Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: November 19, 2010

NEW NEWS…

Even the most law-abiding driver might feel a shiver down the spine when spotting this speed camera at the roadside. For as well as detecting speeding, it is packed with gizmos that check number plates to make sure insurance and tax are up to date.  It also measures the distance between vehicles to spot tailgating and takes pictures of the inside of the car – to make sure you are wearing a seat belt.  The latest weapon in speed camera technology can capture footage from 150ft away. It is the first to detect multiple offences at the same time and is connected to police computers via satellite, so that prosecutions can be started within seconds of any offence.  Development of the system, known as ASSERT (Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport) is being funded with around £7million of European money.   It is undergoing testing in Finland and is expected to be deployed across Europe from 2013, with each unit costing £50,000. ***MARLAR: We’ll still need police officers though, because the system doesn’t say “have a nice day” after giving you a citation.

The New York Times has just reported on a new trend towards what’s sometimes known as soap-dodging. Among those who have cut down on daily showers, baths or hair-washing were a woman who swipes a sliced lemon under her armpits instead of deodorant, another who uses baby wipes to freshen up after her lunchtime runs, and a salesman who shampoos only once a month and gave up antiperspirant for three years.  ***MARLAR: Is this an attempt to be more “green” – because I’m pretty sure not showering actually ADDS to air pollution.

Americans will keep growing fatter until 42 percent of the nation is considered obese, and having fat friends is part of the problem according to researchers.  The prediction by a team of researchers at Harvard University contradicts other experts who say the nation’s obesity rate has peaked at 34 percent of the U.S. population. The finding is from the same group, led by Nicholas Christakis, that reported in 2007 that if someone’s friend becomes obese, that person’s  chances of becoming obese increase by more than half.  ***MARLAR: Friends of Laura Flynn Boyle and Calista Flockhart have no worries whatsoever.

Get ready to add another “customer service” to the growing list of do-it-yourself tasks at airports.  American Airlines and Air Canada say they’re in talks with the Transportation Security Administration for a trial program in Boston later this year to let travelers tag their own checked bags for the first time in the U.S.   Delta Air Lines says it’s in talks with TSA for a trial at another airport.  While self-tagging — or letting travelers print and affix destination tags on bags — is common at foreign airports, only airline agents can currently do that in the U.S.  It’s designed as a service to help speed customers through check-in.  ***MARLAR: Next year they want to test a program where we serve our own drinks and fly the planes too.

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

Fort Collins, Colorado’s Holiday Display Task Force recommended putting up only white lights because red and green lights might be seen an endorsement of the Christian religion.  ***MARLAR: Because we all remember the story of how Jesus miraculously changed the colors of light bulbs for his birthday.

The Pentagon is looking for about one-thousand foreign-language speakers who can help the government in times of war and national emergencies.  The civilian Language Corps is a three-year pilot program.  The Defense Department will recruit volunteers and conduct testing to see if such a program would work. Pentagon spokesman Robert Slater says if the program is successful, a permanent corps could be developed.  The Language Corps would be a pool of people who could be called on to help in humanitarian crises at home or overseas, and in wars if they volunteer to do so.  The global war on terror has called attention to the U-S military’s shortage of people who speak such foreign languages as Arabic.  ***MARLAR: You can count me out.  I can only speak one language – although I could probably learn Canadian if I had to.

A 9-1-1 dispatcher in Dodge Country, Wisconsin was stunned for a moment when a caller told her she needed a nanny.  The sheriff’s department dispatcher asked the woman to say again what she wanted… and the caller, sounding a little exasperated, said she was calling 9-1-1 because she needed a baby sitter.  The dispatcher then explained that her office doesn’t handle those kinds of emergencies.  ***MARLAR: Including dirty diapers.

The parking policy at Crystal Springs Elementary School in Jacksonville, Fla., requires parents to wait in line, inside their cars, while the students are released one-by-one. Fed up, one mom showed up on horseback, citing fuel costs and time spent waiting as the reason for her four-legged mode of transportation.  “I don’t have the funds in my budget to sit in lines for an hour to two and a half hours to wait for my daughter,” said the woman, identified only as Deidre. Deidre, who said she and her daughter often ride horses together, was prevented from taking the child home and was ushered off the property by police.  ***MARLAR: When asked if she planned to retaliate, she said “neigh.”

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