Help embattled citizens and make a buck out of statism: a Texas entrepreneur is selling drug-free urine for $49.95 a bag. Byrd Laboratories' advertisement says the urine is "for experimental purposes only," but the company guarantees "100 percent pure urine…suitable for unanticipated urine demand." The business touts itself as "Your Urine Specialists." Lab owner Jeffrey Nightbyrd "speculates" that the most common use of his product will be to beat on-the-job urine tests for drug use. "The government says they have a right to take bodily fluids. I just decided I'd make some money off that because people are going to resist," he says. And there are no state laws prohibiting urine sales. Nightbyrd gets his product through a Bible study group.
Wish we'd thought of it first. The New Republic magazine recently sponsored a contest to find a catchword for the Iran-to-Nicaragua connection. The winner: Iranamok. Honorable Mention went to Contramania, Saudi Night Fever, Teflondome, and Gipperloo.
A quadriplegic woman who reportedly earns up to $140,000 a year on the Atlantic City Boardwalk playing an electronic keyboard with her tongue has won the right to continue to do so. Celestine Tate—who 10 years ago gained custody of her infant daughter by demonstrating to a judge that she could change diapers with her teeth—had accumulated more than 50 summonses over the years. Thanks to her challenge to the city's antibegging ordinance, she'll now be granted a special permit.
It isn't Springsteen tickets all those Russians are waiting hours in line for. It's liquor. Stringent measures to cut alcohol consumption are becoming as outdated as a Sloe Gin Fizz. Communist Party chief Mikhail Gorbachev wanted his comrades to drink less. But it seems his antialcohol laws just created longer lines. The lines had formed daily across the country well before the 2:00 P.M. opening and remained until the 8:00 P.M. closing. Widespread public discontent over the antibooze laws was so strong that one brave comrade in Vladivostok publicly griped to Gorbachev when the party chief stopped to chat. The state-owned liquor stores have now extended their hours.
"I'll trade you one American hostage for your new sandals, Khalid." This may soon become normal conversation in Libya, the land of the fanatically wacky. The people's republic plans to abolish money and replace it with a barter system. Col. Moammar Gadhafi looks on in approval. Now, if he could only exchange his Line of Death for some friends.
Looking for a pair of illegal crocodile boots? Try the feet of Customs Service agents working the Mexican border. They confiscate boots made from endangered species, then wear them undercover—supposedly to blend into the crowd. But some inspectors think internal affairs "headhunters" shouldn't get free boots. An unsigned memo distributed to members of the National Treasury Employees Union in El Paso sums it up well: "By wearing seized crocodile and sea turtle boots, the headhunters have sunk to a new low. This management practice is as ridiculous as it would be for inspectors to smoke the pot and snort the coke we seize!"
Who says crime doesn't pay? An estimated $1.16 million in Social Security benefits may be going to jailed felons each year, despite a federal law prohibiting such payments. Richard P. Kusserow, inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department, said in an audit that checks totaling $261,000 a year may be mailed to felons in county jails. An unpublished audit estimates that $900,000 in payments are sent to felons in state and federal prisons.
An offer the police can't refuse? Justin Dintino, chief of the organized crime and intelligence division of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation, says, "We've learned that if you don't have a Mafia problem, you don't get any federal money. So you manufacture it." Dintino says his experience on the President's Commission on Organized Crime made it clear that "the poor law enforcement people down South, for example, didn't have any Italians. So they didn't get any money."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".