NewsQuirks 395

Roland SweetCHANGE IN MIDSTREAMIn Melbourne, Australia, apprentice jockey Andrew Payne, 17, started the Christmas Handicap aboard Hon Kwok Star. He finished the race riding Cogitate. Jockey Jason Patton, Payne's brother-in-law, was thrown from Cogitate when the two horses slammed together on the final turn. As Patton crashed to the turf, Hon Kwok Star tossed Payne sideways toward the now-vacant saddle of Cogitate. "My hands landed on the other saddle and I just pulled myself up," Payne said. "When I looked up and saw where I was I couldn't believe it."BRAINSTORMSA Dutch rubber factory began producing water beds for cows. The water-filled rubber mats cost $175 each. "It is good for a cow to lie comfortably," Ton Broere, a salesperson at the Dunlop-Enerka factory in Drachten, told the daily De Voilkskrant. "Then she will produce more milk."Pet therapist Darrian Lundy switched from dogs to chickens for her therapeutic sessions at health-care facilities in Riverside County, Calif. explaining, "It gets people talking who haven't talked all week." She began training the two birds she uses now when they were 1 week old, bringing them into her home, hand-feeding them and training them to behave on leashes. Although the birds generally raise patients' spirits, Lundy said they have to be passed around in flat boxes because "unlike other animals, you can't housebreak chickens."Concerned about gum discarded all over town, Ana Fernandez, Conservative councilor for women's affairs in Aviles, Spain, proposed the formation of a "chewing gum brigade" to scrape off all the gum. What's more, she suggested all members of the brigade should be women, hired part time to give them something "useful" to do. When the Socialist opposition derided her proposal as an "assault on the dignity of the town's women," Fernandez was stunned. "What is wrong with them cleaning gum from the pavements?" she said. "I am not making them eat it."New York Assembly Majority Leader Michael Bragman proposed raising $20 million a year by selling ads on state lottery tickets and electronic screens that transmit winning numbers in bars and taverns. He said he got the idea when he and an aide were eating at a rest stop on the state Thruway "and we began talking about how you always see an ad or coupon on the back of your grocery or ATM receipt."Aurora, Ill., undertaker Terry Dieterie unveiled his Heirloom Pendant Collection at last fall's National Funeral Directors Convention. Priced from $1,900 to $10,000, each locket in the collection holds a small amount of ashes or a snip of hair from the departed, according to Dieterie, who noted, "The trend in personalizing the death experience is something we've seen grow over the last 10 years."SUGAR COATEDThe attorney defending accused burglar Wesley Shaffer, 57, in West Palm Beach, Fla., argued that his client broke into the home and stole $30,000 in jewelry because he was driven mad by high blood sugar levels from eating cotton candy the night before the burglary. The court rejected the claim by defense attorney Richard Dedell and sentenced Shaffer to nearly six years in prison.EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONGCheap whiskey is better for people's health than costlier spirits, according to Dutch researchers at the University of Maastricht. They said all 18 brands of whiskey they tested contain cancer-causing chemicals, and the more expensive the brand, the more of the chemicals they contain. They identified Scotch malts as the worst because the smoky peat used to smooth the taste carries high levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.Unhappy employees work better than happy ones, according to a study at Oslo's Norwegian College of Business. Psychology professor Geir Kaufmann said cheerful test subjects overestimated their own ability, underestimated the complexity of problems posed to them and tended to opt for answers that seemed easy or obvious. The glum were less confident, looked deeper and found far more creative solutions.SOMETHING FISHYA picturesque lake in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, Ill., is being choked by goldfish apparently dumped their by pet owners. Glen Ellyn Park District officials said the lake had no goldfish five years ago but now has 350,000 of the fast-reproducing fish.Human waste dumped into the environment can cause sex changes in wildlife, according to Dutch researchers at the TNO-Nutrition and Food Research Institute in Delft. After they exposed carp to a chemical found in sewage, the sex organs atrophied in the males and some developed an oviduct, which female fish use to lay eggs. Researcher Sylvia Gimeo said the chemical is responsible for feminizing animals, including fish and alligators, and other researchers suspect the same effect could be causing declining fertility among human males being reported in some European cities.IN THE NICK OF TIMEIn introducing the Flatulence Filter Seat Cushion, the manufacturer, UltraTech, claimed, "British University research shows increase in cancer from breathing second-hand flatulence gas."A Japanese company called Dairin announced development of a drug, called "Etiquette View," that stops feces from smelling. The manufacturer said the drug, which is made from natural ingredients, could benefit health care workers by deodorizing the waste of bedridden patients. But Susumu Oda, a professor of psychiatry at Tsukuba University told the Mainichi Daily News he is concerned about the possible social consequences of the pills, which cost about 35 cents each. Noting many Japanese already are obsessed with eliminating dirt and foul odors, he said, "I wouldn't want to see young people have easy access to them."TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAYWhen Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank filed a $3.5-million lawsuit against Edward Del Grande, claiming that he failed to pay back a loan he had taken out to start a business, Del Grande countersued for $30 million, insisting that the bank should have known better than to lend him so much money.


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