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Facts and Arguments Roadside prostitutes in Spain fined for not wearing reflective vests

Safe sex

"Roadside prostitutes working on a roundabout outside the Spanish city of Lleida have begun wearing yellow reflective bibs to avoid fines from police," The Guardian reports. "The prostitutes have donned the high-visibility vests, similar to those worn by road workers or drivers whose cars have broken down, to save themselves the €40 [$57]fines. Police said they were not trying to get rid of the prostitutes, but were simply including them in a push to enforce use of the fluorescent bibs, which must be worn by anyone walking down a rural highway."

Hint fiction

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"You remember those six-word memoirs that were all the rage a while back?" JJ Sutherland writes for NPR.org. "They were modelled on a story Hemingway allegedly wrote on a dare: 'For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.' Well now there's a new book, Hint Fiction, a collection of slightly longer efforts, 25 words or less, edited by Robert Swartwood. From The New Yorker: ' Hint Fiction gives writers a little more room to roam. A hinting story, Swartwood explains, should do in 25 words what it could do in 2,500, that is, it 'should be complete by standing by itself as its own little world.' And, like all good fiction, it should tell a story while gesturing toward all the unknowable spaces outside the text.' … My favourite is Houston, We Have a Problem by J. Matthew Zoss: 'I'm sorry, but there's not enough air in here for everyone. I'll tell them you were a hero.' " (Social Studies readers, their children and servants may try their hands at hint fiction. Good efforts might be printed, not that anyone pursues accolades.)

Attention, dreamers

"Scientists think it will be possible to record people's dreams and then interpret them, according to a new report," The Daily Telegraph says. "They claim to have developed a system which allows them to record higher-level brain activity. Dr. Moran Cerf told the journal Nature: 'We would like to read people's dreams.' Previously, the only way to access people's dreams is for psychologists to ask about them after the event and try to interpret them. Dr. Cerf hopes to eventually compare people's memories of their dreams with an electronic visualization of their brain activity." Perhaps in the future, he said: "instead of just having to write an e-mail you could just think it. Or another futuristic application would be to think a flow of information and have it written in front of your eyes."

Minding the store

"The first supermarket, King Piggly Wiggly in Memphis, Tenn., guided the shoppers of 1916 through a maze of chicken-wire aisles until they had passed every available item and reached the checkout," Foreign Policy magazine reports. "Today's supermarket Big Brothers are much more sophisticated: Modern technologies such as radio-frequency identification tagging and data mining - Wal-Mart's database is second only in capacity to the Pentagon's - are used to monitor consumer habits and maximize impulse purchases. So, it's a good bet that the Walton family knows more about the average Chinese person than CIA director Leon Panetta does. It works the other way, too: Wall Street uses spy satellites to check whether Wal-Mart parking lots are full, a measure of the strength of U.S. retail."

Rare side-arm effect

"A 63-year-old Boulder [Colo.]man accidentally shot himself in the knee around 2 a.m. Tuesday, apparently while sleepwalking, police said. Sanford Rothman … told police he woke up to a 'bang' and discovered he was shot in the left knee. He said he did not have a clear recollection of the incident," the Boulder Daily Camera reports. Mr. Rothman keeps a 9 mm handgun near his bed, and takes prescription pain medication.

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Pass the ammunition

"A 70-year-old Kentucky woman who works as a gun-safety instructor said she was inspired by an encounter with some aggressive evangelicals," United Press International reports. Sylvia Hall of Centerfield decided to take training to teach gun-safety classes after using her Smith & Wesson to scare off four men who came to her door and wanted to read to her from the Bible, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reported. Ms. Hall said the men refused to take no for an answer and attempted to push their way into her home. "Women shouldn't be afraid in their own homes," she said. "They ought to be able to protect themselves."

It's not our style

"A descendant of France's King Louis XIV is seeking a court order to halt a radical contemporary exhibition by Takashi Murakami in the royal apartments at Versailles because it sullied 'supreme good French taste,' " The Independent reports. "Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon-Parme launched his legal action to rid the palace's ornate halls of the fibreglass cartoon figures and giant Buddha statues, calling for 'respect of the château and of his ancestors.' "

Thought du jour

"Friend is sometimes a word devoid of meaning; enemy never."

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Victor Hugo (1802-85), French poet, novelist, statesman

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