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

The number of people dying on the nation’s roads has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, helped by a combination of seat belts, safer cars and tougher enforcement of drunken driving laws.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the annual report “shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been.”  ***MARLAR: Another reason roads are safer – unemployed people can’t afford to buy gas to drive their cars.

Children aged four and under who get less than 10 hours of sleep a night are nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese five years later, according to researchers from the University of California and University of Washington in Seattle.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers aged 1 to 3 years old should sleep for 12 to 14 hours a night; preschoolers, aged 3 to 5 years old, should sleep 11 to 13 hours, and 5- to 10-year-olds should get 10 to 11 hours. Teens should get 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep nightly.  ***MARLAR: In other words, sloth is good for you.

An Iowa school district’s lunch program asks children as young as 5 years old to memorize a four-digit PIN code so it can monitor what they eat in the school cafeteria — prompting some parents to claim it’s an unhealthy case of “Big Brother.”  The Ankeny Community School District is maintaining a database that records what the kids buy to eat and then checks their food choices against national nutrition guidelines. ***MARLAR: Instead of milk money, bullies are now forcing kids to hand over their pin numbers.

A New York school district recently drew national attention for suspending a student for wearing rosary beads, but it has now changed its policy and lifted the bead ban.  Raymond Hosier was suspended last May for wearing rosary beads to Oneida Middle School in Schenectady. Officials claimed he violated school policy because beads are a potential gang symbol — but the school board, following a judge’s ruling, has eliminated the language that links the beads to gangs.  ***MARLAR: How are rosary beads a potential gang symbol?  Are there gang members leading their crew in saying the Lord’s Prayer and ten Hail Mary’s before going on a hit?

Want to know what it’s like to have a vampire wedding? Well 61-year-old Jack Holsinger and his 44-year-old bride Connie Spitznagel made it happen in Columbia Station, Ohio. They both donned full vampire regalia for their “scare-emoney” at a haunted house near Cleveland. The couple chose the location because it’s operated by the same people who own a campground where they met. The groom arrived in a coffin inside a hearse, and the coffin was carried to the altar by six pallbearers. Minister Greg Kopp was dressed as Jason from the “Friday the 13th” movies. After the vows were exchanged, he ordered Holsinger not to kiss his new bride but instead to bite her on the neck. Despite their claims of being vampires, both did vow to stay together “until death do us part.” ***MARLAR: And by seeing his bride with pale skin and messed hair, the groom was better able to prepare for what he’d see the first morning of marriage.

A study by the University of Chicago seems to indicate that the older you are, the happier you are.  Interviews with 28,000 Americans from 1972 to 2004 revealed 33 percent of 88-year-olds described themselves as very happy, compared to only 24 percent of those aged 18 to 22. Overall, the odds of being happy rose 5 percent with every passing decade. It’s partly because their social lives are more active than young people’s, due to church, volunteering and senior groups, plus they’ve lowered their expectations and no longer worry that they’ll never win a Nobel Prize or something. ***MARLAR: In other words, give up trying to accomplish anything in your life and you’ll be ecstatic!

Ontario, Canada, has passed a law making it illegal to use a regular light bulb after the year 2012. ***MARLAR: In the United States we’re still allowed to use dim bulbs… because we keep reelecting them.

A newspaper says that Britain’s military is so worried by increasingly overweight soldiers it has demanded that commanders refocus on fitness.  The Observer newspaper quotes from a leaked memo sent to British army units saying the army needs to “reinvigorate a warrior ethos and a culture of being fit.”  The memo is quoted as saying operational effectiveness is being undermined and lives put at risk by obese soldiers.  The Ministry of Defense offered no comment on the newspaper’s Sunday report but it did not dispute its accuracy.  It says in a brief statement that military commanders were recently told to ensure all units followed the army’s fitness policy.  ***MARLAR: Although they do admit that nowadays the British Navy is a lot more buoyant.

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