It was not difficult to find critics when the Orlando-area government job-service engine Workforce Central Florida said it was spending more than $70,000 of federal stimulus money to help the laid-off by handing out 6,000 satiny capes for jobless "superheroes" to "fight" "Dr. Evil Unemployment."
"Absolutely absurd" was the reaction of a laid-off customer-service representative. Several critics interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel noted such an awkward program further erodes the unemployed's fragile self-respect. WCF, though, remained convinced. In the words of a spokeswoman, "Everyone is a superhero in the fight against unemployment."
• Urban Legend Come to Life: Too-good-to-be-true stories have circulated for years about men who accidentally fell, posterior first, onto compressed-air nozzles and self-inflated to resemble "dough boys," usually with fatal results. However, in May in Opotiki, New Zealand, trucker Steven McCormack found himself in similar circumstances, and had it not been for quick-thinking colleagues who pulled him away, he would have been killed -- as the air, puncturing a buttock, had already begun separating tissue from muscle. McCormack was hospitalized in severe pain, but the air gradually seeped from his body (according to a doctor, in the way air "usually" seeps from a body).
• Parents were puzzled in June after Dry Creek School District in Roseville, Calif., passed out questionnaires asking for biographical details of prospective students, including whether or not the child has been delivered by C-section. Parents told Sacramento station KOVR-TV that school officials were refusing to explain why they wanted to know that.
News That Sounds
Like a Joke
(1) Night club singer Simon Ledger was arrested following a performance at the Driftwood Beach Bar on Britain's Isle of Wight in April after a patron complained to police. Ledger was covering the 1974 hit "Kung Fu Fighting," and two customers of Chinese descent reported they felt victims of illegal "racially aggravated harassment."
(2) Leslie Clarke, 29, turned himself in to police in Darwin, Australia, in May after authorities released surveillance tape of a break-in and vandalism at the Hidden Valley Tavern. Clarke, a large man, confessed to going on a drunken prowl with friends, but said he remembered the break-in only when he saw the video and recognized his distinctive image from the back.