I've taken to reading the local paper, The Spokesman-Review. Once in a while there's a story so good that knocks your hosiery off. But usually there's a conglomeration of news widely mismatched in importance.
This morning the front page offered us an important story (right hand column of page one - it's the #2 story of the day.) "Scientists Envision Mammoth's Return." Yup, with the economy crashing around us somebody is funding a project to bring back the wooly mammoth. They apparently found a hair from one of these beasts, frozen some 10,000 years ago. They broke down the genes and they're ready to apply them to a modern elephant and hope to come up with a less than useful result, in my opinion.
Why aren't these people trying to save what we still have, like the Bengal tiger or those gorillas in the African mist.
Following that story to page 4 I see where an alligator was found walking down the street in LA. The most startling thing about that is the fact that it was walking. Nobody and nothing walks in LA.
The major story in the Spokesman today was above the fold on page one: "Cuts Taking 'Awful' Shape." That's not encouraging. You would hope the state government budget cutting (which is what this is about - cutting the state budget to deal with a $5.1 billion revenue shortage) would take as pleasing a shape as possible. I'd expect them to cut funds for people who are doing things like re-creating prehistoric beasts. Instead we get a $600 million cut in state higher education. The University of Washington is one of the "public ivies" - it's the pride of Washington State. Is there nothing else out there a little less important to our future that could be cut? I shouldn't complain - they would probably cut library funding instead.
Books will get you through times of no money a whole lot better than money would get you through times of no books. I have a tee-shirt somewhere that says that.
A few other stories:
- Wal-Mart is planning to power 100 of its store with wind generated electricity. (Does this mean stores will be open only on breezy days?)
- Florida is joining the Powerball Lottery. This will increase the odds of winning from 1 in 146 million to 1 in 195 million. This, we are told, means a lot more people will be playing Powerball. I'm not good with numbers, but this doesn't on the face of it make a lot of sense. I suggest buyers of Powerball lottery tickets should be required to sign away their right to vote in the next election. It's scary that these people have a vote that weighs just as much as mine.
- The CEOs of the big-three automakers traveled to the bailout hearings in DC on their own private jets. And they want me to cough up a couple of billion to bail them out? Uh-un.
- The Indian Navy sank a pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden. Go India!
- An Air Canada stewardess was drafted into service to help land a jetliner in Ireland. Apparently she did a whole lot better than the co-pilot was doing just before he went bezerk and was removed from the cockpit, restrained, and sedated. No diagnosis on the co-pilot.
- The city wants the citizens of Spokane to take an online questionairre telling them what we consider most important issues in our neighborhoods and in the city as a whole. Notice of this questionairre is in a news story on the bottom of page four. Police, firefighting, a balanced budget, parks, and street improvements are ranked highest so far. Libraries are down there with opening business improvement centers and bike lanes.
- Spokane County has issued an alert that three level 3 sex offenders have registered as transients. These people kidnapped a woman, molested a 13-year old boy, and "took indecent liberties" with a 10-year old boy. Why, exactly, have they been let out of jail?
- The state is going to begin keeping track of MRSA. That's the infection that killed a newborn on House, MD the other night. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Cases have grown from 141 a few years ago to 4,723 last year. How do they know that if they are only now beginning to keep track of cases?
- And finally, some of the news is good. We have a headline: "Group Aims to Help Orcas with Cleanup." Killer whales are very intelligent animals. I can understand why they would want to clean up the waters off the Washington Coast. And it seems only fair that humans should help them do it.