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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Et Cetera

Science and Sensibility

The heartlessness of bureaucrats is often decried, but the truth is, the gray walls of government institutions contain many a compassionate heart. Witness the delicacy with which an official at Washington's Smithsonian Institute dispatched the somewhat unusual submission of a persistent amateur archaeologist.

"Dear Sir," the official wrote, "Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled '211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.' We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents 'conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.' Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the 'Malibu Barbie.'

"We do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin: (1)The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone. (2)The dentition pattern evident on the 'skull' is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the 'ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams' you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. Without going into too much detail, let us [conclude] that: A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on. B. Clams don't have teeth."

He ended with an invitation to his fellow scientist to come to the Smithsonian in person: "We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the 'trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix' that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered in your backyard take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench."

Shock to the System

Official Washington has been furrowing its brow and fluttering its fan for days, expressing its downright shock at the way shock-jock Don Imus shocked the president and first lady with his patented shock-schlock shtick at a press dinner last week.

Imus, famed New York talk-radio personality, was hired by the Radio-Television Correspondents Association for their annual roast of the powers-that-be. The entertainment usually consists of the tepid "insider" jibes and mildly blue sallies that pass for ribaldry when media dweebs and policy wonks let their hair down. But Imus, godfather to such trash-talkers and putdown artists as Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, gave the correspondents and their honored guests both barrels.

The First Couple sat stone-faced as Imus trained his guns on Bill Clinton's alleged womanizing and Hillary's alleged financial chicanery and negative press image. Clinton, Imus said, should become a Mormon and marry several wives. Such presidential polygamy would have an added bonus, he said: "If we have four or five first ladies, America is bound to like one of them." Imus didn't spare the conservatives either, noting that right-wing hatchet man Pat Buchanan "had a relative who died at Auschwitz -- a camp guard."

The performance set the media-mad capital in a whirl. Imus' bosses and the Association both apologized to the president; other media stars who had been happy guests on Imus' show went running for cover, swearing never to darken his microphone again.

The jockey himself, cresting on the wave of publicity, was well-pleased with his massacre of manners. In fact, he had only one complaint. "I didn't have much time," Imus said sorrowfully. "And there were so many people to butcher."

Some Like It Tepid

Brazilian soccer authorities are worried that too much of a good thing may keep their boys from grabbing Olympic gold this summer, so they're making arrangements to keep the team from feeling too cozy -- and having too much sex -- in their temporary digs in Miami and Atlanta.

"Sex in itself is not too much of a problem," said team supervisor Americo Faria. "The problem occurs when it's not done normally, when there are abuses that lead to exhaustion."

The soccer chiefs plan to change their currently reserved accommodations in university dorms to various hotels, in the apparent belief that hotels in the Deep South are fortresses impregnable to abnormal and/or exhaustive sex.

Players will be allowed to bring along wives or girlfriends. But still, Faria frets about the quality, quantity and timing of his athletes' conjugality.

"Casual, excessive and unsafe sex are of concern," he said. "Also, evidently, having sex moments before the game is also wrong."

It might help clear their sinuses though -- always a consideration when playing in the muggy magnolia heat.

Rat Gang Violence

Police in Toulouse, France, uncovered a flagrant case of feline abuse when, acting on a anonymous tip, they raided the home of an elderly woman and discovered she was living with a thousand rats who kept themselves amused by harassing her cats.

Officers had difficulty entering the home of the unidentified woman because it was crawling with rats, which the rodent-lover kept happy by feeding them more than 30 pounds of grain each day.

Police said the old woman slept on the floor, surrounded by her cats who were harassed and bitten by the rats.

They said the woman had managed to domesticate the rats and had apparently not been bitten by them. Nevertheless, she was hospitalized and her home was sealed by health authorities.

The entire rat colony has been impounded and marked for death. The cats, apparently, were freed on their own recognizance.

-- Compiled by Chris Floyd