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Saturday August 30th 2014

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By Chuck Shepherd

Doping on Ice Leaders of the ice-fishing community, aiming for official Olympics recognition as a sport, have begun the process by asking the World Anti-Doping Agency to randomly test its “athletes” for performance-enhancing drugs, according to a February New York Times report. However, said the chairman of the U.S. Freshwater Fishing Association, “We do not test for beer,” because, he added, “Everyone would fail.” Ice-fishing is a lonely, frigid endeavor rarely employing strength but mostly requiring guile and strategy, as competitors who discover advantageous spots in the lake must surreptitiously upload the hauls lest competitors rush over to drill their own holes. Urine tests have also been run in recent years on competitors in darts, miniature golf, chess and tug-of-war, and in 2011, one chess player, two minigolfers and one tugger tested positive.

Cultural Diversity A frequent sight on Soweto, South Africa, streets recently is crowds of 12-to-15-year-old boys known as “izikhotane” (“boasters”) who hang out in their designer jeans, “shimmering silk shirts, bright pink and blue shoes, and white-straw, narrow-brimmed fedoras,” according to a February BBC News dispatch. Flashing wads of cash begged from beleaguered parents, hundreds may amass, playing loud music and sometimes even trashing their fancy clothes as if to feign an indifference to wealth. Since many izikhotanes’ families are working-class survivors of apartheid, they are mostly ashamed of their kids’ behavior. “This isn’t what we struggled for,” lamented one parent. But, protested a peer-pressured boaster, “(Y)ou must dress like this, even if you live in a shack.”

India’s annual “Rural Olympics” might be the cultural equivalent of several Southern U.S. “Redneck Olympics” but taken somewhat more seriously, in that this year, corporate sponsorships (Nokia and Suzuki) helped fund the equivalent of about $66,000 in prize money for such events as competitive pulling using only one’s ears or teeth. “We do this for money, trophies, fame and respect,” one ear-puller told The Wall Street Journal in February. This year, in the four-day event in Punjab state, the 50,000 spectators could watch a teeth-lifter pull a 110-pound sack upward for about eight seconds and an ear-puller ease a car about 15 feet.

Weird Japan (1) A generous local businessman recently graced the city of Okuizumo with funding for replicas of two Renaissance statues (“Venus de Milo” and Michelangelo’s “David”) for a public park. Agence France-Presse reported in February that many residents, receiving little advance warning, expressed shock at the unveiling of “David” and demanded that he at least be given underpants. (2) Fax machines, almost obsolete in the U.S., are still central to many tech-savvy Japanese families and companies (who bought 1.7 million units last year alone), reported The New York Times in February. Families prefer faxes’ superiority to e-mail for warmly expressing Japan’s complex written language, and bureaucrats favor faxes’ preserving the imperative of paper flow.

Fetishes on Parade Paul Jamrozik, 63, was arrested in Upper Darby, Pa., in January and charged as the man who lured a 12-year-old boy into his home and, under the guise of pretend-podiatry, spritzed his feet with athlete’s-foot spray and tickled them before performing an exam of his ears and nose with medical equipment. When the kid asked to leave, according to the police report, Jamrozik withheld his shoes until he promised to bring his friends by the next day to be examined.