Obsessed executives have always taken business home at night, but increasingly they take it into the bathroom, with laptop computers, high-speed connections, flat-panel televisions and speaker phones, according to a February Wall Street Journal report. Said one, “I’m beside myself when I can’t get my e-mails.” But there are problems, e.g., “sound-chamber” sound (the hollow voice created by typical bathroom acoustics usually gives away one’s location) and the “BlackBerry dunk.” One Houston repair shop saying it gets a half-dozen jobs a day of portable devices accidentally dropped into the sink or tub, “or worse.”
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
In January, a police SWAT officer in Fairfax, Va., accidentally shot and killed an unarmed optometrist on whom the swarming team was serving an arrest warrant for suspicion of gambling. In April 2005, a SWAT team arrested 24 community poker players in Palmer Lake, Colo., but at least there were no casualties. In October 1998, a passive but startled security guard was killed by a SWAT team moving in on a club in Virginia Beach, Va., suspected of housing gambling.
Australia’s Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, announced in December that terrorist suspects being held under house arrest would routinely be sent to anger management classes, to help them address their alienation. And in December, a 75-unit apartment house opened in Seattle, funded by grants from the local, state and federal governments, as free housing for what the city considers its most incorrigible drunks, on the theory that keeping an eye on them would be less costly than leaving them free to cause mischief and overuse emergency rooms.
TAX BUREAUCRATS GONE WILD!
In December, a self-employed market analyst in Chimacum, Wash., requested from the IRS a copy of the 2003 Form 1040 and instructions, so he could revise an old tax return, and three weeks later received instead two shipments totaling 48,000 copies of 2005 Form 1040 and instructions. And tax officials in Valparaiso, Ind., admitted in February that they mistakenly valued one house at $400 million (though its previous assessment was $121,900), and even though they recomputed the owner’s bill, they failed to erase from the city budget the $8 million in tax revenue they were expecting from the property, including $3 million that they had already disbursed.
With Clinton Dearman about to be sentenced for burglary and assault in Christchurch, New Zealand, in January, his lawyer asked for sympathy. Dearman had been surprised mid-burglary by his victims, who were all seniors who proceeded to beat Dearman up and hog-tie him (a photo of which made the newspapers). Thus, the lawyer said, Dearman had become a “laughingstock” among prisoners and would “never be able to hold his head up in criminal company again.” And in January, Alexis du Pont de Bie Sr., 62, who grew up in a du Pont family mansion and inherited $7 million, filed a lawsuit in New York City accusing his estate’s trustees of mismanagement that has reduced his wealth to $2 million and necessitated a cut in his allowance to $3,000 a month, making him, he said, “literally destitute and homeless.” MTW