Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
NOVEMBER 2, 1998:
Dateline: Japan--Police discovered three more suicide victims
hanging in a thickly wooded area at the base of the famed Mount
Fuji, bringing this year's suicide total to a record-breaking
58 bodies. In addition to the confirmed deaths, police believe
about 40 others have attempted suicide in the forest this year.
The latest three bodies were discovered during the annual pre-winter
police sweep of the area, a dense stretch of woods on a cliff
located northwest of Mount Fuji in central Japan. Last year, the
spot claimed 55 victims, mostly by hanging. The place became famous
after a notorious suicide handbook, published several years ago,
named it as an ideal spot to do the deed.
Dateline: England--A mysterious plunge in the value of
French 10-year bond futures on July 23 has now been attributed
to an inattentive bank trader at Salomon Brothers in London. It
seems that the online trader accidentally and repeatedly hit the
"instant sell" button on his keyboard, prompting a wave
of 145 separate sell orders for the 10-year French bonds. Prices
were sent diving worldwide by the massive sell order. A multimonth
investigation by the computer software firm Cap Gemini and the
security group Kroll Associates concluded that the disputed trades
arose as "a result of the prolonged, unintentional and inadvertent
operation of the 'Instant Sell' key." No word yet on whether
or not sex on the desktop or spontaneous napping prompted the
"prolonged, unintentional" button mashing.
Dateline: The Netherlands--A Spanish soccer team spent
a sleepless night in the Netherlands after airport workers in
Seville refused to let the team come home after a disappointing
UEFA Cup tie. Airport authorities refused the Real Betis soccer
club permission to return to Seville immediately after the non-winning
Netherlands match last Tuesday night. The club president offered
each airport worker 100,000 pesetas ($728) as an incentive to
keep the airport open for the club's charter plane. The offer
was refused, however, and the team's plane had to wait until 5
a.m. to depart for home.
Dateline: Florida--The latest cash crop to fall victim
to Florida's battles with statewide fires, El Niño heatwaves
and a series of hurricanes is the state's lucrative dope trade.
Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say they've
confiscated only about half of what they usually nab. A mere 50,000
marijuana plants were seized during this year's spring to mid-October
growing season. Arrests, however, were up slightly. The aggravated
growing conditions forced many illegal harvesters to plant crops
much closer to their property, making them easier to tend, but
easier to spot.
Dateline: Wisconsin--Milwaukee residents Vyto and Diane
Kapocius were surprised and elated to see the value of their property
jump from a meager $137,200 to a whopping $1.2 million. Unfortunately,
the sudden rise in living conditions forced the Kapocius family's
property tax bill to go from $5,000 last year to $43,000 this
year. So what accounted for the sudden appreciation of values?
According to county tax assessors, the 250 fireplaces that the
Kapociuses added to their 28-year-old house accounted for the
dramatic rise in property value. Of course, the couple had not
added 250 fireplaces in the last 12 months. They hadn't added
any. In fact, the Kapocius house doesn't have a fireplace. Local
authorities are investigating.