Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: February 02, 2011

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NEW NEWS…

Beginning in March, the agency will start the process of closing as many as 2,000 post offices, on top of the 491 it said it would close starting at the end of last year. In addition, it is reviewing another 16,000—half of the nation’s existing post offices—that are operating at a deficit, and lobbying Congress to allow it to change the law so it can close the most unprofitable among them.  ***MARLAR: But don’t worry, they’re making up for it by continuing to give the Postmaster General a yearly bonus of over a million dollars.

Pope Benedict gave a qualified blessing to social networking on Monday, praising its potential but warning that online friendships are no substitute for real human contact.  The 83-year-old said the possibilities of new media and social networks offered “a great opportunity”, but warned of the risks of depersonalization, alienation, self-indulgence, and the dangers of having more virtual friends than real ones.  He urged users of social networks to ask themselves “Who is my ‘neighbor’ in this new world?” and avoid the danger of always being available online but being “less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life”.  ***MARLAR: He also said that just because Jesus has more than 80,000 friends on Facebook doesn’t mean any of those people actually know him.

Carol Browner , President Obama’s top adviser on energy and climate matters is stepping down.  The departure of Browner underscores any prospects for a major White House push on climate change, given that such efforts have little chance of succeeding on Capitol Hill.  ***MARLAR: When even your top energy adviser isn’t buying global warming, perhaps it’s time to remove it from the agenda.

Massive parking fines inspired one Australian man to create an iPhone app that lets users warn each other when parking officers are spotted lurking near their cars.  ***MARLAR: How about an app to let us know where there’s a parking meter with time left on it?

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

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at work, chewing gum can help tame your tension, report Australian researchers. People who chewed gum while taking math and memory tests experienced a 17% drop in self reported stress. “The act of chewing may subconsciously be associated with positive social setting like mealtimes, and this association may reduce stress,” says study author Andrew Scholey, Ph.D.  ***MARLAR: Michael Moore is the least stressed person in America.

A new wand is going to be put in the hands of airport security guards. The device can detect hidden metal and explosives, but it can also deliver a paralyzing electric shock to a terrorist – or an innocent passenger who happens to have a metal implant in his or her body. Existing detectors used by security personnel can sniff out dangerous substances, but if a bomb-carrying terrorist realizes he’s been spotted, he can detonate the device before the guard can do anything about it. The new wand, developed by Israeli inventor Amit Weisman and Yardeni Associates of Connecticut, contains a transformer that generates 100 kilovolts of electricity, enough to deliver a knockout blow to anyone it touches. The manufacturers insist the effects of the jolt are “temporary and reversible.”  ***MARLAR: Please excuse my ignorance here – but if you find out that a terrorist has a bomb strapped to his body, wouldn’t the LAST thing you want to do is surge the guy with 100 kilovolts of electricity?!?

According to an article in a major newspaper in Thailand, a firefighter in central Thailand claims he’s been eating a live worm every day for nearly three decades and it’s the secret to his good health. Paisit Chanta says he’s gotten used to chewing the worms instead of swallowing them whole and that it’s like eating mushy rice. He claims he got the idea on a fishing trip where he hadn’t caught anything.  ***MARLAR: If I’m in a situation where I’m eating the bait, I’d start fishing with Cheetoes, onion rings, and the Colonel’s fried chicken.

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