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January 15, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

They Shoot Their Masters, Don't They? Our thanks to correspondent Ann Harrison for calling our attention to a chilling crime trend ignored in the FBI's latest cheery report on falling homicide rates.

Apparently, there is a growing problem of innocent hunters being gunned down by trigger-happy canines. In November 1993, for example, the Orlando Sentinel reported that an Italian man was shot in the left leg when his dog stepped on his rifle. Two weeks earlier, a hunter in Transylvania was killed while driving home when his mutt pawed the trigger of a loaded rifle on the back seat, according to the London Guardian.

Finally, there was an item from Moscow about a hunter found shot to death in a snowy forest with a rifle in his left hand and his two dogs nearby, one with its hind leg caught in a trap. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, police concluded that the man was done in by the dog in the trap. They found fresh scratches on the rifle butt and figured that when the hunter tried to free the dog, it "most probably accidentally" pulled the trigger. Robbery was ruled out because there were no other footprints in the snow.

We know what's coming next. Right-wing conspiracy theorists will soon be claiming that Clinton's dog, Buddy, somehow killed Vince Foster.

A Rush to Judgment: In the wake of our Wednesday report that Texas has overtaken California as the weirdest state in the union, several scientists said it was journalistically irresponsible to list a few isolated news events and conclude that everyone in the Lone Assassin State is wacko. Well, we are irresponsible, but we must concede that Texas is occasionally superior to the Golden State. For example, while California educators wrestle over whether it's better to teach math by making students memorize multiplication tables or use calculators, Texas teachers are light-years ahead. According to Texas Monthly, six math teachers at Elsie Robertson High School in Lancaster were suspended for assigning--no joke--the following word problems:

* If Hector knocked up six out of 27 girls in his gang, what percent of girls has Hector knocked up?

* If the average spray can covers 22 square feet and the average letter is 3 square feet, how many letters can a tagger spray with three cans of paint?

* Raoul is serving a six-year prison sentence for murder. He got $10,000 for the hit. If his common-law wife is spending $100 a month, how much money will be left when he gets out of prison?

More on Texans: We also must give credit to Texans for at least being smarter than our friends in the nation's capital. Again from Texas Monthly: When Vice President Al Gore received a letter from a Dallas couple urging federal action to save the Texas Eagle, he responded, "I share your view that the urgent problem of species extinction and conservation of biological diversity should be addressed." But if Gore had read the letter a bit more closely, he would have realized the Texas Eagle is an Amtrak passenger train running from San Antonio to Chicago.

Paul Is Deaf: In a recent chat with the BBC, Paul McCartney said he talked to God when his wife, Linda, was battling cancer. We suspect it's a case of mistaken identity. The real God would have told McCartney to publicly repent for recording "Silly Love Songs," "Let 'Em In" and a host of other post-Beatle atrocities.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Pickled Baby Shocker! Loving Parents Keep Dead Daughter in a Jar" (Weekly World News)

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

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