A guide pony
"A miniature horse used by a blind student in the United States is thought to be the first 'guide pony' to attend university," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Cali is the first guide animal for Mona Ramouni, a devout Muslim whose parents - Jordanian immigrants - would not accept a dog into their house. Ramouni, a 30-year-old blind student at Michigan State University, uses Cali, one of a handful of miniature horses in the United States known to be used as guide animals. … While there was some initial concern about whether Cali would make a mess or be a distraction, the tiny brown horse with a shiny black mane is surprisingly tidy and even gets along with the guide dog of one of Ramouni's classmates." A miniature horse is about the size of a large dog but is much stockier and can help support people with mobility issues.
Miss the office life?
"When Robyn Welch followed her husband from New York to Seattle, her job as an urban planner followed her," The Seattle Times reports. "She telecommuted from home for three months before she decided to quit - her home. Instead of being liberated from a daily routine of congested traffic and stuffy office buildings, Welch felt isolated and stifled working alone in her apartment. … Her solution was only a block away. … Office Nomads is one of Seattle's first 'co-working' businesses that rents office space to freelancers and telecommuters. … There are at least seven co-working spaces operating in the Seattle area. … Office Nomads provides the staples: desks, chairs, printers, fax machines, conference rooms, a kitchen and Wi-Fi. And, there's also a shower and a lounging area with a TV, couches and board and video games. Local art lines the walls, and indie music plays softly overhead."
A high-school basketball coach is accused of whipping students for "failing to run basketball plays correctly," according to a U.S. federal lawsuit filed last week by three students, CNN.com reports. Coach Marlon Dorsey acknowledged he "paddled" students, but he defended it as a way to "save these young men from the destruction of self," the court filing said.
Dogged police work
- "Two constables in western Pennsylvania decided driving around in a car resembling a police cruiser was preventing them from serving warrants," Associated Press reports. "So, they decided to go black and gold. Constables Hubie Coleman and Albert Younkin used a van decorated in [Pittsburgh]Steelers colours and the team logo. Coleman says they drove up to houses and honked the horn. People came out to see them because they were curious about the van. That's when they served the court papers. They also play the team's fight song when transporting people to a district judge."
- "Police in Sri Lanka are searching for 83 people who have appeared in pornographic films," The Sunday Times of London reports. " 'These actors are breaking the law and we will bring them to justice,' said a police spokesman. To help the search, police have printed pictures of the suspects in full-page newspaper advertisements. An officer explained that the mug shots were obtained by a special police squad viewing porn 'round the clock.' "
Showbiz in your blood?
"These are unexpectedly heady times for one of the strangest and most enduring forms of entertainment," Associated Press says. "Sideshow acts are multiplying in number, though a lack of venues remains a problem. 'What we're seeing now is just an insane explosion of the business,' said sideshow expert James Taylor, who publishes an industry journal called Shocked and Amazed. … Perhaps it's the audience's desire to connect with something real in this age of contrived 'reality' TV, computer-generated special effects and virtual friendships over social networks. Real swords sliding down real throats, real feet stomping on real shards of glass, real nails shoved into real nasal cavities, and real consequences for a mistake. 'Generally, the rule is, if you hit something squishy or hit something hard: stop,' confided Stacy Hawkins, 26, of Dallas, a stay-at-home mom and bakery owner who performs as Della Deadgirl and counts the ability to shove four nails up her nose at once among her many odd talents."
"Scientists at the CERN research centre say their 'Big Bang' project is going beyond all expectations and the first proof of the existence of dimensions beyond the known four could emerge next year," Reuters reports. "In surveys of results of nearly eight months of experiments in their Large Hadron Collider, they also say they may be able to determine by the end of 2011 whether the mystery Higgs particle, or boson, exists. Guido Tonelli, spokesman for one of the CERN specialist teams monitoring operations in the vast subterranean LHC, said probing for extra dimensions - besides length, breadth, height and time - would become easier as the energy of the proton collisions in it is increased in 2011."
Thought du jour
"The essence of a class system is not that the privileged are conscious of their privileges, but that the deprived are conscious of their deprivation."
Clive James (1939-), novelist and essayist