The playing field isn't level

"The guy's got the whole world; I have two or three acres," George Kaminski grumped to journalists last week. And that was after his transfer to a minimum-security prison in Mercer, Pa., after years in the state's maximum-security lockups for various crimes. So why is he unhappy? Because he's in a head-to-head competition for the championship of four-leaf clover-gathering. Kaminski claims to have picked 72,927 while in the penal system. Alas, the grounds of his new home appear to offer little clover potential. Meanwhile, retiree Edward Martin, a resident of Soldotna, Alaska, by far the largest state, is applying to the Guinness Book of World Records to replace Kaminski as the record-holder. Martin's collection is still being counted, but he says he has more than 76,000. Sighed Kaminski, "It feels good to have something that no one else ... does."

Don't take the very livable Granite State for granted

If climate alone were the measure of livability, New Hampshire might not fare so well. But when factors other than just temperature, are considered, the Granite State apparently is tops. That is the conclusion reached by Morgan Quitno Press in its 15th annual Most Livable States rankings. New Hampshire is rated No. 1, followed by Minnesota and Vermont, a repeat of the 1-2-3 finishers from last year. Mississippi, sadly, finished last for the seventh straight year. The survey is no popularity contest, but, rather, a statistical evaluation of postive and negative factors as diverse as electricity rates, books in public libraries per capita, personal bankruptcy rates, and the percentage of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher: The most livable states of 2005, according to Morgan Quitno Press:

1. New Hampshire

2. Minnesota
3. Vermont
4. Wyoming
5. Virginia
6. Iowa
7. Massachusetts
8. New Jersey
9. South Dakota
10. Nebraska

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