Simon Crisp: February 2008 Archives

Oddest book titles of 2007

200x175.jpg'Cheese Problems Solved' and 'I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen' are just two of the shortlisted entries for the annual 'Oddest Book Title of the Year Prize"

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Diagram Prize, which honours the odd titles which are spotted and submitted by publishers, booksellers and librarians around the world.

www.bookseller.com who organize the prize are running a public vote on the site and the winner will be announced on March 28th. 

9,000 mile walk cut short (by 8,800 miles)

200x175.jpgA man who planned to walk from Bristol, UK, to Gandhi's birthplace in Porbander, India has given up ... in France.

Mark Boyle, 28 had intended to walk the 9,000 miles with no money as part of the Freeconomy movement which promotes a "moneyless society."

But shortly after reaching Calais, having walked just 200 miles, Boyle abandoned his attempt - because he can't speak French and people thought he was an asylum seeker.

Top 10 odd hotels

200x175.jpgThey include sewage pipes, tree houses and dock cranes - welcome to 10 of the world's weirdest hotels.

While some people are just happy to get away from it all when they go on holiday, others insist on something a bit different, and it doesn't get much more different than these.

No privates scratching in public

200x175.jpgAn Italian court has mad a landmark ruling banning men from scratching their crotches in public.

The court in Rome made the judgement after hearing the appeal of the 42-year-old man who had been charged with gross indeceny after scratching in public last year.

Describing his actions as "an act contrary to decorum and public decency" the man was ordered to pay 1200 euro (200 fine and 1000 legal costs)

Auction sets modern art record

200x175.jpgContemporary art works have sold at auction for a record £95 million.

The sale at Sotheby's London auction house, which included works by Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon is said to be the biggest in Europe.

Highlights included Bacon's 1969 'Study of Nude With Figure In A Mirror' which was sold to a European private collector for nearly £20m while 'Three Self Portraits' by Warhol, from 1986, were snapped up by an anonymous buyer for £11.5m.

Sea monster discovered

200x175.jpgScientists have discovered the fossilized remains of giant Jurassic-era sea monster which would have been powerful enough to bite a car in half.

According to the team from the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, the Svalbard specimen is the largest marine reptile known to science.

The discovery was made on an Arctic island which is now being described as a "treasure trove" for palaeontologists.

Missing wallet returned - after 46 years

200x175.jpgA wallet which was lost almost half a century ago has finally been returned to its owner.

When Ron Russell lost his wallet in 1962 he never reported it missing, but when it turned up during a recent sping clean it was handed into police who decided to track him down.

Officers used clues from the photos and letters in the wallet to track down the 81-year-old, a former Royal Marine who is now in a nursing home in Hull.

news:lite weekly quiz

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It's that time of week again. The news:lite weekly quiz, it's as simple as it sounds, 10 questions about stories from the past seven days - new every Wednesday.

No prizes at the moment, just the pride and warm glow you will get inside from seeing the 100% correct flash on the screen.

To take the quiz click HERE


Super-sized burger, worlds biggest?

200x175.jpgWeighing in at a jumbo 134lb and served on a 50lb bun, this could be the worlds biggest hamburger.

On sale for £175 the burger named "The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger" is being served at Mallie's Sports Bar and Grill in Detroit, Michigan though bosses say they need 24 hours notice to prepare it.

Owner Steve Mallie is still waiting to discover whether he has clinched a Guinness World Record, for the largest hamburger commercially available.

Metropolitan Police Hacked

200x175.jpgHackers have broken into the Met police website - leaving them with an taunting comments about their counter-terrorism unit and an image of a green teddy bear on their front page.

The teddy Brobee, a character from children's TV series Yo Gabba Gabba, is quoted on the site saying: "I see that teh so15 anti-terrorism anti-lulz police are hiring more incompetent nervy edgy sociopaths to make London's streets just that little bit safer! Oh lulz."

A spokesman for the Met said the page had been noticed and since put back to normal.

LA tap water best in US

200x175.jpgA-list movie stars often insist on having the very best, and in LA this even extends to the tap water.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has been awarded the title 'tastiest tap water' after beating off rivals at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.

With a selection criteria was based on taste, smell, texture, after taste and clarity - a panel of 10 judges supped sparkling, tap and bottled water from 19 US states and 9 other countries.

Miniature car wash for dog paws

200x175.jpgHouse-proud animal lovers have gained a new weapon in the battle to keep their paw-print free - a miniature car wash for dog paws.

The Paw Plunger, looks like and oversized coffee cup but contains a series of specially designed brushes to remove surface and ingrained dirt without causing the dog any discomfort.

Makers claim that it can transform a paw from dirty to sparkling within seconds.


Science fiction style umbrella

275x250.jpg With large plastic bubbles surrounding their heads these people might look like extras from a bad 1970s science fiction movie, but they are actually wearing a new hands-free umbrella.

Makers of the Nubrella claim it will allow you to sip your coffee or chat on the phone while walking down the street on a busy day

The £30 device was designed by former tennis pro Alan Kaufman who has spent six years working on the product.

Job title with added innuendo

200x175.jpgCOUNCIL job adverts don't normally attract too much attention but a innuendo filled one has become a surprise hit on the internet.

Bungling council bosses in Manchester are currently advertising for a 'Teenage Pregnancy Implementation Manager' a job title suggesting a 'hands on' role.

The ad goes on to say candidate should be 'experienced and enthusiastic' and have a 'track record of partnership working' and even promise a  'exciting and supportive' working environment.


Now that's a sporting body

200x175.jpgThis is not like any rugby tackle you have seen before - the 'players' skin has been removed and their skulls cut open so you can see their brains.

It is one of 200 displays at Gunther von Hagens’ latest Body Worlds exhibition, where he display plastinated bodies which have been 'frozen' with plastic and stripped of their skin.

Body Worlds 4, which opens in Manchester will focus on a sports and features a badminton player, a jumper doing the splits and ‘Wave Roller’ – a male plastinate rolling inside a metal wheel.

Top 10 job seeking stunts

200x175.jpgJOB-SEEKERS are resorting to wacky methods such as sending their CV cut into jigsaw puzzles or posting a bowling pin with the message 'I'll bowl you over,' to impress potential employers.

Other bizarre antics include the would-be worker who took a picture of himself with every one of a company's products, and then sent the photo's in the post over the period of a month.

The examples are just some highlighted by jobs website, The Creative Group, who say it tends to be people in creative industries such as advertising and PR who use the stunts.

Wooden car faster than a Porsche

200x175.jpgWith it's 4.6 litre V8 engine and 700bhp the Splinter sportscar sounds like it could compete with many supercars, and it would ... or should that be wood.

Despite being made from maple, plywood and MDF the two-seater Splinter has a top speed of 240mph and weighs just 1,134kg.

Joe Harmon, 27, from North Carolina, who is head of the project, says: "Wood is a truly amazing material to work with, this car is designed to push boundaries and prove the potential of wood as a material."


Can a pop bottle rocket get into orbit?

A inventor wants to launch a simple but highly engineered pop bottle rocket into orbit.

Boffin Ken Schellenberg from Canada says it might be possible to get a two-litre pop bottle up the required hight.

He has already propelled a Kevlar-reinforced, single-stage missile pressurized with compressed nitrogen 379 metres skyward.

Pricasso - guess what he paints with

200x175.jpgAn artist who uses his willy to paint with, is going 'head-to-head' with some of Australia's top painters in a prestigious contest.

Tim Patch - or 'Pricasso' as he likes to be known - has entered the Archibald Prize, the nation's top award for portraiture, with a self-portrait.

He created the work by dipping his penis in paint and applying it to the canvas, though he used his bum to paint the background.

Gordon Brown becomes a Fiji pin-up

200x175.jpgRather than use images of their golden beaches or tropical blue seas to entice tourists to the islands of Fiji, the local tourist agency opted instead ... for Gordon Brown.

Pictured with a red flower behind his ear the British PM is being used in the poster campaign by Fiji Visitors Bureau (Fijime.com) to tempt Britons to the South Pacific destination.

Based on the "get me out of here" theme the ad was due to be one in a series starring other figures who might want to get out of the UK.

The world's most expensive apartment

200x175.jpgA penthouse in London has gone on sale for a whopping £100 million, making it the world's most expensive apartment.

One Hyde Park will not be completed until 2010 but is expected to be snapped up by a Russian oligarchs, Saudia prince or A-list star well before then.

Boasting views or Hyde Park and Knightsbridge the swish pad will feature bullet proof windows, purified air systems, "panic rooms" and will have access to an underground passage leading to the nearby Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Shed on sale for £150,000

200x175.jpgDescribed as "dilapidated" it has a dodgy roof and is on a patch of scrubland in Wales - but this shed is set to sell for over £150,000.

Based in the seaside resort of Abersoch it is positioned between two taller houses has no clear view or either the coast or the countryside and there is no planning permission.

But agents Beresford Adams say the 35ft by 18ft plot has tremendous development potential and that the value of local properties has soared over the past decade with a mobile home on the seafront selling for £500,000.

The un-tippable chair

200x175.jpgA former teacher turned designer who was driven to despair by children rocking on  the real legs of their chair has developed an untippable one.

Tom Wakes, who used to teach maths and PE in London hit upon the idea after being “driven mad" by pupils rocking their chairs, sometimes falling off and injuring themselves.

The Max chair, created with design company Sedley Place, has curved legs which prevent it from rocking and mean that no child can lift it more than 5cm off the ground.

Dinosaur eating frog

200x175.jpgThe 70 million-year-old of fossils of a giant, dinosaur eating frog have been discovered in Madagascar.

Measuring up to 40cm wide and weighing 4kg Beelzebufo or 'frog from hell' would have had a squat body, a huge head and a wide mouth. It's diet would have included lizards and juvenile dinosaurs

The fossils were found by academics from UCL and Stony Brook University who say the find gives weight to the theory that the island off Africa’s east coast was once linked to India and South America.

Can you recycle a dead cat?

200x175.jpgSamurai swords, smoke grenades and dead pets are just some of the bizarre items that people have tried to recycle.

After a recent recycling promotion Norwich City Council was pleased that more people were using their recycling bins - but then they saw what people were putting in them.

'It is shocking what people put in their recycling bins,' said Norwich City Council's Brian Morrey. Other odd items included live ammunition and car wheels.

Would you like Feng Shui with that?

200x175.jpgA McDonald's restaurant in California has undergone a Feng Shui make-over in a bid to make customers better enjoy their Big Macs.

Feng Shui Grand Master, Dr. Chi-Jean Liu was called in to redesign the Hacienda Heights McDonalds in East Los Angeles in terms of fire, earth,
wood, water and metal.

Though his new design and layout the the store now claims to control how energy is manifested making it a better place to eat your burgers.

Worlds most expensive toy car

200x175.jpgA diamond encrusted toy car has become the worlds most expensive, valued at $140,000.

The 1:64 size car designed by celebrity jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills  contains 2,700 jewels and weighs nearly 23 carats. The car is cast in 18-karat white gold with the majority of the vehicle detailed with micro pave-set brilliant blue diamonds.

“Collaborating with Mattel on the jeweled Hot Wheels car was a dream project for me,” said Jason Arasheben, president & CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills.


Builder's Kilt

200x175.jpgScottish builders will soon be able to show their Celtic roots while on the  construction site - by wearing a craftsman kilt.

Swedish work apparel supplier Blåkläder has started producing the 'high visibility kilt' which meets with strict health and safety rules thanks to reflective strips.

The kilt, designed by Marcus Jahnke, from the School of Industry Design, Gothenburg, has two nail pockets, a loop for carrying a hammer and a knife-holder. 

Scuba Car becomes a reality

200x175.jpg30 years after James Bond drove his white Lotus Esprit into the water and it became a sub, a car company wants to make it a reality.

Swiss company Rinspeed has developed sQuba a concept open-top sports car which can can go over land and travel or below the waves to a depth of 10 metres.

But drivers would need to breathe using a tank of compressed air similar to scuba divers - unlike Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Youngest jockey lands sponsorship deal

200x175.jpgThe worlds youngest show-jumper has landed a sponsorship deal - at the age of four.

Arron Butterfield first sat on his pony aged 18 months, won his first riding-show prize aged two and received over 25 rosettes in 2007.

Now he has achieved what many show-jumpers dream of, a sponsorship deal which will see him receive thousands of pounds over the next ten years.



Gambler to sue bookie for losses

200x175.jpgA gambler who lost over £2,000,000 is set to sue his bookmaker for letting him bet.

Graham Clavert 28, from Tyne and Wear says he wants betting firm William Hill to pay him back his losses since 2006 when he had an account with them.

He says that because he told the firm not to continue accepting bets from him, which they did, he should not be liable for the losses - despite continuing to bet.

Lion 'love triangle' at zoo

200x175.jpgA lioness is to look for love with a younger partner  - after her long term mate has been diagnosed with a low sperm count.

No longer able to satisfy the needs of lioness Moti, 14-year-old Chandra will leave Bristol Zoo to be replaced by young stud Kamal.

Although Chandra and Moti have previously had four cubs, it is unlikely they will have any more and zoo keepers hope the arrival of 'proven stud' Kamal could soon be followed by the patter of tiny paws.

*Chandra and Moti in happier times

NASA helps make swimsuit

200x175.jpgUS space agency NASA have been called in to help a swimwear company produce a costume which will allow athletes go faster than ever before.

The space age SPEEDO LZR is said to cause 10% less passive drag than previous costumes and could help swimmers break World records at this years Olympic games.

Made from an ultra lightweight, low drag, water repellent, fast drying fabric,it is the world’s first fully bonded swimsuit that is ultrasonically welded and gives the effect of no seams at all. 

Jesus make-up row

200x175.jpgStores in Singapore have pulled a range of Jesus themed cosmetics from the shelves after complaints from local Roman Catholics.

The 'Lookin Good for Jesus' range had included "Virtuous vanilla" lip balm and a "Get Tight with Christ" hand and body cream.

Locals had complained that the American products were disrespectful, full of innuendo and trivialised Christianity.

Shock for power cable thief

200x175.jpgA stupid would-be thief used a hacksaw to cut into a 11,000 volt power line in a bid to steal the copper cabling.

Police say as the hacksaw made contact with the main power cable there would have been a huge bang, molten copper would have showered onto him and he would have been left badly burnt.

"The sheer stupidity of cutting through power cables should be glaringly obvious to everyone," said Phil Wilson, customer operations manager with local power company Central Networks.

Sat-navs cause £10 million damage

200x175.jpgMore than £10 million worth of damage is caused in the UK each year by drivers who follow their sat-nav down inappropriate roads by, it has been claimed.

Drivers are failing to pay attention to road sign and warnings and blindly trusting their GPS systems, often meaning they end-up on roads with weight restrictions - or wedged under low bridges.

Network Rail say 2,000 of their bridges were hit by lorries in 2007, causing 5,000 hours of delays to UK trains, all because the drivers were following what their satellite navigation system told them.


Best cup of coffee in the UK

200x175.jpgA battle is underway to find the UKs best cup of coffee - apparently the answer is not just 'the first one of the day.'

There are 2,000 baristas in the UK who are professionally trained in the art of espresso preparation and the top 24 are set fight it out this week in London.

Each will be judged on four aspects of their drinks; taste, beverage presentation, personal presentation and barista technique.

Paris - not so romantic

200x175.jpgParis - once named as the romance capital of the world - is the city where loved-up couples are most likely to have a bust-up, a survey has revealed.

When quizzed, 34 percent of Brits said Paris was likely to cause them to argue with their partners on a romantic weekend break, because it is grey, difficult to navigate and the restaurant service surly.

Marrakesh in Morocco came second with Amsterdam in third  with lovers arguing about the city's soft drugs and red light district.

Mr Rude is impolite, smelly ... and French

200x175.jpgNew additions to the children's classic 'Mr Men' will include a character Mr Rude, who speaks with a French accent.

Mr Rude has been introduced on the Mr Men website where in a French tone he says "I'll give you rude" and then blows a raspberry - he will now feature in the new TV series on Five.

Of all the character on the show Mr Rude will be the only one to speak in a foreign accent and could have an impact on British-French relations.

Old chocolate bar sells for £2,550

200x175.jpgAn out-of-date chocolate bar which was found down the back of a sofa has sold on ebay for £2,550.

Student Rebecca Wells from Stoke-on-Trent auctioned off the 30p Cadburys Wispa bar after she found in her house.

She had initially wanted to eat it but didn't when she noticed the best before date was 28 April 2004.

£18,000 bottle of wine fake?

200x175.jpgA wealthy diner who ordered a £18,000 bottle of wine sent it back after if was opened - because he thought it was fake.

The man had ordered the 1961 bottle of posh wine Petrus at swish restaurant Zafferano in London, but when it came he noticed the cork was not stamped a date as is the norm for products of the Bordeaux chateau.

After he returned the wine - which he said also tasted off - he shelled out an additional £2,000 on a 1945 Mouton Rothschild costing a cool £20,000.

Bionic knee charges iPods

200x175.jpgA gizmo which attaches to your knee and generates energy as you walk could soon be used for charging gadgets on the go.

Boffins who created the device - an adapted knee brace - say one minute of walking provides enough electricity to sustain 30 minutes of talk time on a mobile phone.

The device is rigged with a generator, clutch, gears and a real-time control system to selectively engage and disengage power generation. It collect the kinetic energy typically lost when the muscles of the body slow the knee after swinging the leg forward to take a step.


Flying hotel to become a reality

A French designer's dreams of making a 700-ft long flying hotel look set to become a reality.

Jean-Marie Massaud designed the  "Manned Cloud" - an eco-friendly sightseeing destination - to carry 40 guests and 15 employees, include a restaurant, library, bar, fitness center and a sun deck on top of the airship.

French aerospace company Onera say they will now work out the technological aspects of the "Manned Cloud" though the designer still needs business partners before the hotel can be built and operated.

Woman jailed for Starbucks meeting

200x175.jpgAn American businesswoman was thrown in jail for having a meeting in a  Starbucks coffee shop in Saudi Arabia.

Because the woman, a married mother with three children, had been sat with male colleagues she was breaking Saudi law and was arrested by officers of Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

She was taken to a prison cell where she was strip searched and forced to sign a confession, before appearing in front of a judge who told her she was 'sinful' and 'would burn in hell.'

Worst ever police e-fit

200x175.jpgDo you recognize this man? He has no distinctive features, no-one has seen his face - but this is all the The Royal Thai Police have to go on.

They called in a sketch artist in a bid to help catch the bank robber who is suspected of stealing 200,000 baht (£3,287) from the Government Savings Bank in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago.

But after gathering witness statements can conclude is 'he was wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the robbery'.

Car thieves return cars

200x175.jpgPolice are investigating a spate of bizarre car crime, where vehicles have been stolen - but then returned - before the owners noticed they were missing.

More than eight cars have been taken from Jedburgh in Scotland, but all have been returned, and the crimes only came to light because keys had been put back in the wrong place or the car had been parked differently.  

Police suspect that the figure could be much higher. Detective Constable John Brownlee said: "We are convinced that the cars are being driven over a reasonable distance during the night and we are concerned by the frequency of these thefts.


Thermal camera at London Zoo

200x175.jpgWhen photographer Steve Lowe visited London zoo left his normal camera at home taking a thermal imaging one instead.

The images show just how well feathers and fur insulate animals, and reveal some more unusual tactics to keep warm including some birds cutting off the blood to one leg to conserve energy.

The photographs were taken using a FLIR civilian thermal imaging camera by and have been donated to London Zoo for use as part of it's education programmes.

* Pictured are Three South African black-footed penguins trundling along the edge of their cold pool.


Play footsie with Kylie

200x175.jpgKylie Minogue has been voted the woman British men would most like to play footsie with.

15 percent of men surveyed picked the Aussie singer, who has size three feet while 24 percent of women said they would like to tickle the toes of  George Clooney.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Pete Doherty were the least popular to have their feet fondled.

Pillow menu bigger than the bed

200x175.jpgSleep experts have praised a hotel chain after it launched an extensive pillow menu featuring a whopping 75 different types of cushion.

Organic Buckwheat, Cold and Flu and the Water Pillow are just some of the unusual options now available at Conrad Hotels.

Sleep expert Dr. Chris Idzikowski, from The Edinburgh Sleep Centre said: “A good night’s sleep can be hard to find, especially when people are away from home. This menu has the perfect balance of boosting health and making the experience of going to bed one to look forward to.”

Blind wildlife photographer

200x175.jpgA blind wildlife photographer who 'sees' with her ears and takes pictures when she identifies the noises is to have her work exhibited.

Alison Bartlett, 51 has learnt to use her keen sense of hearing to pick up the sound of a bird flapping its wings or identify an animal rustling in a tree.

She has had an interest in photography since she was 12 and continued to take pictures despite starting to loose her sight in 1997.

Bridesmaids to sign 'weight contracts'

Bridesmaids could soon be forced to sign contracts agreeing not to put on weight or get pregnant before their friends' big day.

20 percent of brides-to-be are so concerned that their special day goes as planned they would consider asking their bridesmaids to sign 'pre-nuptial' style contracts - a poll has revealed.

According to the survey of 1,000 women, commissioned by You & Your Wedding magazine brides would also like to use a contract to stop their maid-of-honour from changing her hairstyle, drinking too much, or making advances towards "inappropriate male guests."


British spies can't Facebook

200x175.jpgBritish spooks have admitted they are having problems keeping up to date with internet technologies like Facebook and Skype.

An Intelligence and Security report has revealed that GCHQ - the UKs electronic spying and code-breaking agency - are struggling to use the new sites and systems to gather information.

For decades they have been able to tap phone lines, but now they warn this is not so easy with more people, including terrorists, using websites and the internet to keep in contact.

Did Churchill exist?

200x175.jpgBrits are loosing their grip on reality with many are unable to recall if characters were fictitious or actually existed.

A shocking 20 percent believe Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character while many think Sherlock Holmes was real.

The survey of 3,000 under-twenties also found that  Richard the Lionheart and Florence Nightingale were thought to be fictional by a respective 47 and 27 percent.

NASA send Beatles to space

200x175.jpgNASA will tomorrow, for the first time ever, broadcast a song into deep space.

The Deep Space Network will be used to aim 'Across the Universe' (Recorded by the Beatles 40 years ago) at the North Star, Polaris, which is located 431 light years away from Earth.

The song will travel across the universe at a speed of 186,000 miles per second.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney said: "Amazing! Well done, NASA! Send my love to the aliens."

Strange new mammal discovered

200x175.jpgA bizarre-looking creature the size of a cat with a flexible snout has been discovered by scientists.

Dubbed 'Rhynochocyon udzungwensis' it is a type of elephant shrew and has been found in the mountains of Tanzania.

Looking like a cross between a miniature antelope and a small ant eater the  animal has distinctive colouring and is larger than other species of giant elephant shrew.

Wanted: Rich older women

200x175.jpgA speed-dating event has been set up to bring together rich older women (over 35 with a $500,000 salary or $4 million assets) and younger attractive guys.

On 7th Feb, 20 "sugar mamas" and 20 "boy toys" will meet for the first time at 230 Fifth club in New York - where they will have a few minutes to impress each other.

"Symbiosis has allowed ugly rich men to attract young, gorgeous, money-hungry women for centuries; it's now the women's turn," says website pocketchangenyc.com where the event is being promoted.





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