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The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Exciting New Products: (1) a washing machine with a built-in MP-3 player and speakers (U.S. patent applied for in June, from the South Korean firm LG Electronics) and (2) Liver Love, Carob Crunch, Honey Hearts and other dog treats that are marketed as snacks that owners can enjoy along with their dogs (from Britain’s Alldog Bakery), but with the principal drawback that they are more expensive per gram than lumpfish caviar or the priciest of gourmet chocolates.

Science on the Cutting Edge

(1) A Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) researcher reported in June that his work reveals that cockroaches have memories and the ability to learn, in that they can be taught to salivate (upon exposure to a specific odor), just as Pavlov showed that dogs could be taught to salivate (upon hearing a bell). (2) The human nose’s ability to differentiate smells is greatly improved by mucus, which helps the nose by separating the scents chemically, and researchers from the UK’s Warwick University said in April that they had developed an artificial mucus (a thin polymer coating over an artificial nose that enhances that device’s effectiveness).

Among the recent discoveries of substances that provide similar virility outcomes as Viagra: the venom of a variety of black widow spider found in southern Chile (according to a researcher at Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco, Chile); the health drink Boost Plus (according to a June lawsuit filed by Christopher Woods of New York City, who developed priapism); the winter-flowering heather plant (according to botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland); and walnut extract (according to a researcher at Universiti Malaya in Malaysia) (though one would need 7 pounds of walnuts to achieve the effect of one pill).

Leading Economic Indicators

Faced with falling prices for domestic wine, a group of French vintners has made terroristic threats against the government and retailers who carry imports. The guerrilla gang, wearing black ski masks, released a video in May (so far ignored by the Sarkozy government), reminding officials about recent incidents in which small explosives were detonated in supermarkets that carry imported wines and in which a tractor-trailer carrying imported wine had been shot at. Said one hooded protester, “Blood will flow” if prices don’t soon rise.

Parents With Too Much Money: Backyard play sets can range in price from less than $100 to high-end outfits of $2,000 to $12,000 that would typically include fancy combinations of rock walls, rope ladders, sandboxes and tunnel slides, and maybe a tower with roofs and rotating plastic guns mounted on the walls, according to a May report in Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel. Also available: the King Kong Carl McKee Custom, at 46 feet by 58 feet, featuring towers 16 feet high (price: about $46,000, installed).

The Continuing Crisis

In June, for the fourth year, professor Paul Worsey of the University of Missouri-Rolla conducted his Summer Explosives Camp, with 20 high-school-age kids learning the techniques of blowing things up (e.g., a tree stump, a watermelon, a dead chicken). Said one camper, “Some people like baseball (but) I just like to set off bombs.” Worsey’s main goal is to recruit mine-engineering majors to his school, but another benefit, he told National Public Radio, is that the school “attract(s) the kids that might otherwise get into a little bit of trouble (and) give(s) them ... an opportunity for a career.”

In June, the town council in Ledbury, England, turned down Timothy Fry’s request to be allowed to exercise his two snakes, Rose and Buddy, in the town’s park. He said he’d been letting them roam, leashless, for the last year with no complaints, but admitted that the two (a corn snake and a rat snake) were getting stressed from all the attention they have been receiving.

People Different From Us

Pablo Castro, 26, was sent to the hospital twice in Decatur, Ala., on June 24, once after being stabbed in an argument and, after his release later that day, being stabbed again while arguing with a different person. And Tony Hicks was hospitalized in Knoxville, Tenn., for separate wounds on July 1, 2 and 3; he was hit by a car one night, then released from the hospital the next day, but was back in after an intruder attacked him in his home, and after his release the next day, he was back after police shot him in connection with a robbery.

A judge in London’s Southwark Crown Court sentenced Mr. Bonney Eberendu, 36, to a mental health facility in June after he admitted that he was the one who smeared his feces inside at least six trains over a several-month period last year. Eberendu said the voices in his head had, on at least five occasions, instructed him to go kill someone and that, somehow, he was able to overcome the voices by doing what he did on the trains.

Least Competent Person

On May 31, veteran big-rig operator Gilberto Cantu drove his 18-wheeler all the way through the Lincoln Tunnel (1.5 miles, from Weehawken, N.J., to New York City) even though the load was 6 inches too high for the tunnel, so that the truck’s roof continuously ripped and peeled off, slowing the truck and making a screeching noise the whole way. In addition, Cantu apparently ignored the several sound warnings and flashing lights by officers who tried to stop him inside the tunnel, and according to their reports, he appeared not even to understand why they had stopped him after he finally emerged. Cantu was not alcohol-impaired and, until then, had a “spotless” safety record.

Recurring Themes

One of the standard “panic” rumors that throw some African villages into turmoil is the report that a couple (usually unmarried and therefore deserving of bad fortune) has become stuck together during sex and cannot be unstuck without medical attention. A reporter for Kenya’s East African Standard happened to be in the middle of a frenzied mob in front of the Naselica Hotel in downtown Kisumu on May 26, brought together by rumors that an ambulance had been called for a stuck couple. The reporter was convinced that most in the crowd were true believers, but the hotel manager said one of his competitors probably had planted the rumor, hoping to tie up traffic for the day and to create the impression that the Naselica is unlucky.

The Jesus World Tour

Recent Dates: Conneaut, Ohio, March (image of Jesus on a pancake); Glasgow, Scotland, March (image of Jesus in a woman’s ultrasound scan); Kamloops, British Columbia, March (image of Jesus on a baking sheet); Sacramento, Calif., March (image of Jesus on burned wallpaper); Houston, Texas, February (image of Jesus in a pizza pan); Crystal City, Texas, February (image of Jesus in the bark of a tree); Morton, Texas, January (image of Jesus in ice in the freezer of a grocery store); Avery Park, Ga., January (image of Jesus on shower tile).