Miscellany

HERSHEY’S FOR THE HOMELESSBetsy Howard lost 10 pounds, bought a box of chocolates as a reward, then began to get [...]

March 1 1992 by Chief Executive


HERSHEY’S FOR THE HOMELESS

Betsy Howard lost 10 pounds, bought a box of chocolates as a reward, then began to get twinges of guilt. She spotted a homeless man sitting on a crate, pulled out the box and began to offer it to him when an imposing woman stopped and barked: “Don’t give that to him. It’ll kill him. It’s got refined sugar and cholesterol.”

The man, seeing Ms. Howard hesitate, shot hack: “Lady, I was a health fanatic once. Look what happened.”

-New York Times

SHTICK BALL

The tomahawk chop is not politically correct, not even when Jane Fonda does it. The tomahawk chop is deemed demeaning to Native Americans, for reasons recently elaborated by politically correct New York Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte, who asked how you would like it if there was a baseball team named after Jews, and every time the home team had something going, why, 50,000 fans would stand up and yell in unison, “What a deal!” (The view in our house was that Lipsyte has developed not only a politically correct argument but a salable movie script.)

-Daniel Seligman, Commentary

VAMPIRES, ALDERMEN, AND OTHER MONSTERS

A Canadian chemist thinks a rare genetic disorder may account for the behavior of vampires, werewolves, and others with an unnatural lust for blood. In a recent paper, David Dolphin of the University of British Columbia advanced the proposition that vampires suffered from a form of porphyria, a hereditary disease affecting the blood. Porphyria causes the body to fail to produce one of the enzymes necessary to make heme, the red pigment in hemoglobin, a vital component of blood. A common symptom of porphyria is extreme sensitivity to light, the supposed nemesis of all vampires. In addition, the lips and gums may be drawn taut, making the teeth look like fangs. Finally-and here we get to the good part-just about the only way you could treat porphyria in the Middle Ages was to drink large amounts of blood.

Some porphyria victims are so sensitive to light that their skin becomes damaged and they lose their noses and fingers. Hair may also grow on exposed skin. Dolphin speculates that such people, with their animal-like appearance and an inability to go out except at night, would have been considered werewolves. Dolphin also thinks he knows why vampires feared garlic. Eating garlic stimulates heme production, which can turn a mild case of porphyria into a very painful one. A porphyria victim would therefore learn to shun garlic at all costs. Extreme forms of porphyria are rare, occurring only once per 200,000 people. But Dolphin thinks local in-breeding might have produced pockets of the disease during medieval times. Heck, it produced the Chicago city council, didn’t it?

-Cecil Adams, More of the Straight Dope

IRON JANE

The New Man does occasionally make some time for the New Woman. And Sam Keen’s Fire in the Belly is full of high-flown, meaningless prescriptions for the New Man, e.g.: “In marriage, an individual man and woman join, for better and for worse, to create an arena within which they may individuate together and explore their wholeness with each other.”

I don’t know about you, but if I ever suggested to my wife that we individuate together and explore each other’s wholeness, she’d kick me out of the nest faster than I could say “personal growth,” and find herself an Old Man.

-Yale Kramer, The American Spectator

GETTING TOUGH WITH GREENS

With profits threatened by new demands to protect the environment, many corporations have adopted an array of tactics designed to erode popular support gained by environmental, health, and consumer advocates. The new business tactics range from slick and sophisticated 4 to heavy-handed and intimidating. Worse, some environmentalists now worry that the fight against them has escalated to include violence, arson, and agents provocateurs. Former Interior Secretary James Watt put it this way: “If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.”

-Eve Pell, E Magazine

STUPID STOCKS

An IPO, arranged with an investment bank acting as the underwriter, will provide you with cash in exchange for pieces of paper. The nice thing about selling stock instead of taking on debt is that you don’t even have to pay the money back. Of course, only a very stupid investor would hand you lots of money without a good chance that there would be future profits. Happily, it turns out that this is not a problem-many investors are very stupid.

Fortunately for the entrepreneur, the U.S. is not the only place where people finance stupid companies. In Canada in the last few years there has been an IPO for something called Glider Resources, a mining company that turned into a bat sanctuary, and one for Vault Explorations Inc., a company whose share price increased tenfold when Adnan Khashoggi announced that he was a partner and that the company had discovered King Solomon’s mines. This turned out not to be true, and Vault Explorations then quite naturally became involved with country-and-western music.

-Joe Queenan, Spy