Page 72

Chuck Shepherd's

Newsof the

Weird LEAD STORY—FIRST AMENDMENT BLUES ; In the public libraries of Seattle (as in most public libraries), patrons are not allowed to eat or sleep (or even appear to be sleeping) or be shirtless or barefoot or have bad body odor or talk too loudly—because other patrons might be disturbed. However, in Seattle, as the Post-Intelligencer reported in September, librarians do permit patrons to watch hardcore pornography on public

72 CULTURE • OCTOBER 2013

computers, without apparent restriction, no matter who (adult or child) is walking by or sitting inches away at the next screen (although librarians politely ask porn-watchers to consider their neighbors). Said a library spokesperson: “(P)atrons have a right to view constitutionally protected material no matter where they are in the building, and the library does not censor.”

CULTURAL DIVERSITY ; Japan and Korea seem to

be the birthplaces in the quest for youthful and beautiful skin, with the latest “elixir” (as usual, based on traditional, centuriesold beliefs) being snail mucus—applied by specially bred live snails that slither across customers’ faces. The Clinical Salon in central Tokyo sells the 60-minute Celebrity Escargot Course session for the equivalent of about $250 and even convinced a London Daily Telegraph reporter to try one in July. (Previously, News of the Weird has informed readers of Asian nightingale-feces facials and live-fish pedicures.) ; Unclear on the Concept: Among people earnestly devoted to palmistry (the foretelling of the future by “expert” examination of the inner surface of the hand), a few in Japan have resorted to what seems like cheating: altering their palm lines with cosmetic surgery. According to a July Daily Beast dispatch from Tokyo, Dr. Takaaki Matsuoka is a leading practitioner, preferring

an electric scalpel over laser surgery in that the latter more often eventually heals over, obviously defeating the purpose. He must be careful to add or move only the lines requested by the patient (e.g., “marriage” line, “romance” line, “money-luck” line, “financial” success line).

LATEST RELIGIOUS MESSAGES ; Iran’s INSA news service reported in January that officials in Shiraz had acquired a finger-amputation machine to perhaps streamline the gruesome punishment often meted out to convicted thieves. (A masked enforcer turns a guillotine-like wheel to slice off the finger in the manner of a rotary saw.) Iran is already known for its reliance on extreme Islamic Sharia, which prescribes amputations, public lashings and death by stoning, and Middle East commentators believe the government will now step up its amputating of fingers, even for the crime of adultery.

V I S I T U S AT i R e a d C u l t u r e . c o m

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