Unclear on the Concept 

The Federal Communications Commission famously imposed heavy fines for "indecency" against CBS for the brief, inadvertent glimpse it offered of Janet Jackson's right breast during the 2004 Super Bowl. The same "indecency"-concerned agency, however, issued a routine official notice in July listing call letters of TV stations it had recently approved, including, for a proposed station in Honolulu, KUNT. (The applicant, headquartered in Skokie, Ill., withdrew the requested letters when the Star Bulletin of Honolulu publicized the FCC's notice.)

Serena Yen, a member of the 24 Hour Fitness gym in Houston complained to KTRK-TV in July that she had been inadvertently shut inside recently at about midnight while using an upstairs exercise machine, when employees locked up for the night. A spokesman at the company's headquarters said that "24 Hour" does not refer to the hours of operation.

The government of China, which claims control of Tibet despite the region's vigorous culture of independence, announced in August that it would henceforth require Tibet's "living Buddhas" (special clergy believed to be continuously reincarnated) to get permission from China's religious affairs officials before submitting their souls to be embodied in the future. The government acted, it said, because the reincarnation process needed to be managed better.

As urban sprawl gobbles up land that previously surrounded farms and ranches, some new homeowners are getting feistier about rural noises and smells that disturb their enjoyment of country life. Kimber Johnson paid an extra $80,000 to get the premium view for her land near Phoenix, but complained in July about a farm's routine summer buildup of manure 300 feet away, lasting until the corn crop is picked. The problem also exists in the French village of Cesny-aux-Vignes, where in August the mayor simply banned all complaints from urban newcomers about braying donkeys and loud farm equipment. (Occasionally, the newcomers win, as in Washington County, Minn., in June when the sheriff cited farmer Karyl Hylle for having a cow guilty of "excessive mooing.")

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Stefanie Brickman

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