One cannot be too careful

Last week, in Ipswich, England, Heidi Brown asked whether she could park her new moped outside the registration office while she was applying for license plates . Answer: Sure. Now she wishes it had been "no." As she waited inside, local merchants reported to police that a suspicious vehicle was chained outside the building and might be wired with a bomb . Why did it look suspicious? Right: because it had no license plates. So the police relayed the concern to the Army, which sent a team to demolish the scooter. With explosives, of course.

Me first!

Are you the oldest child in your family? Then, if results of a new study are accurate, you're probably also better educated and more successful, career-wise, than your siblings. Researchers analyzed census data on Norwegians born between 1912 and 1975, regardless of the size of family. But they say the findings probably would hold true elsewhere as well.

Looking for a good read? See what the critics tout

Besides the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the PEN/Faulkner Award, authors often yearn for one other honor: the National Book Critics Circle Award. Last week the latest winners were announced in New York in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, and criticism. The awards date to 1981, when the not-for-profit National Book Critics Circle established the tradition. This year's winners, by category, with book title, author, and date the Monitor carried a review:

Fiction: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson (Nov. 30, 2004)
Nonfiction: "The Reformation: A History" by Diarmaid MacCulloch (May 25, 2004)
Poetry: "The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004" by Adrienne Rich (March 1, 2005)
Biography: "De Kooning: An American Master" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan (Dec. 7, 2004)
Criticism: "Where You're At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip-Hop Planet" by Patrick Neate (Feb. 22, 2005)
- Associated Press

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