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Computer Sending Swooning Porkers to Hog Heaven

March 06, 1986|JENNINGS PARROTT

--It doesn't take much to make Doug Johnson's pigs feel relaxed and loved--just a computer voice saying in a Swedish accent: "I think I'd swoon if you allowed me to kiss your limpid umbrella." The coquettish computer came to Johnson's farm near Fairfield, Iowa, to spend an hour talking to his pigs. "If a happy hog is a healthy hog then, in theory, he should gain faster, and that's dollars to me," Johnson said, explaining why he agreed to the experiment set up by Fairfield Software. The software company brought its "Babble 123" program and then turned the gentle, male voice loose to coo sweet nonsense at the pigs. "My mind and heart are always crowded by visions of your coy elbows," the voice said to the 55-pound, 13- to 14-week-old cross-bred pigs. "I like to fondle your sleeveless fur coat," it continued. The pink and gray pigs reacted by scampering around their pen, playfully chewing on reporters' coats and camera tripods, and eating as usual. "I find this absolutely amazing," said observer Nelda Palmer, a sociologist. "I think it's a success," farmer Johnson said. "The pigs have been very congenial and cooperative with the press. A few of them even gave personal interviews." But, Johnson said seriously, "one of the real reasons I got involved in this is there's so much doom and gloom in agriculture today, I thought this would be a different approach, something that would put a smile on people's faces."

--He had been the frigate HMS Brazen's helicopter pilot for two years and had served in the 1982 Falklands war with Argentina and was ready to move on, so his shipmates formed a chorus line and serenaded Prince Andrew with "I'm the King of the Swingers." The prince strode down the gangplank at Plymouth, England, got into his Jaguar and roared off for shore leave and adventure before starting a two-month training course at Greenwich Naval College.

--Five days after being sentenced for aiding in the cultivation of 1,600 marijuana plants, the Goshen, Vt., town clerk was reelected to the $1,000-a-year post by six votes (37 to 31) on Town Meeting Day. Anna Marie Tonzini, 33, received a 90-day suspended sentence for aiding in the cultivation of marijuana. "I'm very pleased," Tonzini said. "It is encouraging the townspeople had faith in me." Tonzini was arrested after a police raid on her farm turned up the plants and an armed guard with an assault rifle. Vermont is one of a few states that allows convicted felons to vote and run for office.

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