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facts & arguments

Chris Clinton

A boom in personal trainers

"Want to know what the job of the future looks like? Go to the gym," writes Catherine Rampell in The New York Times. "Phillip Hoskins did, but not to work out. He went to find clients, and to join the ranks of personal trainers, one of the fastest-growing American occupations. 'I knew I didn't want a desk job,' said Mr. Hoskins of Louisville, Ky., who became a personal trainer after being let go, after 17 years, from a middle-management position at a car-repair shop in December. 'I'm pretty fit for 51 years old, and I knew I could do something with that.' Once stereotyped as the domain of bodybuilders and gym devotees, personal training is drawing the educated and uneducated; the young and old; men and women; the newly graduated, the recently laid-off and the long-retired."

Beer from the beard

"It reads like a headline from The Onion," says, "but this bit of news isn't fiction: Craft brewery Rogue Ales is working on a new beer made with a strain of wild yeast produced from the follicles of brewmaster John Maier's beard. The brewery didn't set out to make a beard-influenced beer. On a whim, nine follicles from Maier's beard were sent into a lab for testing and, to everyone's surprise, turned out to produce a yeast strain that was suitable for beer-brewing. Further tests confirmed that the yeast was wild, not one used by Rogue. The brewery is currently working on test brews to find 'the perfect style and yeast combination.' The final beer, called New Crustacean, will be released in early 2013."

Clergy and their health

"A new study discovers pastors have higher-than-average rates of chronic disease and depression," says Psych Central. "Duke University researchers say their findings suggest the caregiving process may slow pastors to seek care because they typically default to caring for others first. Because of these findings, researchers have been trying to design health programs that will be more effective for clergy. 'Clergy recognize the importance of caring for themselves, but doing so takes a back seat to fulfilling their vocational responsibilities, which are tantamount to caring for an entire community,' said researcher Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, PhD. … 'Clergy perceive themselves to be much healthier than they actually are.'"

The pastor's close call

"Local Pastor Sharon Davis' nightly walk is a routine she is well known for," reports the Seminole Heights, Fla., Patch. "At the end, she sits in the same spot outside Seminole Heights United Methodist Church to pray for the community and the church and to reflect on everything she has been working on. But on Sunday night, her walk ended with a surprise from above. As Pastor Davis prayed, she heard a cracking sound coming from overhead. Before she could even look up, church members said, she was struck by a falling tree limb on the church's steps." Church member Beni Blankenship, reporting that the branch broke the pastor's clavicle and cut her head, noted: "When you look at the pictures, it's a miracle it didn't do worse." The tree is believed to have been weakened by the wrath of Tropical Storm Debby.

Kindles for Bibles?

"The ubiquitous Bible in the bedside drawer of a hotel room is getting a technology upgrade in Britain, where the Hotel Indigo, located in Newcastle, is swapping out its paper Bibles for Kindles preloaded with the text," reports The Christian Science Monitor. "The hotel is scheduled to try it out for a two-week period, from [July 2] to July 16, and plans have been made to extend the service to the company's 44 locations around the world if it's a success."

Another robot restaurant

"The robot overlords," says, "continue their steady ascension to the top of the food chain: Haohai Robot Restaurant in Harbin, China, is staffed entirely by robots. Eighteen robots cook, serve, and even entertain diners (there's a singing robot), all the while addressing them as 'Earth Person.' … Keep in mind this is China's fourth robot restaurant." However, unlike human wait-staff, the robots only work for five hours before they need a two-hour battery recharge.

The hoarding industry

"[I]n 2009, the A&E cable TV series Hoarders began broadcasting," says The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. More than two million people tuned in this May for the premiere of the fifth season. The popularity of the show, which focuses on the cleanup of filthy, hazardous homes, has not only changed the language – it also helped create an industry, the Post-Gazette reports. "Hoarding jobs require specialized services. … Trash isn't collected in garbage bags but in 30-foot dumpsters, sometimes up to a dozen of them. Walls may need to be power-washed . And hoarders' homes can be filled with hazardous waste. … One cleanup specialist estimates that 10 per cent of the houses he services do not have working toilets."

Thought du jour

Religion is … the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface may be.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Austrian-British philosopher (1889-1951)

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