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facts & arguments


Don't let the bugs bite

"The common bed bug mainly survives on human blood, but what happens when that human has upped his or her blood alcohol content with a few glasses of a nice red wine?" writes Brooke Borel for Life's Little Mysteries. "New research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests bed bugs are not as fond of alcohol as their boozy hosts, which may lead to fewer bug bites. According to the study, bed bugs prefer alcohol-free blood … the higher the blood alcohol concentration, the less the bugs eat. And because there is a direct link between blood intake and reproduction rates, those bugs also lay fewer eggs."

Drinking in a bar? Sweet

"Publicans have long known that they can sell more drinks in noisy bars, but not why," writes Prof. Susan Blackmore of the University of Plymouth in BBC Focus magazine. "New research in which people rated the flavour of drinks in different environments suggests that this is not just because you drink more when the noise makes conversation nigh-on impossible, but also because alcohol actually tastes sweeter in noisier environments. Since we have an innate preference for sweetness, we drink more."

When housekeepers go bad

"Police in suburban Cleveland say a woman who owns a cleaning service broke into a house and washed the dishes, took out the trash, and vacuumed before leaving a handwritten bill with her name on it," Associated Press reports. "And police say it might not be the first time. The woman, Sue Warren of Elyria, is in jail on a burglary charge. Police in Westlake say Ms. Warren broke into a home [last month]and began tidying up, but she didn't take anything. They say she then wrote out a bill for $75 on a napkin and included her name and address. One officer says Ms. Warren told him she does it all the time."

Songs to torture with

"What's the best music to use when you're torturing someone?" writes Will Oremus at "Guards at Guantanamo Bay tried to coerce inmates into talking with songs from Sesame Street player on repeat, according to a new al-Jazeera documentary. … In general, torture songs tend to be either loud and aggressive or simple and jangly. In 2003, a U.S. Psychological Operations sergeant told Newsweek that he had bludgeoned Iraqi prisoners of war with Metallica's Enter Sandman. … [I] the 1990s, FBI agents played Tibetan chants, 1950s Christmas carols, and Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Were Made for Walkin' during a standoff with David Koresh's cult in Waco, Tex. The New York Times reported that Billy Ray Cyrus' country hit Achy Breaky Heart was rejected, perhaps because officials feared some of the cult members would like it."

Want a robot up your leg?

"Feel a tickling sensation moving up your trouser leg?" asks the New Scientist. "Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed Clothbot, a 140-gram robot capable of scaling clothes. The robot uses a wheeled gripping mechanism to create wrinkles in a piece of cloth, then drives straight up them. It also has a tail to allow it to adjust its centre of gravity and change direction. Its creators say that Clothbot could be a tiny pet that climbs around your body, or a moving hands-free phone that sits on your shoulder."

Working teenager is jailed

"Diane Tran is a 17-year-old honour student, a high school junior with two jobs, and now – thanks to one Houston judge and Texas student-absentee laws – a criminal," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Going from job to job to support two siblings – while taking advanced-placement and dual-credit college level courses – Diane had missed too many days of school, according to KHOU in Houston, which first reported her story. So a judge, Lanny Moriarty, decided she needed to do some hard time. He sentenced her to 24 hours in jail with a $100 fine for missing school after she'd been warned in April not to miss school again. 'If you let one [truant student]run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them?' Judge Moriarty told KHOU. 'Let them go, too? A little stay in the jail for one night isn't a death sentence.'"

Assault with a whistle

"A German woman has been fined for blowing a whistle down the telephone at a call-centre worker," says Orange Co. UK. "The woman, 61, from Pirmasens in Rhineland-Palatinate, had got fed up with a constant stream of cold-calls to her house. But she ended up in court and was fined the equivalent of [$1,000]after she damaged the hearing of her victim. The unnamed woman told a judge in a local court that she was so annoyed by the unending stream of marketing calls that she snapped and blew a whistle into the receiver. She was hoping just to deter the company from calling her again, but ended up convicted of bodily harm after giving the female call-centre employee hearing problems and tinnitus."


"Trust that man in nothing who has not a conscience in everything." – Laurence Sterne (1713-68), Anglo-Irish novelist

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