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It seems to us . . . Border speeding, questionable progress, towering Niagara and a bow for JoAnn

NOT SO-E-ZPASS: Here's another potential reason for an expanded Peace Bridge crossing: Investors in Dubai apparently are considering locating a Canadian speedway that could draw NASCAR-level auto races -- and NASCAR-level crowds -- to Fort Erie. Hope they put a fast-track customs lane on the new bridge.

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IG NOBEL PRIZES: With all the attention being given to the Nobel Prizes now being announced, we thought we'd spare a word or two for the other end of the spectrum -- the Ig Nobel Prizes awarded this week by the Annals of Improbable Research.

Our favorites were the Ig Nobel Peace Prize (a Swiss federal ethics committee and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity) and the prizes in Economics (three male researchers for discovering that exotic dancers earn more when at peak fertility), Physics (two scientists for proving that heaps of string or hair inevitably tangle) and Chemistry (shared by three researchers for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and four researchers for proving it is not).

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AWESTRUCK IN NIAGARA: We're not sure what measure of awe drove Father Louis Hennepin to estimate the height of Niagara Falls at 500 feet back in 1678, when the Recollet missionary became the first European known to view the cataracts. They're actually about 170 feet, unless you count the underwater cliffs at their base.

And that's awe-inspiring enough, except now they're going to be dwarfed by Hennepin-sized skyscrapers -- a 58-story Hilton now under construction in Niagara Falls, Ont., and another 59-story hotel planned nearby.

Throw in towering casinos on both sides of the gorge, and you have a unique setting for a natural wonder of the world. Sort of. Maybe someday they can build a culvert for all that pesky water, and free up more land for development.

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BUSH APPOINTEE: Most politicians these days may have tin ears, but we're willing to concede that the president at least has an eye for outstanding musical talent. We can only applaud President Bush's appointment of JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, to the National Council on the Arts.

For a hint of what the president's team saw, take a look at Falletta's meeting with our editorial board in the video editorial on the BPO at buffalonews.com.

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