Wednesday, October 17, 2007


There are times especially in trying circumstances, when yelling obscenities is the only means in which to vent one's frustrations. Frequently, the recipient of the obscenities can be an inanimate object, in which case it's merely a one-sided swearing situation with no one being hurt. Perhaps but not always.

Take the case of this woman who lives in Pennsylvania that is facing a jail sentence for shouting profanities at her over-flowing toilet. You read it right.

The female in question, one Dawn Herb, was in her own home in West Scranton when a neighbor who just happened to be a police officer by chance, heard her swearing through an open window. He responded by asking her to "keep it down" and when she continued her tirade, his police colleagues were called out and believe it or not, she was charged with disorderly conduct. She is now facing up to - wait for it - 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

I mean - c'mon! Gimme a break! First of all the lady...female was in the privacy of her own home. It wasn't as if the recipient of her verbal abuse was alive or anything. We're talking here about a toilet that backed up with water over-flowing on to the floor! Logically and perhaps this is the wrong term to use in this case, who was hurt? More to the point did the swearing affect the flow of the water one way or the other?

I think not!

There is no information available as to the price of a plumber to fix the situation, which would be added to that of her fine. All-in-all, it must have been a very trying experience for her. There is also no information whether the errant toilet was bought on sale. Not that it makes any difference...

Writers & Friends

Friday, October 05, 2007


It brings a tear to the eyes - at least the prize handed out to Mayu Yamamoto, from Japan, who developed a method to extract vanilla fragrance and flavoring from cow dung. This is something the world has been waiting for!

The prize is among other - how shall we say - unusual awards known as the Ig Nobel Prize handed out by the Annals of Improbable Research in their ongoing quest to “celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology.”

O-kay. We'll drink to that. Actually, maybe not.

Among the other prize winners was a team at Quilmes National University in Argentina, who took home the honors in the aviation category for finding that - wait for it - hamsters given Viagra needed 50% less time to recover from a six-hour time zone change. This vital information should be of great interest to rodents that fly the friendly skies. I mean...really.

In the medical sphere, the prize for medicine went to radiologist Brian Witcombe at Gloucestershire Royal NHS foundation trust for his study of the vocational risks of sword swallowing Moreover, “sore throats - ’sword throats’ - occur when swallowers are learning, when performances are repeated frequently, or when odd-shaped or multiple swords are used,” he concluded. This conclusion is all the more interesting given the means in which they arrived at this. Who were the subjects and what were they given to partake in this experiment? Equally fascinating, are they still alive and what did they do with the leftover swords?

Juan Manuel Toro, Josep Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Barcelona University, collected the linguistics Ig Nobel for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards (but only sometimes!). Now this begs the question as to how the researchers actually found rats that understood Japanese AND Dutch and then determining if they could distinguish the difference when speaking Japanese and Dutch backwards/forwards... Oh who cares anyway!

Back state-side, the U.S. Air Force’s Wright Laboratory in Ohio took the peace prize for its 1994 research into a “gay bomb” that could deploy a chemical substance that would turn the enemy’s front lines into an orgy. Unlike most of the other winners, no one from the lab showed up for the presentation. Perhaps they were other-wise occupied one ponders?

The Biology honors went to Dr. Johanna van Bronswijk of the Netherlands for carrying out a census of all of the mites, insects, spiders, ferns and fungi that share our beds. No mention of numbers acquired in the mite research, which could be a good or bad sign. Then again there could have been duplication given their propensity to jump around. Was this research conducted world-wide or locally?

Now in as far as Economics go, here is something that has some merit or at least logic. Kuo Cheng Hsieh of Taiwan presumably patented a device that can catch bank robbers by dropping a net over them. Oh the inventiveness of this device!

Can't wait for next year's prizes. Got any ideas?

Writers & Friends