NewsQuirks 379

THIS SPACE FOR RENTWhen the European Union banned British beef imports because of the mad-cow disease scare, Solihull farmer Harry Goode decided the best way to ease his cash crunch was by selling ad space on his herd. The Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry's signed up for four cows, paying $38 a week for each one to wear plastic-and-cloth jackets delivering the company's message to passing motorists: "Only mad about Ben & Jerry's." Goode explained: "The cows are filling their bellies every day, so they might as well pay for their upkeep."During a five-hour spacewalk outside the Mir space station in April, Russian cosmonauts Yuri Ivanovich Onufrienko and Yuri Vladimarovich Usachev filmed a Pepsi commercial alongside a 4-foot-tall, 2-foot-diameter model of a Pepsi can with its new blue logo. In the spot, Onufrienko announces, "The world is looking exceptionally blue today." PepsiCo reportedly paid a seven-figure sum to the cash-strapped Russian space program for the ad and, according to Pepsi official David Jones, is considering further projects to "exploit the opportunity," ranging from the first orbital billboard to sponsorship of a manned moon landing.To help lower the cost of space launches while cashing in on the commercial potential of space, U.S. Rep. Robert Walker (R-Pa.) proposed the Space Business Incentives Act. It offers tax breaks of up to $100,000 for long-term space investments, exempts a space company's capital gains and bond issues, and excludes from the corporate gross income tax any income generated from space-made products.IS THAT A BATON OR ARE YOU JUST GLAD TO SEE ME?Prehistoric artifacts generally identified as tools were actually sex toys, according to British archaeologist Timothy Taylor. Objects carved as phalluses, widely found in Upper Paleolithic art, have been prudishly interpreted as spear straighteners or batons, Taylor said, pointing out these so-called batons "fall within the size range of dildos." He suggested they have been mistakenly identified as ritual objects because of "a modern belief that pre-modern sex was essentially a reproductive activity, and that if it wasn't, it ought to have been."BELLING THE CATScientists studying the migration routes of penguins in the Antarctic decided the best way to tell the look-alike birds apart was bar codes, like those used on supermarket packages, glued to their beaks. According to John Croxall, a biologist with the British Antarctic Survey, scanners to read the bar codes could be placed along regularly traveled penguin paths.JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGEDIn Dadeville, Ala., three men holding a contest to determine their knowledge of the Bible each quoted different versions of the same passage. One of the men checked his Bible and realized he was wrong, then shot and killed the man who beat him, Gabel Taylor, 38. Police Chief Terry Wright quoted witnesses as saying the suspect "said Taylor did know more and that made him mad."MAN'S BEST FRIENDAuthorities in Hillsborough County, Fla., accused Robert Meier, 55, of marrying his 49-year-old girlfriend Constance Sewell just hours before her death as she lay in a coma, then running up nearly $20,000 on her credit cards. Detective Ed Hancock said Meier admitted that what he did was wrong but explained "he was sitting on the couch when Sewell's dog told him she would want him to go on living, have a better life and it would be OK to use her credit cards."NEO-NEANDERTHALSBody hair is a sign of intelligence, according to psychiatrist Aikarakudy Alias, who told a gathering of European colleagues that a U.S. study classified 45 percent of male college students as "very hairy," compared with less than 10 percent of men in general. "When academic ranking among the students was examined, the hairier males got better grades," Alias said, noting some of the most intelligent men had hair on their backs as well as their chests.THE COLA WITH BOUNCECoca-Cola pulled a television commercial from the Indian market after a 7-year-old child jumped to his death from the roof of his family's home in Lucknow while imitating the ad. The commercial for Thums Up cola, an Indian brand owned by Coke, shows a young man leaping off a cliff with a bungee cord attached to his ankle and grabbing a bottle of Thums Up from a truck below.VEGETABLE KINGDOMJoining the dozen U.S. states where it's illegal to disparage fruits and vegetables, Philippine President Fidel Ramos ordered an end to an annual award for inept government officials named after a squash. He explained the "kalabasa" award dishonored the squash, which has become a successful export.Bananas, oranges and eggplant generate enough electricity to power batteries, according to researchers at India's Venkateswara University. The team's most successful experiment so far has been using crushed banana peels to run a clock for four weeks.In the Thai village of Ban Huay Thaak, all the adults have become addicted to an amphetamine called "ya ba," according to Bangkok's Nation newspaper. As a result, they have begun frantically cutting down trees inside a forest reserve and selling them to pay for their habit. Officials noted the area around the village has the highest deforestation rate in the country.DANCE DEBATEWake County, N.C., schools became the first to ban the Macarena. Assistant school superintendent Sue King directed classes to stop teaching the popular line dance with a hip wiggle after one parent complained it was too provocative. Meanwhile, the American Physical Therapy Association hailed the Macarena as a "step to better health." Noting a recent surgeon general's report recommending moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, the APTA said the dance provides "the benefits of a basic workout using the arms, legs, back -- really the whole body -- but it's not strenuous." The dance does last only a few minutes, the APTA points out, "so you must either repeat the dance over and over or groove to another beat for a half-hour to get health benefits."

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