WHO NEEDS STREET CRED?
A report called "American Brandstand 2005" has tracked product placement in last year's most popular songs and found that Mercedes has come out on top as the most name-dropped brand in American music, being featured 100 times in the top hits of last year. Rappers, obviously, make the most money from deals with companies which see their names wind up in rap tunes. The survey found that 50 Cent was the worst of a bad bunch, mentioning 17 products by name in seven of his most popular songs of 2005. Luxury cars dominated the top 10 most popular brands, with guns, clothes and booze heavily populating the rest of the top 100. Pistol-maker Beretta made the biggest gains in 2005, debuting on the list at number 13. (money.cnn.com)
I'M NOT DRUNK, JUST A LITTLE SPACED OUT
Japanese sake producers are hoping a new batch of sake brewed with yeast which spent 10 days in outer space will renew interest in Japanese sake and spark increased sales. The drink has been dubbed "Space Sake" and will be brewed with yeast which was sent for a visit to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket last year. Sake brewers are hoping the yeast will bring out a special flavour in the newest batch of sake, but if not, they urge you to "sip it with dreams and romantic ideas in your mind, and you will get the taste of outer space." (Mail & Guardian online)
SEVENTEEN PERCENT PREMENSTRUAL
An emotion-recognition software program developed at the University of Illinois has been used to analyze the enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. According to this program, Mona Lisa's expression was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful and 2 percent angry. (New Scientist)
THE PEOPLE VS. JESUS
An Italian judge has ordered a priest to appear in court later this month and prove that Jesus Christ existed. The court case began after Signor Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, brought legal proceedings against Father Enrico Righi, who denounced Cascioli in his parish newsletter. In response, Cascioli is charging Father Righi with "abuse of popular credulity" and will force the priest to prove Jesus existed in a court of law if he wishes to continue to preach his belief to Italian churchgoers. Cascioli's lawsuit contends that accounts of Jesus' life were written by authors who lived "after the time of the hypothetical Jesus" and were therefore not reliable witnesses. So far, Father Righi does not seem well prepared for this case. Instead of sticking to some facts, Righi told reporters that "If Cascioli does not see the sun in the sky at midday, he cannot sue me because I see it and he does not." (The Times Online)
KENTUCKY FRIED IDIOT
From the "You'll Never Get Laid Again" files comes the news that 19-year-old Chris Garnett, a youth outreach coordinator for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), has changed his name to KentuckyFriedCruelty.com. Not surprisingly, his parents still insist on calling him "Chris."
LOPSIDED LUMPS ARE FINE
As China continues to steamroll into the 21st century, quaint laws are slowly being replaced by slightly more enlightened practices. For example, Hunan province has scrapped the law that required woman to show that they had symmetrical breasts before they could be considered for a government job. (Reuters)
DREAMS DO COME TRUE ...
If you haven't yet seen the best 15-seconds of Internet available, Google the phrase "Tom Cruise Kills Oprah" and watch the film.
BOOKS: THE NEW GATEWAY DRUG
A neurolinguistic study on over 80 novels by Agatha Christie has concluded that the writer used words and phrases that hypnotized her readers, making her novels impossible to put down. Scientists from various universities in the U.K. carried out "The Agatha Project" and concluded that Christie's writing mirrored the literary techniques used by hypnotherapists and psychologists in order to mesmerize their patients. The researchers also claimed that many of the phrases commonly used in her novels raise levels of serotonin and endorphins in the brains of readers, thus triggering a pleasure response which causes people to re-read her novels again and again. (BBC)
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