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In Britain, town councils are asking families to stop giving bread to ducks, advising them to feed the birds "healthier" delicacies such as frozen peas and grapes, reports The Sunday Times of London. "The move follows claims by ornithologists that bread can harm the digestive systems of young ducks, deprive them of essential vitamins and cause a disfigurement called 'angel wing,' where a joint of a bird's wing becomes twisted." Suggested alternatives include grapes cut in half, cracked corn and frozen peas that have been defrosted.

Once a wine snob

A "wine snob" ghost is said to be lurking in the cellar of a pub in Birmingham, England, reports Britain's Press Association. The ghost, named Corky by regulars at the Court Oak pub, apparently has very strong opinions about the wine list. Pub manager Anne Tyler said the ghost had given its opinion about the house wine every Halloween for the past few years: Smashed bottles of red and white wines were discovered in the cellar until the selection was upgraded. An official with the Sizzling Pubs chain said: "People have spotted the figure of a man, aged about 60, behind the bar and the staff have felt his presence numerous times over the years."

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How to feed a husband

"When Jay Wornick's wife said they should lose some weight as a New Year's resolution, he took up the challenge. Ten months later, he's 200 pounds lighter," says Associated Press. Mr. Wornick told the Syracuse, N.Y., Post-Standard that he weighed 366 pounds on Jan. 1; as of Monday, he was down to 168 pounds. "The 30-year-old father of three says his typical daily meals used to include a 20-ounce steak and three potatoes washed down with a 12-pack of soda. Now he eats fruits, vegetables and lean meats, drinks water and works out six days a week at the YMCA near the family's home in Fulton, in central New York."

How to handle an alligator

"Police in Michigan said they captured a six-foot alligator reported roaming near a church," United Press International reports. "The Blackman-Leoni Township public safety department said officers responded about 11:35 a.m. Monday to a call about an alligator wandering near Pathway Community Church in Jackson, the Jackson Citizen-Patriot reported. … Officers captured the alligator with a noose and duct-taped its mouth shut with the help of a passerby who said he had experience owning alligators."

Want a more ethical office?

"People behave better in front of children," Harvard researcher Sreedhari Desai writes for The Christian Science Monitor. "They are less likely to swear and more likely to buy Girl Scout cookies and candles and gift cards for school drives. … Bizarre as it may sound, companies can harness this power to make their workplaces more ethical. My research collaborator, Francesca Gino, and I have performed experiments that suggest that the presence of children – even the presence of cute, childlike things such as animation videos and stuffed toys – brings out good behaviour in people. In one experiment, people who watched an animated nursery rhyme were less prone to cheat on math puzzles than those in the control group. In another experiment, people who participated in a 'product evaluation study' of a soft toy were less likely to deceive opponents in a deception game than those who evaluated a stylish paper clip."

Right ho, Wodehouse

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"Countless readers of Wodehouse have testified to the way his novels have their own 'stimulating effect' on morale," The Guardian says, "providing not just comic, but almost medicinal effects: the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm, after his defeat in the First World War, consoled himself by reading Wodehouse to his 'mystified' staff; the late Queen Mother allegedly read 'The Master' on a nightly basis, to set aside the 'strains of the day'; more recently, news reports tell of the imprisoned Burmese comedian Zargana finding comfort in Wodehouse during solitary confinement. 'Books are my best friends,' he confided. 'I liked the P.G. Wodehouse best. Joy in the Morning – Jeeves, Wooster and the fearsome Aunt Agatha.It's difficult to understand, but I've read it three times at least. And I used it as a pillow, too.' "

Thought du jour

"The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: We go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late."

Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), English cleric and author

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