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HOW SOON CAN YOU GET HERE?

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of commuters honored state Premier Bob Carr's call to drive to work Wednesday with their headlights on, in memory of the moment when the first hijacked airliner crashed into New York's World Trade Center last year. Nice gesture, right – especially considering it was a sunny morning Down Under? Yes, but you probably can see where this is going. Most of them also apparently forgot to switch the lights off when they reached their places of employment. As the workday ended, the National Roads & Motorists Association reported calls for jump-starting dead batteries around the city averaged 530 per hour.

HEY, IT BEATS SHUFFLEBOARD

Yes, that was retired Russian President Boris Yeltsin, leaving a book fair in Moscow last week with several freebies under his arm. He doesn't get out much anymore, he admitted to a journalist, but: "I read ... a book a day. A month ago, I bought 25 ... and [I've] read them all." Favorites: histories, memoirs, and especially novels by Russian authors.

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William who? Wasn't he a rock guitarist or something?

For those who lament educational standards in the US, consider this: A survey of British children found just 32 percent who could spell "Shakespeare," the name of the Englishman who was arguably history's greatest playwright. On the other hand, most knew pop-culture terms such as "Hogwarts," the fictional alma mater of boy wizard Harry Potter, and pro soccer star David Beckham. Oxford University Press commissioned the poll of 500 10- to 12-year-olds as part of its research for a new children's dictionary. A sampling of words in the Oxford study, and the percentage of respondents who spelled them correctly:

Hogwarts 85%
David Beckham 80
battle droid 66
Shakespeare 32
Parliament 28
millennium 11
Jane Austen 8
personnel 7
– PR Newswire


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