READER: I live in Taft. Recently the son of a long-time Taft policeman told me his father was required to live with Taft's city limits, enabling him to quickly respond to an emergency if needed.

Obviously the officer who was assigned to the high school here [a month ago on the day of the shooting] lived in another area. [The officer wasn't there that day because of snow on the Grapevine.]

Was this requirement changed or just overlooked?

-- Claire Morris

ARTHUR: The idea that Taft police officers had to live in the city was widely discussed in the aftermath of the shooting. It turns out there is no such rule, officials there told us.


READER: Once again, Stockdale High School has won (Academic Decathlon this time), but once again the photo that accompanies your story is NOT of Stockdale students.

What's up with that? It seems that almost every time Stockdale wins, the photo is of the OTHER side. Stockdale kids are just as photogenic as the rest!

-- Diane Alburger

ARTHUR:We get this question frequently following academic competitions.

We don't treat these matches as we do sports contests. We tend to look for the best photos and try to illustrate as many contestants (and schools) as we can.

Finally, the finals of these events often happen hours after they start; our photographers have to move on to other assignments or come back to the office to process their work.


READER: Since when is it okay to publish naked children in the Bakersfield Californian? Your picture [on Monday, Jan. 28] of a naked baby that accompanies the article "Medi-Cal pay boost may ease access to care" is inappropriate and unnecessary.

With the increasing rise of pedophilia, you would think you could cover the naked baby or at least edit out his genitals.

Criminal investigations are on the rise of unspeakable crimes against children, and you just publish a naked picture of a child. Anyone else would be arrested for publishing a naked child. There should be some common decency even if you do have the right to publish it. And what about the rights of the child? Who is allowed to waive his rights? No one!

-- Pam Binns, Bakersfield

ARTHUR: Yes there was a photo of a naked baby boy in a doctor's office. He wasn't even in the foreground or the main subect of the photo. I didn't even see him when I first looked at the picture. I'm not aware of anyone else being offended.


READER: Your "Today in History" feature on Jan. 31 included an item from 1961: "NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16 1/2 minute suborbital flight."

What ever happened to Ham. Is he still alive?

-- Ray Brondel

ARTHUR: I went to the NASA website for the answer. It reports:

"Ham, whose name was an acronym for H olloman A ero M ed, became the first chimpanzee in space, aboard the Mercury Redstone rocket on a... flight very similar to Alan Shepard's. Ham was brought from the French Camaroons, West Africa, where he was born July 1957, to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in 1959.

The original flight plan called for an altitude of 115 miles and speeds ranging up to 4400 mph. However, due to technical problems, the spacecraft carrying Ham reached an altitude of 157 miles and a speed of 5857 mph and landed 422 miles downrange rather than the anticipated 290 miles. Ham performed well during his flight and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean 60 miles from the recovery ship. He experienced a total of 6.6 minutes of weightlessness during a 16.5-minute flight.

A post-flight medical examination found Ham to be slightly fatigued and dehydrated, but in good shape otherwise. Ham's mission paved the way for the successful launch of America's first human astronaut. Shepard, on May 5, 1961.

Upon the completion of a thorough medical examination, Ham was placed on display at the Washington Zoo in 1963 where he lived alone until September 25, 1980. He then was moved to the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro. Upon his death on January 17, 1983, Ham's skeleton (was) retained for ongoing examination by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. His other remains were respectfully laid to rest in front of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

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