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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Et Cetera

Western White House

n "If they knew how much he lived in his own world, they'd be scared to death," said Donald Reagan, speaking in the early years of his brother's presidency, about Ronnie's marked propensity for muttering to himself in cabinet meetings.

Now the center of that imaginary world -- the California ranch where the town-bred, combat-avoiding movie star could pretend to be a real-live, rootin', tootin' cowboy -- has been placed on the sale block, and is expected to bring in $1 million or so for the ailing ex-president and his wife, Nancy.

The spread -- Rancho del Cielo by name -- nestled in the rugged Santa Ynez mountains outside Santa Barbara, became known as the "Western White House" when Reagan took office in 1981. During his eight-year stint in the presidential role, the Yeltsin-like leader spent whole weeks virtually incommunicado in his mountain dreamland, which had been procured with the friendly help of the West Coast tycoons who bankrolled his entire political career.

Realtors said the 280-hectare ranch would be advertised for sale worldwide, starting this week. Ronnie and Nancy will continue to live in the $2 million Los Angeles mansion purchased for them, post-presidency, by their kindly backers.

Words of Wisdom

A female judge in Cleveland, Ohio, gave teenager Katie Nemeth -- in the dock for misusing a credit card -- some sage advice for turning around her miserable life: dump your loser boyfriend, display your legs, and find a nice man to marry.

"Men are easy," Judge Shirley Saffold told 19-year-old Nemeth last week. "You can go sit in the bus stop, put on a short skirt, cross your legs and pick up 25. Ten of them will give you their money."

Yes, but why stop there? Saffold didn't.

"If you don't pick up the first 10," the judge continued, "then all you got to do is open your legs a little bit and cross them at the bottom and then they'll stop."

Nemeth, who pled guilty and was fined $200, was told by the judge to break up with her boyfriend, who had also misused the card, although he later paid restitution to the owner. Saffold, 45, suggested the girl go to a nearby medical school and "marry a doctor lickety-split."

"All you got to do is take a biology book with you; don't even read it," said the robed advisor. "When one of them walks by, just say, 'Excuse me, could you tell me what this means?' And you got yourself a date." Needless to say, Saffold is married to a doctor. Needless to say, her remarks were quickly denounced by national women's groups. Needless to say, the judge said her words were taken "out of context," although they were in fact taken out of court transcripts.

In one strange twist, though, the judge was also pilloried by a certain Sidney Siller, founder of the National Organization for Men, who said Saffold's remarks impugned the well-known intelligence, taste and moral rectitude that males habitually display in courtship rituals.

Oh Deer

Well, sure, it made a great big lump in the road, but still, it could have been a natural geological formation, some unalterable piece of the local topography. How's a road crew supposed to know?

Whatever subtle reasonings -- or mysterious inner commands -- led them to it, the fact is a highway repair crew paved over a dead deer last week on Pennsylvania's Route 985.

"The deer was lying there dead for three to four weeks, " said Keith Billig, mayor of nearby Bowmanstown. "I never saw anything like that before in my life."

Pennsylvania officials were quick on the spin-control trigger. "It is against state policy to pave over a deer," said Department of Transportation engineer Walter "Deadpan" Bortree. "We do not routinely oil and chip over a deer," he added, no doubt for emphasis. "If in fact the deer was in the work area [i.e., in the middle of the road], "it should have been removed." But who wants to manhandle a four-weeks-dead deer when you can just slather it with blacktop?

Bortree gently suggested that perhaps the deer was nearer the edge of the road, and thus easily missed by the myopic crew. But Mayor Billig was having none of it. The deer was in plain sight, he insisted.

"You can't miss it,'' Billig said. "It's in a straightaway. If they couldn't see it, then they can't see the numbers on their checks either."

All Shook Up

n "I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find gambling going on in this establishment!" -- Captain Renaud to Rick Blaine, in the famous casino scene from "Casablanca."

A leading sports scientist says at least half of the competitors in many of the events at the recent Olympic Games were not unblemished physical examples of the human will to excellence, but were more like wiggly cocktails of various chemical enhancements.

Dr. John Hawley, director of the High Performance laboratory at the South African Sports Science Institute, says the battle against the use of drugs in sports should be given up as lost, because it's no longer possible to tell who is really "clean."

The problem, he says, is not the quick pill popped or the shot of jolt juice a day or two before a competition -- the kind of doping that the sports world's highly-publicized drug tests are designed to catch.

It's the meticulous sculpting and starching of tissue that takes place literally months and years before events.

The only way to make competitions equal again, he says, is to give up the drug fight and legalize the use of steroids, "as unethical and as morally wrong as it sounds."

Water Babies

A Swedish couple had a bit of surprise waiting for them when they arrived home after a brief jaunt out: $45,000 worth of water damage to their beautiful Stockholm home.

Owner Roger Sjoberg said he had locked his two cats in the bathroom, only to come home to find the house flooded and the two frightened wet kiskas sitting on the shower taps.

"We normally lock them up in the bathroom to stop them wrecking the place while we're out," Sjoberg said.

Next time, try the basement. Or maybe the clothes dryer.