was not of a suitable cultural level for him by arguing that his claim proves his “moral mediocrity” since he had lived with her for many years.

Science Fair

A Wisconsin man who had been in a vegetative state for eight years as a result of a traffic accident spontaneously snapped out of it in March after being given Valium in a routine dental procedure in Madison. After walking and talking for five minutes, he fell back into the state but was revived with a second dose of Valium.

Doctors in Beijing report they observed the body of a four-year-old boy spontaneously ignite four times in a two-hour period in April, burning his armpit, right hand, and private parts. The boy had an unusually large electrical current running through his body.

Scientists at the University of California at Irvine believe they have disproved the theory that limbless animals use less energy than do legged animals. Biologist Bruce Jayne and crew affixed tiny oxygen masks to snakes and monitored their movements on treadmills.

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