The European Union allows fruits and vegetables to be sold only in prescribed sizes and colors (such as its 35 pages of regulations governing 250 varieties of the apple, or rules that cucumbers must be straight and bananas curved). In June, British marketer Tim Down complained that he was forced to discard 5,000 kiwi fruit because they were 1 millimeter in diameter too small and one-fourth ounce too light. (It is illegal even to give them away, as that would undermine the market price.) “Improvements” in the EU system continue, according to a July Washington Post dispatch from Brussels: Despite 10 pages of standards on the onion and 19 amendments, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture recently issued a report urging further refinements, using 29 pages and 43 photographs.
Artist Michael Fernandes’ exhibit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in June caused a commotion because it was merely a banana on a gallery’s window sill, and Fernandes had it priced at $2,500 (Cdn) (down from his original thought, $15,000). Actually, Fernandes changed bananas every day (eating the old one), placing progressively greener ones out to demonstrate the banana’s transitoriness. “We (humans) are also temporal, but we live as if we are not,” he wrote. Despite the steep price, two collectors placed holds on the “work,” requiring the gallery’s co-owner, Victoria Page, to get assurance from callers. “It’s a banana; you understand that it’s a banana?”
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
In May, the school board in Barrie, Ontario, notified Children’s Aid Society to intervene with mother Colleen Leduc and her daughter Victoria, 11, because of suspected sexual abuse, angering the conscientious Leduc, who until that point had taken extraordinary measures to protect the girl, who is autistic. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the suspicion came from a teaching assistant who said her psychic had told her that a girl with a “V” in her name was being abused by a man aged 23 to 26. Leduc now refuses to trust Victoria to public schools because “they might want to take out a Ouija board or hold a seance.”
The June transfer of a prisoner from lockup to Britain’s Northampton Crown Court, just across the street, required summoning the closest prison van (57 miles away) to come give him a ride. The prisoner (accused thief Mark Bailey) could not simply be walked across the street because officials feared that public, custodial exposure (a “perp walk”) would embarrass him, in violation of his “human rights.”