Friday, December 1, 2006

The Lightning Round:
Dollars And Sentences

A hue and cry echoes through Tucson in the wee hours of the morning among the unsuitably temperate: "Global warming? Ha!" Drop the thermometer below zero Celsius on any night and we'll happily give Al Gore a slice of inconvenient truth. But your Lightning Round offers these morsels instead...

SHOW ME THE MONEY. A federal judge ruled this week paper money discriminates against the blind, because all the bills feel the same.

From the AP:
U.S. District Judge James Robertson ordered the Treasury Department to come up with ways for the blind to tell bills apart. He said he wouldn't tell officials how to fix the problem, but he ordered them to begin working on it.

The American Council of the Blind has proposed several options, including printing bills of differing sizes, adding embossed dots or foil to the paper or using raised ink.
The Treasury Department says changing bills for the blind would cost too much and thwart anti-counterfitting efforts. But cost is a relative term.
In court documents, government attorneys said changing the way money feels would be expensive. Cost estimates ranged from $75 million in equipment upgrades and $9 million annual expenses for punching holes in bills to $178 million in one-time charges and $50 million annual expenses for printing bills of varying sizes.
Nine million a year to punch holes in paper! How do I get on board that money train?

LOOSE LIPS. A San Francisco psychologist is out with a book suggesting what many have long suspected: women talk more than men.

From the London Daily Mail:
In The Female Mind, Dr. Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.

And, if that wasn't enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high.

Dr. Brizendine, a self-proclaimed feminist, says the differences can be traced back to the womb, where the sex hormone testosterone moulds the developing male brain.
And it appears the good doctor, like the staff here at The Lightning Round, firmly believes in the dangers of testosterone.
There are, however, advantages to being the strong, silent type. Dr Brizendine explains that testosterone also reduces the size of the section of the brain involved in hearing - allowing men to become "deaf" to the most logical of arguments put forward by their wives and girlfriends.
And wait, we hear another of those suspicions about men may be true.
But what the male brain may lack in converstation and emotion, they more than make up with in their ability to think about sex.

Dr. Brizendine says the brain's "sex processor" - the areas responsible for sexual thoughts - is twice as big as in men than in women, perhaps explaining why men are stereotyped as having sex on the mind.
Now it all makes sense. Men are too busy thinking about sex to talk, and women have to talk more to get into their, ahem, preoccupied heads.

MIGHTY MINI POWER RANGER. A 4-year-old in Durham, NC saved his sister from a gun-wielding robber by using some charisma and a quick change into Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger costume.

From the News & Observer:
The robber was holding a gun to 5-year-old Mary Long's head when a 3-foot-tall Mighty Morphin Power Ranger leapt into the room.

"Get away from my family," 4-year-old Stevie Long shouted, punctuating his screams with swipes of his plastic sword and hearty "yah, yahs."
The startled robber and his partner took off with some loot from Stevie's mother's purse but left the family unharmed.
Evans said family members are struggling to help their children understand their ordeal. A counselor said Stevie needs to improve his distinction between fantasy and reality, said Heather Evans, Stevie's aunt.
Oh, we think Stevie knows reality all too well. And the reality is, he's got guts.

TAKE THE WAFFLES AND RUN. An International House of Pancakes in Quincy, Massachusetts flipped off its customers by asking for their drivers' licenses before they were seated. The policy came after an abundance of what is politely called "dine 'n dash," although Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr prefers a more vernacular term.

From the AP:
"(I said,) 'You want my license? I'm going for pancakes, I'm not buying the Hope diamond,' and they refused to seat us," John Russo said. He said he's been a victim of identity theft in the past and wasn't comfortable with the idea.

"The security guard had at least 40 licenses in his hand. Identity theft is rampant. I wouldn't want to give my license, with my address or Social Security number to anyone that I'm not familiar with that ... I'm going just for breakfast," Russo said.
IHOP's corporate office smelled the burning bacon and immediately ended the policy.

We at The Lightning Round note IHOP's 24-hour kitchen attracts some characters and more than a few drunks. IHOP is the convenient after-the-after-party, a way to flush out your system at 4am if you still remember how to use a fork. In one Friday night sit-down last month, we observed a few women devoting 70 percent of their available table space to beading materials, sliding together a few lines before the late plate. And we felt a little anxious gossiping with the relatives wondering if the couple in the booth next door was lifting the conversation like a wallet on Bourbon Street.

So it's back to the drawing board to solve the shrinking problem. Short of harvesting your credit card number up front or chaining you to the table, we don't see a customer-friendly solution.

RUN THROUGH. About two hours north of Mexico City, you can find out what it's like to be smuggled into the U.S. illegally. WOAI-TV reports of a private park in Ixmiquilpan, Mexico where you pay fifteen bucks to run through an obstacle course of riverbeds and underground tunnels while mock Border Patrol agents chase you.

From WOAI's Randy Beamer:
And many of the people who run this park know exactly what it's like as they have crossed illegally. But they insist this is not to train others to do it, but to discourage them. And to get those in a position of power in Mexico to make changes so people won't want or need to leave.

"We try to portray it" one woman tells me in spanish " they'll stay here to work to help our culture and our traditions survive."
Maybe if the Mexican government would "portray" a little less corruption, we wouldn't have to worry.

No comments: