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Alphajets from the French Air Force fly above the Louvre pyramid in Paris on July 14, 2010, as part of the traditional Bastille Day parade. (Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press/Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press)
Alphajets from the French Air Force fly above the Louvre pyramid in Paris on July 14, 2010, as part of the traditional Bastille Day parade. (Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press/Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press)

The Louvre still the most visited art museum Add to ...

Snails will be drafted

“The electric snail is here. There’s an electronic cockroach, too,” The New York Times reports. “Both are early experimental forays into a new line of research aimed at creating tiny, self-powered animal/machine hybrids as an alternative to tiny robots. Instead of starting from scratch and having to solve all those pesky movement problems … why not start out with living creatures that already know how to walk and fly? Then all we have to do is make them robot-like, outfitting them with the right technology so that we can enslave them and make them do our bidding – in search-and-rescue work, spying or attacking enemies with bug phobias.”

Art galleries popular

Despite the global recession, art gallery attendance has continued to climb, says BBC News. “The Louvre in Paris was the most visited art museum last year, according to the Art Newspaper. The publication’s annual poll stated that nearly 8.9 million people visited the French institute, which was almost a 5-per-cent increase on last year. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was the second most visited venue, with the British Museum in third place. …The Louvre has topped the annual list since it began in 2007.”

Hoodlums wearing hoods

“When did the hood become associated with troublemakers?” asks Slate.com. “At least 800 years ago. London was plagued by young, unsupervised apprentice boys during the 12th century. They were always rioting over some political or religious issue, and they often wore hoods to hide their identities. At the time, hoods were common among law-abiding folks as well, but they were especially emblematic of young hooligans.”

Cannabis vending machine

“They usually dispense chocolate bars and soft drinks, but one vending machine in New Zealand dishes out ready-to-smoke cannabis,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “Drug law reform campaigners who [rented]a standard commercial vending machine for their Auckland clubrooms have replaced the cans with one-gram bags of cannabis leaf. A bagful drops into the tray below when NZ$20 [$16.23 Canadian]in banknotes is inserted in the machine’s slot. Cannabis use is illegal in New Zealand and can attract penalties of fines and imprisonment, with harsher sentences being imposed for dealing than for possession. By using the machine as a dispenser, members of NORML – the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws – maintain no one at their headquarters is ‘dealing.’ ”

Getting a better denim fit

– “Online clothes shopping keeps promising more: flash sales, up-to-the-minute styles, inside peeks at the runway and exclusive designer interviews,” says The Wall Street Journal. “What every shopper wants and no one delivers, though, is the guarantee of a perfect fit. A group of Boston mathematicians think they can help. They have developed a computer program that relies partly on the clothes already in your closet to predict how the next garment will fit. The technology, called True Fit … will predict customers’ size in some 350 fashion brands, from Jean Paul Gaultier to Joe’s Jeans, and the number of brands is expect to double by year’s end.”

– “Some smart folks over in the U.K. have invented a machine called a Bodymetrics pod, which somewhat resembles a stand-up tanning bed … and scans your body’s 3-D measurements,” says New York magazine. “After it maps your body, the pod classifies you as one of three different shapes, all kindly named after precious stones (‘emerald’ is the slim shape, ‘ruby’ is the curvaceous shape, and ‘sapphire’ is in between). Then it recommends specific denim brands and styles that supposedly will fit you best.”

Hold a gun, see a gun

“Simply holding a gun increases the chances that you think other people are armed as well, new research has found,” reports Psych Central. “In a series of five experiments, subjects were shown images of people on a computer screen and asked to determine whether the person was holding a gun or a neutral object, such as a foam ball. … Regardless of the situation, the study showed that those participants who were holding a gun reported ‘gun present’ more than the other participants.”

Thought du jour

“Friendships last when each friend thinks he has a slight superiority over the other.”

- Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), French novelist

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