April 10, 2002

The World is Going to the Dogs

By Roy Rivenburg
Creature Discomforts: Noah made a colossal mistake when he let all those animals onto his ark. Little did he realize their descendants would someday try to rule the world. For example, in Northern California, dogs are now registering to vote.

The plot came to light when a poodle named Barnabas R. Miller was summoned for jury duty and authorities discovered he was a canine. Usually when this sort of thing happens, it is passed off as a harmless prank by the pet’s owner. But is it really? Or are dogs surreptitiously trying to influence human elections? Perhaps inexperienced canine voters cast many of those botched ballots in Florida during the 2000 presidential race (lacking opposable thumbs, they had problems operating the voting machines). In other disturbing animal news:

-- Arizona now has a college for mules.
-- Packs of wild monkeys in Hong Kong are invading neighborhoods, snatching purses and even riding ferries, according to news reports.
-- Britain has begun issuing passports to horses.
-- The number of dog cartoons in the New Yorker magazine has jumped fivefold since 1961 -- and the portrayals show an alarming paradigm shift. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, whereas 1960s cartoons focused on negative dog behavior (‘‘So you’ve finally bitten a lawyer,’’ said one), 1990s illustrations put dogs on equal footing with humans (‘‘On the Internet,’’ one computer-savvy canine tells another, ‘‘no one knows you’re a dog’’).

Lawsuit of the Year: A Florida murder suspect who hanged herself in a jail cell left a note instructing her attorney to sue the prison for failing to prevent her from committing suicide, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

April Showers Bring Flour: Curators at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate in Virginia plan to reopen the home’s 18th-century flour mill this month. Souvenir packages of the flour will later be sold at the estate’s gift shop. It’s ideal for baking cherry pies and powdering your wig.

Sock Tartare Bureau: Warning label found on a package of DeFeet sweat socks: ‘‘Do not eat.’’

Alarming Trends Watch: Reason No. 538 for colonizing other planets as soon as possible: The former manager of the Spice Girls says he wants to reunite the group in 2004.

Weird Polls Bureau: According to a survey by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, three out of four Americans are ashamed to take their car on a date. As well they should be! As far as we’re concerned, people who bring a Buick or Volkswagen into a fine restaurant and try to get the car drunk so they can have their way with it later are major perverts.

News for Vampires: We’re not sure if these two stories are connected, but:

-- A New York company has begun advertising ‘‘a functional yet fashionable new scarf with a provocative name: Hickee!’’
-- A Los Angeles sex expert claims that necks can have orgasms.

Sleep Deprivation Bureau: The weekend when Daylight Saving Time kicks in is our least favorite of the year, because we hate losing an hour of sleep. But we have a solution. Someone has probably thought of this before, but why not set clocks one hour ahead on Friday at 4 p.m., so everyone could get out of work an hour earlier?

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘3,500-Year-Old Rap Lyrics Found in Egyptian Tomb!’’ (Weekly World News)

Which might explain the demise of one of history’s great civilizations. Either that or they ate too many socks.

Unpaid Informants: Associated Press, David Allen, Reuters, Wireless Flash News Service, Consumer Reports, PR Newswire.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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