FLAT EARTH

Bugging Vegas

A delicious rumour is spreading around Las Vegas's criminal community: that because of Y2K, there is a good chance that all records at the county jail will magically vaporise on 1 January, forcing the authorities to release everyone from their holding cells and drunk tanks at the dawn of the new millennium.

The rumour has been fanned further by prosecutors and judges who sincerely hope the upheaval will give them plenty of free time to work on their desert tans - even though Vegas is likely to be mobbed for the New Year celebrations, and the police are going to be working overtime to round up the usual over-exuberant suspects.

The truth, unfortunately, is likely to be rather less spectacular. But one little scenario hasn't been discounted: electronic doors to the judges' and prosecutors' offices might just clamp shut, incarcerating the incarcerators until the computer boffins can figure a way of getting them out. Now there's a scenario to warm a Vegas hoodlum's heart.

Smile - or else

"There's an idea making the rounds that Aeroflot personnel aren't particularly hospitable and likeable," says the Russian airline. For some reason Aeroflot is under the impression that its crews are perceived as grumpy and difficult. To remedy this, the airline has announced that 10 December is to be designated as "smile day". Flight attendants have been told to put on happy faces, and passengers are invited to name the one with the "most brilliant smile".

Let's hope the strain's not too great, or Aeroflot's hapless clientele might find their tea and sandwiches being slammed down on their fold-down tables even harder than usual.

Martha knows best

WWJD is a phrase that you will see all over the Southern states of the US, on bumper stickers, T-shirts, button badges and so on. It stands for "What Would Jesus Do?", a popular slogan among the born-again and religiously- minded. But there is a new slogan available for the more secular, seen embroidered on a cushion featured in the Washington Post: WWMD. It stands for "What Would Martha Do?" - Martha being Martha Stewart, the influential and very wealthy style guru whom millions of Americans consider a god.

FIONA BELL

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