2017-06-22 / News Of The Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

BY CHUCK SHEPHERD
Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate

Advertisers are coming for you

The New York Times reported in May that the “sophistication” of Google’s and Facebook’s ability to identify potential customers of advertisements is “capable of targeting ads ... so narrow that they can pinpoint, say, Idaho residents in long-distance relationships who are contemplating buying a minivan.” Facebook’s ad manager told the Times that such a description matches 3,100 people (out of Idaho’s 1.655 million).

Government in action

¦ Harry Kraemer, 76, owner of Sparkles Cleaning Service in London, Ontario, was alone in his SUV recently and decided to light up a cigarette based on his 60-year habit, but was spotted by Smoke-Free Ontario officers and cited for three violations. Since his vehicle was registered to his business, and the windows were up, the cab constituted an “enclosed workspace.” It took a long legal fight, but in May, the Provincial Offences Court cut Kraemer a break and dismissed the tickets.

¦ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally prevailed in federal appeals court in February in its Endangered Species Act designation that wetlands in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish should be preserved as a safe habitat for the dusky gopher frog. Landowners barred from developing the land pointed out that no such frogs have been spotted there for “decades,” but have been seen elsewhere in the state and in Mississippi. FWS concluded the St. Tammany area could be a place that dusky gopher frogs might thrive if they decided to return.

The job of the researcher

From the abstract of California State Polytechnic assistant professor Teresa Lloro-Bidart, in an April academic paper, comparing behaviors of native- California western gray squirrels and disruptive (to residents’ trash cans) eastern fox squirrels: “I juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food study scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices (and) their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region....” The case “presents a unique opportunity to question and re-theorize the ontological given of ‘otherness’ that manifests in part through a politics” in which “animal food choices” “stand in” for “compliance and resistance” to the “dominant forces in (human) culture.”

The continuing crisis

¦ Japan is in constant conflict over whether to become more militarily robust (concerned increasingly with North Korea) even though its constitution requires a low profile (only “selfdefense”). When the country’s defense minister recently suggested placing females into combat roles, constitutional law professor Shigeaki Iijima strongly objected, initiating the possibility that Japan’s enemies might have bombs capable of blowing women’s uniforms off, exposing their bodies. The ridicule was swift. Wrote one, “I saw something like that in Dragon Ball” (from the popular comic book and TV productions of Japanese anime).

¦ Took it too far: Already, trendy restaurants have offered customers dining experiences amidst roaming cats (and in one bold experiment, owls), but the art house San Francisco Dungeon has planned a two-day (July 1 and 8) experimental “Rat Cafe” for those who feel their coffee or tea is better sipped while rats (from the local rat rescue) scurry about the room. Pastries are included for the $49.99 price, but the rats will be removed before the food comes. (Sponsors promise at least 15 minutes of “rat interaction,” and the price includes admission to the dungeon.) ¦

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