FOLIO

One Rule Fits All

Chuck Shepherd Jim Howe, father of two children at South Cumberland Elementary School in Crossville, Tenn., was handcuffed and briefly detained by a sheriff’s deputy in November after mistakenly believing that he could walk his kids home when class let out at 2 p.m. Actually, the school allows 2 p.m. departure only for kids being picked up in cars; pupils who leave on foot must wait until 2:35. (Howe assumed the waiting period was only to protect young pedestrians from pick-up traffic.) Deputy Avery Aytes said a rule is a rule and that if Howe failed to cooperate, he would …

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Doctor Without Boundaries

Chuck Shepherd Many medical professionals are certain that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, 70, is a quack, treating cancer patients with expensive, FDA-unapproved substances, giving false hope to the terminally ill and in some cases diverting them from better-regarded treatments. However, according to a December USA Today investigation, Dr. Burzynski enjoys enthusiastic support from a small but dedicated group of patients, and neither regulators in Texas (where he’s licensed) nor two juries (who turned back indictments against him) have been able to stop him. FDA regulators have been inconsistent toward him but appear to be gaining aggressiveness following recent inspections of his …

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Can’t Possibly Be True

Chuck Shepherd Tension over digital security is such that an alarming disclosure made in 2004 (and largely ignored) can resurface on a website in 2013 and appear even more astonishing. At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s (and largely because of Pentagon-White House contentiousness), “safeguards” were installed to prevent rogue generals from launching nuclear war on their own. What today would be a PIN number was assigned to each missile, but Strategic Air Command generals mocked the PINs by setting each one to “00000000” — a code that now would be ridiculed as naïve. “00000000” was then …

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Equality Under Law

Chuck Shepherd In December, Fort Worth, Texas, judge Jean Boyd sentenced teenager Ethan Couch to probation with no jail time for drunkenly killing four people in a car crash — apparently accepting Couch’s “defense” that his affluent, permissive childhood had taught him irresponsibility. WFAA-TV found a 2012 case in which Judge Boyd sentenced a 14-year-old black kid to prison for punching another boy who then fell, bumped his head and died.

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People With Too Much Money

Chuck Shepherd During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney caught criticism for his proposed California home with parking on an upper floor, requiring a car elevator. Much more elaborate elevator access will be available in the new Porsche Design Tower near Miami (opening in 2016, it’s already 80 percent sold out, according to a December report by Slate.com). The 132 oceanside units (4,300-17,000 sq. ft.; $5.3-$32.5 million) include glass-walled, elevator-accessed spaces for two or four cars (for those who’d rather admire their Bugattis and Maseratis than the Atlantic Ocean).

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Jacksonville Has an Identity Crisis

Jeffrey C. Billman There is a profound disadvantage as a newcomer to writing a weekly column about a place you know little about. These columns are, by their very design, meant to be authoritative. Yet I still find myself very much a stranger in a strange land, and am wary of inveighing on anything with too much vigor lest I open my mouth only to forcefully insert my foot — to borrow a maxim, “Silence is wisdom when speaking is folly.” So instead of beating my chest and telling you what to think — this page will soon enough have …

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AQUARIUS: Jan. 8-14

Rob Brezsny AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The months ahead are a good time to meditate on the concepts of happy accidents and benevolent trouble. Throw constructive mischief in the mix, too, and even a dose of graceful chaos. Are you game for playing with so much paradox? Willing to entertain the possibility that fate has generous plans too unexpected to anticipate? There’s only one requirement to meet to receive your odd gifts in the spirit in which they’re offered: Be open-minded, eager to learn and flexible.

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CAPRICORN: Jan. 8-14

Rob Brezsny CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Interested in a motto to help set the tone in 2014? Here’s a suggestion from a Margaret Atwood poem. Try saying this and see if it works: “Last year I abstained / this year I devour / without guilt / which is also an art.” If you make this your own, don’t forget that devouring without guilt is an art – a skill requiring craft and sensitivity. You can’t afford to get blindly instinctual and greedy in 2014; don’t compulsively overcompensate for 2013’s deprivations. Be cagey and discerning to satisfy your voracious hunger.

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SCORPIO: Jan. 8-14

Rob Brezsny SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I hope you find a new teacher or two in 2014, maybe even a mentor. Not a guru who tells you what to do. Not an exploitative “expert” who claims to know what’s right or a charismatic narcissist who collects adoration. What I wish for you is that you connect with wise, humble sources of inspiration, with life-long learners who listen well and stimulate you to ask good questions, with curious guides who open your eyes to resources you don’t know you need. In the months ahead, you’re primed to launch a quest to …

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LIBRA: Jan. 8-14

Rob Brezsny LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The citizens of Iceland love literature, but many aren’t content to simply read. One out of every 
10 Icelanders writes and publishes a book sometime in his or her life. I know it’s unrealistic, but I’d love to see at least one in 10 of all my Libra readers do the same in 2014. You’re ready to make a big statement – to express yourself in a more complete and dramatic way. If you’re not ready to write a book, try something else like it.

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