China’s societal self-improvement in preparation for the 2008 Olympics continues. The Beijing Tourism Bureau ordered hotels to re-translate English signs, hoping to avoid such notorious past gaffes as “Racist Park,” which is now “Park of Ethnic Minorities,” and a cafe’s attempt to salute Western visitors with “Welcome, big nose friends.” And the Beijing Olympics Committee has been training hostesses for months to stand in military-like precision, straight enough to hold a sheet of paper between their knees, and to smile continuously, showing “six to eight teeth” (even if placing a chopstick in the mouth sideways is necessary for practice). There are height and weight requirements for the hostesses, and each must have an upper- to lower-body ratio of no more than 11-to-13, to eliminate, according to local newspapers, “big bottoms.” 

Too Much Time on Their Hands

It struck Leo Hill, 81, of Lakewood, Colo., that he was being shorted sheets of toilet paper (in the 12-pack, whose rolls allegedly yielded fewer sheets than similar rolls in the 4-pack), and he earnestly counted 60 rolls, sheet by sheet, concluding that the shortage amounted to enough paper to service one sit-down session per roll. He took his complaint to the Denver Post (and even to the Better Business Bureau), but the reporter, trying to replicate Leo’s work, found no shortage, in Leo’s brand or eight others. 

Jonathan Lee Riches is believed to be the most prolific lawsuit-filer ever to operate from behind bars. His “docket” now includes more than 1,000 cases in just over two years (with eight more years to go on a federal sentence for fraud), including claims totaling several trillion dollars from “injuries” inflicted on him by such people as President Bush, Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs, Britney Spears, Tiger Woods (luggage theft), Barry Bonds (illegal moonshine production), and football player Michael Vick ($63 billion for allegedly stealing Riches’ pit bulls and selling them on eBay so that Vick could in turn buy missiles from Iran). 


Prison reformer James McDonough revealed in February the extent of the mess he inherited when taking over the Florida Department of Corrections in 2006 (40 officials charged with crimes, 90 fired, 280 demoted) and said much of the problem centered on inter-department softball. Even though former officials had admitted to contract kickbacks and frequent taxpayer-funded “orgies,” McDonough said, “I cannot explain how big an obsession softball had become. People were promoted on the spot after a softball game ... to high positions in the department because they were able to hit a softball out of the park ... The connection between softball and the parties and the corruption and the beatings (of prisoners) was greatly intertwined.” 

Making artistic, themed scrapbooks is a $2.6 billion industry in the U.S. (nearly one-fifth as large as the adult-video industry) and has a “Hall of Fame” as protective of its morals as baseball’s, which has shunned gamblers and steroid-users. According to a January Wall Street Journal report, one “superstar” scrapbooker, Kristina Contes, was recently kicked out of the hall for violating etiquette by displaying another’s photo inside her scrapbook in a competition. Contes said the oversight was inadvertent but that she is now shunned within the community for her grave offense and called “labelwhore.”


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