Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997:  Dateline: Japan--Mad scientist alert! The 15th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence began on Aug. 23 in Nagoya, Japan. Among the new attractions this year is the first Robot World Cup Initiative. Believe it or not, engineers from 40 countries have entered robotic soccer teams ranging in size from 6 inches to 4 feet. The mechanical athletes will be competing on surfaces ranging from table tops to regulation soccer fields. You can check out the RoboCup home page (www.csl.sony.co.jp/person/kitano/RoboCup/RoboCup.html) for the winners and losers. USA! USA!

Dateline: South Africa--When a shopper at a Johannesburg department store complained that one of the store's displays--featuring a mannequin placed face-down on a bed--was "in bad taste," managers investigated and discovered an employee who had collapsed and died three days earlier. "Chester, cleanup in aisle 12!"

Dateline: Florida--Volusia County School Board candidate Diana LaPorta insists that she has a bachelor's degree, even though a local newspaper revealed last week that LaPorta's sheepskin came from "Hamburger University," a training program for McDonalds employees. In her own defense, LaPorta said, "It does say on my diploma that it is 'a degree of bachelor.'"

Dateline: Alabama--A Northport, Ala., man unknowingly passed his own parents on his way into a local convenience store. The man then proceeded to brandish a knife, rob the store and drive off in his truck as his rather shocked parents watched. Several minutes later, the man called his parents for help when his truck broke down. They convinced the not-so-sharp-eyed robber to turn himself in.

Dateline: Alabama--In what is sure to prove to be the snacking idea of the century, Pepsi is test-marketing Frito-Lay corn chips and Doritos packaged inside 12-ounce cans in soda machines. Birmingham, Ala., was the first to receive the vending machine innovation. The drink-and-chip machines have now spread to Des Moines, Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Joe and Seattle. Unfortunately, rival Coca-Cola can't retaliate. They don't own a snack company.

Dateline: Missouri--Congressional investigators at the Government Accounting Office have just reported that the "thermoplastic skin" on the $2-billion B-2 bomber is so fragile that the plane cannot be flown in heat, humidity or rain and must be stored in special hangers--none of which exist outside of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The United States is planning to build 21 more of the planes. ... Personally, I think the $2 billion would be better spent on robot soccer players. USA! USA!

--Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary

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