by James Aldridge

Daily Cougar Staff

Even after a student's book was stolen from an office in Melcher Hall and then sold to Rothers' Bookstore for $20, the bookstore originally refused to return the book to the owner unless she paid Rothers' the $20 to cover their cost.

On Wednesday, the Delta Sigma Pi international business fraternity's office was burglarized. Vincent Green, 36, was charged with a Class B misdemeanor and is serving a 140-day jail sentence at the Harris County jail, the District Attorney's office said.

The Delta Sigma Pi office was locked and empty for about 45 or 50 minutes while the members were in class. The victim of the theft said that once she discovered her $65 Financial Management textbook missing, she called the police and then the two campus bookstores to see if either store had just bought the book.

Rothers' had just bought the textbook a half-hour before she called, she said.

When she went to the store, Rothers' manager Cheryl Dunham was very irate, she said, and Dunham knowingly tried to sell her back her own book.

The owner had her name on page 813 -- Aug. 13 is her birthday -- and showed Dunham as proof that the book was hers. It was then, she said, that Dunham offered to sell her the book for the amount Rothers' paid Green.

She said Dunham gave her two options: either buy the book back or the police would hold the book until she could contest it. By that time, the semester would be over, she said.

After receiving a few phone calls from the student's father, Rothers' gave her back the book, she said. In a letter from the store, the student was given a $100 gift certificate and an apology.

The whole incident led Rothers' to form a policy of returning books if the police can identify them.

The only comment Dunham would give is, "If a book is stolen and it is identified with the police, we will give it back."

When asked why the book wasn't given back immediately, Dunham said, "That's all I'm going to say on the matter."

UHPD Lt. Malcolm Davis said when businesses buy property from an individual, they are buying it in good faith, meaning that the property is bought with the assumption that the individual actually owns it.

Davis said the best thing students can do about book theft is to engrave books with a drivers' license number. "Pick a page, not the cover because the cover can be ripped off, and put your name and drivers' license on it," he said.

"That way when the book is found a person can say, 'My drivers license is on page such and such,'" he said.

Davis said putting a drivers' license number is better than writing a social security number because the drivers' license is more easily traceable.







by James V. Geluso

Senior Writer

The faculty merit raise promised by out-going President James Pickering in November has been delayed one month at the request of in-coming interim President Glenn Goerke.

The raise, which Pickering had said would take effect Sept. 1, will instead be delayed until Oct. 1, and will not be retroactive, according to Fran Howell, asssistant director of Media Relations.

"The administration felt it would be prudent to look at how the funds will be appropriated," Howell said.

The funds will still be approved by the Board of Regents at its August meeting, but the distribution of the money to the colleges will be delayed one month.

Howell said Goerke asked for the delay so that the new administration could be more fiscally accountable.

Faculty members said they don't mind the delay if it means better budgeting for the university as a whole.

"I'm personally satisfied that this is the right thing to do," said Gerald Paskusz, president of the Faculty Senate.

"The method that was going to be used to apply the raise by Sept. 1 would have punished some of the colleges," he said.

Paskusz said he could not specify what that method was or which colleges would be hurt.

"The reason things were put off is so that the faculty do get a raise," said Karl Kadish, president-elect of the Faculty Senate. "The loss of one month is not a big deal."

Both Paskusz and Kadish made it clear that they were speaking only for themselves, although both said they believe the rest of the faculty will agree with them. Paskusz said the faculty will discuss the delay at the earliest opportunity, which will probably be around the beginning of the Summer IV session.

"If things really do come through on Oct. 1, I think the faculty will be delighted," Kadish said.

The money allocated to the raise is expected to total about $3 million.

When Pickering promised the raise in a "state of the university" address, which was given to the Fall Faculty Assembly on Nov. 9, he said he did not know how the money would be found for the raise, but that he hoped the State of Texas would help.

That wish went unanswered in the legislative session that ended in May, so the money must be raised from flexible funding sources that have yet to be determined.








by Niki Purcell

Daily Cougar Staff

Just as gravity affects apples dropping from trees, the Earth's pull can also alter cell and tissue growth.

In contrast, microgravity can aid life science researchers in growing three-dimensional tissue pieces, unachievable on Earth, utilizing conventional tissue culture methods.

Space Shuttle Discovery, or STS-70, will carry the experiment when it launches into orbit July 13.

Officially called the Bioreactor Demonstration System, the experiment is designed to use space-bioreactor systems to grow individual human cells into organized tissues similar to the original tissue or organ.

The BDS, developed at the Johnson Space Center, has a rotating cylinder to suspend cells and tissues as they are growing. The system, designed by Stan Kleis, UH associate professor of mechanical engineering, is already being used in ground-based research.

Kleis, the engineering principal investigator for BDS, is in his 10th year with Johnson Space Center.

"He is providing us with operational knowledge for the experiment," said Tom Taylor, a life sciences hardware development contractor with the space center.

The experiment's purpose is to show the performance of the bioreactor in actual microgravity.

"Our primary objective is to be sure the flow (of the cells) within the cylinder sharper have a uniform mixture," Taylor said. The cells need to be fed in a systematic nature in order for BDS to function properly.

This includes the motion of various sizes of small particles in the bioreactor under different conditions as well as the ability of the reactor itself to provide the necessary support required to grow and maintain the cells in microgravity.

"The bioreactor design has two parts. One part is the test the cells in relation to the atmosphere. The other part of the experiment is the experiment itself," Taylor said.

The experiment protocol uses colon cancer cells to test the bioreactor's performance. Other related experiments will be off-line measurements of pH, glucose and carbon dioxide content within the bioreactor and will record the results of the system's performance.

BDS is Kleis' first experiment to be launched and tested during a mission.

"This experiment is getting a lot of crew attention and is generating a lot of excitement," Taylor said.

Investigators, including Kleis, anticipate BDS will show sufficient mixing able to support tissue growth with minimal cell damage. They are also hopeful the system will allow the cancer cells to metabolize glucose and produce acid, thereby demonstrating the function of the pH sensor.

BDS also will demonstrate the bioreactor's ability to provide oxygen and glucose and remove waste products.

"The experiment will be helpful in the fight against long-term diseases like cancer, will aid human tissue for transplantation, and will aid the production of biomaterials for research and medicine," Kleis said.

STS-70 is America's 100th Human Space Mission.







by James Aldridge

Daily Cougar Staff

At 6 p.m. Wednesday in Lot 13A, a beige, four-door Jeep Cherokee's engine caught fire and fumed smoke that covered the entire parking lot, a scare to girls who were with the cheerleading camp at the Quadrangle dormitory and the participants with the Teach for America conference.

One unit of the Houston Fire Department was on hand, along with two police cars, making sure the situation was under control. No one was hurt.

The teen-age girls kept distance between themselves and the smoldering mess, but stayed around to watch firefighters put it out.

When fire was fuming from the engine, people were yelling, "It's going to blow up!" according to Kristan Drybread of Teach for America.

The owner of the vehicle was seen with her wavy, blond hair out of place and her face stained with tears. Once the fire was finally out, she seemed grateful for the hug the sweaty firefighter gave her.

UHPD Lt. Helia Durant was the supervising officer on hand. "It was an oil fire. We just kept it from spreading," he said. "She was having car trouble. She needed a jump-start. Something happened and caused the fire."

UHPD officers tried to put out the fire, but it wasn't put out until the fire department arrived, Durant said.

By 6:20 p.m., the Houston Fire Department began to pack up and leave. Two cars were still parked next to the Jeep Cherokee. No visible damage was done to any other vehicle.

Once the firefighters drove off in their fire engine, the cheerleaders walked by the wreck as if it was old news. They seemed to be more concerned with cheerleading practice than with the fire once the commotion had died.

The Jeep Cherokee was eventually towed to the police station, and the owner was whisked off with the officers.







by James V. Geluso

Senior Writer

Parents of college students will receive some assistance from the State of Texas as a result of a bill passed by the Texas Legislature.

On June 17, Texas Gov. George W. Bush signed into law the Texas Prepaid Tuition Program, a program designed to help parents beat rising college costs through guaranteed investments.

The program allows the State of Texas to offer contracts for purchase that will be worth the full cost of an education when redeemed.

It was first proposed in State Comptroller John Sharp's report, <I>Gaining Ground<P>, and is modeled on similar programs pioneered in Michigan and Florida.

Contracts will be available for purchase January 2, said Kelly Fero, spokesman for the Comptroller's office. Any Texas resident can buy a contract for any student, and anybody can buy a contract for a student who lives in Texas.

Funds collected from the sale of contracts are invested so that the fund will be worth the full cost of a college education. The initial price is based on an estimate of what college costs will be on the target date and how much must be invested in order to meet that target amount.

The contract can be paid off all at once, or in installments that can last up until the time the student goes off to college, Fero said.

If college costs were underestimated or the investment failed to produce enough money, the state would then appropriate enough money to guarantee that the contracts are honored. However, the legislation as actually written does not bind the Legislature to do so.

"We believe the program will be popular enough that there would be a large amount of public pressure for the Legislature to fund the program," Fero said. "But no, this is not actually guaranteed by law."

Four different plans are offered: a junior college plan, good for two years at a community college; a senior college plan, good for four years at a university; a junior-senior college plan, good for two years at a community college followed by two years at a university; and a private college plan, good for four years at a private college.

The legislation also creates a scholarship fund for those who would like to purchase a plan but cannot afford to. This scholarship was outlined by Sharp in his original proposal.

Sharp's proposal called for a $1.5 million state appropriation to begin the fund, which would also seek private donations. A similar fund in Florida, Sharp's report pointed out, received $2 million in private donations in response to a challenge from the Legislature to match a $1 million appropriation. The Texas Legislature, however, made no donation to the initial fund.

Fero said Sharp was disappointed that the Legislature declined to appropriate money, but will concentrate now on raising money for the fund from private sources.

"In Florida, their program funds about 1,000 scholarships. We're going to try to beat that," Fero said.

"Even a small-town civic organization could provide a year's tuition for one student. A large business could provide four years for a dozen students.

"It's a no-brainer for business. It ensures them a high-skill work force, which in turn ensures prosperity for Texas."







by Dominic Corva

Daily Cougar Staff

In just a few years, roller hockey has swept the United States like a tidal wave. The National Sporting Goods Association reports that the number of roller hockey participators has doubled in the last year to 3 million from 1.5 million. Children are playing it on the streets; universities are fielding intramural and intercollegiate teams; and there's even a professional league, Roller Hockey International, with teams from across the nation.

It should come as no surprise that, two weeks ago, a group of entrepreneurs from the Northeast opened Slapshot Street and Roller Hockey Center, the first authentic roller hockey arena in Houston, where nine teams are already signed up for summer league play. Scott Vereb, former University of Pittsburgh ice hockey player and part owner of the rink, says the number will double or triple in time for the fall season.

Located at 6320 Fairdale Lane, a block northwest of Richmond and Hillcroft, Slapshot offers nights for just skating or playing pickup as well as for league play. The rink is equipped with a five-disc CD changer and sound system, so skaters are invited to bring their own music.

The rink offers a plethora of learning opportunities for prospective hockey players: backward-skating lessons, a women's instructional league, and divisions of play for children under 16 years old. Houston Aero Graeme Townshend is running an instructional roller hockey camp for children 8 to 16, three times this summer.

Slapshot is almost identical in dimensions to an ice hockey rink, just 20 feet shorter and floored with Sportcourt, a soft, rubbery surface used in RHI arenas. It is covered by a roof to keep out rain and sweltering Houston sun.

Roller hockey has received its biggest surge in the warmest parts of the United States. "California has about 100 similar rinks in the state, the most in the nation," Vereb says.

Most of the rinks aren't covered, though, and often use smooth, painted cement courts instead of state-of-the-art Sportcourt. Florida has been the site of the Disney's Epcott Center exhibition roller hockey games that started the RHI. Disney often holds tournaments for teams of teen-agers from neighboring states. Even Dallas, according to Vereb, is approximately three years ahead of Houston in level of play. They were helped, of course, by the presence of the Dallas Stars, the NHL team that played there until two years ago.

"I think, with roller hockey, in 10 years you'll find professional players mostly from the Southwest and Florida," Vereb says.

Getting league play organized hasn't been easy, according to Vereb. Not many people have 10 or 15 friends ready to shell out approximately $100 per person to play on a team. Slapshot is assembling some teams from individuals and small groups who can't get together a whole team. Vereb is working on getting those teams together now in a random draft. They will be allowed two practices and an exhibition game to test their chemistry. There are a few whole teams assembled already, though. One is a group of UH students called the Goatherders, and another has been sponsored by Rock Bottom Brewery, not far from the rink.

Goatherders team captain Tim Deibel has only been in-line skating for about two months. "This is definitely not a sport you have to spend your whole life playing to enjoy," he says. "In-line skating has been a recent phenomenon, and roller hockey is basically a brand new sport with a lot of growth potential."

Indeed, roller hockey is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. Like baseball, football and basketball before it, it offers the thrill of fast-paced action and personal glory at a price accessible to most Americans. Children don't have to actually be in a league to develop skills necessary in roller hockey: They can improve their skating skills by rolling around the neighborhood or playing street games.

The professionalization of roller hockey is especially interesting. America may be witnessing the genesis of a national pastime similar in magnitude to baseball, football or basketball. Baseball started in a similar fashion: Teams like the Cincinnati Red Stockings toured the country, getting paid by the game, much like RHI teams today.

Why roller hockey instead of ice hockey, another extremely popular and profitable business? Roller hockey is less expensive to play (according to Vereb, about one-tenth the price), can be played outdoors year-round and can be played on any surface.

The RHI season runs during the NHL's off-season. Its teams are almost exclusively from warmer regions of the country, and the skill level is lower than that of professional ice hockey. But as more children grow up playing roller hockey, the talent level will become more marketable and there may be competition between the two highly similar sports. Several rule differences encourage higher-scoring and faster-paced games in RHI, and there is nothing that makes ice hockey better to watch (or play) than roller hockey.

With the surge in popularity of the NHL and the NBA, as well as baseball's persistent testing of fan patience over who splits the millions of dollars being made in a dying sport, there is ample market space for professional roller hockey to fill. It seems Americans have an unquenchable appetite for exciting, competitive action, and roller hockey is a pretty good bet to be the next big thing. And with Slapshot's arrival, Houston may have been formally initiated into part of history.







by Sean Fitzpatrick

Daily Cougar Staff

Imagine this: Beavis and Butt-head ditch the air guitars, learn how to play skull-crunching riffs, pick up artistic pretensions and do their damnedest to sing like Page Hamilton from Helmet. Can't quite manage it? How about giving them a record contract?

Tad's latest offering, <I>Infrared Riding Hood<P> (a Spinal Tap album title reject, I'm sure), sure sounds menacing until Tad Doyle opens his mouth and lets loose the sound of bubbling acne. Although Tad the band has been kicking around for years, Tad the guitarist-singer sounds like some teen who's been goaded into singing after one too many Metallica sing-alongs with his buddies.

As for lyrical reach, the chorus of "Emotional Cockroach" (the title alone should tell you everything you need to know) pretty much sums things up: "Seratonin/ Hematoma/ Crucified/ With ultraviolet light."

Plus, the CD jacket is dominated by a hypermagnified picture of an ear mite, or something that is probably the size of a blackhead but looks like it could eat the Transco Tower. If B&B are your music critics, this is your band. 1 1/2 stars (out of 4).


"Drum Trip," the slamming opening cut of <I>When I Woke<P>, the major label debut by Rusted Root, stamps the seven-piece Pittsburgh band's identity firmly on the musical map as world-music synthesizers. The band's three percussionists lay down a percolating throb that draws on Eastern, African and Latin American influences -- its sheer force keeps the listener busy for the first few spins. After time, though, the percussive curtains part, and the melodies emerge as more than excuses for drum solos. Cool debut. 3 stars.


If they ever make a sequel to that pinnacle of 1970's cheesy sci-fi <I>Logan's Run<P>, <I>Orbus Terrarum<P>, the latest ambient opus by The Orb, would make the perfect soundtrack. Melody and consistent rhythm are traded in for bleeps, bloops and weird "Peter and the Wolf" rewrites ("Slug Dub").

As a matter of fact, cheesy sci-fi is all that comes to mind while listening to <I>Terrarum<P>, which I haven't actually listened to straight through without falling asleep. The shimmering underwater synth noises sound like they're straight out of <I>Star Trek IV<P> (you know, the one with the whales), and I'd swear they sampled half of the bleeps from <I>Tron<P>.

So, this is what would politely be termed a "sonic collage." Guaranteed you won't be singing any of this in the shower. 1 star.


<I>Libete (Pran Pou Pran'l!) /Freedom (Let's Take It!)<P>, the third release by Haiti's Boukman Eksperyans, is political music of the highest, and most vital, order. It boasts unimpeachable revolutionary credentials: The track "Jou Male" ("Day of the Shock") was banned outright by the military, crowds watching the band were tear-gassed, and the band members were menaced by machine guns at many shows.

Political agendas rarely make for successful pop music, but the fire of their convictions and the utter joy of playing their music, a unique Haitian take on the Caribbean /Latin American traditions, shines through even without the extensive linear notes and lyric translations that accompany the disc. A fine example of the rarest of finds: music that makes a difference. 4 stars.







Foreign film a refreshing blend of poetry, humor and romance

Massimo Troisi (left) died after starring in the Italian film <I>The Postman (Il Postino)<P> with Philippe Noiret.

Photo courtesy of Miramax

by Joey Guerra

Daily Cougar Staff

"And it was at that age ...

Poetry arrived in search of me.

I don't know, I don't know where it came from, from winter or a river ...

I wheeled with the stars,

my heart broke loose on the wind."

-- from "Poetry," by Pablo Neruda

With seemingly simple words like these, Pablo Neruda became one of the most important poets of the 20th century. His writing style veered from the typical Modernist style to tragic surrealism. Through it all, Neruda's work expressed hopes and feelings in a language that was simple but beautiful.

This simplicity transcends wonderfully into <I>The Postman (Il Postino)<P>, a humorous and moving tale inspired by an incident in the life of the renowned Chilean poet and diplomat in 1952. Played by Philippe Noiret, Neruda was forced into exile from his native country and granted sanctuary by the Italian government on a remote island off the coast of Naples, where the story takes place.

The film tells the tale of Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi), a naive, kind man whose eyes are opened to a whole new world by the poet and his works. Mario is hired as a postman whose only task is to deliver Neruda his mail. Initially, Mario's only desire is to get Neruda's autograph in order to gain status with the women in town, who melt at the sound of the poet's musings. Soon, though, the two develop an unlikely friendship as Neruda aids Mario in winning the heart of the beautiful Beatrice Russo (Maria Grazia Cucinotta). The events also enable Mario to discover that he, too, is a wondrous and sensuous being.

<I>The Postman<P> excels in illustrating not only the poignant relationship between Mario and Neruda, but the idea that anyone can realize his or her worth as a person. As with many foreign films, this one unfolds slowly and steadily, like a blossoming flower. Every new petal is a fresh idea, an exciting development. Michael Radford's skillful direction comes across onscreen like the light touch of a paintbrush, detailed and precise.

Equally impressive are the performances. Noiret plays Neruda as a lovable old man who becomes a mentor to Mario. His somewhat aloof demeanor makes for some funny moments. The humor comes from within, not at the expense of, the characters. Real skill and timing are required for these moments, not just being able to fall over a table or recite a cheap insult (which is the case with a lot of American movies).

Also outstanding is Troisi as Mario, the film's central character. The subtlety of his performance is amazing; you scarcely realize he is acting. His facial expression is just one of the high points of a flawless performance. What makes it more unbelievable is the fact that Troisi was gravely ill during the filming and died because of heart problems the day after principal photography was completed.

Cucinotta also performs well as Beatrice, Mario's object of desire. She gives off a sense of sensuality that makes it easy to see why Mario is infatuated with her. Finally, Linda Moretti adds a comic touch as Rosa, Beatrice's guardian, who disapproves of Mario's advances. After all, Mario seduced her child with ... metaphors!

<I>The Postman<P> doesn't make any big claims, which makes it all the more wonderful. It's refreshing to see something so simple on the big screen without any loud explosions or star-crossed lovers caught in comical situations. Radford lets the story tell itself, and what a wonderful story it is.

<I>The Postman (Il Postino)<P>

Director: Michael Radford

Stars: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret

**** stars

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