News of the Weird
Stimulus Money Spent on Monkeys and Plants Eat Shrew Poop
May 05, 2010 | 01:39 PM
OUTSOURCE OF OUR PROBLEMS
American companies continue trying to outsource work overseas, no matter how increasingly improbable the project. The Chronicle of Higher Education in April reported on the University of Houston business school's contract to have student papers uploaded to "teaching assistants" (mostly residing in India, Singapore and Malaysia), who read them, mark them up and offer constructive advice. UH professor Lori Whisenant, who initiated the university's contract with the firm EduMetry, said she is generally pleased with the results.
(1) Swiss clockmaker Artya announced in March the creation of a wristwatch set in fossilized dinosaur feces (with a strap made with skin from an American cane toad). Designer Yvan Arpa told the Associated Press the watch would sell for about $12,000. (2) The spa Ten Thousand Waves near Santa Fe, N.M., is only the latest U.S. facility to offer as a "signature" treatment the "Japanese Nightingale Facial," supposedly used for centuries by Japanese geisha for skin rejuvenation. Nightingale droppings are dried and sanitized, then spiced with oils and used as a face scrubber.
BOB MARSHALL'S MOM MUST HAVE HAD A TON OF ABORTIONS...
Virginia state legislator Bob Marshall, speaking in February in opposition to state funding for Planned Parenthood, said the organization is partly responsible for the number of disabled children in America. According to the Old Testament, he said, being forced to bear a disabled child is punishment for the mother's having earlier aborted her first-born. "[W]hen you abort the first-born...nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children." Said Marshall, the organization ought to call itself "Planned Barrenhood."
STROKE OF BAD LUCK
When stroke victims recover, they sometimes acquire bizarre obsessions, like one by David Stopher of North Tynesdale, England, who found himself unable to say no to salespeople. According to a March Daily Mail report, the biggest beneficiary of Stopher's condition has been the wireless telephone network (known as 3), whose marketers had signed Stopher up for six different phones and plans at the same time. (He was paying for all of them on time until his brothers stepped in to persuade 3 to restructure the account).
WHAT ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF YOGA ON COCAINE-ADDLED MENOPAUSAL MONKEYS?
A North Carolina research organization in March, picking the state's 10 worst destinations for federal stimulus grants, included two ongoing projects at Wake Forest University: long-term cocaine-addiction in monkeys, and the potential benefits of yoga on menopausal hot flashes.
GROSSEST SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP EVER
Researchers from Royal Roads University in Canada reported last year that the large, carnivorous pitcher plants of Borneo prefer to eat insects and spiders, but where those are in short supply, as in the Philippines highlands, the pitchers have grown to a size accommodating an alternative source of the nitrogen they need. The pitchers have "learned" that if they produce copious amounts of nectar, it will attract the tiny-mouse-sized tree shrew to harvest it, and the shrews, trapped inside the plant, will leave droppings directly on the spot most advantageous for the pitcher to consume them. Said professor Charles Clarke, discovery of the arrangement "totally blew us away."
DYSFUNCTIONAL DOESN'T COVER IT
(1) Steven Plank, 52, was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in March after a spat with his disabled father, who had apparently used the stove out of turn to boil some potatoes. According to police, Plank dumped the pot of water on his dad, then grabbed the urine cup hanging on dad's walker and dumped that on him, too. (2) Jacoby Laquan Smith, 33, was charged with beating up his quadruple-amputee girlfriend in St. Paul, Minnesota, in March because, he said, she had blocked his view of the television. The girlfriend, 28, who lost both hands and part of both legs from a childhood illness, fought back, punching Smith and dumping her bedpan on him. Said Smith, of his frequent fights with her, "She'll swing, push me down and choke me with her nubs."
(1) Police in Berwick, Maine, made an easy collar in April, solving four residential burglaries. As it turns out, their two suspects (ages 33 and 32) committed the crimes while wearing their GPS monitoring bracelets following an earlier arrest in New Hampshire, and their movements perfectly coincided with the burglars' route. (2) In April, the Drug Warehouse burglar in Tulsa, Oklahoma, escaped, but the crime was captured on surveillance video and features the perp, apparently hearing sirens, grabbing his ladder and scrambling up through the ceiling to find the passage he used to get in. However, as he scrambled, he kept falling through the ceiling to the floor, only to have to try again. He fell to the floor six times, but apparently escaped on the seventh try.
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