Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Army of compassion," April 5, 2003

Hitting boards instead of books

As the NCAA men's college basketball tournament marched to the Final Four, a study released last week suggested that few of the players involved will march across stages at graduation ceremonies. The study, conducted by sports sociologist Richard Lapchick of the University of Central Florida, found that 10 of the schools that made the "Sweet 16" round of the tournament failed to graduate even half of their players in recent years. (Some players don't graduate because they leave school early for the NBA, a route many expect Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony, pictured at left, to take.) Mr. Lapchick did find that five schools in the Sweet 16-including perennial powers Duke and Kansas-graduated at least two-thirds of their basketball players. But overall, men's basketball has the worst graduation rates of all college sports. "It is a nightmare waiting to be fixed," said Mr. Lapchick.

Expensive bottle

Consumers can pay $1.25 to buy a serving of one of the newest brands of bottled water-Hetch Hetchy Mountain Water. Or, they can go to San Francisco and turn on a faucet. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown came up with the idea of having the city bottle water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is also the source of the city's tap water. The first bottles went on sale last week at San Francisco's three official souvenir shops. Mr. Brown said sales of the bottled water would "raise public awareness of our precious water resource." City officials also hope it will raise money for repairs to the Hetch Hetchy water system.

Computer virus

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More people are starting to notice that free library pornography comes at a high price. A group of Minneapolis librarians is suing the Minneapolis Public Library over its policy of allowing patrons unfettered access to Internet pornography, arguing that the policy creates a hostile work environment. The policy, they say, attracts viewers who monopolize the library's computers and even physically threaten librarians and other patrons. The dozen female librarians said patrons "whose one and only interest was the viewing of obscene and pornographic images on the computers" often react angrily or violently when confronted by librarians, and that some of the pornography consumers would even follow the librarians home. The library system, they say, has done little to address their complaints. Each woman is requesting more than $450,000 for humiliation, emotional distress, and anxiety.

Appalachian ire

A rising chorus of critics is condemning CBS's plan to revive The Beverly Hillbillies as a reality show. The network plans to send a poor Appalachian family to Beverly Hills and videotape what it expects to be the humorous result. Rural politicians, however, aren't laughing. Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) called the concept "cracker comedy" and compared it to a "minstrel show" that uses "bigotry for big bucks." Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) also criticized the show, with Tennessee state lawmaker David Fowler even introducing a resolution in the Tennessee Senate condemning CBS. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) suggested the opposite idea for a reality show: Drop Hollywood writers, directors, and producers "somewhere over fly-over country between New York City and Los Angeles," where viewers could watch them attend church bake sales, perform volunteer work, and help elderly neighbors. "We would have to call the show 'Cruel and Unusual Punishment!'" Mr. Bond said.

Tea cops

Georgia lawmaker John Noel thought it was a crime that a restaurant he visited didn't offer sweet tea. So now he wants to make it one. Mr. Noel and four co-sponsors filed a bill last week that would make it a misdemeanor "of a high and aggravated nature" for any Georgia restaurant that serves iced tea not to offer sweet tea. Failure to serve sweet tea, which must be sweetened as it is brewed, would carry a sentence of up to 12 months in jail. "It's got to violate something," said the Georgia ACLU's Gerry Weber of the bill.

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