In Frankfurt, Germany, a town clerk has forbidden a couple from naming their newborn son Schroeder. The clerk was enforcing a law forbidding parents from giving their children first names that are odd or that are not sex specific. Other names that have been rejected are Woodstock, Pushkin, Hemingway, Moewe (seagull), and Pumuckl (a popular cartoon character). And stories of parents who have been forbidden from naming their daughter Stechpalme (holly) pop up frequently in the German press. It's a good thing Frank Zappa doesn't live there.
Michael Kilby and two friends were arrested by plainclothes Los Angeles policemen as they left the Royal Oak Bar in North Hollywood. They were charged with breaking a city ordinance forbidding gambling. The men had played a few rounds of dollar-a-game darts in the bar. The charges were later dropped, but Kilby and company might have received up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Hey, I know that sounds stiff, but it's a lot better than what the LAPD gives you for speeding.
Los Angeles isn't the only city cracking down on small-time gamblers. In New York City Arkady Flom has filed a $1-million civil suit against the city for false arrest. Flom, a 65-year-old Soviet emigre, and six other people were arrested for wagering on the chess games that they played in Bryant Park. The charges against Flom were later dropped, but while he was in police custody, he was deprived of his heart medication and had a seizure.
In Austin, Texas, James Buschman is trying to collect $2,790 from the city for nude massages that he says were performed on members of the vice squad by women in his employ. Buschman claims that the massages were performed during an undercover investigation of his three massage parlors. The investigation led to 27 charges of prostitution, but the charges were dropped or the defendants acquitted in all but two of the cases. So Buschman feels that he is entitled to money for the services rendered.
Time reports that a University of California, Santa Cruz, administrator wants to ban the phrases "a chink in his armor" and "a nip in the air" because they contain words that in other contexts have been used to express prejudice. This guy will probably go into shock if anyone tells him the story of the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike.
Those of you who read Rick Henderson's story on wetlands policy in the April issue ("The Swamp Thing") know that the government has defined as wetlands cornfields, forests, and other tracts of land that aren't exactly swampy. But efforts to come up with more-realistic standards for defining wetlands are meeting stiff resistance from Washington bureaucrats. William Sipple, chief wetlands ecologist at the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned from the federal panel reviewing wetlands guidelines because he feared it would limit government protection to "truly aquatic sites."
For a reception for visiting Filipinos, workers at the San Jose, California, public library raised a banner of greeting. The sign was supposed to say, "You are welcome" in the visitors' native language. Literally translated, it read, "You are circumcised."
The U.S. ambassador to Kenya is in trouble with that country's government. Smith Hempstone was verbally attacked by the government for giving "sinister" books to a poor country school. The books? The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois, Narration of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington. What's the world coming to? You can't read dead white males at Stanford or dead black males in Kenya.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".