Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: December 31, 2010

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NEW NEWS…

Many of us – especially after washing down the last of the holiday sugar cookies with yet another cup of eggnog – resolve to revamp our exercise routines in the New Year.  Unfortunately, as earnest as the plans may be, the odds of following through are pretty dismal. A yearlong study of 3,000 people with New Year’s resolutions found that only 12 percent reached their goals.  Researchers do speculate though that any given exercise routine may be easier to stick to if it fits your personality.  ***MARLAR: For me, the difficult part will be finding a way to create a personal exercise routine that involves fudge and NetFlix.

The federal government has accumulated more new debt — $3.22 trillion ($3,220,103,625,307.29) — during the tenure of the 111th Congress than it did during the first 100 Congresses combined, according to official debt figures published by the U.S. Treasury.  (That equals $10,429.64 in new debt for each and every one of the 308,745,538 people counted in the United States by the 2010 Census.)  ***MARLAR: On their way out of D.C., the 111th Congress was heard chanting, “We’re Number One!”

Santa Claus has been cleared of all charges.  Police in Rhode Island say it was nothing but a hoax when they received a report that an armed man dressed as Santa, complete with white beard, robbed an East Providence bar last Sunday.  Now the bartender at the East Providence Yacht Club, Christal Johnson, is facing charges for making a false 911 call.  Police Sgt. Bruce Atwell says he’s just glad that Santa was able to make his rounds without being chased by police. ***MARLAR: I can understand the confusion – even Santa would’ve had to consider ways to bring in extra income just to afford toys this year.

Daniel Balsam hates spam. Most everybody does, of course. But he has acted on his hate as few have, going far beyond simply hitting the delete button. He sues spammers.  Eight years ago, Balsam was working as a marketer when he received one too many e-mail pitches.  Enraged, he launched a Web site called Danhatesspam.com, quit a career in marketing to go to law school and is making a decent living suing companies who flood his e-mail inboxes with offers of cheap drugs and unbelievable vacations.  “I feel like I’m doing a little bit of good cleaning up the Internet,” Balsam said. From San Francisco Superior Court small claims court to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Balsam, based in San Francisco, has filed many lawsuits, including dozens before he graduated law school in 2008, against e-mail marketers he says violate anti-spamming laws.  His many victories are mere rain drops in the ocean considering that Cisco Systems Inc. estimates that there are 200 billion spam messages circulating a day, accounting for 90 percent of all e-mail.  Still, Balsam settles enough lawsuits and collects enough from judgments to make a living. He has racked up well in excess of $1 million in court judgments and lawsuit settlements with companies accused of sending spam.  ***MARLAR: Boy, this guy is really angry about canned meat.

RETRO NEWS: FORMERLY NEW, NOW NOT NEW, BUT STILL ENTERTAINING…

Police in Los Angeles say 74-year-old John Scott is the oldest graffiti vandal ever captured in Los Angeles County. Grandpa Scott was arrested after deputies spotted him on a stairwell at a downtown Metro Center subway station sticking black-and-orange bumper stickers which read: “Who is John Scott?” Stickers used in such a way are referred to as “slap tags” by those in the law enforcement community. They can be adhered to public property in a second or two but are difficult to remove. Scott now faces at least one felony vandalism charge.  ***MARLAR: Apparently wisdom doesn’t always come with age.  How can you expect to not be caught if you’re slapping stickers around town with your own name on them?

Attention all shoppers: taking the stairs protects your heart. That’s the message researchers tried at a U.K. shopping mall by putting up colorful signs along the steps of a staircase, and it worked. Over six weeks, use of the stairway next to an escalator more than doubled. Normally, about 4 percent of people at the mall take the stairs but after adding the signs, that went up to nearly 10 percent.  ***MARLAR: Signs can be pretty powerful.  The one that has the most power of my actions is “All You Can Eat.”

In took 18 long months of investigation for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to finally conclude that the Texas state government requires too many reports– a total of more than 1,600 in all. They found that about a fourth of the reports were either duplicates of other reports or that the agency receiving them didn’t even exist any longer. Nevertheless, these reports are dutifully prepared year after year even though it is evident that they go unread. To reveal their findings, the commission itself issued a 668-page report.  ***MARLAR: Which they distributed to all 1,600 agencies.

Indian cattle are getting individual identity cards to prevent cattle rustling. Authorities in West Bengal say cows and bulls are often stolen then smuggled into Bangladesh. ***MARLAR: Most of the cows fainted though when shown the ID’s leather carrying case.

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