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A chirpy outlook

"It is something long believed but never proved, but now scientists are aiming to establish whether birdsong really does cheer us up," The Telegraph reports. Researchers at the University of Surrey "have begun a three-year research project that will look into the impact of birdsong on human well-being and behaviour. … Eleanor Ratcliffe, a postgraduate student in the department of psychology, who is carrying out the research, said: 'A great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that we respond positively to birdsong. … What we're looking at is the restorative effect of natural sounds like birdsongs on people's moods.'"

Larry the lizard survives

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"A hardy lizard that stowed away in a tourist's suitcase survived a 3,000-mile flight from Cape Verde to the U.K. – and then endured a full cycle in a washing machine," The Guardian reports. "The lizard, which has been named Larry, is thought to have clambered into Sue Banwell-Moore's suitcase as she packed following a two-week holiday on the islands off the west coast of Africa. Larry survived the six-hour flight in the luggage hold of a passenger jet and arrived back at Banwell-Moore's home in Somerset. But its ordeal did not end there. Banwell-Moore scooped up the hapless reptile in a pile of dirty clothes and stuffed it into her washing machine. She only spotted the lizard as she was hanging out the washing following the 30-minute delicates cycle. Assuming the 15 centimetre-long animal was dead, she covered it with a saucepan but was surprised and delighted when it recovered from its ordeal. Larry is now being cared for at a wildlife park."

Tigers rough up a bus

"A bus carrying 27 visitors to a wild animal zoo in an eastern [Chinese]city was attacked by a group of enraged Bengal tigers," the Shanghai Daily reports, "and [the passengers were]left fearing for their lives for 20 minutes as the gatekeeper of the tiger zone was out for lunch. Around five adult tigers bit into the bus's tires and smashed the bus with their paws at noon on Saturday, breaking its windows, according to the Paomaling Wild Animal Zoo in Jinan, capital of Shandong province. Zoo employees finally became aware of the incident through security cameras and rushed to open the gate for the tigers 20 minutes later, Jinan Times reported [this week] No one was hurt during the incident."

Fathers and daughters

"Seniors seeking spouses in their golden years face hurdles particular to their circumstances," the Daily Yomiuri reports, "not the least of which is obtaining the understanding or approval of their children. 'There are many cases in which children don't agree with their parent's remarriage. Daughters in particular tend to oppose their father's remarriage,' said Junichi Ikeda of Tokyo-based matchmaker Ai Senior, which offers meeting opportunities for members aged between 45 and 93."

Homage to the homeless?

"Bed linen designed to look like cardboard boxes on a pavement has been slammed by a charity for exploiting the homeless," says Orange News U.K. "The cardboard box-like duvet covers and sheets resembling paving stones are aimed at affluent customers in Stockholm, Sweden. Designers say they are supposed to make people think about the plight of the homeless as they bed down for a night in luxury. But local charity Stockholm Stadsmissionen – which aims to help homeless people in the city – said the designs were in poor taste. … Designers Snurk – who call the duvet Design With Conscience – say a small part of the profits will go to a homelessness charity."

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A jury of one's peers

"Talk about an eccentric jury pool," says the Detroit Free Press. "The cast of characters who showed up for jury selection [this week]in the Hutaree militia trial included a former bed bug exterminator who uses medical marijuana, a woman who burned down her ex-husband's house after he allegedly tried to sell their daughter for $60,000, a Russian immigrant who has issues with spying, and an African-American female minister who believes gun rights should be limited. 'We don't want crazy people walking around with guns,' the minister said in court while the seven accused militia members looked on. Despite her comment, she didn't get excused from the terror case, in which seven men are charged with plotting a violent revolt against the government that includes killing police officers and bombing a funeral. The Russian immigrant and the self-professed arsonist also didn't get excused. The medical marijuana user, however, was sent home. … Of the 15 prospective jurors in federal court in Detroit this morning, seven women and three men were picked to go into the prospective jury pool."

Thought du jour

"A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it."

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Theoretical physicist

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