Farewell to chocolate?
"Let's face it, climate change is incredibly unsexy," says the Los Angeles Times. "… But it's about to get worse. A new mini-report from the environmental group Climate Nexus points out that climate change is poised to wreck Valentine's Day, or at least change it significantly, by threatening chocolate production. That's right. Global warming is very bad for chocolate. … [R]search from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture found last year that as temperatures rise, the principal growing regions for cocoa could shrink, especially in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the sources of half the world's supply. Production could fall off dramatically by 2050, making cocoa less available and more expensive. Of course, new growing regions could develop, but moving an entire industry is never a sure thing, or cheap."
For an unforgettable date
"It may not smell like a rose but a New York sewage plant is offering tours for lovers on Valentine's Day," says Associated Press. "The tour host and superintendent of the Newton Creek Wastewater treatment plant in Brooklyn tells the Daily News it'll be a unique date, and one that special someone will never forget."
Love letters still rock
From a book review by The Telegraph of Dr. Andrea Clarke's Love Letters: 2000 Years of Romance: "A typed memo or e-mail can never convey the same texture as a handwritten letter. … It is not only that the impact of the words seems magnified when written by hand but letters have sometimes acquired smells (of coffee, perhaps, or tea) or been spattered by tears or mud, which adds enormously to their power. Clarke has noticed that more love letters appear to have been written by men. Historically, men would have been better educated and considered themselves the decision makers. … On the other hand, as Dr. Clarke concludes: 'Perhaps it is simply that women are better at preserving things.'"
Dog lovers' corner
– "A South African woman has launched an unusual yoga class in Hong Kong – for dogs," says Orange News UK. "Suzette Ackermann's 'doga' classes are aimed at dog-owners wanting to pamper their pets. 'I already gave yoga classes for adults and also for mothers and their children, so I thought, 'this cannot be so different than that' and it is not so different,' she says."
– "The Oscars aren't until Feb. 26, but winners of the Pawscars are already celebrating," says Associated Press. "The American Humane Association, which advocates for animals on film and TV sets, announced the top animals Thursday being honoured with Pawscar awards. Uggie, the four-legged star of The Artist, was named best scene stealer. Fellow Jack Russell terrier Cosmo, whose thoughts were communicated through subtitles in Beginners, won best animal speaking role."
Paper money helps the needy
"Hungary's central bank is burning old monetary notes to help the needy in Europe's deadly cold snap," Orange News UK. reports. "The bank is pulping wads of old notes into briquettes to help heat humanitarian organizations. Barnabas Ferenczi, head of the bank's cash logistics centre, said: 'For the central bank, corporate social responsibility is an important thing. That's why we thought that since we destroy approximately 40 or 50 tons of currency every year, this thing can be useful for charities that have a problem finding fuel for burning. Our examination showed that the heating properties of these shredded currency briquettes are similar to brown coal so they are pretty useful for heating and resolve the problem to find fuel.'"
The suspicious mind
"Is Osama bin Laden still alive?" asks The Boston Globe. "Or was he already dead before the U.S. raid that supposedly killed him? These two conspiracy theories appear to contradict each other, but psychologists in Britain have found that such logical problems don't deter conspiracists from believing both. … The simultaneous acceptance of these conflicting theories seems to be motivated by an overarching belief in deceptive cover-ups by authorities."
Thought du jour
"The married state, with and without the affection suitable to it, is the most complete image of heaven and hell we are capable of receiving in this life."
Richard Steele (1672-1729)
Irish politician and writer