The Gold Medal in Boring • Happy New Year, Unless You're Dead • Meet My Sister, Megadeath 

THE GOLD MEDAL IN BORING

It's a sad time for fans of the butchered English language in exotic lands. The Chinese government has set up the "Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program"--an army of thousands of city workers and volunteers whose mission is to rid their city of every hilarious English street sign, tourist exhibit and menu description in time for next summer's Olympic games. The word police has already replaced 6,530 traffic signs and is now focussing its attention on restaurants that serve "fried crap," "cow bowel in sauce," "corrugated iron beef" and "acid food." They also hope to translate unintentionally offensive signs such as the label "Deformed Man" hanging outside of a toilet stall for the handicapped, and a venue dedicated to ethnic minorities called "Racist Park." Unfortunately the white-washing will also rid Beijing of some sweet Chinglish poetry, such as a sign on a park lawn which reads "Show Mercy to the Slender Grass." By the way, you can get your fill of this genre of cheap laughs at Chinglish.de and Engrish.com. (Wall Street Journal)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, UNLESS YOU'RE DEAD

Thai police have come up with a cunning plan to bring down the number of road deaths during the Buddhist New Year celebrations, which claimed over 500 lives last year thanks to drunk and exhausted drivers. The solution? One-hundred-forty-thousand packages of super-sour hard candies, which have been blessed by 2,999 Buddhist monks. Police have a goal of bringing the death count of the annual carnage down by about 15 percent, hoping that the sour taste of the candies will keep motorists alert enough to at least make it home safe after the celebrations. "The taste is very sour, which can keep you awake. The candy was also blessed by the monks, which makes people more comfortable and confident when driving," explained regional highway police chief Colonel Panya Pinsuk. Apparently, these geniuses have never heard of the concept of arresting drunk drivers, but I guess it's impractical to arrest everybody. (AFP)

MEET MY SISTER MEGADETH

A Swedish couple is stuck in a legal battle with Sweden's National Tax Board after trying to name their newborn daughter Metallica. "It suits her," claimed the new mom. "She's decisive and she knows what she wants." Nevertheless, the authorities have refused to register the name, calling it "ugly." (Yahoo.com)

WHY YOU HATE CAMPING

Before you go hiking this summer, you might want to get familiar with the Schmidt Sting Pain Index in order to figure out which nasty biting insects to avoid the most. The index is a brilliantly written ranking of the relative pain caused by stinging insects from level 0 (completely ineffective against humans) to level 4.0+ (pure, intense, brilliant pain.) Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt, who has been stung by almost every insect imaginable, has captured the feeling of each experience in sweet poetic terms. So here are a few to avoid: the Fire ant (level 1.2: "like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch"); the Bullhor acacia ant (level 1.8: "someone has fired a staple into your cheek"); the Bald-faced hornet (level 2.0: "similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door"); the Red harvester ant (level 3.0: "somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail"); Pepsis wasp (level 4.0: "you might as well lie down and scream"); and, at level 4.0+, the Bullet ant, whose sting is described as "walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel." Good luck out there! (Wikipedia.com)

CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO UNHAPPINESS

Scientists in the U.K. are studying the happiness-producing properties of dirt after discovering that a bacteria found in soil seems to improve the moods of lung cancer patients. Researchers also found that exposure to the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae raised the levels of serotonin in the brains of mice. "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health," said lead researcher Dr. Chris Lowry. "They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all spend more time playing in the dirt." (BBC)

I-READ-IT-ON-THE-INTERNET-SO-IT-MUST-BE-TRUE FACT OF THE WEEK

Toxic house plants poison more children than household chemicals. :

Get way more news at CuriousTimes.com.

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