Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – August 23, 2010

Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a bill that could slim the government’s workforce. The Reduce and Cap Federal Workforce Act would bring down and freeze the number of civilian feds at February of 2009 levels. Hatch says the government has become bloated, and his bill would cut it down to size.  ***MARLAR: How about we begin by cutting out Obama’s 32 czars? We didn’t them with the first 43 Presidents.

The world’s first robot to be able to display and detect emotions has been unveiled by European scientists.  The humanoid machine, called Nao, hunches its shoulders when it feels sad and raises its arms for a hug when it feels happy.   It has been designed to mimic emotional skills and is capable of forming bonds with people who treat it with kindness.  ***MARLAR: They plan on sending one to Charlie Sheen’s house so he can learn how to act like a human being.

Parents who smoke in cars in front of small children are “committing a form of child abuse”, according to Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom.  He’s already condemned society’s attitudes to food, alcohol and now cigarettes and said parents had to take more responsibility for their children’s health – and set a good example.  He’s calling on parents, mothers-to-be, the obese, smokers and drinkers to turn into healthy role models for their children.  ***MARLAR: Adults plan to counter-attack by complaining that his opinions constitute “noise pollution”.

Prayer heals when it’s close-up and personal, and there’s a study to prove it. It’s not just any kind of prayer, but “proximal intercessory prayer,” or PIP — when one or more people pray for someone in that person’s presence and often with physical contact — that was found by a team of doctors, scientists, and religious experts to have remarkable results in healing some patients.   A team of medical doctors and scientists led by Indiana University professor of religion Candy Gunther Brown found in the study, conducted in rural Mozambique, that prayer brought “highly significant” improvements to hearing-impaired participants and significant changes to the visually impaired.  ***MARLAR: Keep this in mind, ladies.  When a man lays his hands on you at the club he might simply be bringing you sexual healing!

A DeCare Dental insurance study found that the Tooth Fairy has been struck by heavy inflation. While the money left for shed teeth ranged from 10 cents to $25, the average American child got $1.78 for a tooth last year, which is 12.4 percent higher than the year before’s average of $1.58. DeCare noted that this a better return than the stock market paid.  ***MARLAR: And it’s tax free!  Well, at least for now.

Smokers in Australia have already been told that they can no longer light up in restaurants, workplaces, bars, most public places and even some beaches. Now, New South Wales Parliament Member Fred Nile is pushing a bill to make it illegal to smoke inside your own car. Opponents call it a gross invasion of privacy and say it would be impossible to enforce. Supporters said secondhand smoke is so dangerous that this ban is urgently needed to protect passengers, especially children. ***MARLAR: Next he wants to ban smoked glass.

A London hospital is offering juggling lessons to employees to help them handle stress. The hospital also gives its 6,000 employees the chance to learn aroma therapy, yoga and massage techniques. Health chiefs say the month-long initiative is aimed at helping staff be happy, because a “happy staff is a better staff”. ***MARLAR: Doctors plan on using the new techniques to juggle more patients and find more balance on the golf course.

If you think today’s teens are irresponsible, listen to the story of Jeremy O’Brien. Jeremy, a 15-year-old from Lockport, New York, missed his school bus and couldn’t find a ride to school. But instead of just staying home, Jeremy decided to walk to school. His school, by the way, is 20 miles from his home! The high school sophomore packed some food and water and took off on foot for what turned out to be a six-hour walk. Why did he go to so much trouble? Jeremy says, “I had a project due for my Spanish class, and I had to bring it in or else me and my partner would have failed the quarter.” Jeremy walked into Spanish about 10 minutes before class was dismissed and gave his presentation. The effort paid off. He received a grade of 95. After the exhausting walk, Jeremy says that if it happened again, he would just stay home! ***MARLAR: But think of the great story he’ll have to tell his kids. “Back in my day, I once walked 20 miles to school …”

A ski resort in Australia claims they can turn treated sewage into snow that is so clean, you can eat it. ***MARLAR: Gee, you think your job is bad – imagine being an Australian snow taste-tester!

An electricity company in Russia says the Russian Navy hasn’t paid its bills and has started cutting off power to certain units. ***MARLAR: Wow, no wonder they lost the Cold War – they couldn’t afford to power the furnace.

You can relieve your anxiety, depression and distress by cleaning your house vigorously for 20 minutes non-stop once a week. That’s the word from a new study by researchers at University College London, who say that the key to alleviating the depression is physical exercise. ***MARLAR: That’s strange, because what depresses me the most is being asked to do housework.

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