January 16, 2016 -- by Jim Neff


The Neff Zone

Cadillac News




Well kidlings, it's a time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. We have not played this game here in the Zone in almost eight months, so you may have forgotten that usually we begin with an item from Big Rob's stomping grounds of Flint. However, given Flint's water situation, there is nothing humorous about living in that city. On to other things elsewhere.


In Portland, Oregon, a guy was caught on camera trying to steal a python by putting it down his pants. The owner of the pet store noted: “"He opened up the front, dropped it in, situated it, adjusted himself, and walked out...it was pretty gutsy for the man to put the python down his pants, and potentially a bad move because it was close to feeding day.” Hmmmm, I wonder if he wore boxers or briefs. You can watch this unfold at http://komonews.com/news/local/pretty-gutsy-thief-stuffs-snake-in-his-pants-at-portland-pet-store.


Staying with python news, and at the risk of stirring up unpleasant memories of people you have dated in the past (or even former spouses), comes the story of a Chinese tourist being bitten while trying to kiss a snake. Apparently, a woman visiting Thailand attempted to smooch a python during a street performance. The snake launched at the woman and grabbed her nose. The crowd screamed. Later stitches repaired the damage and the woman got $3200 for her troubles.


Animal welfare groups say the conditions for animals in Thai shows are inhumane. One show features orangutans that have been taught to box. After you fill in your own date/spouse joke here, you can actually see the snake bite video at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/11/crowd-screams-as-chinese-tourist-bitten-on-nose-by-python-she-tried-to-kiss.


Still in China, the air quality has gotten so bad there a restaurant tried to charge diners for breathable air. “The restaurant near Shanghai was adding about 15 cents per customer as a clean air fee. The restaurant’s move came a week after Beijing issued its first-ever 'red alert' over air pollution, causing the capital to come to a virtual standstill.” The government gave the restaurant seven days to retract the fee, but the debate rages on. The issue is whether “clean air is a basic right or a commodity.” Sort of like the water in Flint. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/16/world/asia/china-air-restaurant-clean-charge.html)


Speaking of basic rights, I recently came across an article about air travel that discussed a problem of which I was not aware – manspreading. “Manspreading, or the practice of a man sitting with his legs wide open and taking up the space of two people, is such a common problem on public transport that the New York subway system even a public service campaign to combat it, called 'Dude, stop the spread.' There's a Twitter handle for #manspread, and the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year. The term also is on Lake Superior State University's new list of most hated words of 2016.”


In the Banished Words list, the manspreading entry notes: “Men's rights activists claim that men need to take up more space due to their anatomy, and that anti-manspreading campaigns are male-bashing.” The travel article points out this is a “thorny issue.” I would add that before you request a man to stop manspreading, though, you might want to make sure he's not coming home from a pet store and is packing a purloined python in a kissing mood. (http://www.freep.com/story/travel/2016/01/09/speak-up-if-you-want-stop-manspreading-plane/78031694/)


Finally, the ultimate in “can't make stuff up” always comes from the political sprectrum. Just when you think you've heard it all comes this. “Lobbyists who have sex with a Missouri lawmaker or a member of a lawmaker’s staff would have to disclose it to the Missouri Ethics Commission under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Missouri House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman, a Montgomery County Republican, defines sex between lobbyists and legislators as a gift.” You read that correctly – a gift. From the bill: “For purposes of subdivision (2) of this subsection, the term ‘gift’ shall include sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff...this subdivision shall not require a dollar valuation.”


This is all part of work on legislative ethics reform – ethics! I admit I am flummoxed. The political arrogance and gall of this has me at a loss for words. You can't make up stuff like this. (http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article53468660.html)


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.