Developing Democracies: Candidates for local office in Brazil can either register under their own names or make them up, and in the October election this year, three candidates chose “Barack Obama” (none won), and others registered under “Bill Clinton,” “Jorge Bushi” and “Chico Bin Laden,” but more than 200 offered themselves under the name of the country’s popular president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
And in July, when the government of India tried to push its historic nuclear pact with the United States through the parliament, it found six more votes among elected members who were serving prison sentences, and ordered them released so they could vote for the bill. (Nearly one-fourth of the 540-member parliament have criminal charges pending against them.)
News That Sounds Like a Joke
Britain’s Bristol City Council warned residents in government housing in September to always leave their sheds unlocked. Otherwise, thieves would have to break the doors down to get inside, and taxpayers would be stuck with the repair bills.
Chilean-Danish artist Marco Evaristti is working with condemned Texas inmate Gene Hathorn, 47 (convicted killer of three in 1985), on an anti-capital-punishment exhibit to be staged after Hathorn’s execution. The murderer’s body would be frozen, then made into flakes that museum visitors could feed to goldfish. Evaristti is most noted for his 2000 exhibit in which he placed live goldfish in several electric blenders and invited museum-goers to turn them on.
An unfortunate burst of wind disrupted an outside art installation at the Paul Klee center in Bern, Switzerland, in August, ripping an inflatable exhibit from its moorings and carrying it away. The exhibit, by American Paul McCarthy, was a sculpture entitled “Complex Shit,” and the inflatable item was supposed to be a dog dropping the size of a house. Explained the Klee center’s Web site (challengingly), the show features “interweaving, diverse, not to say conflictive emphases and a broad spectrum of items to form a dynamic exchange of parallel and self-eclipsing spatial and temporal zones.” (Or, wrote London’s Daily Telegraph in broken French, it is “what happens when la merde hits le ventilateur.”)
From the self-composed obituary in the Casper (Wyo.) Star Tribune of James William “Jim” Adams, who died September 9th: “Jim, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other’s [sic] courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he had lost his battle ... primarily as a result of ... not following doctor’s orders. ... He was sadly deprived of his final wish, which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a date.