Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sideswipe

By Ana Samways

In scenes eerily reminiscent of Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a "monster" rabbit has apparently been rampaging through vegetable patches in a northern England village, ripping up leeks and munching turnips.

Angry gardeners in Felton, near Newcastle, have now mounted an armed guard to protect their prized cabbages and parsnips. "They call it the monster. It's very big - it's nearly the size of a dog," said Joan Smith, whose son Jeff owns one of the plots under attack. "It's eating everything, all the vegetables," she told Reuters. "They are trying to shoot it. They go along hoping to catch it but I think it's too crafty."

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Not to be confused with the Sandra Bullock rehab movie or the British virus thriller: A new book called 28 Days - What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Love Life, Moods and Potential combines the flakiness of astrology with women's menstrual cycles. For example, "Days six through 10, oestrogen levels are high, brain skills are sharp, it's a good time to ask for a raise. Thanks to your hormones, you are also prettier during these days." The rest of the book involves the best day in your cycle to start a diet. (Source: nerve.com)

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Would you believe our very own Auckland City Council has been awarded an international Pigasus Award? These honours are given out each year by a bunch of sceptics at the James Randi Educational Foundation in the US. Our city council was named "the funding organisation that supported the most useless study of a supernatural, paranormal or occult claim" following a dubious funding decision reported in the Herald on Sunday last year. So if you think a business-class junket around the world for a couple of councillors and their lackeys is a waste, remember this is the same local body that awarded $2500 of ratepayers' money to the Foundation For Spiritualist Mediums (FSM) to teach people to communicate with the dead. An FSM spokesperson claimed: "There are a lot of people who have problems communicating with the spirit world and don't know how to deal with it." Fortunately, some council members objected and the amount was reduced to $2500 from the original $4500. The defending members supported the decision as contributing to Auckland city's community vision. "Well, if they're already having visions, perhaps they don't need the assistance of the FSM," say the sceptics. (Source: Randi.org)

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And now, something a little more serious. While pootling around the sedate streets of suburban Auckland last week, I experienced three near-misses with boy racers. While a friend and I were walking to the local fish and chip shop in New Windsor with our nearly 3-year-olds, a souped-up, low-slung car came speeding along New Windsor Rd, took the corner into Bollard Rd too fast, hit the kerb, spun 360 degrees, recovered and drove off. Remarkably, the driver managed not to hit any pedestrians or other cars. A few days later, while taking my nearly 3-year-old to daycare, the same thing happened again at the end of a Mt Albert street. A young guy in a beat-up Ford Laser took the corner of Parkdale and Chatham too fast and spun 360 degrees, crossing on to my side of the road. Had I not slammed on the brakes and had the nearly 3-year-old been slightly more co-operative getting into his booster, we would've been toast. Later the same day, a pack of teens (again taking the corner too fast) veered into my path, over-corrected, recovered and sped off toward Linwood Ave's many exciting speed bumps. This anecdotal information, coupled with neighbourhood stories of late-night street racing, has led me to a theory. Instead of fanging it down the motorways and main drags, are boy racers preferring the less policed back streets of low traffic neighbourhoods in which to hoon around?

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