Doofus Of The Day #111

Today’s Doofus award is conferred collectively upon the team of police in Scotland responsible for this fiasco. As Lulu Matheson was warming herself by the fire at her remote rural cottage, police and sniffer dogs burst through the door. The officers were sure that the house was a cannabis factory – and refused to accept that her pot plants weren’t . . . well, pot plants. Despite protestations by the 79-year-old widow that they were looking at her family’s prized tomato crop, the officers insisted on sending samples of the plants to be analysed. Mrs Matheson, who has lived in

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A French soldier on US troops in Afghanistan

A tip o’ the hat to Jean-Marc Liotier at Serendipitous Altruism (certainly one of the more intriguing blog titles I’ve come across!) for translating observations by a French soldier, serving with an Operational Mentoring Liaison Team, or OLMT, concerning the US soldiers with whom he’s based. We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while – they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with

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Will ‘heavy water’ slow the aging process?

I’m intrigued by a British news report claiming that ‘heavy water’ may be a solution – you should pardon the expression – to the problem of aging. For centuries mankind has sought the secret of a long and healthy life. And for centuries it seems we were looking in the wrong place. Forget exotic pills and potions, the key to prolonged life could be as simple as a glass of water. Scientists believe ‘heavy water’ enriched with a rare form of hydrogen could add as much as ten years to life. And by also modifying foods, such as steak and

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UPDATED: Shooters, let’s not go overboard on HS Precision

UPDATE: As of this time (6.47 p.m. Central) I’m not aware of any statement having been issued by HS Precision. I’ve been in both telephonic and e-mail communication with the company, and quite frankly I’m baffled by their silence. As I said in my last e-mail to a company representative: … we really, REALLY need a statement from HS Precision’s top management ASAP. If that doesn’t come today, I don’t know whether the damage will be repairable. The silence of HS Precision’s management forces me to conclude that one of three things must be true. Either: 1. They haven’t a

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Illinois laws that boggle the mind

I’m obliged to CBS2 Chicago for these interesting snippets of legal levity. Did you know that there are laws in Illinois to the effect that: In Chicago, you may be arrested for vagrancy if you don’t have at least one dollar bill on you? It’s illegal to give a lighted cigar to a cat, a dog or any other domesticated animal kept as a pet? Bachelors should be called ‘Master’, not ‘Mister’, when addressed by their counterparts? In Oblong, IL, it’s illegal to make love while hunting or fishing on your wedding day? It’s illegal to fish in pajamas in

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More fishy flying things!

Two days ago I wrote about an airship that moves through the air like a fish. A few readers sent me e-mails to alert me to the fact that this isn’t the first ‘airship’ to mimic the actions of an underwater creature. It seems that a German group, Festo, has produced at least two similar devices. Their Web site highlights what they call a ‘Bionic Learning Network‘, aimed at using nature’s designs to produce machines for human use. How can bionics be used to improve the efficiency and productivity of automated motion sequences? Festo searches for innovative answers to this

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A macabre sort of bequest, surely?

Polish pianist Andre Tchaikowsky had a novel idea for the disposal of at least part of his mortal remains. As an acclaimed musician, Andre Tchaikowsky lived his life to the sound of applause. Now in death, it continues. The Polish pianist, who died in 1982, bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company. And after more than 25 years of waiting in the wings, it is finally starring in the company’s latest production of Hamlet. It is used in act five, scene one, when a grave-digger unearths the skull of the jester Yorick. Hamlet, holding it close, declares: ‘Alas, poor

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The future of books and reading

The future of book publishing, marketing and reading is in flux right now. Not only are hard times, economically speaking, impacting every aspect of the business, but the demographics of the reading population are changing rapidly. L. E. Modesitt, Jr., a well-known fantasy and science-fiction author, highlighted some of these issues on his blog recently. Speaking of the publishing industry, he said: In overall terms, the world of books is rapidly becoming a scary place. Borders Books is teetering on the edge, with an anticipated report of poor sales in the third quarter of the year. While Borders is not

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Doofus Of The Day #109 and #110

Our two Doofi today are halfway around the world from one another, but they have something in common. They tried to rob an automated teller machine. As you might imagine, their efforts were crowned with something less than success. Doofus #109 is a collective award to a group of four wannabe thieves in Sydney, Australia. They apparently hadn’t learned that when blowing up an ATM, it’s a good idea to park one’s getaway car at a safe distance from the explosion. Masked men have blown up three ATMs across Sydney early this morning, exploding machines in Clovelly, Chester Hill and

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Believe in God? No – but UFO’s, you bet!

I’m startled to read about a recent survey. Believing in ghosts and little green men from outer space appears a touch easier than having faith in God, according to a survey. The researchers found that while 54 per cent of us are convinced the Almighty exists, 58 per cent believe in the supernatural. The findings, maybe somewhat unsurprisingly, have been issued to mark the DVD release of The X-Files: I Want to Believe. The film stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, who made the TV series such a success. The research put out to coincide with the DVD release also

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