Girl Scout Charlotte McCourt, 11, of South Orange, N.J., saw her cookie sales zoom recently when she posted brutally honest reviews of the Scouts’ cookies she was selling. She gave none of them a 10, and labeled some with harsh descriptions. She’d been hoping to sell 300 boxes; as of the end of January, she’d sold 16,430. The best-selling cookie was the Samoa, which she’d rated 9. Longtime favorites like the Trefoil (“boring”) rated 6 and the Do-Si-Do (“bland”) 5. She described the new Toffee-tastic as a “bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland.”
Applicants for passports in Switzerland are evaluated in part by neighbors of the applicant. Animal-rights campaigner Nancy Holten, 42, was rejected in January because townspeople view her as obnoxious and possessing a “big mouth.” Among Holten’s “sins” was her constant criticism of the country’s hallowed fascination with cowbells, which make, according to Holten, “hundred-decibel, pneumatic-drill”-type sounds.
Can’t Possibly Be True
Zachary Bennett and Karen Nourse have found Manhattan quite affordable because, for six years now, they have not paid the $4,750 monthly rent on their loft-style apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood. They cite New York state’s “loft law,” which they say technically forbids the landlord from collecting rent. For some reason, the landlord has declined to sue for back rent.
Unclear On The Concept
— Late last year, Oxford University professor Joshua Silver accused Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd of a hate crime because the secretary had made a speech urging that unemployed Britons be given preference over people recruited from overseas for jobs. Silver denounced this “discrimination” against “foreigners” and made a formal complaint to West Midlands police, which, after evaluation, absolved Secretary Rudd. The police said that under the law they were required to record the secretary’s unemployment speech as a “non-crime hate incident.”
— The British Medical Assoc. (BMA) cautioned its staff not to use the term “expectant mothers” because it might offend transgender people. Instead, the association suggested using the term “pregnant people.” The BMA acknowledged that a “large majority” of such people are, in fact, “mothers,” but wrote that there may be “intersex” and “trans men” who could also get pregnant.
Update From Big Porn
In its annual January rundown, the colossus PornHub.com, reported its sites had 23 billion visits in 2016. (About a fourth were from females.) Its videos were viewed 91 billion times. In all, people spent 4.6 billion hours — or 5.2 centuries — watching PornHub’s inventory. USA took home the gold for the most page views per capita, just beating Iceland. Online visitors from the Philippines remained on the sites the longest per visit. The top search term on PornHub from U.S. computers was “step mom.”
Leading Economic Indicators
— In 2001, Questcor Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to make Acthar Gel, a hormone injection to treat a rare form of infantile epilepsy. It gradually raised the price from $40 a vial to $28,000 a vial. The British company Mallinckrodt bought Questcor in 2014; it raised the price to $34,000 a vial. However, the Federal Trade Commission noticed that Mallinckrodt also bought out and closed down the only company manufacturing a similar, cheaper version of the product, thus ensuring that Mallinckrodt had totally cornered the market. In January, the FTC announced that Mallinckrodt agreed to a $100 million settlement of the agency’s charge of illegal anti-competitive practices. That $100 million is only slightly more than the cost of giving one vial to each infant expected to need it in the next year.
In January, Texas district judge Patrick Garcia was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after a dispute outside the courthouse in El Paso. An April trial date was set for Garcia, who was accused of giving the finger to another judge.
In January, while he was driving a stolen truck, Jesse Denton, 24, tried to flee police on Interstate 95 near Brunswick, Ga. He accidentally crashed head-on into another vehicle. Seconds later, Denton ran across the highway to escape the crash scene. But as he ran, he was fatally hit by another motorist.
Almost An Undignified Death
A 37-year-old Saanich, B.C., man nearly bled out before being rescued after a parking-rage blunder. Angered that another driver had parked too close to his own car, he grabbed a knife and stabbed a tire on the other vehicle with such force that when the compressed air blew out of the tire, he wound up slashing the main artery in his leg.
A News Of The Weird Classic
The Washington Post reported in April, 2013, that the federal government spends $890,000 a year on fees for more than 13,000 short-term accounts the government owns that have no money in them and will never have money in them. However, merely closing the accounts is difficult, according to the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. Each one previously housed funds for a particular separate government grant. Congress required that before the accounts are closed the grants must be formally audited. Citizens noted there is no penalty for not having the accounts audited.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
An Abbotsford, B.C., burglar was successful in his Feb. 7 break-in at a home. But his getaway was thwarted by a snowfall that blocked him in on a roadway. He eventually decided to ask a passerby for help. Without being aware of what he was doing, he picked out the house he had just broken into and who recognized him from his home’s security camera footage. The victim called police, who arrested the man. Police reported it was the second residential break-in that night in which the snowfall had foiled a burglar’s getaway.
— In Portland, Ore., Ashley Glawe, 17, a committed Goth with tattoos, piercings and gauges in her ear lobes said she was “hanging out” with Bart, her pet python, when he climbed into one of her ear lobes. She couldn’t get him out, nor could firefighters. But with lubrication, hospital emergency workers did. This prevented the ear lobe from being torn apart by the snake.
— Iraqi forces taking over an ISIS base in Mosul reported finding papers from at least 14 Islamic State “fighters” who had tried to claim health problems and asked commanders to excuse them from real combat. One (a Belgian man) actually brought a note from a doctor back home attesting to his “back pain.”
Mopper Ain’t No Scrub
San Francisco’s best-paid janitor earned more than a quarter-million dollars cleaning stations for Bay Area Rapid Transit in 2015. Liang Zhao Zhang cleared almost $58,000 in base pay and $162,000 in overtime; other benefits ran his total income to $271,243. He worked at San Francisco’s Powell Street station, a hangout for the homeless, who sullied the station 24/7 with urine, feces and needles. This necessitated overtime hours that apparently only Zhang was interested in working. In one stretch during July 2015, he pulled 17-hour days for two-and-a-half straight weeks.
German art collector Rik Reinking paid $138,000 in 2008 for a complex drawing by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye that was tattooed onto the skin of tattoo parlor manager Tim Steiner. The drawing is to be delivered to Reinking upon Steiner’s death, when his skin will be displayed in Reinking’s collection. The deal requires that, in the meantime, Steiner showcase his back at galleries three times a year.
Least Competent Criminals
— Adriana Salas, 26, allegedly stole a truck in Jonesboro, Ark., and drove it to Fort Smith, 260 miles away. She couldn’t resist stopping by the local sheriff’s office to ask whether the truck had been reported stolen. It had. Deputies took a look outside and started reading Salas her Miranda rights.
— A suspect pointing a gun who attempted a robbery at a laundromat in Upper Darby, Penn., wasn’t immediately identified. The laundromat’s overnight clerk, a woman named Naou Mor Khantha, had simply taken his gun away from him and shot him three times. He was hospitalized in serious condition.
The Passing Parade
— Belgium’s Federal Parliament decided to keep supplying free beer and wine during legislative sessions, arguing that serving the items on premises would improve attendance.
— On Jan. 30, as police with a search warrant approached the front door of child porn suspect Brian Ayers, 57, of Florence, N.J., they spotted him inside, hatchet in hand, pounding away at his tablet computer.
Clever Toddlers Of Finland
A University of Kansas professor and two co-authors found that children 10 and under substantially outperformed their parents in earnings from certain stock trading. A likely explanation, researchers said, is that Mom and Dad were buying and selling in their children’s accounts as if they had illegal insider information. Children’s accounts — including accounts held by babies — were almost 50 percent more profitable than their parents’. The study covered 15 years of trades in Finland, which, unlike the U.S. and most other countries, collects traders’ ages.