"We declare that the film contains no obscene or immoral matter, nor any matter advocating or urging treason or insurrection against the United States." This excerpt comes from an "Anti-Pornographic Certification," which the U.S. requires of videotapes entering this country. This particular certification was stamped on a tape of the operetta "The Merry Widow," performed by those bomb-throwing Bolsheviks whose nom de guerre is The National Ballet of Canada.
An unknown Kansas City, Kansas, patrolman proved his exceptional ability to keep a cool head in a crisis. He made a woman in labor wait for 20 minutes while he wrote out a parking ticket on the car that her husband borrowed to take her to the hospital. The officer ignored the man's pleas for permission to take his wife to a hospital, where she gave birth to twins less than three hours later. "I ran out to tell him that my wife's labor pains were four minutes apart," said the parking scofflaw. "He called me an idiot and told me to shut up." Police brass have promised to give the officer an appropriate reward for his conduct, but say his name is not legible on the ticket.
After a year of litigation and thousands of dollars in legal fees, a dispute over one penny was finally ended when a New Jersey appeals court reversed a conviction against a t-shirt salesman who ran out of change. Norman Balassiano was running a beachfront t-shirt stand in Wildwood, New Jersey. While he was out of the store getting some nickels and pennies for the cash register, a customer bought a $9.99 shirt with a $20 bill and got back only $10 in change. The aggrieved customer found a city inspector who issued a summons for theft by deception. Balassiano returned with the change and attempted to give the idiot customer his penny, but the inspector (who as far as we know does not have a relative who is a Kansas City patrolman) refused this simple solution. A municipal court judge fined Balassiano $150. A year later, this nonsense reached a New Jersey appeals court, which overturned the conviction for being too trivial to stand.
The tax code may be too complicated even for the IRS. A General Accounting Office study found that nearly half the letters sent by the IRS to taxpayers during a two-month period contained incorrect or unclear information. By telephone, the IRS got it wrong only one out of three times. IRS Commissioner Lawrence Gibbs offered a two-part solution to this problem: Stop changing the tax laws so much, and give us a big dose of the Washington cure-all—money—so we can try to hire enough people to do it right.
Playing hooky from work to go golfing with your buddies can be a form of sick leave, says a California educational employment panel. Public school teacher Ethel Williams was feeling job-related stress. So she claimed that on doctor's orders she took a day off for a golf outing and asked for sick pay. The school district sought to have her suspended for 10 days for unprofessional conduct. The Commission on Professional Competence found in Ethel's favor. Public employers in California now fear an epidemic of "job-stress" next time the Dodgers make it to the World Series.
Pet groomers in California will brush a dog's teeth for about $5.00, but they say there's a veterinarian-backed conspiracy to drive them out of the dog tooth-cleaning business. The vets, who get about $100 per mutt, say that allowing groomers to clean dogs' teeth is like letting hairdressers perform surgery. State officials actually sent a dog to a groomer for a teeth brushing. When the teeth were brushed, they issued a summons. A Superior Court judge threw out the charge and found no wrongdoing. The Wall Street Journal has suggested a solution in a headline: "Wouldn't It Be Easier to Train Them to Brush Their Own Teeth?"
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".