Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: February 23, 2011

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Children of Germany take heart – it may soon be perfectly legal to make noise.  Germany is so desperate to encourage people to have more children that the government is proposing a bill allowing citizens under six to laugh, shout and play at any volume.  Germany is a land of many rules, especially about noise. The government’s move comes after a series of lawsuits about children and noise, and a recent call from a senior citizens’ chapter of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, who sought to ban kindergartens from residential areas because they are too loud.  The government said Wednesday the proposed law would exempt children from strict regulations on noise limits, which force construction sites to stand idle for hours at midday and prohibit mowing lawns on Sunday.  ***MARLAR: So in America you have the right to free speech but we have noise ordinances.  In Germany you don’t have the right to free speech – but you can be as loud as you want to be about it so long as you’re under six.

Eat more fiber and you just may live longer. That’s the message from the largest study of its kind to find a link between high-fiber diets and lower risks of death not only from heart disease, but from infectious and respiratory illnesses as well.   The government study also ties fiber with a lower risk of cancer deaths in men, but not women, possibly because men are more likely to die from cancers related to diet, like cancers of the esophagus. And it finds the overall benefit to be strongest for diets high in fiber from grains.   Most Americans aren’t getting enough roughage in their diets. The average American eats only about 15 grams of fiber each day, much less than the current daily recommendation of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, or 14 grams per 1,000 calories. For example, a slice of whole wheat bread contains 2 to 4 grams of fiber.  ***MARLAR: So yes, eating fiber may help you live longer – but those extra years will likely be spent sitting in the bathroom.

A Vermont woman has been crowned the nation’s top grocery bagger.  Twenty-four-year-old Krystal Smith of Burlington won the award and the $10,000 prize at the 2011 U.S. Best Bagger National Championships.  She beat 21 competitors by filling three grocery bags in 38 seconds.  Contestants are judged on their ability to bag grocery staples including bread, milk, eggs and canned goods and on their bag-building technique, weight distribution, style, attitude and appearance.  ***MARLAR: So she’s America’s number one bag lady?

With average gas pump prices remaining $3+ per gallon, drivers are increasingly deflecting fuel expenses by cutting costs of other household expenses…among the three in four (75.1%) 37.3% are reducing dining out, 33.3% are cutting back on vacation/travel, 30.9% are spending less on clothing, while 22.1% are delaying major purchases. More than two in five (44.2%) are simply driving less.  Meanwhile seven in ten (72.4%) are expecting gas prices to continue to rise through the end of February. Consumers are anticipating an average pump price of $3.39/gal by month end.  ***MARLAR: It almost makes you hope the Mayans are right, doesn’t it?


Researchers at the University of California say they are a step closer to developing materials that could actually render people invisible. They’ve developed a material that can bend light around 3D objects making them “disappear”. Currently this is all being done on a nano scale, measured in billionths of a meter, but the team says the principles could one day be scaled up to make invisibility cloaks large enough to hide people.  ***MARLAR: This would really come in handy for the military, law enforcement, and whenever you need to avoid the boss when he’s looking for someone to work on Saturday.

According to a new study, 50% of people have at least 50% of their hair turn gray by age 50.  ***MARLAR: The other 50% are parents who had to dye their hair beginning at the age of 26.

A judge in Austria ruled that a senior citizen is banned from taking a shower after 10pm because the noise he made was keeping his 78-year-old neighbor awake. ***MARLAR: Maybe he should try a water softener.

An Oxford study found that if you use a lot of flowery language to describe the taste or smell of something, people actually think it tastes and smells better.  ***MARLAR: This explains how the French convinced everyone that the world’s greatest foods are snails, goose liver and fish eggs.  (And how else can you explain that we all love cheese, which actually smells like feet?)

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