Gormless candidates flunk civics test

I’m disgusted – but not altogether surprised – to learn that many candidates for election don’t know very much about the nation they want to help (?) govern. US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday. Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). “It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI’s civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more

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Baby animals – it’s “Awwww!” time again!

There have been a few fun reports about baby animals lately. Click the pictures for a larger view. The first report is about a six-month-old elephant in South Africa. It’s as close to the lion lying down with the lamb as you are likely to see – exceot the lamb is a full-grown sheep and its snoozing partner is a baby elephant. The unlikely bond between Themba the elephant and Albert the sheep has taken nature reserve wardens by surprise. The six-month-old elephant was orphaned after his mother died in a fall down a cliff. Vets at South Africa’s Sanbona

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Followers

A couple of long-time readers have e-mailed me, asking me to incorporate the ‘Followers’ widget in my sidebar. A couple of others wanted a picture. I’ve now added both. You’ll see them on the left. Those of you who’ve registered as followers of this blog will have your icon displayed in that list. Anyone clicking on it will be taken to your Blogger profile. As for the picture, I hope it doesn’t shatter your monitors! (Of course, it’s not really me. I’m actually a stunning redhead with an hourglass figure – oh, no, wait, that’s Brigid. Sorry. Channeling again!) Peter

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A fish out of water!

This is amazing. I mean – really, genuinely amazing! (To me, anyway.) Last month, a radio-controlled model airship regatta was held in Friedrichshafen in southern Germany. There were plenty of enthusiasts in attendance, with the usual variety of model airships – but along came Empa, a Swiss materials technology development institution, and blew them all away! Professor Paolo Ermanni and four students, Christa Jordi, Silvain Michel, Laurent Wahl and Nicolai Widmer, all from Empa, developed a fish-shaped airship that actually ‘swims’ through the air. Its tail propels and steers it, and it’s supported by the gas inside it, aided by

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Doofus Of The Day #108

Today’s doofus is from Newcastle, Australia. A man caught near Nobbys Beach with his penis in a pasta sauce jar led police on a 20 kmh car chase, Newcastle Local Court heard yesterday. Police drew their weapons when they suspected Keith Roy Weatherley, 46, was armed. Instead, they found him partially clothed with his genitals in a jar, a police statement said. Weatherley, of Promontory Way, North Arm Cove, attracted attention parked in a no-stopping zone before noon on October 26. Police believed Weatherley was doing something with his hands in his lap and thought that he might have a

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The battlefield of the future is getting a lot closer

Being a military veteran, and a techno-geek, I follow developments in military technology with interest. There have been two in the past week that’ve made me sit up and take notice. One is the first ready-for-combat laser beam ‘gun’, from Northrop Grumman. The FIRESTRIKE(tm) laser offers warfighters a 15 kilowatt (kW) fieldable laser as well as a combinable LRU building block for much higher power, based on a laser beam combining architecture validated by Northrop Grumman over many years with the Joint High Power Solid State Laser program, Vesta and Vesta II. “We are ready to deliver on the promise

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What it takes to be a genius

The answer, of course, is very hard work. About 10,000 hours of it, to be more precise. They say that genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. Now scientists claim they know just how much sweat and toil this actually is. It takes someone 10,000 hours of practice to reach the top in their chosen discipline, they say. Studies suggest that top sportsmen, musicians and chess players have all put in this amount of graft. Talent and luck are important, but it is practice that makes the difference between being good and being brilliant, say the

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Weekend Wings #27: Will the MiG name vanish into history?

Weekend Wings returns after an almost three-month hiatus, caused by a house fire, which was quickly followed by a visit from Hurricane Gustav. I’ve been hard at work supervising contractors doing repairs, which hasn’t left much time for in-depth articles like this. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to them now. It was announced last week that the Mikoyan, or MiG, aircraft company in Russia will be folded into the giant United Aircraft Corporation, joining other Russian aviation companies like Sukhoi, Tupolev, Yakovlev and Beriev under a single corporate umbrella. However, unlike the others, which retain their corporate identity

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Monty Python’s YouTube Channel

I’m pleased to note that the Monty Python comedy troupe, tired of being ripped off by enthusiastic viewers for years, have finally decided to start their own YouTube channel. They’ve put up a score of clips from the show in high-definition TV (although, unaccountably, the Dead Parrot sketch isn’t among them!), and promise more to come. In honor of the occasion, here’s the Silly Olympics. Peter

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They must be tired of life!

I’m amazed at a report from England of dare-devil kayakers plummeting down a dam spillway in Wales. There is no coastguard on this enchanting shoreline. There is no mobile telephone signal and no emergency telephone box either. What would be the point? There are no other human beings for miles. Even if there were, and even if they all happened to be carrying lifebelts, it would not make the slightest difference if you happened to fall into the water just here. Because the only equipment which might be remotely useful to a swimmer would be a crash helmet and some

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