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Important events as reported by daily newspapers and summarized by Daedalus Howell.

Wednesday 11.29.00

The Fairfax Town Council (aren't they in a Nathaniel Hawthorne story?) will examine Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a cannabis buyers' club, after commissioners determined it had violated a host of regulations governing its operations, reports the Marin Independent Journal. To wit, a man was recently arrested after allegedly buying marijuana at the club, then offering the drug in exchange for sex to a couple of 13-year-old girls--unaware that in Marin County it's traditionally cocaine that is traded for sexual favors. A grotesque violation of criminal etiquette. Operators of the club were accused by neighbors of running a "retail entertainment establishment." Neighbor Patricia Pearson said that the club was growing such a massive cannabis crop that seeds drifted onto her property. "I found a cannabis plant growing in my backyard." Pearson added that it presents an extreme fire hazard. Only if you smoke it in bed, baby.

Thursday 11.30.00

Marin Horizon School teachers Maureen Poxon and Mark Sherburne, apparently bereft of startup ideas to augment their incomes, assigned their science students to create Rube Goldberg-esque devices. Successful inventions include the "Hot Chocolate Topper," which puts marshmallows in cocoa; the "Makin' Bacon" bacon fryer; and the "Pumpkin Trajectory Inducer 2000," which is apparently to be used as light artillery in border skirmishes. "The SAT Stress Reliever," a contraption that breaks a pencil, showed some marketability, unlike another device that launched a Barbie doll into a pool. "Science education has come a long way," Poxon said to the Marin Independent Journal--straight-faced. "These projects weren't as controllable as a textbook, but I do think that probably a lot of learning went on." You think that probably some learning went on? Oh, dear. And people criticize student performance at public schools. May I be excused?

Saturday 12.02.00

Scientists from the Buck Institute on Aging's brain trust described their breakthrough research in yesterday at the Novato center's 13th annual meeting, reports the Marin Independent Journal. Faculty member Simon Melov astutely observed that "aging is really a little bit like good art. We all know it when we see it, but it's very difficult to describe, particularly at the molecular level." Or, apparently, any level. Melov's work to prolong the lifespan of nematode worms won national acclaim last summer. One of the institute's goals is to conduct research that will enable physicians to tell people, based on their genes, what disease dispositions they might have--the better to "put off disease." Or, as critics point out, to exterminate the patient and clean out the gene pool, if society deems that desirable. In an unrelated story, the International Eugenics Society honored the memory of thrill-killing übermensch-wannabes Leopold and Loeb and bean-sprouts genetics pioneer Gregor Mendel by ordering from the L.L. Bean catalog.

Sunday 12.03.00

Four Sonoma Plaza chickens were found dead and their carcasses mutilated this Sunday morning, reports the local daily. A fifth chicken was badly injured but is expected to recover, so don't call the Colonel--yet. Officials did not dispel rumors the violence was committed by space aliens. Sonoma resident Bob Cannard, who raised the chickens, said, "To have this kind of thing happen is very, very disturbing." In an unrelated matter, Sonoma State University officials would not comment as to whether or not they chemically alter the ducks in their ponds to render them unfit for human consumption.

Sunday 12.03.00

With an eerie nod to Lord of the Flies, Napa County teenagers are now playing judge and jury in Peer Court, an alternative law experiment designed to keep hooligans out of juvie. Peer Court follows all the formalities of traditional court (but without the bribes), with teen defendants being represented by teen lawyers. A couple of weeks ago, a 17-year-old boy had pleaded guilty to petty theft of a wallet from a department store. In stunning court transcripts reprinted in the Napa Valley Register, a teen defense attorney, mustering his best Johnny Cochran, argued: "The defendant walked into the store and left without paying for it. Why? Why, because, he saw the wallet, wanted the wallet, and took it." The junior barrister told the jury that his client had been grounded for two months. The defendant echoed his attorney, "I couldn't go nowhere for two months." After a short deliberation, the jury sentenced the boy to community service, forgoing tougher peer punishment, which may have included shaving his head, sending him to school naked, and making him agree never to utter a double negative for the rest of his life.

Monday 12.04.00

Mad about chads? John Ahmann, Napa rancher and voting-equipment patent holder, who designed the voting equipment used on some of the contested Florida ballots, was called on to testify in the case at a Tallahassee courtroom, reports the local daily. Ahmann, who was brought to the courtroom as an expert witness for Gov. George W. Bush, testified under cross-examination that hand recounts are advisable in very close elections, an argument that supported contentions by the Gore campaign. That fact apparently fell on deaf ears, as folksy, conservative Circuit Court Judge N. Sanders Sauls, a Democrat, ruled that Gore's high-priced New York attorney David Boies had failed to present credible evidence that the voter-machine problems affected the outcome of the contested election. Back to the drawing board--or back to law school, perhaps.

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From the December 7-13, 2000 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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