Chuck Shepherd

Reverence for the lineage of asparagus continues in epic yearly Anglican church festivities in Worcester, England, where in April celebrants obtained a special blessing for the vegetable by local priests as a costumed asparagus pranced through the street praising the stalks as representing "the generosity of God." Critics, including clergy from other parishes, likened the parades to a Monty Python sketch, and "an infantile pantomime," with one pleading plaintively, "Really, for [God's] sake," can't the Church of England offer "more dignified" worship?

'Chip envy'

The inexplicable ease with which foreign hackers attack U.S. computers and security systems is finally grabbing the attention of officials. In a March Washington Post report, a technology expert from Britain's King's College London told a reporter of his astonishment to realize that the "security chips" on congressional staff members' identification badges are fake: The badge "doesn't actually have a proper chip," he said. "It has a picture of a chip." Apparently, he added, "It's [there] only to prevent chip envy."

About that lizard ...

In May, as Taunton, Mass., police were about to arrest Amy Rebello-McCarthy, 39, for DWI after she left the road and crashed through several mailboxes, she, laughing, told officers there was one other thing: She had a bearded dragon in her bra (where it was riding while she drove). The lizard was turned over to animal control.

To catch a cheat

• In May, the British tribunal dealing with student cheating rejected the appeal of a law student who was caught taking an in-class exam with her textbook open (permitted) but containing handwritten notes in the margins — not permitted, but written in invisible ink legible via the UV light on her pen.

• On testing day in March for Romania's 14- and 15-year-olds, administrators of the country's popular DEX online dictionary, acting on suspicion, changed the definitions of two words likely to be improperly looked up by cheaters during the exam. "Hundreds" of school searches for the words took place that morning, but administrators were still mulling an appropriate punishment for the cheaters — who were easily identified by their misapplication of the suspect words.

Creative with condoms

With limited trade, investment and ownership rights, many Cuban producers are forced to improvise in order to bring products to market — like Orestes Estevez, a Havana winemaker, who finds condoms indispensable, according to an April Associated Press dispatch. The "most remarkable sight" the reporter saw was "hundreds of [open] bottles capped with condoms," which inflate from gases as the fruit ferments. When fermentation is done, the condom goes limp. The AP also noted that fishermen use condoms to carry bait far from shore and which also increase tugging resistance when nibbling fish fight the line.

Leading economic indicator

Jose Calderon signed as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors in March, but the NBA team changed its mind two hours after the deal and released Calderon. For his 119 minutes as a Warrior (6:06 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.), Calderon was paid $415,000.

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