To support its December rate-increase request, the Connecticut utility Yankee Gas Services said it needs more money because too many of its customers have lowered their bills by heeding calls to conserve energy. And a November report commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce included the proposal that Congress replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund by imposing a special tax on gas-saving hybrid cars, in that those cars consume less fuel than regular cars and therefore pay less in gasoline tax.
In South Korea, which has the highest rate of high-speed Internet use in the world, more than one-third of the population plays video games, with the result an alarming number of obsessive gamers requiring counseling (and, so far, two deaths after, respectively, 50 and 86 straight hours of playing). According to an October Associated Press dispatch from Seoul, at the many Internet cafes, gamers “typically live on instant [noodles] and cigarettes, barely sleeping and seldom washing.” Video games are also a spectator sport: Three cable channels show matches, and the government is building an electronic-sports “stadium,” where competitions will be shown on big screens.
MAN WITH A PLAN
Andrew Uitvlugt, candidate for mayor of Kelowna, British Columbia, proposed in November to coax drug addicts into public jobs, such as trash collection, by rewarding them with crack cocaine, on the theory that the work would be so fulfilling that they would ultimately decline the drugs. He finished fourth out of five candidates.
MORE WEIRD ANIMAL MATING HABITS
In September, scientists from the Institute of Marine Research in Vigo, Spain, described, for likely the first time, the probable mating ritual of giant squid (which are typically 50 feet long, with eight legs and two tentacles, living in the blackness of the ocean a mile down). Based on examining five squid stranded on a beach in Spain, they posited that the larger female could rather easily resist the male, whose 8-foot-long, hypodermic needle-like penis is wielded so clumsily that he could mistakenly inseminate another passing male, or his own tentacle.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
In New Braunfels, Texas, in November, Robert Villarreal, 34, was sentenced to 50 years in prison after he sold drugs to the same undercover officer for the third time in a 14-year period. He had actually argued “entrapment,” claiming that for the first sale, in 1988, he was so young that he shouldn’t be expected to remember later what the officer looked like.
THIS WEEK IN SCAMS
A 50-year-old dentist in Amsterdam, Netherlands, received only a suspended sentence in November for a scheme in which he had chopped off a finger but then staged a car accident to claim the equivalent of about $2.2 million for the finger-maiming under his auto policy. Also in November, a 35-year-old man in St. Johann, Austria, was arrested for trying to claim the equivalent of about $1.17 million in insurance based on his severed finger, from a bicycle injury, when, according to police, he had actually placed his finger on a rail and let a train run over it. MTW