After sweating through the kid's eyebrow wax, Engle was directed to give her pint-size [8 year old] client a bikini wax. [...] As Engle talks, my head floods with images of breaking this poor young munchkin out of the clutches of her surely nipped-and-tucked mother, to let her grow old and hairy under my prudish wing. "But... there's nothing there, right?" I ask Engle. "I mean, at eight? Am I forgetting something?"
"Nope," she says. "There's not. Doesn't matter. That's when the mothers are starting them these days."
[...] "I've actually been joking that I'm going to write a book called Where Has All the Pubic Hair Gone?" Janice Hillman, a doctor in the Penn Health System at Radnor who specializes in adolescent medicine, tells me. "It's such a rarity to find it these days in 10- and 12-year-old girls, and older girls. I need to check for it at that age -- it's an indicator of puberty and development, how much there is, where it's growing. And now, I need to ask girls, if it's not there, `Do you wax? Do you shave?' Because so many of them do."
Known as the CardioArm, the curved robot has a series of joints that automatically adjust to follow the course plotted by the robot's head. This provides greater precision than a flexible endoscope can offer. "It's certainly easier to control," says Robert Webster III, a professor at Vanderbilt University who works on flexible medical probes and was not involved in the CardioArm project.
The CardioArm is operated using a computer and a joystick. It has 102 degrees of freedom, three of which can be activated at once. This allows it to enter through a single point in the chest and wrap around the heart until it reaches the right spot to, say, remove problematic tissue. "The nice thing about [the] design is that each joint follows where you went in space.
In November, 1989, Representatives James A. Hayes, of Louisiana, and Jim Kolbe, of Arizona, having had just about enough of all this, introduced the Price Rounding Act. Its purpose was to phase out the penny by requiring that all cash transactions be rounded to the nearest five cents. The bill was actively opposed by Americans for Common Cents, a lobbying organization that had been founded specifically to defeat the legislation. A.C.C.'s main funding came from Jarden Zinc Products, which is one of the nation's largest producers of zinc, and which has supplied the U.S. Mint with penny planchets since 1982. [...]
Coinstar charges most of its customers 8.9 per cent of any amount they feed into a machine. The fact that consumers happily pay this considerable fee suggests that they wouldn't be bothered by the vastly smaller penalty that rounding to the nearest nickel might entail. Of course, eliminating cents would also eliminate the middleman -- in this case Coinstar, which annually processes about forty billion coins, more than half of which are pennies. Not surprisingly, therefore, Coinstar has been an advocate of preserving pennies. Since 1998, the company has conducted an annual currency poll, which always shows that Americans still love pennies and would prefer to continue getting rid of them by collecting them for months or years and then paying Coinstar to put them back into circulation, instead of getting rid of them once and for all by having the Mint stop making them.
See also The Megapenny Project.