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Study finds large number of impaired drivers on the roads

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Impaired drivers

"Drunk or impaired drivers cause plenty of problems on the nation's roadways," says the Los Angeles Times. "And, according to the first study of its kind, a frightening number of drivers are not fit to drive. Researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and two other institutions set out to randomly sample drivers' sobriety in the 2007 U.S. National Roadside Survey. Authorities stopped drivers at 300 locations in 48 states during four periods on Friday and Saturday nights. At 60 of the locations, drivers were stopped during a daytime period. … Among daytime drivers, 11 per cent were positive for drug use based on saliva tests; 6 per cent of daytime drivers tested positive for illegal substances. In contrast, 14.4 per cent of nighttime drivers tested positive for drugs; 10 per cent of drivers tested positive for illegal drugs."

Musician's mind bypassed

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"Want to learn a musical instrument but can't find the time to practise? A device now under development can take control of your hand and teach you how to play a tune," reports the New Scientist. "No spirits of dead musicians are involved. PossessedHand, being developed jointly by the University of Tokyo, Japan, and Sony Computer Science Laboratories, also in Tokyo, electrically stimulates the muscles in the forearm that move your fingers. A belt worn around that part of the subject's arm contains 28 electrode pads, which flex the joints between the three bones of each finger and the two bones of the thumb, and provide two wrist movements. Users were able to sense the movement of their hands that this produced, even with their eyes closed. 'The user's fingers are controlled without the user's mind,' explains Emi Tamaki of the University of Tokyo, who led the research."

Out of frying pan, into flier

"Dutch airline KLM plans to use recycled cooking oil as biofuel to power flights to and from France, in a move aimed at cutting carbon emissions," Associated Press reports. "Starting in September, KLM will begin more than 200 flights between Paris and Amsterdam using biofuel made from used cooking oil, the company said [last]Wednesday."

Amateur stealing

From a New York Observer review of Rachel Shteir's The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting: "Shoplifting is unskilled, low-stakes theft, a form of law-breaking that is also a form of amateurism. It is trifling by definition. Since stores began keeping track of it, shoplifting has cost the taxpayer around $450 [U.S.]annually, an objectively small sum that is just big enough to gall. The most shoplifted item in the world is the Gillette Mach 3 razor; trailing it, but not by far, are toothbrushes, DVDs, batteries, underwear and raw steak. Socially, what marks shoplifting is tackiness. Almost by definition, shoplifting isn't worth it."

Pay up to flush

"Aucklanders who do not pay their water bills will have to wait up to 10 minutes to flush the toilet," the New Zealand Herald reports. "The Auckland Council voted 13-6 [Thursday]in support of restricting water supplies to a trickle for those people who ignore a series of reminders about unpaid bills. The restrictions will reduce the water flow from one litre a second to one litre a minute. In practical terms, that means six to 10 minutes to fill a toilet cistern."

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The star proved a burden

"In France, Michelin is king," says The Huffington Post. "Ambitious chefs slave away as stagières [interns]in three-star kitchens for years in the hopes of learning what it takes to gain stars themselves. Careers and reputations rise and fall with rankings in Le Guide Rouge. So most people take it for granted that this prestige is good for business. But Le Lisita restaurant, which sits across the street from the famed Nimes coliseum in southern France, thinks otherwise. Since it won its first Michelin star in 2006, the restaurant's owners have felt increasing pressure to maintain high quality. This involves hiring many more waiters and cooks than they otherwise would. With the economy still soft, they say that the cost of this quality maintenance has become too high - so they've decided to give back their Michelin star."

Thought du jour

"The nearest way to glory … is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be."

Socrates (circa 470-399 BC), Greek philosopher

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