MONDAY, JANUARY 24 Hot on the heels of last week's opium withdrawal column, the week begins with another fascinating tale of addiction. Today the Associated Press dished the psychodramatic dirt on Internet addiction, the trendy new compulsive disorder that turns ordinary computer users into twitching, malnourished zombies who ignore their friends and perform poorly at work. Starring in the AP story was Tracy, a 37-year-old Pacific Northwest woman who purchased a computer to help her children with school projects, but soon found herself spending 18 hours a day in Internet chat rooms, conversing with 40 men on a regular basis, eventually having phone sex with 25 of them and live sex with three (a pretty sorry track record, if you think about it). To the rescue came Internet-Computer Addiction Services, a Redmond-based counseling center devoted to the treatment of online junkies. Following a painful Internet detox ("I had actual physical withdrawal symptoms, like an addict"), Tracy is now down to a healthy amount of online time, no computer-related sex, and one therapy appointment a week. Good for her.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 25 Betty or Veronica? Coke or Pepsi? Beatles or Stones? And now, Heidi or Judy? Today Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur shed light on the hot new city council duo currently splitting Seattle opinion like a pair of Safeco Field proposals on legs: Judy Nicastro and Heidi Wills. In her sassy editorial, Brodeur (who, in her byline photo, looks like a genetically engineered cross between her two subjects) first lists the similarities between the two young politico upstarts: Both are former U-Dub student body presidents, both are single, and both are stinking potheads (as is Nicole Brodeur, as she freely admits in her piece). Then Brodeur defers to the court of public opinion. Forty-nine-year-old Dawn Tubbs comes out swinging for Judy, who "doesn't seem to have any artifice about her." Twenty-seven-year-old Carrie Blackwood plumps for Heidi, because "she's pro-labor." In closing, Brodeur identifies herself as "a Judy person," adding the cryptic tag line, "Speak now, think later." (For those who haven't figured out how the Wills/Nicastro duo squares with the classic "either/or" equations: Heidi is the Beatles, Judy is the Stones. Judy is Coke, Heidi is Pepsi [or maybe Tab]. And we've got ourselves a pair of Veronicas.)

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26 Today the U.S. Surgeon General revealed his 10-year health plan designed to get Americans off their fat, lazy asses. David Satcher's Healthy People 2010 program (reported today by the Associated Press) addresses a broad range of health and social concerns, from childhood vaccinations and adult depression to sexual behavior and access to health insurance. Satcher's plan also calls for the elimination of racial disparities in health care (studies show that black infants are twice as likely to die in the first year as white infants; that American Indians have three to five times the national average for diabetes; and that while white women are more likely to get breast cancer, black women are more likely to die from it). But perhaps the cornerstone of Satcher's manifesto is his recommended exercise regime -- he hopes to get 30 percent of Americans to exercise 30 minutes a day (currently only 15 percent do), and to reduce by half the number of overweight or obese American children. Satcher also hopes to develop a cure for gravity and ride a Shetland pony to the moon.

··Also today: Reuters reported that a second child has died from suffocating on a Pokémon toy. Four-year-old Zachary Jones of Lawrence, Indiana was found dead in his crib Tuesday morning with half of a Pokémon plastic egg toy suctioned over his nose and mouth -- the same scenario that killed a 13-month-old girl in Sonora, California on December 27. Toy distributors Burger King recalled the eggs in mid-January, offering a free small order of fries for every Pokémon egg returned. It is not known whether Zachary Jones' family knew of the recall, or of the complimentary fries.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 27 Several weeks ago, during a Republican presidential candidate debate, former diplomat Alan Keyes derided former prisoner of war John McCain for his professed enjoyment of Nine Inch Nails -- an admission Keyes classified as tantamount to McCain sucking off the devil. Last night, during a follow-up debate in New Hampshire, Keyes found himself on the receiving end of another rock 'n' roll-themed grilling, as fetus fetishist Gary Bauer ripped Keyes for having once dived into a mosh pit. Today Reuters reported on the surreal "merits of moshing" debate, from Bauer's denunciation of Keyes' moshing music of choice (Rage Against the Machine, initially identified by Bauer as "The Machine Rages On") to Bauer's insistence that the act of moshing is incompatible with dignified political behavior. Keyes responded by defending his actions (saying that moshing "exemplifies the kind of trust in people that is the heart and soul of the Keyes campaign"), before taking off into the stratosphere. Displaying an almost McCainesque reliance on past hardship to excuse present lunkheadedness, Keyes ultimately defended the dignity of moshing by referencing the plight of his slave ancestors, who "didn't have the outward signs of dignity," but "understood that dignity comes from within." Rage Against the Machine was unavailable for comment.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 28 Stop the presses! Dan Savage is a jerk! Today, in response to Savage's infamous and highly entertaining essay chronicling his attempts to give Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer the flu (see upper right corner), the New York Post ran an answer article by one Rod Dreher. Entitled "Snotty Little Germ Spreads Liberal Hate," Dreher's piece was most notable not for its dissing of Savage's "germ warfare" tactics, but for its barely disguised homophobic hysteria. Throughout the editorial, Dreher hammers home that this was a gay man infected with a virus out to spread his disease to others. But no matter. Even without the help of doorknob-licking sex columnists (or hysterical op-ed writers), Gary Bauer's doing a fine job of killing his chances for candidacy all by himself -- this coming Monday, he will fall backward off a stage in New Hampshire while attempting to flip a pancake.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 29 Today's Seattle P-I featured a fascinating report on Seattle's hottest new export: underage hookers. The star of the exposé is one Tracy "Vitamin T" Barnes, a 30-year-old Seattle man who's been pimping since he was 16. Vitamin T's prowess in recruiting and deporting impressionable (and most often destitute) young Seattle women across the country for sex work has earned him the title "America's pimp" (his parents must be very proud). Currently Barnes is on trial in a federal courtroom in Miami, facing charges of child prostitution in a case involving four Seattle women. If found guilty, America's pimp faces up to 20 years in prison.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 30 As the week comes to a close, we visit once again the undisputed superstars of the Sunday comics: The Lockhorns, the married cartoon couple who have hated each other's guts for the past 60 years. In today's sublime installment, husband Leroy puts wife Loretta in her place by announcing to a dinner guest, "Loretta's moussaka is a real Greek tragedy!" Loretta retaliates by stabbing Leroy 30 times in the face with a fork. Ah, love.

I haven't had a good Hot Tip in ages. End my dry spell by e-mailing or phone 323-7101 ext. 3113.