Another installment from my The Best of the Web Today (James Taranto, link on right) column archives.
22 February 2005
“When Austin High School administrators removed candy from campus vending machines last year, the move was hailed as a step toward fighting obesity,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. Instead, the enterprising students created a black market in sweets:
The candy removal plan, according to students at Austin High, was thwarted by classmates who created an underground candy market, turning the hallways of the high school into Willy-Wonka-meets-Casablanca.
Soon after candy was removed from vending machines, enterprising students armed with gym bags full of M&M’s, Skittles, Snickers and Twix became roving vendors, serving classmates in need of an in-school sugar fix. Regular-size candy bars like the ones sold in vending machines routinely sold in the halls for $1.50.
“There was no sugar in the vending machines, so (student vendors) could make a lot of money,” said Hayden Starkey, an Austin High junior who said he was not one of the candy sellers. “I heard kids were making $200 a week just selling candy.”
In response, the school has restored some candy to the vending machines by declaring it nutritious: “According to the state, milk chocolate, for example, meets minimal nutritional standards because it does have milk in it. Candy with peanuts contains protein. The vending machines still don’t carry Starburst, Skittles and other so-called pure sugar products.”
27 February 2002
Perhaps Because They Usually Don’t Die at the Same Time?
“Why Spouses Often Die One After Other”–headline, Arizona Republic
3 January 2005
This Just In: Tidal Wave Risk Low in Inland Deserts
“No Tsunami Danger From Local Fault”–headline, Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.)
23 March 2005
They’re Called ‘Stars’
“Light Spotted From Beyond Solar System”–headline, Associated Press
24 March 2005
Great Moments in Public Education
“A Bronx teacher who repeatedly flunked his state certification exam paid a formerly homeless man with a developmental disorder $2 to take the test for him,” New York’s Daily News reports:
The illegal stand-in–who looks nothing like teacher Wayne Brightly–not only passed the high-stakes test, he scored so much better than the teacher had previously that the state knew something was wrong, officials said. . . .
Brightly, 38, a teacher at one of the city’s worst schools, Middle School 142, allegedly concocted the plot to swap identities with Leitner last summer. If he failed the state exam again, Brightly risked losing his $59,000-a-year job.
The News notes that the test has a 95% pass rate, which makes the inaptly named Brightly’s repeated flunking–and the school system’s failure to fire him long ago for incompetence–all the more appalling.
That’s a Relief
“Re-Opened Death Ride ‘Is Safe’ “–headline, BBC Web site
3 February 2009
Sinkers Die Rather Quickly
“Study Says Swimmers Live Longer”–headline, Colorado Springs (Colo.) Business Journal
13 January 2010
History’s Most Devastating Naval Attack
“Satellite Radio Service Hits a Million Subs”–headline, MediacasterMagazine.com
That’s What We Call a Small Business
“Building Code Company Comes Under Microscope”–headline, Paris (Texas) News
Since When Is It a Crime to Turn Up in Chicago?
“Woman Turns Up in Chicago; Police Investigate”–headline, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Fun With Comments
One of the websites I regularly visit is the eponymous site TopTenz.net. In a recent post, Top Ten Reasons Why People Hate Top 10 Lists, under reason #8 the author wrote:
“This annoys the fastidious reader (the same readers who will leave a stern comment if your prone to making common spelling or grammatical errs).”
It did not escape me that the grammatical and spelling errors may have been intentional, but I couldn’t resist, so I replied in the comment section:
“Like those two?”
This earned a somewhat snippy response from the author:
“I was hoping readers would understand that it wasn’t just coincidence that I made two annoying errors in the very same sentence that refers to errors. However, I also take full responsibility for any unintentional spelling or grammatical errors in the rest of the text if anyone sees any – my lists don’t go past an editor and I am human.”
The offending sentence has since been re-written to conform to standard English practice, but, you know, it’s possible to take irony too far.