HAPPYTOWN 


;Perhaps we wrote off Lawson the Avenger too soon (see Happytown™, Aug. 9). Could you blame us? After lots of chest-thumping, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar watched his Government Accountability Unit's two biggest fish – Ron Pecora and Doug Guetzloe – wiggle off the hook.

;;How wrong we were. On Aug. 16, Lamar's corruption busters made headlines again when they indicted former state Rep. Sheri McInvale and her former aide, Robert F. Stuart – he of the Stuart clan, which is like our version of the Kennedys, minus the booze – on a bunch of charges. McInvale, who got her ass handed to her by Scott Randolph last November, faces five felony and four misdemeanor counts; Stuart faces three felonies and two misdemeanors. In sum, the six-page indictment alleges the pair stole about $8,000 in state funds.

;;The main charge is that McInvale and Stuart falsified reimbursement vouchers for district newsletters. To what degree the state attorney's office wants to nail Stuart is unclear, as sources say prosecutors twice offered him immunity in exchange for testimony (it's unclear why Stuart didn't accept). In any event, it wasn't a good day for McInvale – who spent the day before her arrest palling around with Mitt Romney in Winter Park. Mitt's campaign is thrilled, we're sure.

;;Anyway, it looks like Lawson the Avenger is back on the case. So be afraid, scalawag politicians! At least until this case crashes and burns, as we're almost sure it will.

;;

;So it turns out that ourappalling dearth of rudimentary science knowledge is due to neither its difficulty nor esotericism; it's Keanu Reeves' fault.

;;

In a fit of indignation over the possibility that someone somewhere might think the Speed bus-jump is actually feasible, two University of Central Florida professors (with UCF heralding the crap out of their findings) have released an article detailing just how, with real equations and stuff, movie stunts aren't real.

;

;;And it's not just that the stunts couldn't happen. Oh no. It's that "blockbusters" like The Core and The Chronicles of Riddick are turning the science side of people's brains into mush. (Of course, that presumes that the people who saw The Chronicles of Riddick didn't have mush-brains to begin with, but whatever.)

;;"Students come here, and they don't have any basic understanding of science," says co-author Costas J. Efthimiou. "My experience is many of the students believe what they see on the screen."

;

;Tie that in with some numbers from the "Science and Engineering Indicators 2006" report about dropping high-school science scores, and we've got ourselves an epidemic.

;

;Example: Kid watches Total Recall, thinks ancient Martians built an oxygen-maker; kid bases understanding of natural world on said oxygen-maker, kid doesn't make any new scientific discoveries; terrorists win.

;

;"All the luxuries we have today, the modern conveniences, are a result of the science research that went on in the '60s during the space race," Efthimiou says. "It didn't just happen. It took people doing hard science to do it."

;

;Since we lack a monolithic superpower with which to race arms, Efthimiou has come up with other ways to pimp "hard science." He teaches a "Physics in Film" class, and he dispels ruinous myths about restarting the earth's rotation with core-centered explosions in his paper Hollywood Blockbusters: Unlimited Fun but Limited Science Literacy:

;;"We could discuss many questionable issues with this scene: (a) Could a cave exist at such depths? (b) Could the crew afford to open and close the door of the vehicle in such a depth? … Many more questions could be added in this list. The reader can reflect on these issues on his own. We will only discuss the sinking of a human body in lava."

;

;Thank you, professors, for saving us – nay, the world – from the insidious, socially annihilative practices of Jerry Bruckheimer et al.

;;

;The Orange County Health ;Dept. just released its annual report. It's long and boring and you won't read it anyway, but don't worry. We're here to help. Here's a brief tour:

;;l Thanks to lassitude/the Hardee's Monster Thickburger, heart disease edged cancer as the county's leading cause of death. We spent roughly $1.34 billon, or $1,000 a person, caring for fatty-tatties countywide.

;;l Potentially rabid animal attacks rose 37 percent. There were 122 people "exposed to" the broken teeth/fecal claws of furry hate machines, and in an "unprecedented court case," three children needed rabies treatment after being "exposed to" bats in some asshole's apartment.

;;l In our midst are 28.6 percent of the state's lepers. That means two whole lepers, possibly right next to you, possibly in the Winn-Dixie checkout line.

;;l It's been four years since our last monkey bite.

;;l Dental health clinics offered their services to 4,406 people; 6,146 people went to clinics for sexually transmitted diseases. We're just sayin'.

;;From the Happytown™ updates desk: Ten months after Brad Will's death in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, one prominent lawmaker is urging the Bush administration to revisit its policy of not giving a shit. [See "Who killed Brad Will?", Aug. 9.] In a July letter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., urged the U.S. State Department "to press the Mexican federal government to swiftly complete a thorough investigation of the killing of Bradley Will and the Oaxaca protestors."

;;Will, an Indymedia journalist, taped his own murder by men identified as police officers loyal to the Oaxaca governor, but the Mexican government has barely lifted a finger, perhaps so as to not upset a political deal that could privatize Mexico's oil industry – which, naturally, the Bush administration favors.

;

;happytown@orlandoweekly.com

;;

;This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Kent Russell and Deanna Sheffield.

; happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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