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February 13th, 2002:

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras and the first day of Lent. Tiffany traditionally gives up chocolate for Lent. I figure that means that I don’t have to give up anything. I’m going to be living with a chocolate-deprived wife for 40 days. Haven’t I suffered enough?

Sherron Watkins to testify before Congress

The Enron exec (she’s still with the company) and whistleblower has placed no limits on what questions she’ll answer. Keep quiet, Kenny Boy. It ain’t gonna matter.

Meanwhile, the oh-so-poor Lays have sold their cottage in Aspen for $10 million, “fetching the highest price per square foot that real estate agents can remember in this haven for the rich and famous.” They bought the place for $1.9 million in 1991. Nice to hear that they’ve got resources beyond Enron stock, no?

Also taking the Fifth

Also taking the Fifth this week was Craig Rosebrough, an alleged leader of the radical Earth Liberation Front. I say “alleged” here because he’s never been directly linked to any of their activities, he’s only ever claimed to be a conduit for their communiques. The ELF, in case you’re not familiar with them, makes their political statements by destroying new developments that they dislike, usually via arson. In 1998,they burned down a ski resort in Vail, which caused $12 million in damage.

So far, no one has been killed by the ELF’s actions, as they tend to do their thing when buildings are known to be empty. As FBI counterterrorism official James Jarboe said, “[I]t is only a matter of time before they accidentally kill someone”. Firefighters have in fact nearly been killed, according to Jarboe. Think the ELF will get any sympathy from the public if a firefighter dies while dealing with their handiwork? I don’t.

Not so fast

The new 55 MPH speed limit signs are continuing to go up, despite the request of the Harris County attorney to suspend implementation. Now we’re waiting on a ruling from the state, which seems to be saying “we can go along with this if you want, but if the feds crack down it’s your ass”. I won’t shed any tears if they abandon the lower speed limit, but I sure hope the local powers that be know what they’re doing.

Figure skating scandal

Damian Penny points to the unfolding figure skating scandal in which French and Russian judges collaborated to give the gold to Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. Justin Slotman also has some good stuff.

I don’t watch figure skating, so I can’t judge the case that Jaime Sale and David Pelletier should have won convincingly. I will say that all joking about “Russian judges” aside, I haven’t seen this much fuss about an official’s decision since the 1972 US-USSR basketball game. I’m impressed.

There is a silver lining in all this, from the ESPN article linked above:

Until Monday, only a few diehard figure skating fans in North America knew who Sale and Pelletier were. That’s all changed.

“Their agent told me he’s had about a hundred calls,” Brennan said. “I’m guessing they are now a household name, which never would have been if they’d won the gold medal with no controversy. I would imagine that they became millionaires in the last 24 hours. The sympathy factor is huge.”

Living well is the best revenge, eh?

Speaking of inscrutable Olympic sports

Fritz Schranck defends curling, quite possibly the only Olympic sport which can be played by people with beer guts, at least until bridge gets certified. I’m glad you like it, Fritz, but curling strikes me as shuffleboard on ice. On the other hand, unlike figure skating, at least the outcome in curling is objectively determined.