Britain's bookies and bettors are miffed because the Labor government plans to introduce a 2�% tax on betting. If the bettor wins, he is to pay the tax. If he loses, the bookie must pay it. In Britain tax-free gambling with bookmakers has been almost as much of a tradition as free speech. But even when the tax goes through and is added to the bookie's usual profit margin (8%), the British horseplayer is still going to be a lot better off than his American cousin, who, on the average, automatically gets clipped for l6�% every time he bets at the track.
THE DAISY AND WAR
The Daisy Air Rifle people at Rogers, Ark. were naturally curious when large orders for BB guns started coming in from military bases all over the country. It turned out the BB guns are being used to help train troops. At one base they are utilized in the last tough barrage of instruction of men headed for Vietnam.
This is at Fort Polk in Louisiana, where trainees are sent through lanes 35 meters wide and 175 meters long, with an instructor and grader accompanying. Terrain hazards—heavy brush, tangled logs, streams, fences, gullies and mud—are plentiful. As a trainee slogs ahead, BB gun in hand, metal silhouettes of prone guerrillas pop up. Some silhouettes are black, representing an enemy who must be instantly shot at and hit. Others are white, representing friends. Woe to the recruit who hits a white target. The test is difficult, and since there are soldiers in adjoining lanes the standard M-14 rifle with live ammunition is overly dangerous for this kind of training. (The Marines do it differently. They use BB guns to shoot at one another.)
"An awful lot of these kids are from big cities and never had a gun in their hands before," says one Army man. "They're gun-shy. We have to break them in easy."
That shadowy figure skulking about in swamps these misty March nights is not a fight manager trying to make a deal; it is Dr. George Bennett, chief aquatic biologist of the Illinois Natural History Survey. Dr. Bennett, a leading authority on black bass (SI, Aug. 19, 1963), has now become enamored of frogs and toads, and he is busy tape-recording their songs and calls on location. So far he has waded through snake-infested marshes to tape the shrill peep of the spring peeper, the rasp of the Western chorus frog (which has a song resembling the sound made by dragging a fingernail across the teeth of a pocket comb) and the lusty snore of the gopher frog. This last was a rare coup because the gopher frog spends almost all its life down a crayfish hole.
One of the noisiest frogs is the cricket frog. It has a very loud, grating call, astounding for a creature so tiny. Its scientific name, Acris crepitans blanchardi, is twice as long as it is. Besides being loud, it is also athletic. Considering its size, a cricket frog probably can out-leap any other frog.
The biggest ham that Dr. Bennett has found is Bufo fowleri, commonly known as Fowler's toad. Dr. Bennett was able to record its ear-piercing shriek by sticking the microphone right in front of one. Not in the least shy, it continued to scream away like a member of the Rolling Stones.