Ottawa Citizen
Friday 9 March 2001

It's a weird, weird world

Dave Brown
The Ottawa Citizen

As my species evolves I more and more get the feeling I'm being left out, because I can't get past the idea that weirdness is becoming not only acceptable, but in many cases publicly funded.

I'm still struggling with a Vancouver case a couple of years ago when a person launched a legal challenge accusing a lesbian organization of discrimination. The complainant had been a man, but was surgically altered to a semblance of a woman. Such operations are publicly funded if the patient passes a psychiatric test.

In this case the man not only wanted to be a woman, but a lesbian. When minus a penis and ready to join the sisterhood, the refusal launched a court action. I don't know the court results and don't want to. I am whelmed with weirdness.

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In The Netherlands in October the sex trade, already legal, took the next step and brought in rules for workplace safety. Those included separate dressing rooms for males and females, and bright lighting.

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I've long questioned the right of the credentials industry, which calls itself higher learning, to get between jobs and the people who need them. One can't get even an interview until he or she has paid off a school. The University of Surrey in England has added a new one to its curriculum. It now offers a course in in-flight catering, and has appointed the world's first professor of airline food.

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From the Las Vegas Review one can follow the tribulations of 24-year-old Nathan McKay, who is howling about his need for follow-up surgery. For reasons not explained, he wants a forked tongue. He found a surgeon to do that and he has such a tongue. But now he wants all his teeth removed, and his tongue forked all the way back to the uvula. That he can't find a medic to do the work has made him go public in anger. The ultimate forked tongue would go well with the loony-sized holes in his earlobes in which he has placed ebony disks.

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From Ohio's Akron Beacon we learn of a father who was indicted for assault after he threatened to kill his daughter because she spelled a word wrong. It happened during a national spelling bee, and she came in second.

The same newspaper broke a story about a man authorities dropped around to check when it was noticed he hadn't held a funeral for his mother. They discovered he was still living with his dead mother and his father, also unburied and dead 11 years.

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The Denver Rocky Mountain News gets credit for a love story gone wrong. A man, 69, has launched a suit against a woman, 61, saying she tricked him into marriage. He had actually intended to marry her mother, 83.

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In Los Angeles police are still patting each other on the back because they arrested the leader of a crime family that allegedly controls prostitution in a large area. His name? Hung T. Dong.

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If you were paying close attention you may have caught this story from Finland in Canada's National Post last year. A Japanese team caught the Finnish team being just a bit too relaxed, and were able to win the match. There were seven players on each side, on a field the size of a tennis court, with barriers to hide behind. Each team was armed with 270 snowballs. The object was to capture the other team's flag while under heavy fire. They were adults.

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The phone on this desk just rang and a woman, 50, claims she has terminal cancer and a maximum one year to live. Too sick to work, she has applied for a Canada Pension Plan disability pension. She says she was told it would be at least four months before she gets an answer. She was upset. I didn't want to make things worse by telling her in four months she'll probably get a rejection, and an invitation to appeal.

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On the home front, I was trying to spur 16-year-old son Adam into putting more effort into important things like school. I backed it with a reminder that on this planet we don't get all that much time. His solution: "Then I'm moving to another planet." Good idea. This one is getting too weird.

Dave Brown is the Citizen's senior editor. Send e-mail to dbrown@thecitizen.southam.ca Read previous columns by Dave Brown at www.ottawacitizen.com

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.