AN AWKWARD CHANGE OF NAME.
There are in France two brothers with the surname of Assassin, who recently obtained the necessary permission from the high functionary called the Keeper of the Seals to change their name to one less offensive. After mature reflection, they decided to change their name to Berge. Now that it is too late to alter it, they have discovered, to their intense annoyance, that their new name happens, by a singular coincidence, to be that of the chief assistant to M. Deibler, the public executioner, who will, in all probability, succeed to M. Deibler's gruesome business.
West End, New Jersey has a minor claim to fame as the birthplace of Dorothy Parker. It used to be its own village, but now I think it's just a suburb of Long Branch. But what makes it unusual is its name. It's surrounded on three sides by Long Branch, and on the other side it faces the Atlantic Ocean. So what exactly is it on the west end of?
Of all the towns in America, why did they choose to feature Cumback in their ad? Or was 1958 a more innocent, pre-internet era when the term 'cumback' didn't have the same connotations (see Urban Dictionary) that it does today ?
Swastika is a small town in Ontario, Canada. (wikipedia link). It was founded in 1908, and got its name from a nearby gold mine. Then the Nazis went and adopted the swastika as their symbol, which made things a little awkward for the Swastika townsfolk. But despite pressure from the Canadian government, the townsfolk resisted changing the name of their town. After all, they had the name first! And so the town has kept its unusual name, to the present day.
Talk about a mammoth appetite, when most of the world’s large mammals went extinct roughly 10,000 years ago, the vast majority of the vanished species were herbivores. This of course meant that they were no longer around to eat the plants they otherwise would have, and - according to Christophers Doughty and Field from Oxford and Stanford Universities respectively – this freed up an extra 1.4 trillion kilos of food, roughly 2.5% of the net product of all Earth’s dry land. However, the researchers add, this excess had been ‘used up’ by burgeoning human numbers by around 1700 and today we consume six times as much as the Pleistocene critters ever did while simultaneously driving down land productivity by 10% (Nature)(PDF).
That’s not to say that our massive consumption doesn’t have it’s upside, As Vangelis Kapatos of Manhattan discovered when he attempted suicide by jumping from his ninth floor flat, only to survive when his fall was broken by a pile of uncollected garbage. Mr. Kapatos’ timing, from his perspective, couldn’t have been worse, the unusually large garbage pile was due to collections being suspended because of snow. They were due to resume the day after his impromptu dumpster dive (Today Online).
Mind you, we’re not the only animals prone to excess. After finding the bodies of dozens of starlings near the city of Constanta in Romania, locals were concerned that the cause might be bird flu, instead post-mortems of the birds have revealed that they in fact died of alcohol poisoning, having ‘drunk’ themselves to death on the discarded leftovers of the local winemaking industry. A least they died happy (BBC News).
Better than dying happy, though, is living happy, and the secret of that, says the UK’s Office for National Statistics, is having a job. But it’s not the pay but the job security that counts, say the government statisticians, which ironically are facing staff cuts themselves due to the economic downturn. Other key happiness factors, according to the preliminary report, are good personal health and a decent family life. What will we do without these people (Telegraph)?