Brickbats

Parenting a child is expensive. Sometimes, so is parenting an adult. In California, a Ventura County superior court judge has ordered James and Bertha Culp to support indefinitely their 50-year-old son to the tune of $3,500 per month. The son, David, is a Stanford graduate who practiced law for 19 years, earning up to $10,000 a month. Now he says he suffers from bipolar disorder and can't work. Judge Melinda Johnson invoked the state's family code: "The father and mother have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the extent of their ability, a child of whatever age who is incapacitated from earning a living."

An Irish politician concerned about a rise in assaults by knife-wielding thugs has found a solution: knife control. "Irish gun controls are amongst the best in the world," says Batt O'Keefe, chairman of the national Health and Children Committee. But "there is an alarming disparity of control for weapons such as knives and swords." O'Keefe proposes that the government set up a national registry of all knives capable of hurting someone.

In Great Britain in 1997, the Labor government enacted gun controls so sweeping that Olympic shooting competitors must go out of the country to train. The impact of the stricter laws, which virtually ban handguns, is now becoming apparent. One study shows gun crimes have risen 40 percent.

In America, if you dress up like one of the characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, people might think you're a dork. In Kazakhstan, people might think you're a dangerous subversive. The nation has begun arresting and torturing those with "bohemian" lifestyles. That includes punk rockers, gays, members of minority religions, and people who attend Tolkien-themed parties. The authorities insist the Tolkien fans are Satanists conducting dark rituals.

When Sebastian Schmidt of Cleveland boarded a Greyhound bus for Detroit, he brought an article ripped from Esquire to pass the time. The article, "How Women Age," included photos of nude women with strategically covered breasts. Changing buses in Toledo, he dropped some of the things he was carrying, including the article. After he picked them up, he found policeman Arrow Osborne standing over him. Osborne called the pages "borderline pornographic" and asked to inspect Schmidt's backpack. All he found was The New York Times. He let Schmidt go, but warned him that if he were caught reading such material in public again he'd be arrested.

After enduring several burglaries, 93-year-old Ruby Barber decided to fight back. The Northampton, England, woman had her son string barbed wire around her garden and house. No one has broken in since. But the city council has ordered her to remove the wire because anyone who tries to climb it -- for example, a burglar -- might be injured.

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