The Range

Curse of the Nile

Pima County recorded its first West Nile virus victims, with two people officially diagnosed last week, according to Dr. Elizabeth MacNeil of the Pima County Health Department. (A third homeless victim of West Nile appears to have contracted the disease somewhere out of town, says MacNeil.)

Roughly four of out five people who get West Nile, which is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, will exhibit no serious symptoms. But about 20 percent will suffer from fevers, headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. The severe cases, generally in people older than 50, include meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis and death.

Pima County has gotten off easy compared to Maricopa County, which has seen more than 300 cases so far this year, including five fatal incidents.

To stem the spread of the virus, officials recommend eliminating standing water wherever possible, to stop mosquito breeding. If you can avoid going outdoors between dusk and dawn, that's probably a good idea, too. And if you must go outdoors, avoid exposing your skin and wear some kind of repellent that includes DEET. Don't worry about fashion--we hear the Tychem BR sealed-seam hazwaste containment suits will be all the rage on the runways this fall.

Is Our Children Learning?

In the wake of dismal AIMS scores, more screwy news about the state of education: The Communities for Quality Education revealed that 40 of Arizona's top schools got failing marks under the Bush Administration's No Child Left Behind program, just because a few kids were absent on the day that AIMS testing took place.

What does the failing label mean? After two years, the schools "are forced to redirect monies from classroom programs to finance student transfers and could eventually face teacher layoffs and school closures," according to Reggie Johnson, communications director for CQE.

"The Bush education law and its failure labels are a real disservice to Arizona's children, schools and teachers," said Johnson. "For all of the schools' hard work and academic excellence, they are being rewarded with a federal failing label. I can't see how that helps a single child learn more."

Sporting News

The UA Wildcats managed to hold off the formidable Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks in Coach Mike Stoops' debut last Saturday, Sept. 4. Up against a mighty juggernaut, the Cats took command late in the game and prevailed 21-3.

Meanwhile the Tucson Sidewinders wrapped up their 2004 season above .500 with a record 74 wins and 70 losses, finishing just five games behind the first-place Sacramento River Cats. Congrats to the 'Winders for a great season even as the parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, struggled to win three out of every 10 games. (The D'Backs finished the Labor Day weekend 36 1/2 games out of first place; Jeff Moorad, who is scheduled to succeed Jerry Colangelo as D'Backs CEO, recently reassured that "This organization is committed to winning.") And a big thanks to Sidewinders owner Jay Zucker, who has resisted tempting offers to sell the team to interested parties who would happily relocate the Sidewinders elsewhere.

Last Call

The Range reveled in an intoxicating new freedom when we had our first (legal) drink at a bar after 1 a.m. during Club Congress' senses-shattering celebration of Al Perry's new CD, Always a Pleasure, last Friday, Sept. 3. (Well, technically, we guess it was in the wee hours of Saturday, Sept. 4.) And let us tell you: Beer never tasted so sweet!

While the talented Mr. Perry put on a four-hour musical marathon alongside the Cattle, the Fraidy Cats and Gila Bend, bigshot downtown developers casually mingled with political powerhouses and members of the media elite. We only wish we could report on all the juicy rumors we heard, but it's all off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush ...

Sometime after the end of the show, The Range made another last call--this time to Do the Ride Thing, a now-discontinued service that took drunks home for free. We hazily recall our cab driver telling us that too many people were abusing the program by walking into bars and getting free rides, even if they weren't all that drunk. But we have to wonder: Wouldn't that be balanced out by the all the drunks on the road who never take advantage of the program?

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