overachievers in greed

In April issues of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the chief executives of two huge companies in politically sensitive industries were revealed to have received such extravagant bonuses or stock options that even veteran industry observers were said to be shocked.

While customers of both companies are chronically panicked about rising prices, Lee Raymond, who retired as CEO of ExxonMobil in December, was reported by the Times to have received the equivalent of $144,000 every day for 13 years, and William McGuire, CEO since 1996 of the highly profitable health-insurance manager United Healthcare, was reported by the Journal to be sitting on stock options that, because they were mysteriously timed to kick in at the best possible date, are worth $1.6 billion.


That's no lady, that's my dad

Shellie White, 30, was apprehended in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., in March, two years after she fled Arizona with her two children in a custody dispute with her ex-husband. For most of the two years, she has been living as a man (with a female partner), having convinced the kids, now aged 6 and 8, that she is actually their father.

Questionable parenting, 1-4

Because of unexpectedly large crowds visiting the new Hong Kong Disneyland in January, park officials limited admissions for the first eight days, provoking some mothers who had traveled from all over China to show their frustration by trying to climb in, after first tossing their children, including toddlers, over the fence.

Elizabeth Bragg, 23, was convicted in January in Huntington, Ind., when her 4-year-old stepdaughter suffered a car injury. According to the prosecutor, Bragg, intending to punish the girl for misbehaving, told her other kids to "hang on" but then unfastened the belt in the misbehaving girl's car seat and slammed on the brakes several times, causing the girl to bang her head.

In Mont-de-Marsan, France, Christophe Fauviau, 46, was sentenced to eight years in prison in the death of a young tennis player who ingested a sports drink Fauviau admitted to spiking with a tranquilizer. Fauviau said he spiked 27 young players' drinks before their tournament matches against his son, Maxime, and his rising-star daughter, Valentine.

Dieterich Doerfler Sr. was arrested in Seminole County, Fla., in March and charged with shredding his adult son's child pornography collection, which police said he did in order to help his son avoid a probation violation.


baller scores a layup

Unexpected childbirths happen from time to time, but the genuinely surprised mother in Ojo Caliente, N.M., in February was Kayla Alire, 18, who just two hours earlier had hit two three-pointers as a starting guard for the town's high school girls' basketball team.


the sticking point

In March, Matt Robison, 21, of Ottawa, Ill., said he felt "like I've done something memorable with my life" after sitting for a 14-hour session in which he received 1,016 skin piercings to eclipse the previous Guinness Book record. (Immediately afterward, Robison had to remove each one, which he said was just as excruciating as the piercing.)



Adult education teacher Robert Colla was hospitalized in Ventura, Calif., with severe burns and shrapnel wounds, and lost part of his right hand, when he tried to smash a bug with the paperweight on his desk. The "paperweight," which Colla had found years ago, was a 40mm artillery shell, which, unknown to Colla, was still live.

Package deals

In Savannah, Ga., in March, police picked up Carlos Little wandering around a housing complex with a head injury, which he said was from a street robbery. But they later learned from a witness that Little and another man had fought over who was the better-"endowed" (and that, in the showdown, Little proved littler). And in Mexico, according to an April Reuters dispatch, one distinct presidential campaign theme this year is candidates explicitly touting their manliness; one radio ad, for example, praises Felipe Calderon's "balls," while a TV ad acclaims Roberto Medrazo for having "big ones."


401: unauthorized access

Eleven women in the nation's capital have bonded, according to a February Washington Post story, around a tall, athletic man of German heritage (with a master's degree and who tans easily), whom none has ever met. The man, known as donor 401, is the one whose sperm each of the women chose to be inseminated with, selected from a catalog at the Fairfax Cryobank. That the women's 12 offspring have a common father has provided powerful motivation for them to learn about each other as a way of learning about 401 (who has now retired as a donor, though there is still a waiting list for his stored sperm).

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