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Strange but true
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The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

(1) A Japanese clothing manufacturer, Kochou-fuku, announced in August a line of air-conditioned shirts, with two tiny battery-operated fans inside to evaporate perspiration (for the equivalent of about $95). (One drawback: The shirt billows out, suggesting that the wearer is overweight.) (2) Among the recent recipients of Marin County (Calif.) Green Business certificates of environmental awareness was Pleasures of the Heart, a sex-toy and lingerie store that sells, among other items, rechargeable vibrators and erotic undergarments made of organic bamboo fabric.

Frontiers of Science

Noted Israeli plastic surgeon Eyal Gur said in August that he expects approval next year for his revolutionary breast-lift procedure (“an internal bra”) in which an actual thin titanium bra-like frame is implanted just under the skin with silicone cups to hold the breasts up. Dr. Gur said the procedure will be quicker (40 minutes long), less invasive (local anesthesia only) and less expensive (no hospital stay) than today’s breast lifts.

Voices: Last year, William McCartney-Moore, 9, was rushed to the hospital in York, England, following a seizure and, after surgery, was mute for several weeks, until he finally spoke, not in his strong “Yorkshire” accent but in “the Queen’s English” as his mother described it (though his accent returned shortly). The outcome was similar for Czech race-car driver Matej Kus, 18, who was knocked out cold in a UK speedway accident in September, only to awaken speaking not in his habitually broken English, but with flawless diction. (His new “dialect” lasted only a few days, and Kus says that he remembers none of it.)

Endangered! (1) Biologists who have been studying “Lonesome George,” the sole survivor of a species of Galapagos Island tortoises, told Reuters News Service in July that they are skeptical he will ever mate, even though he may live another 100 years. After so many abortive attempts to pair him with a female (even having randy young male and female tortoises demonstrate mating for him), they say George remains totally uninterested. (2) And in Australia, a turtle species named in 1990 for Steve Irwin is now thought to be growing endangered, according to an Australian Associated Press dispatch in August. The “Elseya irwini” is one of a few turtles that respirate through their excretory openings.

Britain’s Housing Crises

(1) Alex Baker, 96, told London’s Daily Mail in May that he is very happy to have lived all his life in the same Portsmouth house in which he was born (although the neighborhood has certainly changed a lot since 1911). (2) David and Jean Davidson, who are retired and own an apartment in Sheffield, told the Daily Mail in September that they’ve actually been living at a TraveLodge motel for the last 22 years because they prefer the simplicity. (And of course during a holiday in the U.S., the Davidsons made sure to stay at TraveLodges.)

Leading Economic Indicators

Contrary Thinking: (1) Three U.S. finance professors, working with business data provided to the government of Denmark, concluded that a company’s profitability usually falls following a death in the CEO’s immediate family. However, the professors found (according to a September Wall Street Journal report), that profitability slightly increased if the family death was that of the CEO’s mother-in-law. (2) The Tata Group, a Mumbai, India, company that handles customer-service calls for several U.S. firms, has outsourced some of its work to a firm in Ohio (according to an August Fortune magazine report), on behalf of a client that insists on operators knowledgeable about American geography.

The makers of Veet Hair Removal Cream sponsored a survey this year for people to vote on which celebrity female has the sexiest walk and, to lend the promotion some respectability, hired Cambridge University professor Richard Weber to explain a strut’s sexiness via measurable physical characteristics. Weber eventually quit the project, according to a September report in London’s Guardian, in part because Veet named Jessica Alba No. 1 when the results he saw showed Angelina Jolie the winner. Weber used such calculations as waist-to-hip and thigh-to-calf ratios to explain Jolie’s apparent success: Jolie’s “slightly larger waist may give her the torso strength with which to produce a better angular swing and bounce to the hips than (smaller) stars such as Eva Longoria (and Alba).”

Fine Points of the Law

Frederick Cronin is challenging the suspension of his New Hampshire driver’s license, claiming that his blood-alcohol reading (0.13) was not properly obtained. State law calls for two readings, with the second 20 minutes after the first, and Cronin claims that his second test was administered too soon. During the 20-minute period, he said, he had burped, and state law requires the 20-minute delay to restart following any “vomit[ing], regurgitat[ing] or belch[ing.” However, in June, a hearing examiner accepted the ticketing officer’s testimony that Cronin never “belch[ed]” but rather emitted only a “dry burp,” which the examiner described as air emanating not from the stomach but from closer to the mouth.

People With Issues

Convicted sex offender Paul D. Brunelle-Apley, 26, was arrested again, in Madison Township, Ohio, in September, when his attempt to make up with his 14-year-old girlfriend came to public attention. According to police, Brunelle-Apley was seeing another girl on the side (age 15), and in a display of remorse, he delivered flowers and a teddy bear to his main girlfriend while she was in class at Madison High.

Least Competent Criminals

According to police in Warsaw, Poland, novelist Krystian Bala might have gotten away with torturing and murdering a businessman in 2000 if only he had resisted writing about his crime in his 2003 novel, “Amok.” The trail for the killer had been cold for several years until a tipster informed police of the book. In the plot, which authorities say bore a distinct resemblance to the 2000 murder, were details that police say could only have been known by the killer. After investigating, police found several other ties Bala had to the crime, including the fact that the victim was Bala’s ex-wife’s lover. Bala was sentenced in September to 25 years in prison.

Recurring Themes

Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Small-time drug operators, thinking they are keeping a low profile, continue to have their hideouts inadvertently discovered by police. In June, a single-engine plane crash-landed outside a home near Baton Rouge, La., and responding police discovered marijuana plants in the yard. In September in Escatawpa, Miss., Curtiss Coleman, 53, attempting to dial 411 directory assistance, mistakenly dialed 911, though he immediately hung up. However, police routinely investigate dropped-911 calls and discovered Coleman’s methamphetamine lab.