HIT: Bakersfield has churned out professional football players, race car drivers and Olympic athletes. Now it can also claim its own Rhodes scholar.

Stockdale High School graduate Evan R. Szablowski, a West Point military cadet, was recently named one of 32 Americans who will attend Oxford University next year as Rhodes scholars, one of the oldest and most prestigious graduate studies scholarships.

Szablowski, a mathematics major at West Point, plans to use the scholarship, valued at $50,000 annually, to study applied statistics. Kudos and best of luck to this local standout.

Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance has dropped a ridiculous proposal to triple the state's vehicle license fee. Lieu trotted out the idea just after the elections, in which voters passed two tax increases and gave Democrats a supermajority in the Legislature. The proposal was merely to put a proposition on the ballot, ensuring voters would have the final say, but it was still poorly timed. Hiking vehicle fees is no way to reward voters who are digging into their pockets to rescue the state from financial disaster. Lieu was right to rethink this one and ultimately pull it from consideration.

HIT: A life well-lived

Dr. Romain Clerou, who performed hundreds of major surgeries, repaired hundreds of football players as Bakersfield College's team doctor, and delivered thousands of babies, died Nov. 20 at the ripe age of 98.

Clerou, who was still making house calls well into his 90s, was, as former BC football coach Gerry Collis described him, "kind but tough." A gifted athlete, Clerou was a gymnast and football player and he played golf on a regular basis until this year.

MISS: Defacing sacred history

Federal officials have called the theft of rock carvings at a sacred American Indian site near Bishop "the worst act of vandalism ever seen" on 750,000 acres of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The thieves hacked at least four carvings from cliffs using power saws. A fifth carving was defaced with saw marks and a sixth was sawed off but apparently broke apart and was left at the site. The carvings date to about 3,500 years ago and are still used by the Paiute tribe to educate tribe members about the history of their people. Let's hope the perpetrators are brought to swift justice.

Can federal officials and American Indians come up with better ways to protect these invaluable relics of our nation's history? That's a tough one, because the remoteness of these sites makes them vulnerable.

MISS: We're earning less

If you remained employed throughout the Great Recession, you were lucky, but chances are you didn't escape the financial pain completely unscathed. New data show American workers' earnings have declined across most industries and sectors since the Great Recession, and for most of the past decade. Real wages are now about the same as they were in December 2005.

According to some studies, the median working-age man with a job earns about 4 percent less when adjusted for inflation than he did in 1970.