Balance Sheet



Free Head

Tennessee may follow Kentucky and Louisiana in ditching its mandatory motorcycle helmet laws.

File Finding

Canadian Justice Konrad von Finckenstein rules that music swappers do not violate Canadian copyright laws. The Canadian Recording Industry Association wanted the names of 29 file-swappers from Internet service providers.

Hull Yes

European engineers respond to an expected rampup in Baltic Sea shipping traffic with plans for new double-hulled oil tankers that should make massive oil spills unlikely. The Baltic states have shown sustained economic growth with pro-market reforms.

Digital Détente

Sun and Microsoft vow to quit warring and actually build software. Apparently, Microsoft's $1.6 billion payout to settle Sun's legal claims bought a lot of goodwill.

Rat Whole

An international team of researchers succeed in mapping the genome of the lowly laboratory rat, an accomplishment that could lead to great improvements in human health.

Autism Insight

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry purports to locate one of the genes that contribute to autism. "Identifying all or most of the genes involved," according to the study's lead author, "will lead to new diagnostic tools and new approaches to treatment."

Diet Chips

One of the first commercial DNA chips to hit the market allows for the testing of any meat product for the presence of up to 32 species of mammals. Maybe not such a great idea for hot dogs, but hey, knowledge is power.


Freeze Flap

Aussie anti-alcohol activists fret that a new vodka-flavored ice cream will hook kids on booze. But if it actually tastes like vodka, Illicit Vodka Cranberry Magnum might actually turn kids off of ice cream for life.

Bad Ads

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law treats TV viewers in this election year to the spectacle of politicians looking into the camera and asserting they "approve of" their own ads. It's all part of making the First Amendment safe for poor, confused voters.

Perforation Prohibition

The Georgia House votes 160?0 to outlaw female genital piercing. The bill's original intent was to outlaw female circumcision; when asked about voluntary piercing, the author says, "What? I've never seen such a thing."

Gypsy Curse

A Shi'a militia group known as the Mahdi's Army goes off in central Iraq, leveling one sin-filled town and doling out 80 lashes to anyone smelling of gin.

Spy Spoof

The Army tries to assert it never suspected Muslim chaplain James Yee of spying, despite slapping him in the brig for 76 days on suspicion of spying.

Bum Rap

Police in Miami and Miami Beach have nothing better to do than spy on the entourages of rappers P. Diddy, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, and DMX. Pictures are taken of the groups when they arrive at the airport and when they go out on the town. "Our job is to know about things that could hurt innocent people," one police honcho explains.

D'oh! No!

The actors who give voice to The Simpsons go on strike, delaying the start of the show's 16th season.