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SCORE WITH THE FISHES

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While Canadian "global warming" protesters express alarm at the dwindling outdoor hockey season (fewer months with ice, fewer days cold enough for hard ice), a growing number of "hockey" players are taking the game underwater, according to a November Associated Press story. Six breath-holding players per team pass a puck with sticks at the bottom of a pool, and players surface for air as seldom as possible. Dozens of club teams worldwide play (nearly 50 in the U.S.), with a championship tournament scheduled next year for Sheffield, England. Said a Cincinnati high school player of the respiratory challenge, "(W)hen you're close to the goal, you're like, ‘Do I want to score a goal or breathe?' Most of the time I say, ‘Score.'"

PROFESSIONAL HELP

The bane of all fair-minded office sports teams is the "ringer," the super-athlete from outside who is imported to help the office team win. Former minor league baseball player Mark Guerra, 33, was accused by Florida authorities of being such a ringer, imported for the Apalachee Correctional Institution's team, which he led to victory in a Department of Corrections softball tournament. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Guerra in October and charged him with fraudulently accepting a $1,247 "salary" as a temporary Apalachee "employee" but never actually doing any work.

CPL. PUNISHMENT

Bryan Perley, who apparently held a grudge against a child-support caseworker, was charged in Orlando, Fla., with several felony counts when he tried to arrest her by impersonating a military officer and holding a fake, handwritten arrest warrant. When the woman's colleagues would not cooperate with him, Perley actually called for police backup, according to a report by WFTV-Channel 9. He told the dispatcher, "(The colleagues) don't understand the chain of command in government. I've warned them."

FLAYED TO ORDER

Harvard's libraries contain at least four books bound in human skin, including a treatise on Spanish law with an inscription calling the binding "all that remains" of a fellow named Jonas Wright, according to research by student Dan Alban, writing in the Harvard Law Record in November.

POLITICIANS: ROLE MODELS

Randy Logan Hale won election to the school board in Homeland, Calif., in November, despite having been in jail since September for a parole violation. (He gets out in February.) And James Skwarok campaigned for mayor in Victoria, British Columbia, as a one-issue candidate opposed to pumping raw sewage into open waters, appearing in costume as a chunk of that sewage, named "Mr. Floatie." (Skwarok dropped out of the race in October.)

SPECIALIZED TASTES

Michael Plentyhorse, 18, was charged with indecent exposure in Sioux Falls, S.D., in November, when he was discovered partially undressed, in a store, fooling around with a semi-nude female mannequin. Said a police officer, "There was inappropriate activity between him and the mannequin. That's the only way I know how to put it." Also in November, registered sex-offender Sean Cobin, 20, was arrested in Milwaukee on suspicion of reckless endangerment for his role in pressuring a woman to drink concentrated drain cleaner, allegedly because he gets excited by making women vomit. (He was convicted in 2004 in a similar incident.)

BLANKET SECURITY

In October, the federal Department of Homeland Security announced a $36,300 grant to the state of Kentucky, earmarked to prevent terrorists from using bingo to raise money. (One astonished bingo worker in Frankfort told the Associated Press that the need to protect bingo from terrorists "would never even enter my mind.") Also in October, the Tampa Tribune reported that two Florida tourist attractions (the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid show and Dinosaur World in Plant City) were on Homeland Security's list of sites that the state had to "harden" against terrorist attacks, even though officials complained that major sports venues and more popular entertainment sites were not on the list.

HIGH ART

Performance artist Tomoko Takahashi, 39, working on a British government grant of the equivalent of about $8,600, gave an exhibition of inebriation in October at the Chapter arts center in Cardiff, Wales. Dressed in business suit and high heels, Takahashi drank a large amount of beer over a three-hour period, periodically checking to see how far she could walk across a narrow beam two feet off the floor without falling. A Chapter spokesman called the demonstration a "powerful piece of art."

HARDLY WORKING

Albania's Gen. Pellumb Qazimi told Reuters in October that the military is scrapping its fleet of obsolete Chinese-made MiG fighter jets, which the country never used in battle but in which 35 Albanian pilots died over the years in operational mishaps. And the Hindustan Times revealed in September that the local New Delhi government's 97 paid rat-catchers have not caught a single rodent since 1994. (Residents complain that rats are not difficult to find in New Delhi.)

CLUES BLUES

Police in Fairfax County, Va., discovered, as one of their only clues in an October rape, a hockey puck from a junior league team in Wichita Falls, Texas, apparently accidentally dropped by the assailant. Said an officer, "It's the first time I'm aware of that a hockey puck has ever been left at a crime scene."

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