Tuesday November 25, 2014




Best in show tarantula

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Thirty thousand spiders, led by members of the British Tarantula Society, gathered in Coventry on May 18 for the annual BTS exhibition, with a Socotra Island blue baboon spider taking Best in Show for first-time entrant Mike Dawkins. According to news reports, judges ignore spiders’ personalities and make their selections by objectifying the body — seeking “shiny coats, correct proportions, an active demeanor and proper stance” (which means that “all eight legs should be upright and perfectly poised”). Veteran judge Ryan Hale said winning does not necessarily make a spider more valuable, but is likely to enhance the keeper’s reputation in the tarantula-training community.

Susan Coppinger, 47, was promoted by the city of Boston in January to a job paying $38,800 in the Inspectional Services Department even though a month earlier she had been arrested for bank robbery. In fact, police said it was her second robbery of the same Santander Bank in nearby Quincy. Apparently, the city’s human resources office does not monitor mugshots on MassMostWanted.com, but in April, the city finally secured Coppinger’s resignation.

For panicking drivers headed in an emergency to University Hospital in Tamarac, Florida, ready to turn left into the ER because of bleeding, shortness of breath, etc., the city still requires patiently waiting for the traffic light to turn green — no matter what — and has a $158-per violation red-light camera perfectly aimed, according to a WPLG-TV investigation reported in March. The station noted that the traffic magistrate handling appeals serves at the pleasure of the city and so far has not relented on tickets involving even provable emergencies.

Alarmed that its internal rating system revealed that some employees actually perform better than others, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in May that it was scrapping the system. Agency director Richard Cordray expressed dismay that the system failed to reveal worker disparities that matched up on the basis of age, race, union status and longevity with the agency, and said that until they find a system that proves, for example, that union members work just as well (or badly) as non-members, all employees will be paid as if they were doing excellent work.

When Ayano Tsukimi, 64, moved from Osaka back to her home village of Nagoro, she found a population of only 37 people and set out to “replace” those who had died or moved away — by creating life-size stuffed dolls, with unsettling facial features, which she positions around town as if to suggest a larger population. Tsukimi estimates that she has created about 350 “inhabitants,” and, reported Global Post in May, “imagines a future where she’s outlived all her neighbors and only dolls remain.”


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