Go ahead, write it off

Judges come up with some baffling rulings, especially in criminal cases - right? How else to explain a decision last week by the High Court of Australia that ended a legal batttle between a convicted heroin dealer and the government. In their wisdom, the justices decided that although he's in jail, the plaintiff may claim a deduction on his income tax for having $165,000 of ill-gotten gain stolen before he could spend it to replenish his supply.

No. 1: Reveille?

If you're a child of the rock 'n' roll age, you know all about "the charts" - the rankings of top-selling music by Billboard magazine. So it may not come as a surprise to learn that the weekly "bible" of the industry will begin tracking a new category: ringtones, the synthesized compositions that alert cellphone users to incoming calls. Global sales hit an estimated $3.5 billion last year.

Sticker shock time: Paying a child's college tuition

To no one's surprise, the price of a college education keeps rising. According to the nonprofit College Entrance Examination Board in New York, tuitions shot up 10.5 percent, on average, for undergraduates at public institutions over the past year. Still, that's a bargain compared to the tuition at private schools on the Chronicle of Higher Education's latest list of most expensive colleges. Those schools, their locations, and current annual tuition:

1. Landmark College, Putney, Vt. $35,300
2. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y. 32,416
3. Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 32,170
4. Trinity College, Hartford, Conn. 31,940
5. George Washington University, Washington 31,710
6. Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. 31,700
7. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine 31,656
8. Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn. 31,650
9. Columbia University New York 31,472
10. Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y. 31,440

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