Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: January 19, 2011

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NEW NEWS…

A Chinese farmer has invented a pair of ‘electric shoes’ which he claims enable wearers to run more than 100 miles a day. The shoes are effectively battery-powered roller skates which feature headlights, indicators, brakes and brake lights.  The wearer presses a button on the handle to be propelled forward at speeds of up to 15mph.  ***MARLAR: They expect to sell them next year to Americans, saying the shoes will allow you to finish all of your Christmas shopping at the mall in under fifteen minutes.

Schoolchildren would have to hold the fries — and pick up more whole grains, fruits and vegetables — on the lunch line under proposed new federal standards for school lunches.  The Agriculture Department proposal applies to lunches subsidized by the federal government and would be the first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in 15 years. The guidelines require schools to cut sodium in those meals by more than half, use more whole grains and serve low fat milk. They also would limit kids to only one cup of starchy vegetables a week, so schools couldn’t offer french fries every day.  ***MARLAR: Students are already labeling it, “The Great Potato Famine of America”.

A Chicago woman called 911 – to try to get police to scare her boyfriend into proposing to her.  Ana Perez, 40, claimed her boyfriend was attacking her when she called the emergency number.  But when police arrived, she changed her story, admitting she was trying to scare her boyfriend into marrying her.  Police were not amused, and charged Perez with disorderly conduct.  The boyfriend had no intention of marrying Perez and was actually in the process of breaking up with her, added police.  ***MARLAR: I’m sure having a record will make her so much more attractive to him now.

Discount-store operator Dollar General Corp. has announced plans to open 625 new stores and hire more than 6,000 workers in 2011. The company said the store openings will be in 35 states it currently operates in as well as in three new states.  ***MARLAR: It’s a genius move.  In this economy, stuff sold for a dollar is about all we can afford.

The third time wasn’t a charm for a Lorain, Ohio woman who received three speeding tickets in an hour on Saturday night.  Sheffield Village Police Chief Larry Bliss says Amy Bobkovich received the first ticket at 11:40 p.m., for driving 55-mph in a 35-mph zone on East River Road.  Ten minutes later she was ticketed on that same road by a different officer for once again driving 55-mph in a 35-mph zone.  Chief Bliss says at 12:43 a.m. Sunday, Bobkovich received her third speeding ticket for driving 51-mph in a 35-mph zone – that ticket was issued on Detroit Road.  “It’s unusual,” said Chief Bliss. “I have never seen anything like this before. I have seen someone get a ticket and get upset, then get another one a short time later, but never three.”  Bliss says the officers issuing Bobkovich’s second and third tickets were aware of the citations she had received earlier in the night, but her speeding did not warrant an arrest.  According to Bliss, Bobkovich had not received a speeding ticket in seven years prior to Saturday night.  ***MARLAR: This sounds terrible, but it’s only an average of one speeding ticket every 2 to 2 ½ years.  So really it’s no big deal, right?

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

The latest “companion robot” from Japan is called Ifbot, and is already in America waiting for you to take it home.  It’s a small, cute robot that really wants to be your friend. It shakes your hand, dances for you, hugs you, learns your favorite colors, offers to teach you Japanese, and says things like, “You seem to like me, and I like you – let’s play together” and “I’m feeling pretty sad – maybe if we talk for a while, you could cheer me up!” The price tag is a hefty $5,000.  ***MARLAR: Holy cow!  $5,000?!?  You can buy HUMAN friends for that!   ($5,000 – for a robot that suffers from depression.  Can I get a robot that needs no cheering up for $6,000?)

Forget fancy diets. A new study says that if you want to lose weight, just eat lots of tomatoes. The juicy fruit is thought to be rich in compounds that take away hunger pangs and suppress the urge to snack, which is one of the biggest battles for slimmers. British researchers believe that the magical ingredient that suppresses the appetite is the pigment lycopene, which gives tomatoes their red color.  ***MARLAR: Pizza sauce… that has a lot of tomatoes in it, right?  If so, I should be dropping the pounds already.

If you need some inspiration, just lie on your back. Darren Lipnicki from the school of psychology at the Australian National University found that people solve anagrams twice as fast when they were on their backs than on their feet. He says it suggests that lying down may also help your creative thinking process. Technically, it may have something to do with the brain chemical noradrenaline. While the chemical is associated with cognitive ability and attention, it is also believed to impair creative thinking and less of it is released while lying down.  ***MARLAR: So go ahead, lay down on the floor during your next board meeting… and tell your boss you’re trying to brainstorm… for the good of the company.

Shame, shame on the folks from HoneyBaked Ham in Cary, North Carolina. In April, manager Richard Huether was shot in the stomach during a robbery of the store and hospitalized, with medical bills paid through worker compensation and his employee health benefits. However, in September, and with another three months of recovery needed before he could return to work, his worker compensation expired and HoneyBaked fired him thus forcing him to begin paying 100 percent of his insurance premiums. Getting subsequent insurance was prohibitive because of his new “pre-existing condition”. But HoneyBaked human resources executive Maggie DeCan said the firing was for Mr. Huether’s own good, in that it would clear the way for him to receive Social Security disability payments. DeCan then said, “We couldn’t feel any worse for Rich, and we would do anything we could for him.”  ***MARLAR: Yeah — anything except keep him on the payroll!

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