IT PAYS TO FAIL
The enormous compensation CEOs of large corporations receive is justified in part by their bringing prosperity to their shareholders, but last year (an excellent one for most investors), two of the nation’s best-paid chief executives “earned” handsome raises despite presiding over losses: Philippe Dauman of Viacom Inc. (paid $44.3 million, stock lost 6.6 percent) and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (an 88 percent raise to $37.3 million, stock lost 6.7 percent). CEO Steven Newman of Transocean earned only $14.2 million, according to a June Wall Street Journal report, but that was a 2.2 percent boost–for stewardship that resulted in one of 2014’s biggest flops–Transocean’s 59.9 percent loss for its shareholders.
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
The Japanese, especially, report a decline of intimacy (for instance, a recent estimate found that about a quarter of 30-year-olds had never had sex with another person)–convenient for a Kyoto research institute’s announcement in June that it had developed a huggable, human-sized, featureless pillow (resembling Casper the Friendly Ghost), with skin-like texture, to serve as an embraceable intimacy substitute. For people with actual lovers, the “Hugvie” (retailing for the equivalent of $80) has a mouth slot for a cellphone to enable running sweet talk with a remote “companion.”
REDNECK MARKETING CHALLENGES
Scotty and Beverly Franklin of Springfield, Missouri, are trying to tempt cowboys to actually wear leather boots retrofitted to be open-toed sandals. KHOU-TV (Houston) reported that the Franklins would sandal-up your favorite pair for $75. And one of the more reviled consumer products of 2015 is a gun-shaped iPhone case, which so alarms police that it suddenly in early July became hard to find, even at the online Japan Trend Shop, which previously offered models from $5 to $49. Asked one officer, “Why would you want to make yourself look like a threat [to cops]?”
In a recent BBC documentary, the son of renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking (Tim, now 36) revealed that his dad is “hugely competitive” and showed him “no compassion at all” when he was growing up. Tim said two of his few avenues of coping with such a famous, oblivious father were when he used to race around in his dad’s specialized (and expensive) wheelchair (pretending it was a go-kart) and, for those deliciously awkward moments, adding cuss words to his father’s synthesized speech software.
LATEST RELIGIOUS MESSAGES
Jihadists governing ISIS’ Euphrates province recently outlawed the popular hobby of breeding pigeons and threatened violators with flogging and imprisonment. The ban was initially thought to be aimed at frustrating pigeon-messaging to the outside world, but the published prohibition mentions other justifications–the hobby’s frivolity (wasting time that could better be spent praying) and the special offense to God (because pigeons are “uncovered,” with exposed genitals).
GOD IS LOVE
In a June YouTube video reported by various news sites, Tempe, Arizona, pastor Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist Church) prayed for God to “rip out the heart” of Caitlyn Jenner, for whom Anderson expresses “a perfect hatred” for announcing she was no longer Bruce. And on his 700 Club TV program in June, Pat Robertson patiently explained to a grieving mother why God could have allowed her three-year-old son to die of illness–that God saw the big picture and knew, for instance, that the kid could have become a serial killer or contracted a hideous disease, and that she should be relieved that God took him early.
A 79-year-old woman in Markgroeningen, Germany, hit a ditch coming down a hill and flipped through a wall into the second floor of a storage depot, resulting in only minor injuries (June). Also, a woman driving 100 mph on a freeway near Leicester, England, lost control of her car, which somehow wound up in a tree about 20 feet above the roadway. She and a passenger climbed down and walked away (May). And a car speeding over a ramp sailed off a road in Durban, South Africa, crashing back-end-first through the roof of a one-story home, resting with the front end pointing straight up. Neither driver nor resident was hurt (July).
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Gary Elliott, 19, was arrested shortly after someone had ripped a hole in the ceiling of Al’s Army Navy store in Orlando, Florida, and–expertly shimmying down a rope, then back up–made off with about 70 guns in a bag. (“It must be Spider-Man,” was proprietor Neal Crasnow’s first thought.) But minutes after the burglary, Elliott came to a police officer’s attention on the street, bleeding, carrying the large bag–and pedaling away on his “getaway” vehicle, a tricycle.n