And another thing...

TAG THE DOG. Maybe it's a cautionary tale for agencies looking to increase their use of electronic tags. Maybe not. But a man in Middlesbrough, England, who had been fitted with an electronic tag after a drunk-driving conviction, found a way out of the doghouse. Shaun Cliff managed to slip off the tag and put it on his dog, so authorities wouldn't notice when Cliff slipped down to the pub. He got nabbed anyway, but claimed he was only trying to prove a point about flaws in the tagging program, which is growing in use. (He also told the local newspaper his scheme was 'dreamt up on a mixture of drink and pain- killers.' You decide.) The local courts heard him out, but chose to stay the course, giving him another three-month sentence'of wearing an electronic tag. Now, some folks might get up on their hind legs about encouraging recidivism, but maybe they need to relax, have a mixed drink.

TAG THE DOG, PART II. Elsewhere in England, in Surrey, a woman's dog swallowed the immobilizer chip for her car, which put the pooch, so to speak, in the driver's seat. The chip allows the car's key to work. So until this, too, passes, the woman has to have the dog in the front seat to drive anywhere.

ROBO UPDATE. The Defense Advanced Projects Agency has picked 11 teams to compete in the next Grand Challenge robot car race. Last year, a car from Stanford University beat one from Carnegie Mellon University over the 132-mile Mojave Desert course. (The year before, the cars barely got out of the starting gate.) Both schools will have teams in the next, more difficult contest'a 60 mile city course. For more, see

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