DARREN’S DAILY DOSE OF WEIRD NEWS – July 4, 2009

According to a recent survey on office pet peeves, 32 percent of employees listed “loud talkers” as their biggest annoyance at work. However, 44 percent said using condescending tones were the worst, while 37 percent found public reprimands at work irritating. 34 percent said they hated bosses who micromanage, topping 22 percent who disliked using speakerphones in public areas. ***MARLAR: And 78% said their biggest pet peeve is people making them take dumb surveys about their jobs while they’re trying to get their work done.

A Harvard and University of British Columbia study found that how you spend money is at least as important to happiness as how much you make. They studied 630 Americans and found that those who spent money on other people, even as little as $5 a day for gifts or charity, were measurably happier than those who spent the money on themselves.  ***MARLAR: In fact, instead of buying the complete Stargate SG-1 collection on DVD for myself, I bought it for my wife Robin – and I’m feeling really good about that right now.

A survey by the website BabyCenter.com found that celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan and Ben Affleck have sparked a new trend called “push presents,” or giving women extravagant gifts after they have a baby. They’re named after both the “push” of childbirth and the fact that many dads now feel pushed to give them or else. Nearly four out of 10 new moms have received them, and even more, 55 percent, now say they expect them. It’s led to Tiffany offering “push present” lines, such as pink sapphire and diamond jewelry if it’s a girl, or blue sapphires for a boy. Another jeweler even makes “mercy dashes” to hospitals to deliver push presents for men who didn’t know this was expected.  ***MARLAR: Isn’t having a baby in the first place expensive enough?

It turns out that those funny-looking swirly fluorescent light bulbs may not be as environmentally friendly as everyone thought. They do last longer and use less energy but they also contain enough mercury to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels – which could cause kidney and brain damage.  However, experts say fluorescent bulbs are still better for the environment as they are more energy efficient.  ***MARLAR: Sure, you may die of mercury poisoning – but that’s good for the planet.

What would life be like with self-cleaning clothes?  That may no longer be just a fantasy.  Dr. Walid Daoud, of Monash University in Australia, has figured out a way to get tiny particles of a type of titanium to stick to the silk and wool. The titanium breaks down contaminants when it’s exposed to sunlight. In a test, Daoud stained fabric samples with red wine. Those samples, which had previously been treated with the anatase titanium, showed no evidence of the stain after being exposed to artificial sunlight for 20 hours.  ***MARLAR: This means no more dry cleaners, no Laundromats, no laundry soap, and clothes washers will be used only for washing cats!

A woman in London claims she is allergic to modern living. Cars, microwave ovens, cell phones — they all emit electromagnetic waves which she claims causes her skin to rash and her eyelids to swell.  ***MARLAR: Funny, that’s the same reaction I get when I’m told I have to work late. 

The Centers for Disease Control has announced that rubella, or German measles, is the latest scourge to have been completely eradicated from the Unites States. ***MARLAR: Now if somebody could just do something about those Dr. Scholl’s “I’m gelin'” commercials.

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