Living high on the hog

To help the Netherlands' meat-exporting business (already No. 3 in the world), but recognizing the country's small land area (half the size of South Carolina), Agriculture Minister Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst recently endorsed a think tank's proposal to build a six-story "agropark" of pig pens, chicken coops and salmon pools. An Animal Protection Society spokesperson likened the building to a concentration camp for animals, but proponents said the facility would be less animal-dense than some farms are now. Said one developer, "If people can live in apartment buildings, so can pigs."

Beyond belief

The technology sector of the economy is in such a precarious state, according to a January story in U.S. News & World Report, that "Imara," a 44-year-old "business intuitive" with an MBA, has attracted a large following among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists (including 30 paying clients) who seek her investment and business-development advice that she says she acquires by extrasensory perception. "In these troubled times," said an Imara associate, "people are looking for a different insight that gives them a competitive advantage." Said Imara: "`C`ompanies don't have time to do market research studies, which can take months. I can give them feedback in an hour."

Dodging the issue

Scheduled for unveiling in May at Britain's National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, is a World War I commemorative statue to honor England's 306 combat deserters. According to the Arboretum's director, "`T`here has been a sea change in attitude, towards more understanding" of the plight of cowards and others who abandoned their comrades, especially for about 100 teen-agers whose principal sin was to run away after fearing they would be punished for lying about their ages in order to enlist. The director said some veterans' organizations support the memorial.

Votes of confidence

William R. Macera was re-elected mayor of Johnston, R.I., despite being found in October in a car that police said heavily reeked of marijuana smoke; he narrowly edged out write-in candidate Louis L. Vinagro Jr., who had been arrested hours before the election for threatening a state official inspecting his waste-hauling business. And Bobby Banks, 20, was elected to the New Bern, N.C., soil-conservation board but was then arrested for having illegally registered to vote as a convicted felon. And in races that ended in ties in Delhi, Minn. (mayor), Fife Lake, Mich. (township supervisor), Louisville, Neb. (city council), and Hickman, Ky. (school board), things were settled by, respectively, a draw of cards, a draw from a hat, a draw of cards and a coin toss.

Like a natural woman

In November, Ms. Lucia Love won San Francisco's sixth annual Faux Queen Pageant, the world's only contest for drag queens who had the misfortune to be biological females and thus not technically qualified to be drag queens (males dressed as campy females). Said Love (of her fondness for impersonating female impersonators), "Drag queens would be nowhere without women."

Eat their words

Three Mexican migrant workers told reporters in November that the owner of Poncho's Cantina in Auburn, Maine, forbade them from speaking Spanish at their table while they were dining on Tex-Mex food and said they were considering a complaint to the state Human Rights Commission.

The fax of life

Sean Dix has been angry at CNN since 1996, when a reporter was critical of his dental-floss-holder invention (a product review that probably caused Dix's then-sprouting sales to fall off). In the ensuing four years, Dix has reportedly sent 6,000 faxes to Ted Turner and CNN protesting the televised report. In an April 2000 fax (according to a December report in the Village Voice), Dix intimated that he would kill Turner, which he prefaced this way: "It is at this point that I have come to the end of my attempts to deal with you in a rational manner `after 6,000 faxes`."

Stop the presses!

In December, Angela L. Pearn, 30, of Akron, Ohio, won her lawsuit that had charged DaimlerChrysler and Rolling Acres Dodge with fraud for concealing that the car they sold her had a history of trouble and was officially a "lemon" under state law. An elated Pearn told reporters afterward, curiously: "Now people will know that not all car dealers are honest."

Crime really doesn't pay

Seven soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., were arrested in December, quickly caught after allegedly robbing a McDonald's, cleaning out the cash registers of $400; reportedly, they told police they had spent hours plotting the crime (but had netted less than $60 a man). Another crime seemingly less remunerative than honest work took place in Springfield Township, Ohio, in December, as three men were charged with stealing 2,000 items from a Marc's store, items which police said the men were trying to resell from the basement of a home. However, the goods were mostly small-ticket items (with an average price of $4.12), and reselling that much merchandise would require dozens of man-hours.

Sight specific

A 27-year-old blind man in Fargo, N.D., was issued a permit to carry a gun, which he says he needs because blind people are vulnerable to robberies.