A political appeal to the Finnish Klingon community 

A political appeal to the Finnish Klingon community

A political appeal to the Finnish Klingon community ... Plus, insurance against paper cuts, preferring babies with abnormalities, Egyptian Muslim women's re-virginization, and more in this week's News of the Weird.

-Democracy in Finland: The Intopii computer firm of Helsinki announced in February that it has installed software to assist voters, who, studies suggest, tend to select candidates who look like themselves. When a voter uploads his or her photo, the Web site will use facial-recognition software to find those among the 800 candidates in March parliamentary elections who most resemble that voter, to ease the difficult burden of citizenship in a democracy.

And in March, incumbent parliamentary candidate Jyrki Kasvi launched the new version of his campaign Web site, written entirely in the Star-Trek language Klingon.

Can't Possibly Be True

People Confused by "Mother": The head teacher of Johnstown Primary School in Carmarthen, Wales, ordered in February that there be no Mother's Day cards in school this year because it might be upsetting to students without a mother.

-Also in February, a government-funded advisory report to Britain's National Health Service recommended that medical staffs not use the terms "mum" and "dad" (and use "guardians" or "carers"), especially since the terms might be confusing or alienating to children of gay couples.

-In February, the grand mufti of Egypt, Aly Gomaa, told a TV talk show audience in Cairo that he endorsed a recent fatwa by noted scholar Soad Saleh that it is religiously acceptable for women to undergo surgical hymen restoration. Perhaps even more controversial, according to Cairo's Daily Star Egypt newspaper, was Gomaa's corollary, that any Muslim man who insisted on his prospective wife's virginity should be prepared to prove his own.

-The local government's tourist information center in Swindon, England, told author Mark Sutton that his World War I-themed book, "Tell Them of Us," could not be sold in its bookstore unless Sutton demonstrated that he had liability insurance, not for potentially libelous passages but in case readers, for example, suffered paper cuts turning the pages. Said Swindon Borough Council spokesman Richard Freeman, "We have to cover every eventuality."

At least a few parents with pronounced genetic abnormalities (e.g., deaf people, dwarfs) have in recent years sought specialized in-vitro fertilization that would improve their chances for a child with the same abnormalities, according to a December Associated Press report (citing a September survey by a Johns Hopkins University research facility). One adult female dwarf told the AP reporter defiantly, "You cannot tell me that I cannot have a child who's going to look like me." Slate.com, extrapolating from the survey, posited that at least eight fertility clinics have provided the service, though many other clinics say they would decline.

(And for the accomplished and joyous cynic, try News of the Weird Daily/Pro Edition, at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com. )


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