Saturday, August 28, 2004

TODAY'S HEADLINERS (Sat. 8/28)

A full 61% of 10th-graders in Arizona flunked the math portion of their AIMS test, says the Arizona Republic. Gov Napolitano says this should be a "call to action for state educators," according to USA Today.

Academic standards is not the only thing government-funded schools have to deal with, of course. My old paper, the Baltimore Sun, reports that 16 of their schools are on probation for too much violence: "Schools on the probation list have had rates of lengthy suspensions and expulsions that are at least 2.5 percent of the total student population for two years."

But enough about education. In Concord, N.H., the state realtors association is suing ISoldMyHouse.com for operating as an agent without a license, according to the Concord Monitor. The crime? Providing a web database allowing homeowners to list their properties online, similar to newspaper classifieds, without having to go through a state-licensed agent. An excerpt: ISoldMyHouse.com manager John Gallagher said the site, which allows sellers to list their homes for $95, is "the most pro-consumer Web site on the Internet as far as I can see. We're allowing people to sell a house without paying real estate fees." That was your first mistake, John.

Microsoft is in some legal trouble...again. I like how the Los Angeles Times puts it: "After watching computer users wring as much as $1.8 billion out of Microsoft Corp., local governments want their piece." The article continues with: "Six California counties and cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, sued the world's biggest software company Friday for allegedly using its monopoly in personal computer software to overcharge them." What the hell does "overcharge" mean anyway? Who defines that? Overcharged is a mythical term in this kind of context. If it cost more than it was worth to you, you wouldn't have shelled out money for it in the first place. Clearly you felt you benefitted from this transaction. You can be overcharged if it means "I spent more money on this product than I would've preffered to." But come on, what business does the government have legislating companies because of that?

Yet more upsetting news for those who think that company executives are still being paid too much. Ananova.com reports from across the pond that UK execs are still seeing pay increases of nearly 13%. "Despite growing shareholder concern at the large amounts bosses of public companies are paying themselves, company directors seem resistant to change." Imagine that.

Now for a couple non-political pieces. This one is too funny to pass up. USA Today reports that a high schooler in Atlanta was targeted for wearing a drug-related shirt by Gwinnett County school administrators. The shirt has "Hempstead, N.Y." printed on it. To administrators' embarassment, they found out later that it's an actual Long Island town, and happens to be the kid's hometown. Apparently these school officials didn't major in geography -- Hempstead is no ordinary small town: "Hempstead is the nation's largest township, with 759,000 residents spread across 22 villages and more than 142 square miles..."


Your eyes do not deceive you. The above picture, which comes from Ananova.com, is of a toy distributed with candy around the U.S. Obviously, it depicts September 11th. It was supposedly picked up unknowingly by a Miami wholesaler and distributed throughout the U.S. until someone complained about it. I guess I could see this as being slightly offensive.

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