EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
The Osiligi Maasai Warrior choir, from Kenya, in ornate, mystifying native costumes and uncalled-for headdresses, happened to be touring the U.K. this fall, coinciding with the recent Paris Fashion Week in which the most celebrated designers from the “developed” world exhibited their wares, which often seemed as excessive as the Maasais’. Examples: Rei Kawakubo’s “Blood and Roses,” a red KKK-type swaddling robe with face-obscuring, pointy hood. Sarah Burton’s skirt of oversized petals, accessorized with skull cap and chin strap. Junya Watanabe’s dress with huge plastic puff sleeves of red and blue–and vinyl see-through helmet. Julie de Libran’s gown with earmuff-like chest coverings. The week ended with a street march of “Chanel girls” (most, Caucasian) dressed as garishly as the African Maasais. (Bonus: Some designers delightfully offered explanations of their often-inexplicable works.)
The Rural Municipality of Hanover, Manitoba, has prohibited alcohol sales for more than a century–or at least that’s what everyone in the community believed as recently as 2006 when the last attempt was made to repeal the ban (and failed by 30 votes). But town officials finally decided recently to research the prohibition (examining records back to 1880) and in July revealed, astonishingly, that no city bylaw exists making the town dry. At least one restaurateur is expected to start serving booze soon.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
In August, Katja Kipping, the leader of Germany’s largest opposition party (the liberal Die Linke), proposed to grant all welfare families a cash voucher of the equivalent of about $640 in order to allow each a summer vacation. “For me,” she said, “the holidays of my childhood are among the most beautiful memories,” and she is saddened that “3 million children this summer cannot experience what a holiday means.”
NEW WORLD ORDER
In September, Dr. Sean Perry of the Marathon (Florida) Veterinary Hospital saved the life of Buttercup, an orange tabby who needed blood–by giving him a transfusion from a West Palm Beach dog blood bank. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 62 cats have been known to receive such “xenotransfusions,” and cats are apparently the only animals (besides dogs) that can safely process dog blood.
When a van on official business for the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, accidentally hit Megan Campbell’s Nissan Pathfinder in August, Campbell, naturally, filed a claim against the city for the $1,900 damage–normally just a cost of business for a city and one of about 400 claims St. Paul has processed this year. However, the van happened to be driven by the same Megan Campbell, an employee of St. Paul Parks and Recreation, who apparently could not avoid hitting her own parked SUV. At press time, the city was investigating but expected to handle the claim as routine.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION
Pauline Chai and her estranged husband, Khoo Kay Peng (a Laura Ashley executive), are battling in a London courtroom in a very expensive divorce, with the current issue to determine whether the English judge has jurisdiction instead of courts in the couple’s native Malaysia. In the course of bringing the British judge up to date, Chai casually described how she has supported her husband’s relentless nature–by revealing that he would do copious amounts of work (for four hours at a time) at home while sitting on the toilet. Khoo “got backache there,” she said, “so I got the idea of [a] padded toilet seat” for him.
LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS
The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, revealed at an October conference in Chicago that even though his post-government income will be several times what he earned as Fed chairman, he was nonetheless rejected recently when he tried to refinance his Washington, D.C., home. Mortgage-lending is so highly computerized, he was told, dictated by formulas, that he apparently got caught in an algorithm. Despite a probably seven-figure book contract and six-figure public speeches, he is no longer “employed” in a steady job, which apparently caused a computer program to signal him as too risky.
CRIES FOR HELP
Victor Thompson, 46, arrested in St. Petersburg, Florida, in October for possession of the synthetic marijuana called Master Kush Spice (which he insisted is legal in his native New Hampshire), is apparently an out-of-control New England Patriots’ fan–having tattooed his entire bald head with a painstaking replica of quarterback Tom Brady’s helmet. The attention to detail is remarkable, including subtle add-ons such as the American flag, NFL logo and helmet manufacturer (“Riddell”). Not only is Brady’s “12” properly placed, so is the green dot identifying the “helmet” as radio-ready for messages from the sideline.
A DUCK WITH ISSUES
After days of looking weary and walking lopsidedly, “Ducka,” the pet muscovy, finally gave owner Vicki Hicks of Sydney, Australia, a clue to its behavior by coughing up a nail. Veterinarian Hamish Baron of the Avian Reptile and Exotic Animal Hospital ordered an X-ray, which revealed a small toolbox’s worth of nails, screws and washers in Ducka’s belly. The items had to be removed, one by one, in surgeries totaling five hours. Baron told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph in October that though birds are attracted to shiny objects, Ducka’s case was severe.