Mad Minute

BERKELEY, Calif. — Soon, there will be no more manholes in the city of Berkeley, California. There will also be no chairmen, no manpower, no policemen or policewomen.

No, that doesn’t mean a whole city will be without committee leaders and law enforcement. It means that words that imply a gender preference will be removed from the city’s codes and replaced with gender-neutral terms, according a recently adopted ordinance.

The city voted Tuesday night to replace gendered terms in its municipal codes, like “manhole” and “manpower,” with gender-neutral ones like “maintenance hole” and “human effort.”

The item passed without discussion or comments and was not controversial, said Berkeley City Council member Rigel Robinson, the bill’s primary author.

“There’s power in language,” Robinson said. “This is a small move, but it matters.”

The revised city documents also will replace instances of gendered pronouns, such as “he” and “she” with “they,” according to the ordinance.

Berkeley’s municipal code currently contains mostly masculine pronouns, the office of the city manager said in a letter to the mayor and city council.

“Having a male-centric municipal code is inaccurate and not reflective of our reality,” Robinson said. “Women and non-binary individuals are just as entitled to accurate representation. Our laws are for everyone, and our municipal code should reflect that.”


AREA 51 — The world is ready to finally see the secrets hidden inside Area 51. And if one of those secrets happens to be living aliens, well, we have good news — they'll be greeted with free cans of Bud Light.

Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, initially posted on Twitter, "We'd like to be the first brand to formally announce that we will not be sponsoring the Area 51 raid."

However, the brand quickly backtracked off that alienating claim, saying, "Screw it. Free Bud Light to any alien that makes it out."

The company even went as far as to make a label for its Area 51 Special Edition Bud Light.

"Greetings Earthlings. This is the famous Area 51," it says at the top of the can. "We know of no space beer by any other life form which is brewed and aged to be more refreshing. Our cryogenic aging produces a light bodied space lager with a fresh taste, a crisp, clean finish, and a smooth drinkability. Take us to your leader…for drinks."

There's just one catch: Anheuser-Busch is asking for 51,000 retweets to make it happen. The tweet still has a way to go.


A Colombian man was arrested at Barcelona airport with about a pound of cocaine hidden under his toupee, Spanish police said Tuesday. The man attracted officers' attention because he was "considerably nervous" and his wig was of "disproportionate size," police said in a statement.

Officers questioned the man and found a "perfectly-sealed package taped to his head." It contained 503 grams (1.1 pounds) of cocaine, worth more than 30,000 euros ($34,000).

In what police dubbed "Operation Toupee," the man was arrested at Barcelona's El Prat airport, Spain's second busiest, after arriving on a flight from Bogota at the end of June.

Smugglers often resort to creative methods to get drugs past Spanish customs.

In recent years, police have found cocaine inside breast implants, hollowed-out pineapples, a wheelchair cushion, a plaster cast encasing a man's broken leg, and a 42-piece crockery set.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois woman who recently got a 1993 postcard in her mailbox has tracked down the man who sent it to his children more than two decades ago.

Kim Draper's story about the mysterious Hong Kong postcard was published in The State Journal-Register in Springfield and picked up by The Associated Press.

Masrour Kizilbash sent the postcard to his family while working overseas in 1993. He told the newspaper that he was "fascinated with the area" and wanted to share his experiences.

Kizilbash's family was living in Springfield at the time. He always figured that they had received the postcard. With the help of social media, Draper learned that a son now lives in suburban Chicago. A reunion with the postcard is planned.

Officials say it got tied up in Hong Kong or might have been stuck in old equipment.


KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) — A curious visitor to a Maine train museum that resembled a white throw pillow or perhaps a lost toupee turned out to be a rare albino porcupine.

The young rodent turned up Tuesday at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, perplexing the staff, who sought help identifying it via social media. The consensus was it's an albino porcupine.

The Portland Press Herald reports the animal appeared to be a baby because its quills had not yet hardened. A spokeswoman for the museum said midday Wednesday that it hadn't yet been seen again, but it was assumed to be lurking in the area.

Porcupines are common in Maine, though albino ones certainly aren't. About one of every 10,000 of the species is an albino porcupine.


Julie Hecht is researching how humans play with their cats, and she needs your help.

The animal behavior scientist and PhD candidate at City University of New York is asking the public to send in videos of themselves playing with their feline friends within the comfort of their own homes.

Cats, being creatures of habit, are more affected by new environments, Hecht said. By sending in a video, Hecht is given the ability to see cats playing in places they are comfortable in, giving her genuine documentations of how these cats usually behave.

"Cats are definitely getting their day" says Hecht. "We have to study them and ask questions about them in ways that meet their needs, and that's why the online platform is really great".

Sending in a video is an example of "Citizen Science", a platform where ordinary people can help professionals and researchers like Hecht with their projects.

The specifics of the experiment's purpose need to be kept under wraps, so as not to affect participant behavior. In fact, the video accompanying this article could not even feature people playing with cats. Rest assured, Hecht's findings will not be used for crimes against felinity. Her goal is for humans to find ways "to better meet their animal's needs and enhance our relationship" with our pets.

Hecht has already received videos from all over the world, from as far away as Australia. "I love seeing the individual expression of each animal" says Hecht. In order to participate, you must be 18 years or older, and of course, have a cat. All you need to do is visit and send in a video of yourself and your cat playing together. After submitting, you are then asked to fill in a short questionnaire. Once Hecht completes her research, she plans to let participants know the nature and results of her study via email.

Until then, get out your cameras and give your cat the debut she's been asking for. Just make sure to submit before July 31st.


The New Jersey Devils' mascot is having a rough off-season after the NHL team failed to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

A person dressed as the team's mascot was working at a kid's fifth birthday party at Little Gym in Edison, New Jersey, last weekend, New Jersey 101.5 reported. As the children played a game of parachute the New Jersey Devil randomly decided to run toward a wall of windows.

Maybe the mascot thought it was the kind of glass used to protect fans from flying pucks. But this wasn't, and it shattered. Oops.

Twitter user Lawrence Chiu identified himself as the father of the boy celebrating his birthday. He wrote in a tweet that "no one was hurt and everyone had a great time."

But the Devils reached out on Twitter just in case:


July 18 (UPI) -- An unusual pair of long-haired cows in Illinois pulled off their second escape in three months and were found swimming in a lake.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office said the Scotch highland cattle, named Doris and Hilda, escaped from their home on a farm late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

The runaway cows were later found taking a dip in Lake Villa. The sheriff's office said they led deputies on a two-hour slow-speed chase that ended with the animals returning home voluntarily.

"It's no 'cowincidence' the cows've finally come home and are safely back in 'cowstody!' Our Deputies were very 'amoosed' on this one!" the sheriff's office tweeted.

The same two cows previously made headlines in May when they escaped and went for a trot down a busy road.


July 18 (UPI) -- The California Highway Patrol shared a photo of a mannequin used by an accused carpool lane cheater cited on the highway.

The CHP's Contra Costa Area division tweeted a photo of the dummy passenger, composed of a mannequin head, a wig and what appears to be stuffed clothing.

The CHP nicknamed the faux passenger "Angel."

"Angel didn't have much of a personality as a passenger when we met her this morning during our Carpool Enforcement on #hwy4," the tweet said. "She just oddly stared at us while we issued her chauffeur a ticket for carpool violation."


July 18 (UPI) -- Officials in a Michigan city said a resident was cited after their unusual pet -- an alligator -- escaped twice within two days.

The City of Owosso said police were called July 14 and 15 when a 4-foot alligator was spotted on the loose in the Hamblin Street area.

The Owosso Police Department and Shiawassee County Animal Control responded on both occasions and were able to return the alligator to its owner's home, where it had escaped from a cage.

The owner was issued a $75 citation for violating a city ordinance banning alligators from being kept as pets in the city.

Police said the owner, who is now keeping the alligator secured in his basement, is cooperating with officials and is seeking a new home for the animal at a sanctuary.

Owosso Police Chief Kevin Lenkart told police did not seize the gator "because we didn't know what to do with it, nor did animal control."

"This is mid-Michigan," Lenkart said. "There's not a lot of alligators around."