Monday, October 23, 2006

According to one o’ those colorful USA Today graphs, 47% of Iraqis in a Gallup Poll believe that Iraq is headed "in the wrong direction," which of course is much less than the percentage of Americans in poll after poll who believe that America is headed in the wrong direction. [See, e.g, this one, at 62 percent]

In LaCrosse, Wis., they call it a public-policy problem, but Yr Editor calls it an instructive cluster: Eight college students in nine yrs have drowned in local rivers after drinking too much. [Ed.: Drunk-driving is a societal problem; drunk-diving is a personal failure.] (And speaking of LaCrosse, a guy turned up drunk two weeks ago at Oktoberfest with a nearly-impossible .44 reading, which, when considered with the nearly-impossible .425 reading reported here [NOTW 975, 10-15-2006], of the guy in Madison fighting with the gas-station pump, makes me think Wisconsin’s technology is a little out of kilter. You can dive into the river at 2 a.m. with a .15 or a .20; you don’t need .425 and .44. That sounds like bad measuring. Either that, or Wisconsin’s proud of its high readings and has figured how to jigger them up.)

School wusses out, big time: That would be Castro Valley (Calif.) High, just south of Oakland, where a local judge and a couple of other parents, angry that their daughters aren’t getting enough love from the girls’ varsity basketball coach, have arm-twisted the school board into forming a committee to pick the team this year. This, despite the sterling record and high praise by others for the coach.

Yet Another Oh-So-Clever Scheme in Which People Smarter Than You Figured Out How to Manipulate Complicated Legalisms to Make Tons of Money While You’re Clipping Sunday Coupons to Save a Few Bucks: A 1998 federal appeals court decision, extended to its max by clever lawyers, so far protects tax-savings schemes that lawyers and accountants dream up—by qualifying them for U.S. patents. Some of these schemes might ultimately even be illegal (but they’re so complicated that it’ll take a while to judge them), and all of them were uncontemplated by anyone in Congress (who wouldn’t have time to think them through), thus leaving the public policy creation exclusively up to the only people in the world with the time to work on them, i.e., smart people who get paid several hundred dollars every hour to think about them. [NY Times $]

"Muslims cannot drink alcohol; they have to avoid it. But when you use codeine and kratom [a native leaf] and mix it with Coke and get ‘drunk,’ this is not a sin." It’s a great quote, but Yr Editor doesn’t like the journalism so much. You can check the story yourself and see if you agree. The quote comes from a Bangkok prison, attributed to something that political scientist Dr. Srisompob Jitpiromsri was told, and a stringer for Australia’s The Age reported it.

Errorors
Despite Yr Editor’s assertion in the current News of the Weird column [NOTW 976, 10-22-2006], Kinshasa lies in Congo, not Kenya.

Updates
There’s nothing new in this piece that Yr Editor didn’t report earlier [NOTW 796, 5-11-2003; NOTW 947, 4-2-2006], but if you missed the one about the Brit who gave his apartment a total makeover to look like the inside of the Starship Enterprise, here’s The Sun’s Saturday story.
More Golf Mania [Backstage, 10-17-2006, 10-16-2006] (from America!): James Finegan 76, plays 250 rounds a yr at the Philadelphia Country Club, plus 50-60 rounds a yr elsewhere, and would even play more except for the snow, but clear-weather temperatures in the 20's don’t faze him. And, and in his "off-duty" time, he writes books on golf. [Wall Street Journal $]

Below The Fold
A teacher’s penalty for sex with an underage student: exile to Canada for three yrs (which might be illegal even though he agreed to it) . . . . . This guy was allegedly walking his turtle down the street (as, on a leash tied to the shell) (Seriously) (except it’s from Japan) . . . . . The good news is that herbal erection pills are effective; the bad news is that "effective" means doping up greyhounds to fix races . . . . . Another problem with Mexico: Its judges and prosecutors are so respectful of the Catholic Church that it has become a safe haven for U.S. pedophile priests . . . . . Yet another animal shelter (this one: Washington, D.C.) that’s a damned sight more impressive than any human shelter . . . . . Rodeo-goers are now treated to an average of 3 in 10 bull riders wearing hockey helmets instead of cowboy hats . . . . . A long-time county election judge in St. Louis was caught voting twice (by absentee ballot) on Oct. 9, but pals said he’s just old, and he must’ve forgotten that he had already voted.