About 20 percent of Japan's adult-video market is now "elder porn" with each production featuring one or more studly seniors and Shigeo Tokuda, 76, among the most popular. He told Toronto's Globe and Mail in October that he still "performs" physically "without Viagra," in at least one role a month opposite much younger women. His wife and adult daughter learned only two years ago, by accident, of his late-onset career (which began at age 60 when a filmmaker hired him for his "pervert's face"). Tokuda figures the "elder porn" genre will grow with Japan's increasing senior population.
-- In Afghanistan, as in many less-developed countries, boy babies are much preferred to girls for economic reasons and social status, but some thus-unlucky Afghan parents have developed a workaround for "excess" girls: simply designate one a boy. All references to her are male, and she dresses as a boy, plays "boy" games and does "boy" chores, at least until puberty, when many parents of the "bocha posh" convert her back. In some tribal areas, according to a September New York Times dispatch, superstition holds that creation of a bocha posh even enhances prospects of the next child's being a boy.
-- Although India has forbidden discrimination against lower-caste "Dalits" (so-called "untouchables"), rampant oppression still exists, especially in rural areas. In October, police were investigating reports that a higher-caste woman had disowned her dog after it had been touched by an "untouchable" woman. A village council in the Morena district of Madhya Pradesh state had reportedly awarded the higher-caste woman the equivalent of $340 compensation after she witnessed the dog being given food scraps by the Dalit woman.
-- Symbols: (1) Although the dress code at Clayton (N.C.) High School prohibits it, freshman Ariana Iacono demanded in September that she be allowed her nose ring, which she said is "essential" to her practice of religion. Her Church of Body Modification, she said, teaches that "the mind, body and soul are all one entity and that modifying the body can bring the mind and soul into harmony." (2) Some Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews came under criticism in September during the pre-Yom Kippur Day of Atonement because, unlike most Jews, they shunned the euphemistic twirling of substitute objects over their heads for forgiveness insisting on hard-core expression by twirling sacrificed chickens.
-- If Only They Had Been Less Religious ...: (1) Ten people were killed in an October stampede when a scuffle broke out at a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Bihar where 40,000 had taken their goats to be sacrificed for prosperity. (2) In July in Montcalm County, Mich., four teenagers attending a Bible church camp were killed when lightning struck an umbrella they were huddling under on a field.
-- Cheerful, articulate Catholic Opus Dei official Sarah Cassidy, 43, granting a long interview to London's Daily Mail in September about her joy of life, waxed eloquent about bringing herself pain for two hours every night as reminders of God's love. Complained another Opus Dei "numerary," our "materialistic, hedonistic society" understands pain "if you go jogging and pounding the streets ... just because you want to be thinner" (or endure Botox injections or cram your toes painfully into tiny shoes) but somehow they don't understand when Cassidy wraps the spiked "cilice" tightly around her leg every night for God.
In June, the Mexican government filed a brief in Arizona challenging the constitutionality of that state's proposed law that required police to check the immigration status of detainees, which, according to its Foreign Ministry, "violates inalienable human rights." However, a May USA Today dispatch from Tultitlan, Mexico, noted that Mexico has a similar law ("Article 67" of its immigration code) and that police allegedly harass immigrants from Honduras and other Central American countries. Said one pro-immigration activist, "There (the U.S.), they'll deport you. In Mexico, they'll probably let you go, but they'll beat you up and steal everything you've got first." (Bills to overturn Article 67 have been pending in the Mexican legislature for months.)
-- Awkward: (1) The charity Brain Injury New Zealand, organizing a community benefit in the town of Rotorua, decided in October to stage -- of all things -- a "zombie walk," inviting townspeople to shuffle around in support. The TV station TVNZ reported numerous complaints alleging BINZ's insensitivity. (2) The city government in Seoul, South Korea, warned in October that the local delicacy "octopus head" contains toxic amounts of cadmium and recommended a two-head-per-week maximum. Fishermen and restaurateurs, as well as those who eat octopus head for its supposed libido-enhancement, protested.
-- For months, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has been indifferent to humanitarian appeals on behalf of sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott, who were convicted in 1993 of luring two men to a robbery (total take, $11; no injuries) but who were each mysteriously sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. (The actual robbers got two years.) Beyond the questionable sentence is Jamie's extremely poor health (double kidney failure). Gov. Barbour's unyielding position is to direct the appeals to the state's parole board. In 2008, bypassing the parole board, Gov. Barbour independently pardoned four vicious murderers who were serving life sentences, even though none had particularly claimed unfair conviction. The four had participated in a prison-sponsored odd-jobs program, helping out around the governor's mansion.
(1) In October in Seminole, Fla., near Tampa, two men, ages 36 and 52, sitting on a porch, drew the attention of two passersby, who made derisive comments and eventually beat up the porch-sitters, who were in costumes as beer bottles. (2) In Portage, Ind., in July, Michael Perez, 36, and brother Eric, 28, got into a fistfight, then ran outside, jumped into their respective pickup trucks, and commenced to ram each other. Multiple charges were filed against both after Eric accidentally crashed into a mobile home.
Two men robbing a Waffle Shop in Akron, Ohio, in October ushered customers and employees into the back and had them give up their cell phones, which were collected in a bag, with the plan to lock the phones in a supply room, retrievable only long after the robbers had fled. However, one robber walked out the restaurant's front door, which automatically locked behind him, and when the other robber walked into the supply room to drop off the bag, an alert hostage locked him inside (and resisted when the robber began "demand(ing)" to be let out).
(1) A 55-year-old woman was seriously injured in October near Defuniak Springs, Fla., when -- and alcohol was involved -- she fell from a motor home traveling on Interstate 10. She had walked to the back to use the rest room, discovered that the door was stuck, and pushed against it -- to learn too late that it was the exit. (2) A 75-year-old man in Levis, Quebec, became the latest person to fall victim to his own protective booby trap. He had apparently forgotten the exact location of the trip wire he had connected to a shotgun to deal with trespassers, and he was killed.
The Pasadena, Calif., Humane Society, using private funds, recently began construction of a $4.3 million dog-and-cat shelter, with towel-lined cages, skylights, "microclimate" air-conditioning, an aviary, sculptured bushes, "adoption counseling pavilions" in which people can meet with their prospective "companion animals," and, according to the architect, "a very subdued classical painting scheme." The Los Angeles Times (in March 1993), noting that there are four times as many shelters in the U.S. for animals as for battered women, quoted an outraged caseworker for a local homeless-person shelter: "It's mind-boggling. I want to know (who) their (funders) are."