Simon SaysSimon Says NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small


Musings on a variety of issues vaguely related to the holidays now upon us.

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Some stories to round out a holiday weekend.

Samuel Beauchamp shot a 320-pound black bear in Pennsylvania's Rothrock State Forest this week. When he approached the hairy, unmoving hulk, the bear rose up and bit him and lay down and died. Mr. Beauchamp was treated and released at a local hospital. He told the Associated Press, `What a shock.' Did he expect that the bear that he shot with a 444-caliber rifle should stand up and hug him? Invite him into a cave for a gingerbread latte? The Pennsylvania state Game Commission calls the bear bites an attack, but who attacked whom?

Salt Lake City has opened a new polling place in the east Avenues area of town. It's in the Garner Funeral Home in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Of course, the votes will be counted in Chicago.

There's consternation in Liberia over the decision of 76 outgoing members of parliament to keep the Jeep Cherokee vehicles they received when appointed in a transitional government to end 14 years of civil war. A new parliament will be sworn in on Wednesday, but MP Sando Johnson told the BBC, `It's the tradition in this country that government members get cars, and we're keeping ours.' Of course, it's just such traditions that the newly elected president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is trying to end. International aid agencies and the US Embassy have criticized the keeping of Cherokees, with the US ambassador saying, `This perpetuates the culture of abuse of the public trust.' On the other hand, shouldn't Americans be glad that the MPs aren't asking for Toyotas?

A new study at the University of Oregon says that forgetfulness can be a gift. Researchers say the ability human beings have to learn things but forget them can leave more brain space to store and retrieve truly essential information. Quick now. Who's the secretary of Commerce? Who's the new president of Iran? What's in, oh, let's say, the Sixth and 12th amendments to the Constitution? But if you can finish this sentence--(sings) The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day...'--you might wonder about how you're using your brain space. Hey, we report; you decide.

Finally, Michael Brown, the former FEMA head who's been so widely castigated for responding slowly to the ravages and suffering of Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm. Mr. Brown told the Rocky Mountain News, `If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses, then I hope I can help the country.' Some punch lines just can't be improved.

(Soundbite of song)

THE BEE GEES: (Singing) I started a joke which started the whole world crying. But I didn't see that the joke was on me. Oh, no. I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing.

SIMON: The Bee Gees--If we don't play 'em, who else will?--at 18 minutes past the hour.

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Simon SaysSimon Says NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small