According to New Scientist magazine, Swiss inventor Paolo Rais has introduced the solution to boring dinner parties at which you may find yourself seated next to uninteresting people. Rais' invention is a 12-to-24-seat dining table with chairs that move automatically so a diner cannot spend more than 10 minutes trapped next to the same person. The chairs -- and wooden trays containing your food -- travel at a rate of three inches a minute. The first models to be introduced vary in price from about $29,000 to $44,000.
Half a mind
Fourteen-year-old Christina Santhouse of Bristol, Pa., lives the life of a normal teen-ager in almost every respect despite a partial paralysis of her left arm and leg, caused by the removal six years ago of half of her brain. According to an Associated Press report, her surgery (to eliminate Rasmussen's encephalitis, which caused as many as 100 brief seizures a day) has not penalized her in comparison to her supposedly full-brained classmates: Santhouse remains a straight-A student and loves 'N Sync.
In Miami in October, a dozen Burger King marketing people (among 100 in a corporate team-building exercise) were treated for serious burns after they walked on hot coals. Their trainer had assured them that the coals would not be painful if they adopted the correct attitude. Perhaps he had eaten too many lukewarm Whoppers.
A November report in the Northwestern University daily newspaper described Dr. Michael Bailey's research project (which had already been vetoed by the school's ethics people) to determine sexual arousal rates of females based on heterosexual versus lesbian erotic images. Female students were recruited at $75 an hour to have a "vaginal photo-plethysmograph" inserted to measure moisture and swelling. Dr. Bailey's preliminary conclusion: Women (whether straight or gay) get aroused by both straight and lesbian scenes. Comparable research had shown that men were aroused only by images depicting their own sexual orientation.
In a December report in The Times of London, University of Nebraska geologist John Shroder (an Afghanistan specialist) said the Pentagon has a "remote-sensing gas-detection device" that is so finely tuned that it can distinguish ethnic groups based on faint aromas of the foods that they eat.
The hottest arcade game in Japan of late is Boong-Ga Boong-Ga, in which a player virtually jabs an oversized finger up the clothed buttocks of one of eight targets (e.g., "the ex-boyfriend," "the golddigger," "the con man"). The more aggressive the player's jab, the more pained the expression on the target's face. The game's creators have considered offering it to arcades in this country, but have decided that Japanese consumers are more comfortable with the anal theme than are consumers in the U.S.
For the past holiday season, the Braehead Shopping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, offered female shoppers temporary boyfriends/husbands on loan so that women would have someone to browse with if their own mates rejected the shopping experience. Said the organizer: "The Shopping Boyfriend is the ultimate retail therapist: enthusiastic, attentive, admiring and complimentary" and even is willing to say "her bum looks small."
But can he type?
China Youth Daily reports that job-seekers in Shanghai and the northern city of Anshan have been turned down in recent months solely because of their blood type. The most desired is type O. One job interviewer said that type B people "lack independent thought, discretion and ability," but another said he rejects only types A and AB because their possessors are reserved and temperamental. An Anshan employer said he got the idea to screen by blood type from Japan, where he said the practice is common.
Felt up, marked downAccording to a lawsuit filed in Columbia, S.C., a Wal-Mart manager, informed that an employee had allegedly fondled a 10-year-old girl in the store, offered the girl's mother a $25 gift certificate to forget the whole thing. .... A 49-year-old Lorain, Ohio, man was arrested for DUI with a record-challenging blood-alcohol reading of .532. ... Towing company employee Joseph Thomas Johnson, 33, was arrested for joy-riding in rap singer Missy Elliott's 2001 Lamborghini (price: $330,000), during which he hit a stop sign and crashed, causing $160,000 damage.