Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News

Why people stutter has long been a medical mystery, with the condition blamed over the years on emotional problems, overbearing parents and browbeating teachers. Now, for the first time, scientists have found genes that could explain some cases of stuttering.  ***MARLAR: They soon plan on name the specific gene that causes stuttering once they can all agree on a name that doesn’t contain the letters S or T.

Swinging London will take on a whole new connotation for the capital’s aging baby boomers, who will soon get their own specially designed outdoor playground.  The park will offer low-impact exercise equipment to help older people improve their balance and flexibility and tone muscles that may not have been tested for decades.  “Every park has a children’s playground, very few have playgrounds for adults, and none have playgrounds for the elderly,” said Madeline Elsdon.  ***MARLAR: The only difficulty is keeping the elderly folks from yelling at people to stay off the grass.

The National Eye Institute says half of all Americans have some sort of vision problem.  The Institute analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 12,000 people aged 20 and older between 1999 and 2004. More than 33% were nearsighted and 36% has astigmatism. Another 3.6% were farsighted.  ***MARLAR: At least, I think that’s what the study said – I didn’t have my reading glasses.

Firefighters around Rochester, New York, delivered three babies within a few hours, with all of the births taking place in cars. Just after 5 a.m. one morning, a woman gave birth in a car alongside the road in suburban Brighton. Fire officials and firefighter-emergency medical personnel helped deliver the infant. Two hours later, firefighters in nearby Perinton delivered a baby girl in a car that had pulled into the parking lot of their fire station while the mother was on her way to the hospital. The third birth occurred in Rochester.  ***MARLAR: Boy, some people will do just about anything to use the carpool lanes.  (Even the rabbits in the neighborhood were saying, “Whoa – that was fast!”)

Visa and eight U.S. and Canadian lenders have launched a pilot program designed to alert cardholders in real time that they might be victims of fraud. Visa said the test will provide as many as 2,000 cardholders with alerts via e-mail or through their cell phones within seconds of their cards being used, rather than within hours or days. Cardholders can choose what type of alerts they would like to receive: ATM withdrawals, international transactions, Internet or phone transactions, and transactions above a specified amount. Credit card companies lose an estimated $50 billion annually because of fraud.  ***MARLAR: “Attention – someone is using your credit card right now to have a more thrilling social life than you.”

A California inventor has come up with an idea to save time for busy working moms… the five day diaper. Elaine Herphman has invented the first full-body diaper that need only be changed every five days. Children’s Rights activists are upset with the product saying that it is cruel and even mentally damaging to leave a baby in a dirty diaper for five days.  ***MARLAR: I changed my underwear more often when I was at summer camp.

A new study finds that today’s teenagers depend on instant messaging to avoid uncomfortable face-to-face confrontations. Some 43 percent of teenagers surveyed said they used instant messages to say things they didn’t have the nerve to say in person. For example, 22 percent said they use IMs to ask people out on dates or accept them, and 13 percent use them to break up.  ***MARLAR: Boy, things have changed!  In my day you had to walk ten miles in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways just to break up with a girl!

Experts at Johns Hopkins Medical School say the meters on treadmills that say how many calories you’re burning could be off by as much as 15% because they calculate based on the average person’s body type.  ***MARLAR: And most of us are on the treadmill because we need to lose 50 pounds to become average.

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