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CURIOUS TIMES AUG. 20 EDITION

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GREAT NEWS FOR STALKERS

Yet another attempt to prove the six degrees of separation theory (which suggests there are only a handful of people between you and anyone else in the world) has found that there is an average of 6.6 steps between any two people who use Microsoft's instant messaging. The survey tracked 30 billion instant messages between 180 million people around the world during the month of June 2006, roughly half of the world's instant messaging traffic at that time. While the largest separation between any two people was 29 steps, the study found that 78 percent of people could be connected in seven steps or less. The last experiment of this nature carried out in 2003 found that it took between five and seven steps to find a stranger by contacting their acquaintances by e-mail. (MSNBC)

some day we'll long for the days WHEN GLOBAL WARMING WAS OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM

Ignoring the long-established fact that you can't mess with Mother Nature without causing a bigger problem, scientists have begun researching quick fixes for global warming. The half-baked schemes by "geoengineers" include spraying sea water into the atmosphere to make it cloudier, pumping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere or ocean, using rockets to launch tons of sulphur into the stratosphere to create a planetary sunscreen, and—wait for it—placing millions of tiny mirrors into orbit around the Earth to reflect back some of the sun's rays. Good luck with that. (BBC)

EAU DE TRASH

Complaints about the vile odor coming from the city dump in Mumbai, India, have led city engineers to develop the brilliant plan of spraying perfume on the garbage in order to lessen the sickening stench. Over the past six months, 42,000 liters of an herbal perfume costing $114,000 have been sprayed on two city dumps on an almost daily basis. "Perfuming the garbage has helped. Residents are complaining less. This will continue till we find a long-term solution," said a senior municipal engineer. (BBC)

WE ALL SCREAM FOR BARF BAGS

The city of Yokohama, Japan, celebrated its 130th anniversary last week with a festival of exotic ice cream flavors including eel, raw horse, curry, crab, potato, cheese, prawn, garlic and beer. But the most popular by far, according to the festival's organizers, was the beef tongue ice cream. Yum. (The Telegraph)

HOW COME MY BIKE IS SO RUSTY?

The easiest way to get your name in the book of world records is to create a new category and be the first to set a record. Like Italy's Vittorio Innocente, who is currently the world champion underwater cyclist as he has absolutely no competition in the category. The 62-year-old scuba diver broke his own world record last week by pedaling his bike at a new record depth of 65 meters in the sea near Genoa. In 2001 he also set the world speed record for underwater cycling when he pedaled 1,200 meters in a swimming pool at an average speed of 87 centimeters per second. (ansa.it)

I WOULDA GOT YOU A CARD BUT I HATE YOU

Unfortunately this next piece is from the now-defunct Weekly World News, but wouldn't it be fun if this story was real? The WWN claims that an international panel of mental health experts has proclaimed Aug. 31 to be National Hate Day. On this day you'll be able to release all the pent-up frustration you experience during the rest of the year and let it out in a 24-hour hate-on, during which time you are encouraged to smack your neighbors, kick your in-laws, punch rude clerks, throw drinks at bad waiters and do anything else that releases the hostility you suppress while trying to be nice. "Stress comes from keeping your real feelings bottled up. If you're human, you hate everyone you meet," says Dr. Julius Finneberg, supposedly a Swiss psychiatrist. "Our studies show that if an individual can look forward to a chance to express all the rage they suppress, it will dramatically slash stress levels ... let it all hang out and the world will be a better place."

I-READ-IT-ON-THE-INTERNET-SO-IT-MUST-BE-TRUE-FACT- OF-THE-WEEK

If a cockroach touches a human, it runs to safety and cleans itself.

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