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SOCIAL STUDIES

There is more to a sneeze than meets the eye Add to ...

Want to wear a tail?

 

“It’s often said that pets can resemble their owners. Now, an animatronic tail in development will make it possible for owners to return the compliment,” reports The Asahi Shimbun. “The ‘Tailly’ is a wearable tail attached to a belt containing heart-rate sensors. When the user’s heart rate increases, the tail wags excitedly, adding an extra level of communications and ‘radiating cuteness and happiness,’ according to developer Shota Ishiwatari. Rather than just a toy, the novelty accessory can be ‘an extension of the user’s body,’ a fun addition or a way to express your true feelings on a date.”

 

Why we sneeze

 

“While irritation of the nasal passages is the most common trigger for a sneeze, the presence of cold, dust-bearing air is not necessary,” writes C. Claiborne Ray of The New York Times. “Simply being cold and shivering, or even moving from one temperature zone to another, can jar the [trigeminal] nerve. … Many other conditions besides rhinitis can produce a sneeze, including sudden exposure to bright light (called the photic response); a particularly full stomach (the satiation response); central nervous system diseases like epilepsy; and sexual excitement or orgasm.”

 

A low-down squatter

 

A woman in Yelm, Wash., recently got the surprise of her life when she learned that a stranger was living underneath her house, says Seattlepi.com. “Velma Kellen said she recently bought a new furnace, so she was a little surprised when her house wasn’t warming up. She called a repairman, who gave Kellen an odd bit of news. ‘He says, ‘Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. I’ve got your ducts fixed, but someone’s been living under your house,’ Kellen said. The repairman came out of a crawl space under the house carrying an empty beer can. He said there were more cans and a liquor bottle underneath the house.” The 73-year-old added: “They cut the duct so that the warm air was blowing down on them. They were getting all my warm air from the front of the house.”

 

Corporate carpooling?

 

“Corporations may have many of the same rights as people, but those rights do not include riding in the carpool lane in Novato,” reports the Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal. “That was the message Monday at Marin County Superior Court traffic hearing, where San Rafael activist Jonathan Frieman appeared to contest a $489 (U.S.) carpool fine. His argument? He was not riding alone in the carpool lane in Highway 101 in October as alleged by police, because his corporation – a stack of papers named JoMiJO Foundation – was riding shotgun. Therefore, he was obeying the signs reading ‘2 or more persons per vehicle.’ His lawyer, Ford Greene, cited a section of state vehicle code defining ‘person’ as ‘a natural person, firm, co-partnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation.’ With a hint of amusement, Marin County Traffic Referee Frank Drago said it was a ‘novel argument.’ But the goal of the carpool law in question is clear …”

 

A mirror for drinkers

 

“The Scottish Government has unveiled the ‘drinking mirror’ smartphone app, which claims to show the visible effects of regularly drinking too much, such as deeper wrinkles, red cheeks and weight gain,” says The Daily Telegraph. “By taking a picture of the user, the app aims to show how ‘dropping a glass size’ could ‘improve your looks over 10 years,’ with a so-called magic mirror showing you ‘how much better you will look if you drink a little less alcohol.’ In the same way that slimmers sometimes switch to a smaller plate to eat less, the Scottish government is calling on women to drop a glass size as a way of cutting back on drinking.”

 

THOUGHT DU JOUR

“The real is always way ahead of what we can imagine.”

Paul Auster

American author (1947- )

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