Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: January 21, 2011

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NEW NEWS…

A new study finds more people than ever are using the library.  Over the last five years library visits have increased by more than 10 percent. State residents made nearly 36 million visits and checked out more than 65 million books in 2009.  ***MARLAR: This is economic.  The library is the last place you can still get your dose of adventure once you can no longer afford cable.

Fewer Americans said they purchased a hybrid car in 2010 than in 2009, according to a new Harris Interactive Poll.  The poll, released this week also shows that fewer Americans overall are “going green,” as compared to 2009.  American adults were less likely to engage in a host of “green” behaviors in their daily life in 2010, including:  — “Making an effort to use less water” (57 percent in 2010 vs. 60 percent in 2009)  — “Purchasing locally grown produce” (33 percent vs. 39 percent)  — “Purchasing locally manufactured products” (23 percent vs. 29 percent).  ***MARLAR: Probably because buying green products is expensive, and in this economy you’re not making enough green to go green if you wanted to – and that makes some people green around the gills.

Ariens is recalling more than 1,000 snow throwers because of a safety hazard, when people try to clear the chute of its Sno-Thro 30LE Deluxe, as they risk a hand injury, including losing a finger.  The company says no injuries have been reported.  The snow throwers were sold at Home Depot and other Ariens dealers since last October for about $1,500 and will be repaired at Ariens dealers for free.  ***MARLAR: What I find strange about this story is that a company that deals with ridding the streets of white stuff is somehow named “Arien” (arian).

An orange alligator photographed in South Florida is raising questions about its bizarre pigment. Sylvia Mythen snapped the photo of the gator sunning beside a neighborhood canal in Venice.  The picture ran on TV after she shot it Wednesday and caused a buzz.  Experts with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have scrutinized the photo and say the color is not genetic. They believe the gator was somehow covered in paint or an orange substance.  ***MARLAR: Or painted itself because it’s a huge football fan.

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

The Homeland Security Department asked a group of science fiction writers to help them try to dream up ways that terrorists might attack America.  ***MARLAR: That’s right… Homeland Security is about to be handed off to a bunch of geeks wearing Vulcan ears and speaking Klingon who write stories that inexplicably leave Captain Kirk not ever having access to a toilet.

Reverend Tim Haberkorn of Topeka, Kansas has a unique way of seeing the heavens and the earth. He jumps out of airplanes. The skydiving priest says he’s made more than 600 parachute jumps in the last 20 years. He says his hobby is a way for parishioners in his Kansas congregation to see his human side. Haberkorn tells the Topeka Capital-Journal the view from a parachute “helps one to see the vastness of God’s glory.” ***MARLAR: And brings you closer to God if your parachute has problems.

A New Jersey mother said her 8-year-old son faces extra scrutiny from TSA agents when he flies because his name appears on a “selectee” list, The New York Times reported.  Najlah Feanny Hicks said her son, Michael Hicks, a Cub Scout who travels often with his family, has had to go through extra security screening for most of his young life, receiving his first invasive pat-down at the age of two.  The trouble began even before that: when Michael Hicks was a baby, Najlah Hicks said she was told by airplane officials that her son “was on the list.”  ***MARLAR: Apparently they smelled his diaper and assumed a bomb had gone off.

A food fight, which started as a senior prank has resulted in criminal charges against three students at Illinois’ West Aurora High. Police say about 200 students were in the cafeteria when the french fries, milk, sandwiches and pizza started flying. Senior Zach Little says it was insane, and expensive, too. He says kids were buying food just to throw. Rumors the food fight had been circulating all week. Principal John Glimco says a prank is supposed to be funny not dangerous. Police report an officer broke his foot as the result of the melee. One senior faces felony charges, while two younger students are charged with misdemeanors as juveniles.  ***MARLAR: And what about the food service workers?  They’re the ones who supplied the kids with deadly weapons to begin with!

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