Oct. 16, 2002

The World is Going to the Dogs

By Roy Rivenburg
Alarming Trends Bureau: More reasons to board a time machine and return to a simpler, saner era:

-- A Japanese toy company has begun selling Bow-Lingual, a gadget that translates dog barks into human language. The most common phrases are: ‘‘I need to go outside,’’ ‘‘Death to all cats!’’ and ‘‘Fetch your own damn stick.’’ Just kidding. According to news reports, Bow-Lingual purportedly uses voiceprint technology to analyze dog barks and translate them into preprogrammed sentences representing various canine emotions, such as frustration, joy, sadness and alarm. The current model translates only into Japanese, but an English version is expected by mid-2003.
-- Spoon-bending pseudo psychic Uri Geller has created his own line of teddy bears dressed as fortunetellers, palmists, astrologers and tarot-card readers.
-- A New York City plastic surgeon says the popularity of low-rise jeans and Jennifer Lopez has sparked increased interest in ‘‘butt implants’’ to round out flat posteriors.
-- A former stunt double for Barbara Eden and Heather Locklear has launched a company that builds houses for cats that resemble the Taj Mahal, an Airstream trailer (complete with blinking taillights), a castle and a cottage with tiny French doors.

Newspaper Correction of the Year: From Washington State University’s student newspaper: ‘‘The Daily Evergreen would like to sincerely apologize for an injustice served to the Filipino-American, Spanish-speaking and Catholic communities on the front page of Thursday’s Evergreen. The story ‘Filipino-American history recognized’ stated that the ‘Nuestra Senora de Buena Esperanza,’ the galleon on which the First Filipinos landed at Morro Bay, Calif., loosely translates to ‘The Big Ass Spanish Boat.’ It actually translates to ’Our Lady of Good Hope.’ ’’

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: More clutter for your brain:

-- There are two golf balls on the moon.
-- The average speed of Christopher Columbus’ boats as he traveled across the Atlantic was 2.8 mph.
-- Ellen Wooldridge, deputy chief of staff for the Secretary of the Interior, estimates that the number of times she has castrated a sheep with her teeth is ‘‘fewer than 50.’’ Confirmation of the number will not be possible until a Japanese toy company invents Baa-Lingual, a device for translating the sounds of sheep into human language.
-- The typical American spends two weeks of his or her life kissing.
-- In Alabama, it’s a felony to train a bear to wrestle. Training it to operate a submachine gun or drive a sport-utility vehicle is apparently OK, but do NOT train it to wrestle.
-- In Massachusetts, it’s against the law to keep a mule on the second floor of any building outside a city unless the structure has two exits.

Last Rites Bureau: We’ve heard of Catholic monks making wine, beer, jams, cheese and fruitcakes. In Dubuque, Iowa, they make coffins. Brother Paul Andrew says the burial boxes sold by TrappistCaskets.com can also be modified to serve as bookshelves.

Weird Polls Bureau: Four percent of bird owners say they plan to purchase a miniature casket for their feathered friend after it dies, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Something for Iowa’s Trappist monks to think about.

Caskets Part II: A St. Louis mortuary tries to reinvent modern funerals. Read our story in the Oct. 13 Los Angeles Times.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Space Aliens Signed the Moon Over to Me -- And I Have the Contract to Prove It!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Improbable.com, Wireless Flash News Service, Hartford Courant, www.poynter.org/medianews, Maxim magazine, ‘‘Uncle John’s Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader,’’ Chicago Sun-Times, Bizarre News, ‘‘You May Not Tie an Alligator to a Fire Hydrant’’ by Jeff Koon and Andy Powell.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate