For some reason, South Korea (with about one-sixth the men that America has) is the world’s largest consumer of male cosmetics, with its leading company approaching $1 billion a year in sales. According to a September Bloomberg Business Week dispatch, South Korean males became fascinated with the country’s 2002 World Cup soccer team’s “flower men,” who had smooth, flawless skin, and the craze took off from there. Said a male college student, “Having a clean, neat face makes you look sophisticated and creates an image that you can handle yourself well.” Makeup routines include drawing “thicker, bolder” eyebrows and, of course, expert application of lipstick. Said one admiring woman, “I feel like I have more to talk about with guys who use makeup.”
Government in action!
n In an August report, the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs warned that the regional office building in Winston-Salem, N.C., was in danger of collapsing because there were too many claims files stacked on the sixth floor. “We noticed floors bowing under the excess weight to the extent that the tops of file cabinets were noticeably unlevel throughout the storage area.” The report also warned of the potential of files falling on, and injuring, employees. For the short term, the agency relocated all the folders (estimated: 37,000) on the sixth floor to offices on the fifth, seventh and eighth floors.
n For years, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall (of the Select Committee on Intelligence) have been asking the director of National Intelligence to disclose how often the government might be “overcollecting” information on U.S. citizens by too enthusiastically applying the Patriot Act, but the director’s office has maintained that such information, whether or not it reveals wrongdoing, is classified. In July, the office finally declassified one fact that it said the senators were free to use: that the government had “on at least one occasion” overcollected information in violation of constitutional protections — but that’s all. The number of times, and all other details, remain classified.
n In August, a Michigan government watchdog group learned, in a Freedom of Information Act request, that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department still to this day retains one job classification for a horseshoer. (The department owns no horses.) Over the years, the position has become a patronage slot paying about $57,000 a year in salary and benefits, sometimes requiring the “horseshoer” to do “blacksmith” work such as metal repair. (Because of severe budget cuts, the city employees’ union fights to retain every job, no matter its title.)
n In August, the former director of Homeland Security’s office in charge of shoring up the nation’s chemical plants against terrorist attacks told CBS News that, five years after Homeland Security started the chemical program, “90 percent” of the 5,000 most vulnerable plants have still not even been inspected. The official, Todd Keil, said that when he left the job in February, $480 million had been spent, but that no plant had a “site security plan” and that management of the program was “a catastrophic failure.” (A July Government Accountability Office report confirmed that 4,400 chemical plants had not been properly inspected.)
KETV (Omaha, Neb.) reported in September that local mother Andrea Kirby had decided to give away her stored-up breast milk to a family in greater need. She had amassed a freezer-full of 44 gallons for her now-8-month-old child.