Askew

Joel Schatz

Joel Schatz offers a slightly off-center look at the news.

Askew

A cute kitty, a date rape detector, and Barbie sits shiva

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OK, so this one's not exactly offbeat. But see if you can keep from going "Awwwww."

Rare Sand Kitten Birth Gives Hope for Conservation 

After 63 days of gestation, a rare Sand Cat Kitten was born at Israel's Safari Zoo. Once plentiful in numbers in the dunes of Israel, the Sand Cat has become extinct in the region. This is Safari Zoo's first successful Sand Cat birth and it is hoped this kitten will join Israel's Sand Cat Breeding Program in order to help reintroduce the species into the wild.

Three weeks ago, the kitten's mother Rotem refused to go into the night chamber at the end of the day. Keepers let her stay outside and the next night she gave birth to a tiny baby in the den in the outdoor enclosure. Keepers first saw the kitten when it poked it's tiny head and looked out from the den.

JTA 

Sand Kitten 

Lots more pictures at: www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/08/rare-sand-kitten-birth-gives-hope-for-conservation.html 

* * *

It wasn't a wedding, but long-time partners Hedy Ratner and Mort Kaplan came as close as they could get . . .

The couple - she's co-founder of the Women's Business Development Center and he's a public-relations consultant and Columbia College Chicago professor - have been together for 43 years. . . .

Asked, 'Do you, Hedy, take Mort to be your lawful wedded husband?' Ms. Ratner responded, 'I don't think so!'

'The crowd gasped,' Ms. Ratner said. Mr. Kaplan said no, too.

Asked if they would reconsider, Ms. Ratner said, 'I would when the Cubs win the World Series.'

Mr. Kaplan said he would when Ms. Ratner agreed to support Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann for president (especially funny given that Ms. Ratner leans left).

The wedding guests howled, and the rabbi said he had no choice but to pronounce the couple 'status and quo.'"

Shia Kapos at ChicagoBusiness.com 

* * *

Date Rape Detector Straw of the Day: Two scientists at Israel's Tel Aviv University have developed a high-tech weapon against date rape: a straw that can detect a drugged drink with 100% accuracy.

The straw contains a chemical that reacts with the most common date rape drugs - GHB and ketamine - and the scientists are working to add Rohypnol detection to the mix.

The only thing they need to figure out - other than the funding - is how the straw will alert you when it finds something unseemly in your drink. One possibility is a discreet warning via text message.

The Daily What / Gizmodo 

* * *

From "Inside Empire’s slaughterhouse: The life of a kosher chicken"

The workforce at Empire's plant is full of incongruities. More than a third of the farmers who raise the kosher chickens are Mennonites. Rosenbaum, the CEO, is a Reform Jew who does not keep kosher. Rabbi Israel Weiss, the head mashgiach, or kosher inspector, writes Hebrew science fiction novels in his spare time under a pen name. The staff is filled with Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians whose familiarity with kashrut - and the Yiddish terminology that surrounds it - exceeds that of some religious Jews.

In deference to the shochets and mashgiachs, the assembly line does not run on Fridays so they can get home for Shabbat. In deference to the assembly floor workers, the plant also closes on the first day of buck hunting season.

Uriel Heilman, JTA 

* * *

And finally, from the Obituary page . . .

Elliot Handler, 95, Barbie's 'dad' 

Elliot Handler, half of the pair that founded toy giant Mattel, and the man who gave the name Barbie to the full-figured doll created by his wife, Ruth, died in Los Angeles on July 21 at 95.

Iconic Mattel products attributed to Handler included Hot Wheels, now up to 10,000 models, and Chatty Cathy, one of the first talking dolls whose "pull string talking mechanism . . . revolutionized the toy industry."

Mattel Inc. has become the world's largest toymaker, with 31,000 employees and revenues of nearly $6 billion in 2010. . . .

In the early days, however, Handler may not have had the best business instincts. Despite giving Barbie her name, he was skeptical that the doll - a full-figured young woman his wife had modeled on a German figurine - would find an audience.

"Ruth," Handler reportedly told his wife, "no mother is ever going to buy her daughter a doll with breasts."

Prior to development of Mattel, with his partner Harold Matson, Handler was a struggling art student and designer of light fixtures. He designed a realistic-looking miniature piano that brought in more than 300,000 orders. But the Handlers had mispriced the toys, losing about a dime on each one. . . .

JTA 

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