Apartment buyers in ridiculously expensive Hong Kong are now paying up to the equivalent of $500,000 (U.S.) for units not much bigger than a U.S. parking space (the “mosquito” apartments are typically 180 square feet). 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. 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 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, Ore., could not proceed without a signature, and despite hazy vision, he 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 two surgeries elsewhere to correct the clinic’s alleged errors).

The continuing crisis

The United States (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.

Weird science

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 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.

Least competent criminals

Notwithstanding the suggestion in movies, stealing a 200-pound safe is a very low-return crime, as the February arrest of three pals in Kingsport, Tenn., 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 visited the apartment and spotted the safe, as yet unopened. (Police: Why do you gentlemen have a safe? Perp: We found it in an alley.) Police opened it. It was empty.

A memorable proposal

Kenya’s the Standard reported the May proclamation by prominent Nairobi lawyer Felix Kiprono that he had fallen in love (long distance) with Malia Obama (who is, reputedly, part-Kenyan) and is prepared to offer President Obama 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats in exchange for her hand. “If my request is granted,” he said, he would not “resort to the cliché of popping champagne” but rather would “surprise (Malia) with mursik, the traditional Kalenjin sour milk,” and affix the “sacred plant,” sinendet, queen-like, around her head.


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