Monday, January 26, 2009

Overdue library book an arresting experience

There are books that capture our imagination, which we read and re-read over and over. On occasion a library book can be stored away and forgotten about. Perhaps - pure speculation here - this was the case with Iowa resident, Shelly Koontz, who was arrested on a fifth-degree theft charge because she allegedly failed to return a collection of essays focusing on the struggles of inner-city Long Beach, California high school students. The book, "The Freedom Writers Diary" has a retail value of $13.95.

You read it right: arrested as in legal proceedings against her.

The president of the Jesup library board, Tom McGlaughlin, expressed the view that pursuing criminal charges against a user for an overdue library book is unusual, but there were also unusual circumstances that were out of the ordinary.

"There is more to this issue than is coming to light at the present time," McGlaughlin said.

Seems that library staff phoned Koontz four times requesting the book be returned plus library officials sent her three letters and a certified letter that Koontz refused to accept. Furthermore, a police office actually visited her home in the fall and told Koontz daughter that the book had to be returned or pay the price of the book.

In Iowa, a fifth-degree theft charge, a misdemeanor offense, carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. In Des Moines, which has the largest library system in the state, an overdue library book carries a fine of 25 cents per day with a maximum of $6 in fines. After 30 days, the book is considered lost and the offending patron is billed for the cost the book, said Sally Wisdom, Des Moines Public Library deputy director.

In some cases, unpaid fines and missing book losses are turned over to a collection agency that specializes in recouping library losses, but Koontz's book would not have been turned over because it cost less than $25.

The missing/mislaid book would not have required the services of a collection agency given its cost of less than twenty-five dollars, yet she was arrested ? Makes a personal wonder and scratch one's head!

The Jesup library has a fine system, but it does not have a collection agency because "it's just not needed," McGlaughlin said. Statistics on monthly overdue books at the Jesup library were unavailable, but McGlaughlin, who has been on the library board for 11 years, could recall no instance where an arrest was made for an overdue book.

Meanwhile, Koontz is free upon posting a $250 bond.

Although Koontz is at least morally responsible for forgetting to return the library book, allowing legal proceedings against her is a bit much. It will be interesting to learn about the circumstances of the case.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Coffee drinking a possible link to the dearly departed

Is there no end to all the new scientific data and findings that is supposed to improve but ultimately affect our every-day lives?

If you're a big-time coffee drinker, have you hallucinated lately or been visited by the dearly departed? According to a report, you might.

Seems that scientists at Durham University have linked too much coffee and caffeine in particular, to - well - seeing dead people. Seriously.

Actually- and why am I not surprised - the initial findings were discovered by UK researchers who seem to have access to funds for "interesting" projects. According to the research and of course it's not conclusive but enough to make coffee drinkers a little edgy, people who drink too much coffee could - notice the word could - start seeing ghosts or hearing strange voices.

People who drank more than seven cups of instant coffee a day were three times more likely to hallucinate or hear people speak when nobody was around, compared to low caffeine users, defined as drinking less than the equivalent of one cup of java per day. However, academics say the findings do not prove a "causal link".

Among the experiences reported were seeing things that were not there, hearing voices, and sensing the presence of dead people. Instead of gazing into a crystal ball or joining hands in a seance, perhaps participants should consider drinking a lot of coffee instead. Much simpler.

Presumably sensing there could be a sudden decrease in coffee sales, a Dr. Euan Paul of the British Coffee Association stressed that the study focused strictly on people with a very high caffeine intake. For the record herbal tea drinkers were not included but most likely, there will be yet more statistics that herbal tea causes visions of Elvis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Finger length an omen of future earning success

One has to ponder how much money was allotted to the group conducting this study. More to the point it strikes me that British researchers seem to have access to a cache of funds for - how shall we say - unusual studies.

In this case scientists at Cambridge University, presumably through close-up studies, have deduced that a man's fingers could predict his future success. The researchers who studied the forefingers of financial traders, concluded that those whose ring fingers are longer than their index fingers make the most money.

Say what?

The link could be down to testosterone exposure in the womb, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says.

This exposure may improve rapid decision-making skills and has been linked with aggression.
The same ring-to-index finger ratio, which is determined in the womb, has previously been
associated with success in competitive sports.

Researcher John Coates and his team reported last year that testosterone seemed to boost short term success at finance after they found City traders with higher levels of the male hormone in the morning were more likely to make an unusually big profit that day.

He said studies suggested similar associations with finger length are also seen in women.

The article on states that "when the researchers looked only at the experienced traders, those with longer ring fingers earned far more than those with shorter ring fingers - £838,000 compared to £154,000 on average, respectively."

Seems that Belgian researchers, not to be outdone by the Brits, have discovered that "men with longer ring fingers become less "socially minded" - less willing to give money to a fellow participant - after watching aggressive movies."

Who cares? Gimme a break!

I dunno. Given the current state of the economy around the world with people starving, becoming homeless and the loss of employment, why on earth would someone waste/conduct a study that focuses on fingers and their potential for whatever?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

UFO experts claim further proof that "we" are not alone

Strange lights and sightings of unusual objects in the sky by local residents have a lot of people excited including UFO experts, convinced that we, as in humble earthlings, are not alone. At least that's the conclusion that some citizens of Conishiolme, north east Lincolnshire in England have decided. Shades of X-Files!

The ultimate proof according to believers, is an ear-piercing boom in the early morning hours with visual "proof" focusing on one of 60 foot blades from a 200 foot high wind turbine, which was ripped off and another left twisted and useless. One of the witnesses described the craft as "a 'massive ball of light' with 'tentacles going right down to the ground' over the wind farm..."

Tentacles? A leftover special effect from the "War of the Worlds" film, perhaps? Where's Tom Cruise when you need him?

The Ministry of Defence said it was not looking into the incident as there was no evidence of a threat to UK airspace. Where's Muldaur and Scully when you need them?

Photos of the damaged blades along with images of the lights in the sky and more details of the sightings can be found here:

Update on UFO story: January 9. the government's explanation

The UFO allegedly responsible for wrecking a wind turbine could have been a secret unmanned stealth bomber on test flights.

Yeah-yeah-yeah... Yudda-yudda-yudda.

Where have we heard that story before? If it's so secret, how come so many people spotted it?

The claim came from Ministry of Defence insiders who reportedly said that a black delta-wing craft called Taranis was making test runs on the coastal bombing ranges at Donna Nook and North Coates in Lincolnshire, near to the site of the damaged turbine.

One assumes that we earthlings are expected to believe that the test craft was flown by rookie pilots who flew too low and accidentally sheared off the blade. The next explanation will be weather balloons.

The Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is about the same size as a Hawk jet and is equipped with stealth equipment and an 'autonomous' artificial intelligence system.

Celtic god of thunder? Yet another explanation for the "boom" heard by local residents? Thunder = boom?

The plane is being developed by BAE Systems and has been designed to deliver weapons to battlefields in other continents.

Another rumor has frozen urine dropped from the sky as the culprit. The UFO explanation is definitely preferable.

(source: Daily Mail,

Friday, January 02, 2009

Naughty words...beavers...popcorn perp

It's barely 2009 and already there's the realization that we live in a wacky yet interesting world.

"Could you perhaps share the reason for writing this statement?" someone reading this may feel compelled to ask.

Of course. That's the reason for keeping a blog!

Example #1

A male who took pen in hand to write abusive comments on buses and toilets about females he disliked, was recently banned from carrying felt tip pens and spray paint. Not that it makes a difference but the pen-perp who happens to live in Kent, England, is also banned from writing nasty or socially unacceptable comments and images (one can only imagine the images he drew) in public.

There was a method in his madness in that he wrote the bad words and/or artistic renderings and then drew it to the attention of the object of his dis-affection. Obviously, the victims were not amused.

Kent police reported that there was no rhyme or reason for his selection of victim other than spotting them on a bus or they had the misfortune of living or working nearby.

#2 Can't trust those beavers!

An escaped beaver that has been on the run since October, along with two of his beaver buds that have since been captured, is now to object of a hunt by conservationists. since he's been doing what beavers are prone to do and that is felling trees.

The owner of the farm where the beavers called home, actually keeps 24 beavers who are under the license from government agency, Natural England, as part of a wild life photography business. Meanwhile, the beaver is said to be responsible for gnawing down trees up to 20 miles away.

Actually - thinking further, it would be difficult if not impossible to place the blame on the escaped beaver unless of course, teeth impressions were taken. But I digress...

Furthermore, the owner plans to catch the escapee by using a number of "honey traps", boxes that have the scent of a female beaver.

"We've got traps being made up at the moment. Using the scent from one of the female beavers, we'll be able to catch the male beaver fairly quickly."

How cute. "Honey traps" lure unsuspecting beavers.

Hopefully, the beaver won't end up as a pair of sleeves.

#3 Butter or plain?

For Hansel and Gretel, it was a trail of bread crumbs but it was a trail popcorn that helped Sacramento police find a man wanted on a warrant.

The 21-year old man was taken into custody for a theft and suspicion of possession of stolen property.

Police officers found a trail of popcorn from the business that led them to an apartment located behind the store and followed the popcorn trail inside of one of the units.

See what I mean? Wacky world we live in...