The head of the Perse School in Cambridge, England, recently instituted a “10-Second Rule” for minor disciplinary infractions: Students could avoid punishment if they quickly produced a clever explanation for their misbehavior. “Getting children to talk their way out of a tight corner in a very short period of time” said Ed Elliott, encourages creativity and could produce a generation of British entrepreneurs. Said a supporter, “Often the ones who get further are the artful dodgers,” who “bend the truth.” (Elliott warned, though, that “out-and-out falseness” would not be tolerated.)
Can’t possibly be true
Sheriff’s officials in Deerfield Beach, Fla., arrested nine people in October and charged them in connection with a betting ring that set point spreads and took bets not only on pro and college games but on kids’ games of the South Florida Youth Football League. Six thousand children play in the 22-team association.
Too Silly To Be True: (1) Police in Geraldton, Australia, reported in November that they had captured a thief they were chasing in the dark through a neighborhood’s backyards. As the thief came to a fence and leaped over it, he happened to land on a family’s trampoline and was propelled backward, practically into cops’ laps. (2) Guy Black, 76, was charged in Turbotville, Pa., in October with threatening housemate Ronald Tanner with a chainsaw. Tanner, defending himself with the only “weapon” within reach — an umbrella — managed to pin Black with it as the chainsaw jammed. (Most people who bring an umbrella to a chainsaw fight would be less successful.)
Deputy NYPD Commissioner Paul Browne told reporters in November that, in the 24 hours of Monday, November 26th, not a single criminal shooting, stabbing, or slashing was reported in the five boroughs. Browne said no police official could remember such a day, ever. (The city is on track to finish 2012 with fewer than 400 homicides—compared to the record year of 1990, when 2,245 people were murdered.)
“Braco,” a Croatian-born “healer” (although he rejects the term), seems to make legions of sick or troubled believers feel better merely by entering a room and gazing at them in silence for a few minutes before leaving. (A Washington Post reporter, seeking relief from his allergies, attended a 100-person session in Alexandria, Va., in October, but found no improvement.) “Whatever is flowing through him,” said one transfixed fan, “is able to connect with a part of us.” Said another enthusiast, “The thing that makes Braco unique is he really doesn’t do anything.”
Unclear on the concept
In October, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals petitioned Irvine, Calif., to create a roadside memorial for the truckload of live fish that had perished in a recent traffic accident. (After all, fish, like humans, use tools, tell time, sing, and have long-term memories, wrote PETA.) On the other hand, the traffic casualties that day were en route to the Irvine Ranch Market to be sold as food.
The governing Council of Brentwood, England, professes a “reputation as one of the most transparent” in the country, but in November, responding to a Freedom of Information request for documents on a government contract, it merely released 425 totally-blackened (“redacted”) pages. The official explanation was that all of the papers concerning construction of a movie theater were deemed “commercially sensitive” and “not in the public interest.” (Following an outcry, the Council re-thought the FOI request and disclosed “considerably more information,” according to the Daily Telegraph.)