Monday, December 18, 2006

Hey, Martha

[posted by Callimachus]

The sub-editor who hates me most is also the one who relies on me most because he's incapable of putting the paper out on his own.

Last night he set aside more inside A space than he needed for jumps and when he realized it late he tossed a page to me to fill, with a stack of wire stories that hadn't made his cut.

Well, typically, they included what seemed to me to be the best stories in the paper. Though I confess I have a tabloid heart. One was this story about researchers at Berkeley who "say they've found evidence of a human smelling ability that experts thought was impossible."

People smell like dogs! ["Madam, you smell; I stink."] But how did they find this? By putting college kids in blindfolds and kneepads and throwing them down on the grass to sniff for chocolate. Natch! Look at the picture.

That's brilliant! Of course, if they really wanted exciting results they should have used free Ballantine Ale instead of chocolate.

Oh, and they also had to wear earmuffs while they rooted for candy. I suppose that was to keep their friends from calling out hints to them during the experiment ("getting colder ... stone cold now") or to prevent the experiment subjects from hearing the caustic remarks of the researchers over their clipboards ("I always wanted to see him crawl" ... "Just think; these saps and us all paid the same tuition to get into this school").

But wait, there's more! They also ran the test with special trick noses.

One version of the device was basically an extension of a normal nose, with two holes to sniff through, each supplying air to one nostril. The other version had only one hole. It took in the same amount of air as the first version, but simulated the effect of having only one big nostril.

I wonder if the fake noses also came with fake big black eyeglasses and a mustache.

The other story was this one.

CINCINNATI - A 13-foot boa constrictor wrapped itself around its owner's neck and killed the man in his home, authorities said.

An acquaintance found Ted Dres, 48, inside the snake's cage Saturday and called police, the Hamilton County Sheriff's office said.

The snake was still strangling Dres when deputies arrived, and the officers had to work with members of an animal protection group to remove the reptile, the sheriff's office said.

How can you have a story like that and not put it in your paper?