Brickbats

The Miami Herald refuses to refer to the city's arena football team by its proper name: the Hooters. Paul Anger, the paper's sports editor, defends the policy, saying that he questions "whether that's an appropriate name for a professional sports team." No word yet on whether the Herald considers the Heat or the Hammerheads (two other Miami franchises) "appropriate" names for sports teams.

Utah politicians grappling with campaign reform have made an interesting discover-y. Seems that any politician who tithes to his church has violated a 76-year-old state law. The law prohibits candidates from giving to charities or religious groups.

Some friend of the environment Al Gore is. First he redecorates the vice-presidential mansion with a rare wood. Then he has his reinventing government plan printed on glossy, full-color paper. Doesn't he know that plain, unbleached paper is so much easier to recycle?

Lebanon's representative to the Miss World contest is facing possible legal troubles back home. Ghada Turk was photographed fraternizing with Miss Israel. The two countries are still technically at war, so many of Beirut's papers have called for indicting the lovely for treason.

In Connecticut, the Caldor department-store chain refuses to carry radio personality Howard Stern's new book, Private Parts. The stores always post the New York Times best-seller list, so management faced a quandary when the book hit the top of the list. Rather than tell customers that it didn't stock the best-selling book in the nation, Caldor created its own list, using the Times format and logo but omitting Stern's opus. When the Times found out about the misrepresentation, it threatened to sue. One wonders if Caldor was inspired by another bestseller: 1984.

Rapper-actor Tupac Shakur was, within a period of less than three weeks, arrested in separate incidents for allegedly shooting two off-duty police officers and for allegedly holding a woman down while his friend sodomized her. Shakur is a nominee for an NAACP Image award, to be presented in January.

Want to make sure your child never gets an F in school? Enroll him in a school in Houston. The Houston Independent School District has replaced the traditional system of report-card grading with one that shows a child's stage of development in learning things. The stages are discovery, exploration, developing, expanding, connecting, independent application, and synthesis. But irate parents are demanding the old grading system back. I guess they gave this idea a "discovery."

In the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, a thief was robbing a shop when he noticed a tank of industrial glue. He took a break to sniff the glue and passed out, knocking over the tank. The next morning the shopkeeper found the man glued to the floor of his store. He called the police who cut him free and then carted him off to jail.

In 1990, the Bush administration called for the creation of a National Drug Intelligence Center "to consolidate and coordinate all relevant law enforcement infor-mation related to drug trafficking and provide a strategic picture of drug smuggling and distribution organizations." But the proposal changed a bit as it made its way through the legislative process. Instead of coordinating information, the new center will duplicate the functions of 19 existing drug-intelligence centers. And instead of setting up shop in the corridors of national power, it is located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, an economically depressed town of 35,000 best known for its floods. Rep. John V. Murtha, Democrat of Johnstown, explains the location this way: "That's where I wanted it." He adds that the move saves taxpayers money, since rents are lower in Johnstown than in Washington.

The Federal Trade Commission has said it may require stock cars sponsored by tobacco companies and carrying the logos of smokeless tobacco products to carry labels warning about the dangers of chewing or dipping tobacco. One of the proposed warnings is: "This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes." That should be easy to read on a vehicle traveling at over 100 m.p.h.

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    Apart from state-by-state differences, total school spending in the United States is routinely underestimated because of other measurement problems. As Lieberman and other analysts have pointed out, official school spending statistics leave out an awful lot. A partial list of expenditures excluded from federal data includes business and foundation donations, donated time, pension contributions, the cost of negotiating contracts, the cost of training teachers, remedial education in colleges, judicial costs, out-of-pocket parental expenses, and federal educational programs in departments other than Education (such as Head Start). Since real per-pupil spending even as currently measured shot up 62 percent from 1973 to 1993 (according to the ALEC study), an accurate analysis of total spending would no doubt find an even bigger jump.

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