* The government of France, concerned that the 2 million homeless, unemployed and other down-and-outs would be particularly befuddled in having to translate their francs into euros, announced in December that it would pass out free calculators on the street. And the tax collectors in the state of Saarland, Germany, trying to improve their image with the people they have chosen for audits, began in February to hand out blue-and-white pens reading "We Gladly Make House Calls -- Your Friendly Saarland Tax Man."
* "News of the Weird" reported in 1996 and 1997 on people who still fail to understand the social offensiveness of dressing white people in blackface. In January 1999, teachers at Yale secondary school, Abbotsford, British Columbia, adamant about staging a production of the musical Show Boat despite the unwillingness of the school's only four black students to join the cast, decided to select four white students for the black chorus and to paint them in blackface. The play opened in February, in the middle of Black History Month.