by Inlander Staff Jinkies! -- After the Cougs sent the Oregon Ducks back to their fancy locker rooms with their tailfeathers between their legs on Saturday, the talk immediately turned to... the Sports Illustrated jinx? That's right, WSU's stifling defense, pundits said, was only part of the problem for Oregon. The biggest obstacle was that they were on the cover of Sports Illustrated the week of the game.
Long whispered about by athletes, fans and coaches, the jinx was the subject of a cover story in... Sports Illustrated. Yep, in January 2002, the magazine dug into the urban legend and found that maybe there was a jinx after all. In fact, researchers found that 37 percent of the teams or players who appeared on the cover since the 1950s suffered some kind of setback in the immediate aftermath.
It all started in August 1954, when Milwaukee Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews made the cover, only to be injured later that week. In October 1982, Penn State QB Todd Blackledge's mug hit the stands, and he followed up by throwing four interceptions against Alabama in a blowout loss. The list goes on.
So the message for the Cougs is, keep playing well -- but not too well. Let some other team make the cover. (You can find a whole section devoted to the jinx at www.cnnsi.com.)
$32 million -- That's how much the United States plans to spend to start up a new 24-hour television network -- in the Middle East. The plan is to use it to counter coverage provided by al-Jazeera in the fight to win the hearts and minds of people in that region. After the launch, another $30 million will be needed.
Leave 'em Hanging? -- In the rush to replace punch-card voting systems across the United States, more and more activists fear that what will replace them may be even worse. A 2001 MIT/Caltech study found that optical scan systems lose 3 percent of the votes they are supposed to count; punch cards lose 4.1 percent. But touch-screen systems, which are coming in big numbers to Washington state and California, lose 5.7 percent. More troubling is the fact that as currently built by the Diebold company of Ohio, the touch-screen systems provide no paper trail, like a receipt confirming that you voted. And they can be hacked into with ease, if you believe scientists at Johns Hopkins and Rice, who found the software fell "far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts."
But here's the kicker: According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Diebold's CEO, Wally O'Dell, is one of President Bush's top fund-raisers.