Apartment buyers in ridiculously expensive Hong Kong are now eagerly paying up to the equivalent of $500,000 (U.S.) for units not much bigger than a U.S. parking space (and typically physically self-measured by the applicant’s wing-span). An agent told The Wall Street Journal in June that, for example, standard furniture does not fit the units and that having guests over requires sitting on the window sill. The Journal pointed out that a typical such “mosquito” apartment unit in Hong Kong is 180 square feet, way smaller than the 304 of a basketball court’s “lane” subject to a “3-second” violation. A government lottery for subsidized units rewards barely one of every 100 applicants.
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
In May, Texas health officials shut down the flea market sales of sonogram DVDs at Leticia Trujillo’s stall at San Antonio’s Traders Village. Though the nature of the equipment was not described in news reports, sonograms can be produced only under a doctor’s prescription and by licensed personnel, but pregnant flea market customers underwent a procedure (“just like a doctor’s office,” said Trujillo) that yielded a 12-minute DVD image, along with photos, for $35–that Trujillo subsequently defended as for “entertainment” purposes only and for those without health insurance.
According to Nathan Hoffman’s lawsuit, he was prepped for eye surgery that day in May 2014 when the clinic employee handed him a small-lettered liability-limitation form to sign. He was told that the surgery at the LASIK Vision Institute in Lake Oswego, Oregon, could not proceed without a signature, and despite hazy vision, he reluctantly relented, but things went badly. The form limits lawsuit damages to a money-back $2,500, but Hoffman demands at least $7,500 (to cover the so-far two additional surgeries elsewhere to correct LVI’s alleged errors).
WAR IS ALL HELL
Some jihadists who have traveled to Syria to join ISIS have complained recently (according to a Radio Free Europe dispatch) that they cannot secure work as “martyrs” because of discrimination by incumbent fighters. One “pro-ISIS” cleric, speaking for Chechens, said they “are so fed up with the long waiting lists in Syria” that they head to Iraq, where the lists are shorter. Said one, Saudis controlling suicide rosters in the Syrian theater “won’t let anyone in.” Their “relatives go to the front of the line using [their connections].”
SEXUAL ASSAULTERS’ DEFENSE LEAGUE
In April, Judge Marc Kelly in Orange County, California, defied a 25-year-minimum statutory sentence for punishing the sexual abuse of a three-year-old girl by Kevin Rojano–cutting the term to 10 years because the man did not “intend to harm” the girl (except that he became “inexplicably” “aroused” when she walked into his garage). “There was no violence or callous disregard for [her] well-being,” the judge said.
THE CONTINUING CRISIS
America (sometimes called a land of “second chances”) gave stockbroker Jerry Cicolani Jr., 69 such chances, before he pleaded guilty in May to selling unregistered securities–setting up his first overt punishment despite a history of 60-some client complaints made to his then-employer, Merrill Lynch, between 1991 and 2010. The stockbrokers’ self-regulating arm (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) has finally revoked his license, but issued a statement acknowledging that it needed to improve its monitoring.
Corey Huddleston, 52, apparently having taken a fancy to a teenage girl in Dickson, Tennessee, in May, knocked on her family’s front door, according to police, then pushed his way in, asked for cigarettes and beer, “touched himself” inappropriately, asked about the girl, and then reluctantly departed. But he merely went to a back window of a darkened bedroom, climbed inside and fondled a sleeping figure in bed, whom he likely assumed was the girl–but it was the girl’s father, who later confessed that he called the police only after resisting the impulse to kill Huddleston. Police said Huddleston’s rap sheet shows more than 100 charges.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Notwithstanding the suggestion in movies, stealing a 200-pound floor model safe is a very low-return crime, as the February arrest of three pals in Kingsport, Tennessee, illustrated. After struggling to load the safe into a car’s trunk (accidentally shattering the back window), they drove to one’s apartment, but police were called when neighbors saw the safe being dragged across a parking lot in the middle of the night. (During the trip, it fell onto one perp’s foot.) Police, following gouge marks, visited the apartment and spotted the safe, as yet unopened, in the middle of the kitchen. (Police: Why do you gentlemen have a safe? Perp: We found it in an alley.) Police opened it. It was empty.
Among caterpillars’ natural defenses against being devoured by birds is their ability to contort themselves into odd shapes for disguise–perhaps most ingeniously (according to researchers writing in the current Animal Behaviour journal) as bird droppings. The authors created artificial dough-based squiggles that were either straight (resembling the caterpillar) or bent (to resemble poop), and found that birds zeroed in on the straight ones about three times as often.