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Giving baby a brand

"Baby names have gone from biblical to a form of branding," says The Christian Science Monitor, "which may be why a recent study by Gurgle.com found that more than half of first-time parents regret the moniker they chose. The evolution of baby names mirrors that of corporate identities. Just as iconic names like General Electric or IBM have given way to Pinterest and Zynga, John and Mary have made room for Moonbeam and Zuma. It was only a matter of time before you could outsource the naming of your baby to Corporate America: Last year, Groupon offered parents $1,000 for the naming rights to their first-born child."

An end to population growth?

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"The world's seemingly relentless march toward overpopulation achieved a notable milestone in 2012: Somewhere on the planet, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the seven billionth living person came into existence," writes Jeff Wise at Slate.com. "A somewhat more arcane milestone, meanwhile, generated no media coverage at all: It took humankind 13 years to add its seven billionth. That's longer than the 12 years it took to add the six billionth – the first time in human history that interval had grown. … In other words, the rate of global population growth has slowed. And it's expected to keep slowing. Indeed, according to experts' best estimates, the total population of Earth will stop growing within the lifespan of people alive today."

Giving baby a brand

"Baby names have gone from biblical to a form of branding," says The Christian Science Monitor, "which may be why a recent study by Gurgle.com found that more than half of first-time parents regret the moniker they chose. The evolution of baby names mirrors that of corporate identities. Just as iconic names like General Electric or IBM have given way to Pinterest and Zynga, John and Mary have made room for Moonbeam and Zuma. It was only a matter of time before you could outsource the naming of your baby to Corporate America: Last year, Groupon offered parents $1,000 for the naming rights to their first-born child."

Wealthy street sweeper

"After nearly four decades of hard labour as a farmer, cook, lorry driver and street sweeper, a sudden million-[dollar] windfall might tempt sweet thoughts of retirement," says The Daily Telegraph. "But 53-year-old Yu Youzhen has a rather more unbending work ethic. Five years ago, her family land in Donghu village, near the city of Wuhan, was bought by the government for a property development. She used the compensation money to begin building a property empire, which now includes 17 apartments worth some 10 million yuan ($1.6-million), according to the Wuhan Evening News. Nevertheless, six days a week Mrs. Yu dons an orange coat and goes to work as a street sweeper, earning a monthly wage of $225. 'Work is not just about the salary. It makes one focused. Laziness gives rise to all sorts of bad habits,' she said to the Chinese newspaper."

Mussolini as a pin-up

"Decked out in army fatigues, his hand raised in a Fascist salute, he emblazons newsstands, lies ready in bookshops and is splashed across countless websites: Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator and founder of Fascism known simply as 'Il Duce' enjoys massive popularity in Italy as a calendar pin-up," reports Der Spiegel. "Foreign tourists, especially Germans, are shocked when they see these openly flaunted calendars. Yet even in 2013, the former Italian dictator has a loyal fan base at home."

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A new Wikipedia hoax

"It went undetected for five years on Wikipedia, but now a seemingly meticulous entry about a 17th-century conflict between colonial Portugal and India's Maratha empire has been outed as a hoax," says Phys.org. " 'The Bicholim Conflict' of 1640-41, described in detail in the online piece assessed as a 'good article,' has been unearthed not as an episode of Goan history, but a tale by a mischievous user. Added to the site in 2007, the entry was only uncovered as a lie by another eagle-eyed user in December. … The fantasy conflict has been added to Wikipedia's list of hoaxes that have dogged the site since it was founded in 2001, such as the non-existent Indonesian island of Bunaka, and Gaius Flavius Antoninus, supposed assassin of Julius Caesar."

Thought du jour

"We all live under the same sky, but we do not all have the same horizon."

Konrad Adenauer

German statesman (1876-1967)

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