Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: March 16, 2011

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For many teachers and parents, those text abbreviations may spell the end of literacy as we know it, but a growing body of research indicates that text messages can actually help students’ ability to spell.   It may seem counterintuitive to those who wonder how hours spent slinging digital slang can’t help but translate into “lol”-peppered formal correspondence. But language experts say that no matter how dumbed-down the techno shorthand looks, the wordplay has a positive impact on students’ spelling smarts. ***MARLAR: Unfortunately, the language experts spelled the phrase “dumbed-down” without the letter “B”.

A Detroit-area district says it’s allowing Sikh (seek) students to wear a small, religious dagger to school.  The decision by the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools reverses a ban put in place in December after a fourth-grader at a Canton Township elementary school was found with a dull, 3- to 5-inch kirpan. The kirpan represents a commitment to fight evil in the Sikh tradition. The dagger is a religious symbol that baptized Sikh males are expected to carry.  The principal initially let the boy keep the kirpan, but the school board instituted a ban because of parental concerns and conflicts with the district’s rules against bringing weapons to school.  ***MARLAR: Not to worry though, if your son or daughter needs a weapon there are plenty of sharpened pencils within reach at all times.

Virginia state Delegate Robert G. Marshall has introduced legislation to study whether the Commonwealth should make the preparations now to switch suddenly to an alternative currency in the event of an implosion of the Federal Reserve System and the destruction of the dollar. House Joint Resolution 557 is another piece of a growing movement among state legislators who are concerned about the dollar’s demise. Ten states have considered similar bills, recommending a return to some form of a commodity-based currency, using either silver or gold.  ***MARLAR: I’d suggest a currency based on oil – since we’re not allowed to drill for it it’ll soon be more expensive than silver and gold combined.

While they already work in the city of Detroit, will they live there?  Mayor Dave Bing is taking action by announcing a new incentive plan to get police officers & firefighters to live where they work.  As part of a pilot program called “Project 14″ Detroit cops and firefighters who live in the suburbs will be offered renovated homes in the city for as little as $1,000.  ***MARLAR: Which sounds like a great deal, until you factor in the cost of a $200,000 home security system that is pretty much required if you’re going to live in Detroit.


A Carbondale, Colorado, man who said he heard crazy noises in his head finally went to the doctor and found out his skull was infested with fly larvae. ***MARLAR: That probably also explained those bleeding bumps on his head that kept moving.

Be careful if you have saggy pants in the south Chicago suburb of Lynwood.  Village leaders have passed an ordinance that would levy $25 fines against anyone showing three inches or more of their underwear in public.  ***MARLAR: Meaning you could be penalized after a bully gives you a wedgie.

A few Fort Wayne, Indiana, police officers will have to leave the high speed chases to someone else.  The police department is buying three new three-wheeled electric scooters. Officers will use them to patrol the downtown area. The rechargeable scooters will help cut the city’s gasoline bill, but they don’t go very fast; the top speed is just 23 mph.  ***MARLAR: So if you plan on robbing a bank, please be thoughtful and drive your getaway vehicles veerryy slowwwly.

Supporters of the Atkins diet are calling the results of a study comparing it to other weight-loss regimens “vindication.”  The two-year study conducted at a nuclear research facility in Israel focused on the low-carb Atkins-style diet with a low-fat diet and a Mediterranean-style diet.  A report in The New England Journal of Medicine determined that the 322 participants all achieved weight loss and improved cholesterol. But it also found that a low-carb diet similar to the Atkins diet helped improve cholesterol levels more than the two competing diets. Some critics had predicted the opposite.  The study is remarkable not only because it lasted two years, much longer than most, but also because of the huge proportion of people who stuck with the diets — 85 percent.  ***MARLAR: But is life without French fries worth living?  And just how many times can you stand making a sandwich with turkey between two slices of turkey?

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