Perspective: Of the world’s 7 billion people, an estimated 2.6 billion do not have toilet access, and every day a reported 4,000 children die from sanitation-related illnesses. However, in May, in Portland, Ore., Douglas Eki and “Jason” Doctolero were awarded $332,000 for wrongful firing because they complained about being inconvenienced at work by not having an easily available toilet. Menzies Aviation had arranged for the men to use facilities at nearby businesses at their Portland International Airport site, but the men said they felt unwelcome at those places and continued to complain (and use buckets). One juror said afterward that having easy access to a toilet was a “basic human right,” citing the “dignity (of) being able to go to the bathroom within 30 seconds or a minute.” Said Doctolero, “Hopefully, no one will have to suffer what I went through.”
The entrepreneurial spirit
n When Sherry Bush returned home in Westlake, Ohio, in May, she found an “invoice” written on a napkin, left by “Sue Warren,” billing her $75 for a housecleaning that Warren had done while Bush was out. However, Bush never heard of Warren, and there had been reports by others in Westlake of Warren’s aggressive acquisition of “clients.” “Did you get the wrong house?” Bush asked Warren when she found “Sue Warren Cleaning” online. “No,” said Warren, “I do this all the time. I just stop and clean your house.” Warren was not immediately charged with a crime.
n Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker still owes the IRS a reported $6 million and now sells a line of “survival” products to help true believers live through the coming apocalypse. (It is unclear whether believers need to “survive,” since the popular reading of the apocalypse casts it as a fast track to heaven for the faithful.) The Talking Points Memo blog did some comparative shopping and found many of Bakker’s items to be overpriced by as much as 100 percent. Bakker also offers the devout a $100 Silver Solution Total Body Cleanse Kit, which includes enemas.
n Medical Marvel: A 63-year-old woman in South Korea bit into a portion of squid and later felt “bug-like organisms” moving around in her mouth. According to doctors at the National Center for Biotechnology Information in Bethesda, Md., writing in a recent paper, the squid had probably expelled its spermatophores as if it were attempting insemination. (When squid is eaten in the West, the internal organs have been removed, but apparently not in South Korea.) A scientist who has worked with squid commented on the professional network Science 2.0, “I’ve probably had hundreds of spermatophores ejaculate on my fingers and never felt a sting.”
n A start-up venture in Singapore announced in June that it has developed an adult diaper made of “Sofshell,” a substance that hardens on contact and redistributes weight so that if seniors fall on their rear ends, the impact will be absorbed with a lesser risk of broken bones. One of the developers demonstrated by dropping a bowling ball on a cellphone protected by the material, and the phone suffered not a scratch.
n Researchers at the National University of Singapore described, in a recent issue of the journal Biology Letters, how a certain species of male tropical spider seemingly improves its chances of successful mating by castrating itself after releasing sperm. The scientists hypothesize that testes-removal makes the male nimbler and better able to trick and outflank competitor males that attempt to reinseminate the same females. Improving their strategic mobility also enables the male to avoid being killed by the female, which is yet another hazard in the spider-mating process.