LEAD STORY: In findings that could surely be matched in the United States, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reported in January that the country's 100 highest-paid business executives had, by 9:46 a.m. on Jan. 2, earned an amount equal to what the average Canadian would earn in all of 2007. And the New York Times reported in December that Wall Street bonuses for 2006 were so large that one real estate broker complained at New York City's shortage of $20 million properties and a Greenwich, Conn., Ferrari dealer complained that Ferrari hadn't manufactured enough 599 GTB Fioranos (price: about $250,000) to fill his customers' orders.
Science on the Cutting Edge: Don Karkos heroically regained sight in his right eye in November after 65 years. A 1941 Navy submarine explosion had knocked him out, and doctors had told him many times that he would never see with that eye again, but Karkos, 82 (a retired horse farmer who works as a security guard at New York's Monticello Raceway), was butted in the head by a horse in November and awoke the next day with sight regained. He told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., in December that the blow he took from My Buddy Chimo was even harder than the one from the concussion.
Science Gone Too Far: A December New York Times dispatch reports that among the hottest social status symbols in Tokyo is the cute-but-bizarre dog created by inbreeding, such as a blue Chihuahua or a white dachshund. However, inbreeding also produces a high number of deformities, and to get that dachshund, for example, the litter of five contained four dogs with almost unspeakably gross birth defects. Nonetheless, because of demand, dog inbreeding continues. And a Nottingham University professor warned in January that farmers are now at work in the United Kingdom breeding "stress" and "hostility" out of pigs and cows to make them more obedient en route to the slaughterhouse. The professor said the goal of such breeders is to create animal "vegetables."
Leading Economic Indicators: 1) Employees at Wal-Mart's headquarters in China have set up a branch of the Communist Party, according to a December Associated Press dispatch, to go with five existing branches at individual stores (but the party said it would not interfere with Wal-Mart management). 2) Outsourcing of American jobs recently reached a new category of corporate employees: lawyers. An estimated 23,000 lawyers' jobs were lost in the United States last year to India, where document review and legal research can be performed at about half the cost as in America, according to a December story in the News Journal of Wilmington, Del.
In what one reporter termed "a culture clash of near-epic proportions," Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist (the mostly free online advertising website), told a gathering of head-shaking, befuddled Wall Street analysts in December that his company had no intention of raising more money than necessary to cover expenses, much less of maximizing income (even though many analysts believe investors might pay $1 billion or more for the company).
Signs of the Times: 1) About one-fifth of professional rodeo bull riders have given up their cowboy hats and now wear modified hockey helmets with face masks because of the prevalence of serious injuries. Said one diehard, though, "I don't wear a cowboy hat because I'm a bull rider. I wear a cowboy hat because I'm a cowboy." 2) London's Observer reported in November that several UNICEF offices worldwide have complained to U.N. headquarters that celebrities endorsing the charity's work have demoralized the staff because traveling celebrities are so high-maintenance when they arrive to "help" and also because some companies making donations (for example, Gucci) are owned by parent companies whose factories exploit Third World children more than the donations help.
At least 30 Texas death-row inmates have pages on dating websites, according to a November Associated Press report, and the murderers usually describe themselves in cuddly terms. Wrote convicted cop-killer Randy Halprin, "I think I'm a pretty funny guy. I have a wacked [sic] sense of humor. I can be a big kid at heart. I'm a hopeless (and I mean hopeless) romatic [sic]."
Least Competent Criminals: Police in Chesterfield Township, Mich., arrested Calvin Fluckes Jr., 21, in December after he tried to cash a counterfeit check for $848 at a Wal-Mart. Fluckes was apparently oblivious of the approximately 80 uniformed police officers who were in the store for a charity event and whose cruisers Fluckes had to pass when he parked his car in the Wal-Mart lot. According to a police lieutenant, "[Fluckes] was immediately apprehended."
Marshall Byers, 28, was arrested in Everett, Wash., in December, and charged with the attempted murder of his estranged wife's boyfriend (who was treated for five knife wounds). According to prosecutors, Byers was surprised at the "attempted" charge. Allegedly, he told a detective, "What? I thought I stuck him like a pig. What do you mean, he's alive?"
Armed and Clumsy (all-new): The following uncoordinated people accidentally shot themselves recently, having chosen to carry their gun not in a holster but in the waistband of their pants: Manranzana Grimes, 16 (Canton, Ohio, September) (shot himself in the leg); a 23-year-old man (Wichita, Kan., November) (shot himself in the testicles); Gregory Quinn, 49 (Lewistown, Pa., November) (in the leg when removing his gun while driving); Evando Minor (Baltimore, November) (in the genitals while drawing his gun to rob a taxi driver).
© 2007 CHUCK SHEPHERD
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