Monday, May 28, 2007

Worst Case Scenarios: China Edition

SO WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN if you're a top drug regulator who takes a bunch of bribes to approve substandard medicines? Is it that you'll actually kill a bunch of people? Are you sure that's the worst that could happen? Because it's not what's happening to China's former head of the State Food and Drug Administration. After being found guilty of taking bribes of cash and gifts totalling more than $800,000, 62-year-old Zheng Xiaoyu was sentenced to death.

To death. This is China we're talking about. They're not what you'd call real big on the human rights, so death it is.

One of the products Zheng Xiaoyu allowed through was a toothpaste, found on Central American and Caribbean store shelves, called Mr. Cool. Along with its cavity-fighting fluoride, Mr. Cool also has a special ingredient: diethylene glycol, an industrial solvent used a lot in antifreeze. The New York Times has referred to it as a "syrupy poison." Well, I guess that's bad on Zheng for allowing diethylene glycol to be packaged and sold as ordinary glycerine. You see, it's cheaper than glycerine and sweeter than glycerine. So you could see how it makes fiscal sense...except for the "more poisonous than glycerine" part. This on the heels of the melamine-tainted pet food business.

Not what you'd call a banner year for Zheng. Even so, a death sentence? Wow, China, that's hard-core.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Another World Series

IS THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER not exciting enough for you? Then maybe you should try this on for size...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Get Professional Help!

WHEN IT COMES TO PUBLIC RESTROOMS, you just never know what you'll find inside them. Even if that restroom is contained in the offices of a big corporation. While working a little freelance job recently, I stepped out for a moment to use the restroom. Not the one on the floor I work on, but the third floor bathroom: much cleaner, quieter, less trafficked, far less stinky. And when I closed the door to the stall, I saw this sign taped to the back of the stall door.

Notice the exclamation points. Notice how thoroughly the note is taped to the stall. If you look closely, you can see that it is fully covered in wide, clear packing tape, as if laminated to the stainless steel of the stall door. While I cannot in good conscience take the side of the toilet stuffer, I find it hard to get fully behind the person who wrote the note either. He seems to have a completely different set of compulsions. Not that I'm convinced that either of the participants in this little dance are actually mentally ill, but they just don't seem like they'd be cool to hang out with.

One should also keep in mind some of the weird characters at this particular job. Like the executive assistant on the fourth floor who puts paper towels on her hands to touch almost anything. This same executive assistant also cleaned up a co-worker's messy desk while the messy co-worker was out of town. The messy desk in question was around the corner and completely out of sight. It's not like she had to stare at it. It's more like she could hear the mess calling to her from down the hall and around the corner and couldn't resist going to clean it up.

I feel I should also pass on a story a female co-worker, let's call her Vera, told me. Vera walked into the women's bathroom in this same building and saw that some woman had brought her tray of food straight from the commissary and left it sitting on the counter by the sinks. She was stunned and stared at the tray for a moment until the owner of the tray came out of her stall and said, jovially, "I see you staring at my food! You can't have any." To which Vera replied, "I don't want any of your bathroom food."

Finally, I must add that I once saw a male co-worker (in the unpleasant second floor bathroom) standing at the stall, urinating. While eating an apple.

Mmmm, bathroom apples! Delicious!

File Under: Countdowns, Final

THE THING IS THIS: your band isn't that bad. I mean it. You're not. I don't know you. I've never heard your band. I don't even know what your name is or what music you play. But, trust me, you're not that bad.

You might ask how I know this. It isn't because I am psychic or anything even remotely science-fiction-y. It is solely because I have seen this band.

So, like I said. Your band's all right. You guys are doing just fine.