March Madness does not mean gambling the rent

Published 1:51 pm Monday, March 24, 2008

By Staff
(This editorial originally appeared in The Times-News of Burlington.)
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the great equalizer. Through the season, a small collection of teams — usually somewhere between eight and 12 — jockeys for the top positions in the national polls. The privileges of the powerful extend through ‘‘Selection Sunday,’’ the day that the 65 teams that will participate in the tourney are selected, seeded and placed in the bracket; the elite teams capture the best seedings, allowing them to face the weaker teams.
And then, the meek inherit the basketball earth. Teams with double-digit seedings — typically schools with a direction, saint or philanthropist somewhere in their name — capture the attention of the nation after posting a win or two on the opening weekend of the tourney. With the tournament’s ‘‘win or go home,’’ single-elimination format, any team can catch a hot streak and oust a traditional power.
The power of the little guy also is displayed in office pools, where folks who wouldn’t know Oral Roberts from oral surgery have just as much chance to claim bragging rights as the guy who spouts meaningless sports statistics as part of every conversation and cannot throw away a piece of paper without wadding it into a ball and shooting a fadeaway jump shot at the recycling bin. Picking winners based on which team has more snazzy uniforms may seem silly to hardcore fans, but some folks have used that formula and had success.
At this point we think it should be noted that office pools are not legal in North Carolina, but it’s one of those laws only the folks wearing ‘‘the end is near’’ sandwich boards would crave enforcement. In fact, it seems to be a time when a supermajority becomes libertarian. We encourage those participating in gambling, whether in an office or online to your bookie offshore, to do so in moderation and keep things in perspective — meaning we advise that you not spend too much work time on keeping up with bracket winners.
According to a March 2006 Boston Globe report, employers each year lose an estimated $3.8 billion in wages paid to employees who spend work hours and employer bandwidth tracking their NCAA tourney brackets online.
Gray water
(This editorial originally appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal.)
Thank goodness. None of us will be going to jail for using the dishwater to flush the toilet or water the shrubs, after all.
Someone with some sense in state government has decided not to interpret a state public-health law in a ridiculous fashion.
The law was designed to keep household utilities from having pipes that led right back into the house’s water system. The concern is that water with yucky stuff might end up being used to cook or bathe. That would not be a good idea.
Nor would it be a good idea to wash Fido in the tub and then pour the bathwater on the backyard tomato plants. We can all use some common sense here when it comes to re-using water, during a drought, that does contain microscopic stuff that we wanted to wash off of our bodies, our food or dishes.
Gov. Mike Easley presented his statewide water agenda last week and it includes minor changes to state law to make it clear that use of so-called ‘‘gray water,’’ what is left in the bathtub or the sink, on flowers and plants is OK. Shortly thereafter, officials in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said their previous interpretation of the laws, which was released late last year, was not going to be enforced.
No doubt, a lot of azalea bushes will be relieved.