Minggu, 08 Maret 2009


PUBLIC SENTIMENT is clearly against the penny. Instead of lugging pennies around, many Americans toss their daily accumulation in a junk drawer or hoard them in old mayonnaise jars. Others indulge in the distasteful practice of conspicuously throwing them away. This sometimes leads to penny shortages. Last spring the Treasury asked Americans to circulate the coins. As an incentive, banks have offered as much as $1.10 per hundred to get them back.


THROUGH A SPECIALIZED AGENCY in Tokyo, people who live alone can hire trained “family members” to spend a few hours with them. These “relatives” are expected to play their part to perfection. A widowed grandfather, for instance, might spend 120,000 yen a day (about $1400) for a grandmother, a son, a daughter-in law and their child.
While the two women are busy in the kitchen, Grandfather talks business with “his son” and keeps an eye on the child doing his homework. At the end of the day, the guests, who met today for the first time, go their separate ways.
For those in need of temporary prestige, it is also possible to rent the services of a “subordinate” who can be severely reprimanded by his superior in front of other people.


INDIAN TV PERSONALITY Prannoy Roy observed that people prefer handwritten notes to typewritten ones. So he and his NEW DELHI-based computer-software firm developed “MyScript,” a program that has the ability to scan, memorize and simulate an individual’s handwriting. The computer can then print out a message that looks as though it has been written by that person. “If you want to increase the simulation effect, “say Roy, “you can cross out a few words so that the note looks like the real thing.”


GARDENS ARE SHORT-LIVED in the chill of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada. But now residents of this mining town enjoy fresh fruits, herbs and roses-year round. The bounty grows 1170 feet beneath the surface in what was a vacant chamber of bustling copper and zinc mine.
The subterranean garden experiment was conceived by Wyne Fraser of the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. and Brent Zettl of Prairie Plant Systems Inc. The mine installed high-intensity lights, a drip irrigation system and computers. The temperature is maintained at 25-degrees Celsius by day and 20 degrees at night and moisture and soil conditions are constantly monitored. Three months after planting, 80 rose plants produced 1100 flowers, instead of the normal 700. The results are sold in local markets and miners have dibs on any surplus.

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