By and Utne Reader
Not sure you’re ready to dive headfirst into your local chapter of the Bloods or Crips? Now aspiring gangstas can get a taste of gang culture from the safety of their computer terminals. As Greg Brouwer reports in L.A. Weekly (Jan. 14, 1999), America’s two major urban street gangs have taken to the Net in an effort to broaden their appeal and soften their image (“no pornography, no drug recipes, no targetting [sic] of opposing gang members” are allowed on the sites). Log on to or and you’ll find histories and descriptions of gang life, bios of notorious criminals, and even recommended reading for the up-and-coming crew member. The sites boast of several thousand hits a day. No word on the number of fatalities.

You Can Take It with You
Copenhagen designer Louise Christ Frederiksen grabbed top honors at the first Patagonia International Design Competition with her Trekking Toilet, a portable potty designed for ecofriendly hikers who prefer to leave nothing behind. The toilet attaches to the hips with twin prongs, according to Metropolis (Jan. 1999), and a disposable waterproof bag collects, uh, that which your body can no longer use.

Coming Soon: The Coke Crew
Pepsico’s Thailand division has taken the music-as-product concept to its logical extreme by assembling its own house band, reports Shift (Sept. 1998). The Next is owned and operated by the cola giant, which controls all aspects of the band’s operation, from concert performances to song lyrics (“We are the world style / We are generation next / Our love is generation next”). The result of this transparent Pepsi promotional effort? The Next has become Thailand’s hottest pop group.

The Healing Power of Law
A growing number of attorneys are embracing a “holistic” practice, looking at “the relationship between the cause, the cure, and the healing.” As Bill van Zyverden, founder and president of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers (IAHL) tells Yoga Journal(Jan./Feb. 1999), crises and conflicts can be seen as growth opportunities–for the client and the attorney. “The holistic lawyer challenges clients to define their responsibility in the matter, asking hard questions to find out how the conflict arose and what deeper meaning it represents,” van Zyverden explains. Since IAHL was founded in 1991, its membership has grown to include 640 members in 17 countries. The group publishes a quarterly newsletter and a membership directory, offers a referral service, and sponsors seminars, conferences, and workshops.

And the Word for Eccentric Is .
“I’d like to start my own language. I’ve always wanted to do that as much as play guitar in a rock band. I may end up living in some sort of weird commune where I find like-minded people and we shut ourselves off from the world and speak in our own language.”
–Paul Westerberg in Spin (March 1999)

Stung by allegations of human rights violations by its overseas contractors, Levi Strauss and Co. has invited outside inspectors to critique its workplace-monitoring program in the Dominican Republic. As Business Ethics (Jan./Feb. 1999) notes, the U.S. jeans maker last year invited four organizations, including OXFAM-Great Britain, to conduct site visits, interview workers, and make recommendations. The company says it not only will implement their recommendations (which ranged from producing more clearly written audit forms to notifying workers more explicitly of their right to organize) but also will expand the program to include factories in Asia and Europe.

Buses for Bean-Counters?
A study by the Center for Interdisciplinary Transportation Studies at the University of North CarolinañCharlotte ranked 135 urban transit systems on the basis of 12 different measures, including–well, you know, important things like operating costs and per-passenger revenue.

The top 10:
1. Santa Monica, California
2. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
3. Tucson, Arizona
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
5. Springfield, Massachusetts
6. Santa Barbara, California
7. Newport News, Virginia
8. El Paso, Texas
9. Los Angeles, California
10. Richmond, Virginia

The bottom 10:
126. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
127. Jackson, Mississippi
128. Birmingham, Alabama
129. Youngstown, Ohio
130. Suffolk County, New York
131. Riverside, California
132. West Palm Beach, Florida
133. New York City
134. Lexington, Kentucky
135. Greenville, South Carolina
–From Governing (Feb. 1999)

Is That a Mouse in Your Pocket or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

For the man who has not quite everything, there’s The Bulge, a plenty large polypropylene penis that fits (barely) in your Speedos or tight jeans and is designed to drive passersby mad with desire. The price is reasonable ($19.95), but there is a drawback, notes Mother Jones (Jan./Feb. 1999): What happens when you unveil the real thing?

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