The website/smartphone app Airbnb, launched in 2008, connects travelers seeking lodging with individuals offering private facilities at certain prices. About a year ago, entrepreneur Travis Laurendine launched a similar smartphone app, Airpnp, to connect people walking around select cities and needing access to a toilet, listing residents who make their utilities available, with description and price. Laurendine told the New York Post in January that New York City is a promising market (although his two best cities are New Orleans and Antwerp, Belgium). The prices vary from free to $20, and the facilities range from a sweet-smelling room stocked with reading material to a barely maintained toilet (with no lavatory), but, said one supplier, sometimes people “really need to go, and this will have to do.”

Government in action

Kentucky, one of America’s financially worse-off states, annually spends $2 million of taxpayer money on salaries and expenses for 41 “jailers” who have no jails to manage. Research by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in January noted that Kentucky’s constitution requires “elected” jailers, notwithstanding that 41 counties have shut down their jails and house detainees elsewhere via contracts with sheriffs. (Although the jailers may be called upon to transport prisoners from time to time, the 41 counties are mostly small ones with few detainees.) Several jailers have full-time “side” jobs; one jail-less jailer employs five deputies, while another has 11 part-timers.

A.K. Verma was an “assistant executive engineer” working for India’s central public works department in 1990 with 10 years on the job when he went on leave — and had still not returned by the end of 2014, when the government finally fired him. He had submitted numerous requests for extensions during the ensuing 24 years, but all were denied, although no agency or court managed to force him back to work. (India’s bureaucracy is generally acknowledged to be among the most dysfunctional in Asia.)

Ironies

After a heavy snowstorm in Frankfort, Ky. (the state capital), in November, with many absences reported, the state labor policy agency (called the Labor Cabinet) was among the agencies needing snow removal at its headquarters more promptly than overworked cleanup crews could provide. A call was circulated for volunteers to go outside and shovel snow, but that job was apparently too laborious for the labor agency; there was only one taker.

The Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times), reeling financially as many newspapers are, pledged several properties it owns (including its downtown headquarters) to borrow $30 million last year from a distressed-property lender and now announces an intention to pay back that loan by selling the properties. As reported by the local St. Petersblog website, the sore-thumb loan was almost exactly the amount the Times paid in 2002 for “naming rights” to the Tampa concert-and-hockey venue, the Ice Palace (which is now Amalie Arena). Thus, St. Petersblog wrote, “do the math,” concluding that the Tampa Bay Times was pressured to sell its own headquarters building in order to pay for the 12-year privilege of being able to name someone else’s building.

Recurring themes

Rose Ann Bolasny, 60, of Great Neck, N.Y., last year created a trust fund for her 3-year-old Maltese (dog), Bella Mia, that will allow spending $100,000 a year on fashions and spa treatments so that Bolasny can pamper “the daughter I never had.” Bella Mia reportedly has 1,000 outfits in her custom-made walk-in closet, including ballgown, along with diamond and pearl jewelry, and she sleeps on her own double bed. Previous News of the Weird reports of ridiculously rich dogs involved inheritances, but Bolasny still lives with her husband and has two adult sons (who are said to be fine with their mother’s intention to will Bella Mia a house in Florida if she outlives Bolasny and her 82-year-old husband).

 

Read News of the Weird daily at www.weirduniverse.net. Send items to weirdnews@earthlink.net.