Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – June 13, 2010

You’re at the front lines shooting Nazis before they shoot you. Or you’re a futuristic gladiator in a death match with robots.  Either way, you’re playing a video game – and you may be improving your vision and other brain functions, according to research presented Thursday at a New York University conference on games as a learning tool.  “People that play these fast-paced games have better vision, better attention and better cognition,” said Daphne Bavelier, an assistant professor in the department of brain and cognitive science at the University of Rochester.  ***MARLAR: Unfortunately, their friendships don’t last long – they keep stabbing schoolmates.

It turns out that census works can legally demand access to your home or apartment – even if you’re not home!  ***MARLAR: How else can they count the number of toilets you have?  The Federal Government MUST KNOW!

The city of Barcelona, Spain is equipping its 18,000 litterbins with microchips in a bid to make garbage collection easier. By installing micro chips in the structure of the bins, Barcelona’s rubbish collectors can read how full a bin is, the last time it was emptied, or if it needs a new coat of paint – all just by using a hand-held computer. ***MARLAR: I’m still waiting for the technology that takes out the garbage for me.

A three-year-old Michigan boy is super-strong. He can move furniture, hold five-pound weights, and do sit-ups with ease. But Liam Hoekstra, of Roosevelt Park, appears to have a rare genetic condition — one that presents special challenges to him and his parents. Liam likely has a condition called myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, which means his body has very little fat and enlarged muscle fibers that make him really strong. As a toddler, Liam had very defined muscles, but now he doesn’t look much different from any other normal child his age. He’s actually a bit smaller, but much stronger.  ***MARLAR: He also gets mad easily and turns green.

Halloween is long gone. So what’s up with the black cat sightings near New York’s Tallman Mountain State Park? Signs posted around the Rockland County park warn about “Suspicious Animal Sightings.” The state Department of Environmental Conservation says wild cat sightings often turn out to be a large dog, coyote or bobcat. But Orangetown police aren’t taking any chances. They’re increasing patrols until the cat mystery is solved. The big cats are described as larger than medium-sized dogs.  ***MARLAR: Just in case, they are asking residents not to feed the cat – so keep your Chihuahuas indoors.

In China, a man left his wife… she took revenge by burning the 400 cell phones they had for sale at their business.  ***MARLAR: Strangely, an hour later she felt like burning 400 cell phones again.

The journal Nature reports that researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, have found a musician whose brain “wires” are crossed in such a way that she senses tastes when she hears music. For instance, a minor third tastes salty to her, a minor second chord is sour, and a major third tastes sweet. ***MARLAR: That’s weird, because I’m the exact opposite. I hear bubble-gum music and taste bile.

In an attempt to curb child obesity, a West Virginia school district is implementing the interactive dancing video game “Dance, Dance Revolution.” ***MARLAR: This is a much better idea than what they did back in the 1980’s with FROGGER.

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