It may soon be illegal to blow your nose in a Missouri restaurant. Fred Williams, assistant majority leader of the Missouri House and sponsor of the proposed legislation, decided to stick his nose into everyone's business, because "a lot of people have complained to me about restaurant nose-blowers, and I have been disgusted by it myself many times." Williams says people with runny noses should run into a bathroom, or even outside the restaurant. A serious question remains, though. Sneezing won't be illegal, but how shall the courts determine where a sneeze ends and regular nose-blowing begins?
The REASON award for ingenious government planning goes to the California public bus system. You wouldn't think that bureaucrats could screw up something as simple as erecting a bus shelter for a town of 291 people, but that's just what happened. The Northern California coastal town of Trinidad has a spanking new $50,000 commuter parking lot and bus shelter. The only problem is there's no room in the lot for the bus to stop, much less turn around. So bus riders have to dash 100 yards from the shelter to the place where the bus actually stops. The purpose of the shelter was to provide protection from the elements in the rain-soaked county. Says Margie Simas, the bookkeeper at Norm's Chevron across the street from the shelter: "I watched them build it.…My thought at the time was, professional engineers designed this?"
Bang, bang. You're dead. In a bid to help combat crime, the president of Kenya has banned the sale and possession of toy guns in the African nation. Real guns are still available, however.
Markita Andrews is the world's best salesperson of Girl Scout cookies. The 13-year-old New Yorker sold more than 8,000 boxes in 1984. The average Girl Scout sells about 60 boxes. Markita's success attracted the attention of several corporations, which invited her to speak to their sales forces. You'd think the Girl Scouts would be thrilled. But not so. "Selling cookies is really a fun 'girl' activity and we're working hard to keep it noncompetitive," says Bonnie McKuen, a spokeswoman for the organization. Somebody's consciousness needs to be raised—and it isn't Markita's.
Laurence Treworgy is alive because Bangor, Maine, ambulance attendants would rather save lives than comply with burdensome regulations. When Treworgy suffered a massive coronary, the private company's ambulance crew got his heart started again with a defibrillator, which delivers electric shocks to stimulate the heart. Now state officials are threatening to punish the ambulance company because of a rule that requires it to buy a second defibrillator for $10,000 or give up using the one it now has. If a service has more than 10 simultaneous calls a year, it must have at least two defibrillators if it wants a license to use even one. Treworgy is lucky the attendants didn't let the regulation stop them from saving his life.
The pro-Sandinista newspaper El Nuevo Diario has declared that toilet paper is unnecessary. That's a convenient position to take, since toilet paper is such a scarce commodity in Nicaragua. "The depoliticization of toilet paper…would strongly contribute to the relaxation of national tensions," said the newspaper in parroting the government line. The Sandinistas are really on a roll. During the recent election campaign, Sandinista candidates called the use of toothpaste an unnecessary luxury. Oh, to be a dentist in Nicaragua.
Watch where you put your hat in Middletown, New Jersey. Police Chief Joseph McCarthy had lent his chief's hat to adorn the coffin at the funeral of a former deputy chief. A couple of fun-loving police officers placed the hat inside the coffin, and it was buried along with the corpse, according to the Monmouth County prosecutor. McCarthy called the funeral director and demanded that his hat be returned. He threatened that if it wasn't back on his head by the end of the day, the funeral home would suffer in future business, says the prosecutor. So the grave was opened to pacify the bare-headed chief. The prosecutor found no ground for criminal charges, although he blasted the Middletown department for acting like children.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".