NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Compelling Explanations

— In Hong Kong in December, Mr. Lam Chung-kan, 37, pleaded guilty to stealing a bottle of a co-worker’s breast milk at work and drinking it — but only to help with “stress” in his job as a computer technician. Undermining the health-improvement explanation was a photo Lam sent the woman, showing himself in an aroused state. [South China Morning Post, 12-21-2016]

— In December, James Leslie Kelly, 52, and with a 37-conviction rap sheet dating to 1985, filed a federal lawsuit in Florida claiming that his latest brush with the law was Verizon’s fault and not his. Kelly was convicted of stealing the identity of another James Kelly and taking more than $300 in Verizon services. He bases his case on the Verizon sales representative’s having spent “an hour and a half” with him — surely enough time, he says, to have figured out that he was not the James Kelly he was pretending to be. He seeks $72 million. [WFTV (Orlando), 1-2-2016]

the passing parade

(1) Woodstock, Vermont, police arrested a 28-year-old man for bank robbery in January, with a key piece of evidence coming to their attention when a disapproving Vermonter noted a paper coffee cup not in its proper recycling bin. The cup held the robber’s holdup note and DNA. (2) A 46-year-old man was arrested in December after an evening at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and charged with leaving a server a non-monetary “tip” — of a Valium pill. [Valley News (Lebanon, N.H.), 1-12-2017] [Morning Call (Allentown), 12-30-2016]

Leading Economic Indicators

— The British think tank High Pay Centre reported in January that the average CEO among the U.K.’s top 100 companies (in the Financial Times Stock Exchange index) earns the equivalent of around $1,600 an hour — meaning that a 12-hour-a-day boss will earn, by mid-day Jan. 4, as much money as the typical worker at his firm will earn the entire year. (Around the same time, the anti-poverty organization Oxfam reported, to an astonished press, that eight men — six Americans, headed by Bill Gates — have the same total “net worth” as the 3.6 billion people who comprise the poorest half of the planet.) [The Guardian, 1-3-2017] [New York Times, 1-16-2017]

— A “disturbingly large” (according to one report) number of smartphone apps are available devoted to calculating how much the user has “earned” per day and per year during restroom breaks answering nature’s calls while at work. Australia’s News Limited’s rough calculation estimated $1,227 for someone making $55,000 a year, but results might vary since there are so many apps: Poop Salary, ToiletPay, Log-Log, Paid 2 Poo, Pricy Poop, Poop Break and perhaps others. [News.com.au via New York Post, 12-9-2016]

Precocious


In December, Ashlynd Howell, age 6, of Little Rock, Arkansas, deftly mashed her sleeping mother’s thumbprint onto her phone to unlock the Amazon app and order $250 worth of Pokemon toys. Mom later noticed 13 email confirmations and asked Ashlynd if something was amiss. According to the Wall Street Journal report, Ashlynd said, “No, Mommy, I was shopping.” [Wall Street Journal, 12-23-2016]

bugguy
Insect enthusiast Aaron Rodriques

People different from us

“Every major event in my life has been about insects,” Aaron Rodriques, 26, told The New York Times in December, whenhome in New York City during a winter break from his doctoral research at Purdue University on the “sweet tergal secretions” of German cockroaches, and on his way to buy a supply of crickets and hornworms. (“Hornworms,” he said, have an “amazing defense” where they “eat tobacco for the nicotine, which they exhale as a gas to scare away predators.”) “When I’m feeling stressed out,” Rodriques said, he might take one out to “calm me down.” He met his first girlfriend when she was attracted to his pet giant African millipede (as long as a human forearm), but admits that “for the vast majority” of time in school, “I was alone.” [New York Times, 12-29-2016]