Odds & Ends
Dateline: Australia—A professor from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane recently noticed a glaring error in the Oxford English Dictionary, which has been in place since 1911. While researching an article for science teachers, Dr. Stephen Hughes spotted the OED definition for the word “siphon.” According to the dictionary, siphons use atmospheric pressure to work. In fact, gravity is the force that makes them work. As soon as he made his discovery, Dr. Hughes wrote a letter to the OED’s editors, who pledged to correct the entry in the next edition. Oxford isn’t the only dictionary to get it wrong, either. “I found that almost every dictionary contained the same misconception that atmospheric pressure, not gravity, pushed liquid through the tube of a siphon,” Hughes told the U.K.’s Telegraph. An OED spokesperson said the definition was first written in 1911 by “editors who were not scientists.”
Dateline: United Arab Emirates—Recession? What recession? In an attempt to lure more stinking rich clients, the top luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi has placed an ATM machine in its lobby that dispenses gold. The ATM-style kiosk is located in the Emirates Palace Hotel. It will monitor the daily selling price of gold and offer small bars of up to 10 grams or coins with customized designs. The machine is the brainchild of German entrepreneur Thomas Geissler, who began testing the “Gold to Go” machines in his native country in 2009. Last Wednesday, the day the machines debuted in Abu Dhabi, gold hit a record high of $1,245 an ounce.
Dateline: England—Beloved cartoon character Snoopy was arrested last week for trying to break an inmate out of jail. According to The Sun newspaper, employees at Her Majesty’s Prison at Isle of Wight’s Albany facility were shocked when confronted by the gun-wielding dog. The felonious canine turned out to be a man in a costume who arrived at the prison in hopes of springing a relative from custody. After trying and failing to break down a staff door, the Peanuts character and an accomplice resorted to throwing chunks of concrete at prison officials’ cars in the parking lot. “It’s not every day you see a giant cartoon dog going on a rampage after trying to break into a prison,” a prison service source was quoted as saying. “They weren’t exactly inconspicuous,” said the source. “But it was taken seriously because they appeared to have a gun.” It was eventually revealed that Snoopy’s gun was a water pistol. The duo of inept jailbreakers was eventually arrested. Police later determined that the men had targeted the wrong facility. Their relative was not imprisoned at HMP Albany, but at the nearby Camp Hill jail. A Hampshire constabulary spokesperson confirmed that two men, ages 43 and 21, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and detained under the Mental Health Act.
Dateline: Massachusetts—According to the Somerville News blog, a man claiming to be “Cheesy Beef Burrito” was arrested late last month on the corner of Broadway and Cross Streets in the Middlesex County town just north of Boston. A police report said officers approached 29-year-old Derek J. Goodwin as he sat in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Police noted that Goodwin was irritated, had pin-point pupils and slurred his speech. When officer Richard Lavey asked Goodwin his name, Goodwin allegedly replied, “My name is Cheesy Beef Burrito.” As Goodwin spoke, food shot out of his mouth, police said. Goodwin then stood up and started yelling “Cheesy beef burrito! Cheesy beef burrito!” at workers and customers. Goodwin tipped over chairs and a table when police tried to handcuff him. He was charged with disorderly conduct. Police speculate drugs may have been involved.
Dateline: Texas—A third-grader in the tiny Houston suburb of Orchard has earned herself a week’s detention. Her crime: possession of a Jolly Rancher. School officials at Brazos Elementary defended the harsh punishment, saying they were simply complying with a state law that limits junk food in public schools. Not surprisingly, the mother of 10-year-old Leighann Adair felt differently. “I think it’s stupid to give a kid a week’s worth of detention for a piece of candy,” Amber Brazda, the girl’s mother, told KHOU-11 news. “The whole thing was just ridiculous to me.” Leighann was busted last Monday by a teacher who spotted her with the illicit candy in the school’s cafeteria. Jack Ellis, the superintendent for Brazos Independent School District, told reporters his school was simply following a state guideline that banned “minimal nutrition” foods. The state however, says that each school is given discretion over how to enforce the policy.