• TAKES A DRIPPING, KEEPS ON CLICKING: Loyal readers of this column may recall reporter Cameron Barr's experience, while in northern Iraq this past spring, involving a certain colorless soft drink and the keyboard of his laptop. It seemed fairly disastrous at the time. To regain his composure, he had to lie down on the bed in his hotel room. With the help of a hair dryer and patience, the laptop recovered.
Cameron admits that during his latest trip to Baghdad, a similar event occurred: a large quantity of water was inadvertently poured into the keyboard of his laptop. Now, however, he is an old hand at this sort of calamity.
"I immediately disconnected the power supply and the battery and flipped the laptop over to drain out the water. Then I realized you couldn't ask for a better climate in which to soak your electronics than Baghdad in August. This event happened at night, but the outdoor temperature was still over 100 degrees F. and the humidity near zero. So I put the laptop on the balcony of my hotel room and went to bed. In the morning the machine was as dry as the desert. And it's still clicking."
Today's story about the pace of democracy building in Iraq is proof.
David Clark Scott
• THE MOST EXPENSIVE CITY: In Oslo, Norway, even a trip to a public toilet costs $1.32.
A survey by USB, the Swiss banking giant, gives Oslo the dubious distinction of being the world's most expensive city. Tokyo dropped to third, below Hong Kong.
In Oslo, a no-frills hamburger averages $5.95. A three-minute bus ride costs $2.64 when buying tickets in advance - but $3.97 to hop on at the last minute. The price of gasoline is $4.89 per gallon. The Norwegian minimum wage is $8.59 an hour, reports the Associated Press.