John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, zombies are banished in Siberia and Taiwan makes it legal to buy suicide materials.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
A JUMBO-SIZED PEE-WEE FOOTBALL PLAYER, IN TEXAS
A 12-year-old boy has been banned from his Dallas-area pee-wee football team because of his humongous, tanklike body. Elijah Earnheart's dreams of flinging pigskin with his age group were dashed after the Mesquite Pee Wee Football Association decided that his 6-foot-1-inch, 297-pound corpus would allow him to flatten smaller players like a bowling bowl rolling through a field of cupcakes. (The league's rules prohibit middle schoolers who weigh more than 135 pounds.) As many of his friends are on the roster of the Mesquite Vikings, the banishment has disheartened young Earnheart. "For him to come home and just cry and go to his room and say, ‘I give up.' I'm not going to let him give up. This is his dream,” said his mother, according to a local Fox affiliate. At least one supporter has given support to the heavyweight player on the Mesquite pee-wee football website. Writes in Lee Webb: “i think that allowing the booy to [play would and could help him lose weight that is absord everybody should boycott your league.”
ZOMBIES! IN SIBERIA
Omsk, a city of more than 1 million inhabitants in southwestern Siberia, is scared of zombies. Why else would it ban a parade of the undead, drool-dribbling moaners? The reasons given by the authorities are that the brain snackers didn't provide timely notice of Sunday's event and also that “the Zombie Parade contradicts the Russian Constitution and the Human Rights Declaration,” according to Mikhail Yakovlev, who was putting the frightful procession together. But Mikhail said that's B.S., because he talked with a government employee who told him the real reason: Religious leaders from the Orthodox Church and Muslim community had complained about the idea. The press secretary for the Omsk Eparchy admitted as much in this report from RT: "We said that a meeting with a person wearing a blood-stained dress may be harmful to children and the elderly. This way we expressed the opinion of a large number of our parishioners."
UNBANNED: SUICIDE BY CHARCOAL, IN TAIWAN
After New Taipei City made supermarkets and convenience stores stow their charcoal briquets out of sight, in May, the number of suicides in the metropolis declined "significantly," according to the China Post. But grilling season is coming up and, Hank Hill's viewpoint aside, that's hard to engage in without charcoal. So after weighing the ban's benefits to the public health against the smoky flavor of fire-roasted meats, the local government has decided to allow stores to openly sell charcoal all throughout September.
Suicide by charcoal, in which one sits in a closed room with a carbon-monoxide-spewing barbeque, might not be on the radar of most Westerners, but it's a method of suicide that's been getting more attention in Asia. A Hong Kong woman may have unwittingly kicked off the trend in 1998 after killing herself this way; the media coverage of her death seems to have made everyone aware of this suicide technique, and soon enough the practice had spread to Taiwan, mainland China and Japan. Whereas charcoal killings accounted for just 0.1 percent of suicides in 1991, by 2007 they made up more than a quarter, according to an academic study on the dismal matter. It's now the second-most common suicide method in Taiwan, as the periodic news report reminds us. This March, a jilted lover in Taipei expired while chatting with friends over Facebook. Claire Lin's last words were "Too late. My room is filled with fumes. I just posted another picture. Even while I'm dying, I still want FB (Facebook). Must be FB poison. Haha."