The Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Economic Recovery in Denver: As of early January, at least 390 new Denver businesses had applied for sales-tax licenses as dispensaries for legal (medicinal) marijuana. By comparison, Starbucks coffee shops number 208 in the entire state of Colorado. Among the first cannabis-centered businesses to open, in December, was the Ganja Gourmet on South Broadway, featuring lasagna, pizza, jambalaya, paella, flavored cheesecakes and other delicacies, all "spiced" appropriately for customers with doctors' prescriptions.

Jeweler Colin Burn, of Broome, Australia, announced in October at the Asia Adult Expo in Macau that he will make the world's most expensive "personal vibrator," in 10 limited editions, out of smooth platinum, each with 1,500 white diamonds. He said he planned to shoot for a price of $1 million (U.S.) and noted that he currently offers a similar sex toy with only 450 diamonds (but with a handle made of rare conkerberry wood) that he sells for $38,000.

Professor Yevgeny Moskalev of Russia's St. Petersburg Technological University announced in November that he had perfected a somewhat-useful powdered version of Russia's favorite drink (vodka). However, after much experimentation, he had found that the only way to preserve the alcohol was by mixing the liquid vodka into a special wax and letting it harden. According to a November report in the English language version of Pravda, the resulting shaved chips could then be flavored to counteract the wax's insipidness, and might be used for cooking or medicine. "Instant vodka" mix for straight drinking does not appear to be in professor Moskalev's plans.

In 2008, Sweden, one of only seven countries with embassies in North Korea, began trying to coax that country into the global economy by encouraging the manufacture of jeans, which Sweden in turn would arrange for sale in high-end stores. After a series of awkward missteps (e.g., a textile manufacturer, unfamiliar with the concept of "jeans," said no, but the director of a mining company decided to accept the project), 1,100 pairs were finally shipped and priced at the equivalent of about $215 a pair, according to a December Reuters dispatch from Stockholm. (The "NoKo" jeans were initially given shelf space in at least one store, but now are offered only on the store's Web site.)

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