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Thursday, June 20, 2002


One of the perplexing ironies of our times has to be why, at a time when couples are increasingly deciding not to have children (see eg piece on Italy yesterday),
those who earnestly do want to do so can find their path blocked by so much legal parephanalia. At the same time the move to liberalisation on this topic in Northern Europe seems to stand in marked contrast with the apparently growing conservatism which has been making its presence felt across Europe in recent weeks. Puzzling.

"Swedish legislators voted Wednesday to let same-sex couples adopt children — a decision that gay activists hailed as a step toward gaining the full benefits of marriage.
Under the bill, gays registered in a legal partnership, allowed in Sweden since 1995, can be considered joint adoptive parents of children adopted in the country or abroad. One of the partners also will be able to adopt the child of another.
Gay activists applauded the biil, saying it will bring them closer to gaining the full benefits of marriage.Sweden and fellow Nordic nations Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland already recognize legal partnerships between gays, but only Denmark and Iceland allow adoption."

Since I have often thought that many of the gays I have known would make admirable, loving parents, and since so many of us heteros seem to do such a bad job of the thing (not to mention the countless violence and abuse which far too often seems to be involved) one can only applaud the Swedes for their decision. Chapeau.

Kozlowski An Art Aesthete?

This week the US stock markets closed on eight month lows, amid concern about the momentum of the recovery, and above all due to concerns about the reality behind too many US company numbers.

"Investors have now reached the point where they're tired of anticipating the rebound and sick of continuously reacting to a stream of bad news, including the almost daily scandals surrounding the wrongdoing of Corporate America. Some people are getting puzzling vibrations that stocks may slip into a deeper trough of despondency before a sustainable recovery takes hold and they've already penciled in a weaker outlook.

This week, the market took another body blow. The Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes dropped to October lows and the Dow Jones industrial average slid through key support levels that unleashed a flood of selling by market-making institutional investors."

Can this latest bout of pain be credited to the personal heavy lifting of one individual? The NYT earlier this week carried this little gem about the artistic pecadillos of one of our rich and famous:

"Dennis Kozlowski, the former chairman and chief executive of Tyco International who was indicted on Tuesday on charges of evading New York sales tax on the purchase of millions of dollars of paintings and sculpture, has recently sought a prominent profile in New York's art world.

Last year, he joined the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and soon afterward Tyco gave the museum a $4.5 million grant to finance traveling shows. Tonight Mr. Kozlowski is scheduled to be a co-chairman of a fund-raising dinner to benefit the New York Botanical Garden, whose benefit committee includes major philanthropists like Laurence S. Rockefeller, Mrs. Henry C. Frick III, Daisy M. Soros and Wendy Vanderbilt.
Like many businessmen, Mr. Kozlowski did not jump into the art world cold. When he turned to purchases for himself, he hired an adviser to do the leg work for him, directing him to the right galleries and recommending paintings or sculptures that would best fit into his homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach and New Hampshire.

The adviser, Christine A. Berry, a former assistant registrar at the Whitney Museum, is the art director of Fine Collections Management, a 10-employee company that is based in Palm Beach, Fla., and New York City and that counsels the wealthy on purchases of art and wine.

People close to the investigation say that Ms. Berry's actions figure heavily in the case that is being brought by the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, against Mr. Kozlowski, since she was responsible for helping to choose the art and for looking after details like the shipping and billing."

And today the mystery deepens.......

"The investigation of L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive of Tyco International, by Manhattan prosecutors has widened to include whether Tyco owned or paid for the upkeep of homes Mr. Kozlowski used in Florida, lawyers close to the inquiry said yesterday.
A person close to Tyco's board confirmed that Tyco had paid for the 13-room apartment at 950 Fifth Avenue that Mr. Kozlowski bought in 2000.

The apartment, which cost $18.5 million, was kept in Mr. Kozlowski's name to comply with the rules of the building's co-op board, this person said. But it was carried on Tyco's books as an asset.

Similar questions surround a house in Boca Raton, Fla., the investigator said. Records show that house was bought by a Tyco vice president.

"If Tyco is purchasing it for other executives to use on a periodic basis, that's one thing," the investigator said. "It's another thing if he just uses Tyco's money to buy another house."

And the payoff of all this:

"After many reports of questionable bookkeeping, accounting firms are quietly taking a fresh look at clients' audited financial statements — and identifying those companies most likely to draw unwanted attention from regulators and plaintiffs' lawyers.

While many auditors would not discuss their actions publicly, partners at several firms say that, in some cases beginning months ago, they are reviewing financial records to be filed this year or that they have already given their blessing to."

Perhaps there is some truth to all this stuff about emergence and adaptive learning after all.


Perhaps we're a bit behind the times here in Spain, or perhaps things just take longer to reach us, or maybe I'm just slow on the uptake. Whatever the reason it was only yesterday that I finally found Eve Ensler's 'Vagina Monologues'. This is the type of celebration of female sexuality that any serious bonobo is bound to appreciate, especially in a country like Spain where some sixty odd women a year still find their death at the hands of their obsessed and devoted husbands - one of the best sellers here last year was a book entitled 'Mi Marido Solo Me Pega Lo Normal' (literally translated, no, my husband only hits me fairly often) where an Andalusian forensic doctor describes the inventiveness of the male, and the forebearance of the female in the moment of giving and receiving violence (the most grotesque pathology is that of drenching the women in kerosene before setting them alight - like those who throw themselves with the same technique in front of an underground train, do they do this because they have read of others, or is there some hidden, subtle rule at work here. My favourite piece is this, from a woman of 65+:

"Down there? I haven't been down there since 1953. No, it had nothing to do with Eisenhour. No, no, it's a cellar down there. It's very damp, clammy. You don't want to go down there. You'd get sick. Suffocating. Very nauseating. The smell of the clamminess and the mildew and everything. Whew! Smells unbearable. Gets in your clothes."

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