You thought the shutdown of the U.S. federal government, triggered in part because Bill Clinton slighted Newt Gingrich on a trip on Air Force One, was bizarre?
There are strange things going on right here in the rubber industry, too. Check out these stories I discovered from various news services. They may even be true.
A tough job. A 23-foot python killed and tried to eat a rubber tapper in Malaysia Sept. 4. Two weeks later a tiger dispatched another tapper.
E. Heng Chuan, 29, was killed by the snake when he entered the woods near the southern Malaysia town of Tenang at 9 p.m. to turn off a water pump. The python had swallowed him up to his shoulders when police shot the reptile.
It was the first time a python had attacked a human in Malaysia. The snake was the biggest python ever found in the country, weighing 308 pounds.
On Sept. 18, a tiger killed Said Sulaiman, a 63-year-old rubber tapper on his small plantation in Pahang, Malaysia, about 80 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur.
A government official pointed out tigers are a protected species in Malaysia. Apparently, tappers aren't.
Sweet smell of success. S.P. Tyres U.K. Ltd., maker of Dunlop-brand tires in England, has received preliminary approval on a patent request for rose-scented passenger tires.
No word on what the target audience will be.
What price art? Edinburgh (Scotland) District Council's chief executive has decided against disciplining local officials who allowed a short-lived tire sculpture to cost four times the original estimate.
The artwork-a pile of tires on top of a mountain of shipping containers-cost $240,000 to build, paid mostly with public funds. It was demolished within a month.
The city selected the design in an effort to become Great Britain's City of Architecture and Design in 1999. ``It was a worthwhile project to support Edinburgh's bid,'' said sculptor David Mach, who designed the work. He was paid $190,000 for his efforts.
No gain without pain. Japan's new product-liability law is a pain in the ... well, it's about to cause discomfort for a lot of people.
Worried the sweeping law will cause more lawsuits-a la Dow Corning Corp. and silicone breast implants-Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. and Toshiba Silicone Co. quit supplying silicone used to coat hypodermic needles. Without the smooth coating, the needles hurt-big time.
``We're sure that our product is safe, but we don't want to risk a lawsuit,'' said a Toshiba Silicone director.
The companies also feared lawsuits from litigation-prone Americans.
Noga is editor of Rubber & Plastics News.