Roll up, roll up!

Friday, January 27, 2006

People Are A Problem

Last May, a US man found a severed finger in a tub of ice cream, then refused to give it back to an injured employee so it could be reattached. Instead Clarence Stowers, of North Carolina, took it home and put it in his freezer as evidence in legal action against the store. A week later he offered to return it, too late for surgeons to be able to act.

Perfect Match

A Thai woman who set a world record by spending 32 days in a cage with 3,400 scorpions is to marry a man who set a record by spending 28 days with 1,000 centipedes.

The pair met while performing their respective stunts at a snake farm.

The couple will marry on Valentine's Day and plan to consummate their vows in a coffin.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Parliament *But Were Afraid To Ask

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Controlling Transmissions

News Corporation is one of the world's largest media conglomerates. Its chief executive officer is media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch.

Its revenue for the year ending 30 June 2005 was $23.859 billion. This does not include News Corporation's share of the revenue of businesses in which it owns a minority stake, which include two of its most important assets, DirecTV and BSkyB. Almost 70% of the company's sales come from its US businesses.

News Corporations holdings include, but are not limited to;

HarperCollins publishing
The Sun
The News Of The World
The Times
The New York Post
TV Guide
The New York Knicks
The New York Rangers
The Los Angeles Lakers
20th Century Fox
Fox Searchlight
Fox Television Studios
Fox News
National Geographic Channel

On A Mission

“While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission.”

A Google statement after it was revealed that it would be censoring its own search services in China. Critics warn that the new version could restrict access to thousands of sensitive terms and web sites. Such topics are likely to include independence for Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Out Of Context Quote Of The Week

“Even in the Bond books, it's clear that for three-quarters of the year, Bond is very bored.”

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ready And Waiting

Britons waste the equivalent of around two power stations worth of electricity each year by leaving TV sets and other gadgets on standby.

The average household has up to 12 gadgets on standby or charging.

A survey carried out by the Energy Savings Trust found that one-in-seven people questioned thought putting devices on standby was actually more energy-efficient than switching them on and off.

It is estimated that the number of TVs in the UK will reach 74 million by 2020, meaning that there will be more televisions than people to watch them.

Estimated annual CO2 emissions from devices left on standby:

Stereos - 1,600,000 tonnes
Videos - 960,000 tonnes
TVs - 480,000 tonnes
Consoles - 390,000 tonnes
DVD players - 100,000 tonnes
Set-top boxes - 60,000 tonnes

Friday, January 20, 2006

With Us Its Personal ™

Some of the things you can post by Royal Mail:

Fish eggs

Provided that you seek advice on acceptable packaging, use first class post and clearly label the parcel.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Current Legislation Act Of The Week

Being drunk in charge of a horse, cow or steam engine incurs a £200 fine and possibly jail for up to 51 weeks.

Licensing Act 1872

Is The Person That Parrot Is Mimicking Telling The Truth By Proxy?

A parrot owner was alerted to his girlfriend's infidelity when his talkative pet let the cat out of the bag by squawking "I love you Gary".

Suzy Collins had been meeting ex-work colleague "Gary" for four months in the Leeds flat she shared with her partner Chris Taylor.

Mr Taylor apparently became suspicious after Ziggy croaked "Hiya Gary" when Ms Collins answered her mobile phone, and also made smooching sounds whenever the name Gary was said on TV.

Mr Taylor, 30, a computer programmer, confronted the woman he had lived with for a year who admitted the affair and moved out.

He also gave up his eight-year-old African Grey parrot after the bird continued to call out Gary's name and refused to stop squawking the phrases in his ex-girlfriend's voice.

Luck Of The Irish

The cheapest, full-price tickets to see U2 in Sao Paolo cost 200 reais (£50, $88) - about two-thirds of Brazil's minimum monthly wage.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Interesting Times

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been sworn in as Liberia's president, making her Africa's first elected female leader.

Centre-left candidate Michelle Bachelet has become Chile's first woman president, taking 53.5% of the poll with almost all the votes counted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived in Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin - her first visit to Russia since taking office.


The RQ-1 Predator:

The RQ-1 Predator is a drone spy plane which has no on-board pilot.

It forms part of a highly sophisticated, multi-million dollar intelligence gathering and targeting system.

In total this involves four air vehicles, a ground control station and a satellite link, and is operated by 55 people.

It was developed in the 1990s for use in what the US describes as "moderate-risk environments" - where enemy air defences remain a threat, or in areas which may have been contaminated by chemical or biological weapons.

The aircraft can be kitted out for reconnaissance, surveillance or (as has recently been seen) target finding, equipping it with Hellfire missiles, making it a remote deadly weapon.

It is flown from the ground station van by a "pilot" with a joystick and monitoring screens, including one giving the view from a colour TV camera in the aircraft's nose.

Each craft also has an infra-red camera for poor light or night missions, and radar to scan through smoke, clouds or haze.

They fly at relatively low speeds, but can stay airborne for nearly 24 hours at a time, cruising at up to 25,000 ft (7,500 m).

However their slow speed makes them vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire. Iraq shot down two Predators being used to enforce the "no-fly zones" and others during the war in 2003.

One was used by the CIA to kill six al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen in November 2002, and another is thought responsible for the recent attempted strike against al-Qaeda's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan.

According to the Air Force, the Predator is a "Joint Forces Air Commander-owned theatre asset for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the Joint Force commander."

Down To Earth

A capsule containing comet particles and interstellar dust has landed on Earth after a seven-year space mission.

The Stardust probe, which launched on the 7th of February, 1999, released the capsule as it flew back to Earth after a 4.6-billion-km (2.8-billion-mile) trip.

Four hours after leaving the probe, the capsule entered the Earth's atmosphere 125km (410,000ft) over the Pacific Ocean.

It reached speeds of 46,660km/h (29,000mph) - the fastest re-entry of any manmade probe - and was visible from parts of the American northwest as a streak of light in the sky.

The main parachute opened at about 3km (10,000ft), and brought the capsule down to land on a military base southwest of Salt Lake City.

The highlight of Stardust's seven-year mission was its close encounter with Comet Wild 2 in January 2004.

It swept up particles from the frozen body of ice and dust, flying to within 240km (149 miles) of the comet's core, or nucleus.

As part of its trip, the probe also captured a sprinkling of dust that originated in distant stars.

The capsule is believed to contain about a million particles of comet and interstellar dust left over from the birth of the Solar System 4.6 billion years ago.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Healthy Glow

Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that glow in the dark.

They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through.

The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo.

To create them, DNA from jellyfish was added to about 265 pig embryos which were implanted in eight different pigs.

Four of the pigs became pregnant and three male piglets were born three months ago.

The scientists will use the transgenic pigs to study human disease, using the pig's green genetic material to make things easy to spot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The parasitic Nematomorph hairworm (Spinochordodes tellinii) develops inside land-dwelling grasshoppers and crickets until the time comes for the worm to transform into an aquatic adult. At this time the worm brainwashes the grasshopper by producing proteins which directly and indirectly affect the grasshopper’s central nervous system, causing the host to seek out and plunge into water.

Once in the water the mature hairworms – which are three to four times longer that their hosts when extended – emerge and swim away to find a mate, leaving their host dead or dying in the water.

This is just one of many parasites that can manipulate their hosts’ behaviour: “’Enslaver’ fungi, for example, make their insect hosts die perched in a position that favours the dispersal of spores by the wind.”

World Myth No.1: Corporate Environmental Community Responsibility

Asked at a news conference why business would adopt more expensive technologies in the absence of financial incentives, Mr Samuel Bodman, US Energy Secretary, replied: "I believe that the people who run the private sector, who run these companies - they too have children, they too have grandchildren, they too live and breathe in the world, and they would like things dealt with effectively; and that's what this is all about.

“It's really going to be the private sector, the companies... that are ultimately going to be the solvers of this problem."

Mr Bodman was attending the first meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate in Sydney.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership brings together Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

It aims to guarantee economic growth and energy security, as well as bringing down greenhouse gas emissions

However environmental groups contend it will have little impact without financial incentives, and may persuade other nations away from the Kyoto Protocol process.

Comments from the Australian and US ministers have also increased suspicion among environmental groups that the Partnership is basically a business alliance designed to help western energy companies into burgeoning Asian markets.

In principle, the Asia-Pacific pact includes all "clean" technologies, though the focus is firmly on coal, as all six nations are either major producers or consumers.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Song And Dance

Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Phantom of the Opera will become the longest running show in Broadway history this Monday night.

It is also the most successful entertainment venture of all time, with worldwide box office takings of more than $3.2bn (£1.8bn).

This greatly exceeds the $1.2bn (£670m) taken by Titanic, the world's highest-grossing movie.

Over 65,000 performances of Phantom of the Opera have been staged in 119 cities in 24 countries.

An American Tail

A US man threw a mouse he had found in his home onto a pile of burning leaves - only to see it run away and burn his house down.

Luciano Mares, 81, of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, found a mouse in his home and wanted to get rid of it.

"I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire, and the mouse was on fire and ran back at the house," he was quoted as saying by AP.

Though no-one was injured, the house and everything in it was destroyed.

"I've seen numerous house fires, but nothing as unique as this one," Fire Department Captain Jim Lyssy said.

One Tracked Mind

Space tourists must be screened to ensure they are not terrorists, according to proposed regulations from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The draft report's suggestions aim to prevent a terrorist from destroying a spacecraft or using it as a weapon.

However, the report has no strict proposals on the health of any would-be space tourists.

By the end of this decade, Virgin Galactic aims to take people into space from a spaceport in New Mexico.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Virtual Billboard

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Placebo For The People

According to research, most of the pills, juices, teas and oils that are sold for their detoxifying effects on the body have no scientific foundation for their claims. People would be better off drinking tap water and having an early night.

Carol Vorderman detoxifies twice a year.