April 3 2006


April 3 2006



The first Liberal MP to declare a candidacy for the federal Liberal leadership, Godfrey came out swinging for environmental sustainability and social issues. He may fade away if heavy hitters such as Belinda Stronach or Michael Ignatieff decide to run when the campaign formally opens April 7. But last week, with Toronto lawyer Martha Hall Findlay and fiddler Ashley Maclsaac the only other declared candidates, Godfrey could take comfort in knowing that, so far, he’s way in the lead.


Warrior’s tomb

Construction workers in Cyprus have stumbled on a 2,500-yearold limestone sarcophagus, apparently that of an unknown warrior. What distinguishes the discovery, archaeologists say, is that the interior has been painted with scenes from the epics of Homer. “The style of the decoration is unique, not from an artistic point of view,” says a Cypriot expert, “but the subject and the colours

used.” The coffin is decorated with hues of red, blue and black and includes scenes of Ulysses.

Hunch engines

Computer scientist Eric Bonabeau is seeking to marry human intuition with computer number processing in a bid to produce software that boosts the efficiency of human intuition. He calls his software tools a “hunch engine.” The software would help users identify what they are looking for even while they’re looking for it. It works by providing a user with a “seed” based on an initial inquiry as well as a series of mutations. As the user chooses a mutation, it leads to more mutations, much in the way humans conduct inquiries based on hunches, only far more efficiently.

Twitchless liars

Contrary to popular perception, liars do not twitch, scratch or fiddle with their hair. Such move-

ments, known as “self-adapter gestures,” are believed to comfort an individual under stress. Researchers have found that instead of yielding to such gestures, liars tend to become more still because they’re aware of how their gestures and movements may be interpreted.

Long-necked Erketu

Paleontologists report that they’ve identified what may be a new species of dinosaur with a neck so long —7.5 m—that its vertebrae seem to have contained air sacs to accommodate its long length. The animal’s 100 million-yearold fossil was discovered in Mongolia in 2002. Experts have now concluded that it belonged to a herbivorous family called sauropods, and have named the species Erketu ellisoni, a name derived from that of the ancient Mongolian god of might.

Poor hosts

Why hasn’t avian flu jumped to humans more readily than it has? Scientists now say that the H5N1 virus has a difficult time adhering to membranes in the human nose, throat and upper respiratory tract. It takes repeated exposure to infected poultry or other birds to get the virus lodged deep in humans’ lungs, a University of WisconsinMadison virologist says. Only when it’s there does it take hold.


Maxine and the hawk

Jennifer Rosen of Ladner, B.C., had just let her chihuahua, Maxine, out into the yard recently when she heard a terrible noise. She saw a hawk, its wings spread, trying to drag the one-kilogram dog clear of the porch to carry her off. Maxine broke free of her abductor and hid in the house. Wildlife experts say that hawk attacks on pets are very rare, and that the bird probably mistook Maxine for a rabbit.

Cocoon fat farm

The massive changes a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly require equally massive amounts of energy. For the first time, science has learned that inside their silky redoubts, caterpillars are burning fat. “It appears as though the larvae is sleeping, and that little energy would be required,” says Oregon Health & Science University’s William Connor. “But a great deal of metabolic activity is occurring.”

Little home wreckers

Female mice like to mate with males who are already taken. Tests have shown that males sprayed with a female’s scent actually attract other females. The olfactory cue was so pronounced that females would choose a scented male infected with parasites over a healthy, unscented bachelor.


Meds from cigs

Chinese authorities have been seizing fake cigarettes sold on the streets, crushing them and extracting a compound, solanesol, from the tobacco. In the past, authorities simply burned the counterfeit cigarettes, which are made with a mixture of lowgrade tobacco and wood chips. Solanesol is a compound that can

be used for medicines that treat cardiovascular diseases.

Haggis and toddlers

British officials have advised that young children should be restricted in the amount of haggis they eat, owing to its high saturated fat and salt content. Haggis joins a government list of restricted foods that includes “turkey twizzlers” and hamburgers. The haggis recommendation is meant to extend a childhood obesity program to kids under five.

Powder death

This winter in France has been the deadliest in decades for skiers. Avalanches have killed 53 people, many of whom strayed offpiste to experience untouched powder. Without a December


The United Nations Security Council debates Iran’s nuclear programs. Former Washington, D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy, tax evasion and wire fraud, will be sentenced. And speed-skating phenomenon Cindy Klassen returns home to Winnipeg for the first time since winning five medals at the Olympics. She is scheduled to appear at what is sure to be a tumultuously jubilant Manitoba Moose hockey game.

warming to partly melt and pack down snow, experts say, the powder had the consistency of sugar, making it dangerously unstable.

Daytime rot

Older adults who prefer soap operas and chat shows as their daytime television watching tend to score lower on mental tests. A study of 289 older women not suffering from dementia who liked such shows found they tended to score lower on memory tests, attention and mental agility than those preferring other types of shows, such as news programs.


The Goths are okay

They might look deathly, but the pallid makeup, black hair, jewellery and piercings that are the trademarks of Goths do not mean your children are on the early road to ruin. A study by the University of Sussex in England has concluded that, unlike punks, Goths grow up to be lawyers, doctors and other professionals. Researchers say the look is merely a rebellious interregnum in an otherwise middle-class life.

Club-goers who mix booze with Red Bull or other “energy drinks” report a higher sense of being in control and avoiding the doziness that comes from imbibing too much. But Brazilian researchers warn this is illusory. Indeed, they cite a significant potential danger: drinking energy drinks can fool people into overestimating their ability to drive after drinking.


Bags of money

The world’s airline industry could save US$2.5 billion a year if it stopped losing people’s baggage. Last year, a record 30 million bags

went astray. Although it has a 99 per cent recovery rate of misdirected bags, the industry incurs an administrative cost, as well as the cost of reimbursing passengers for the 240,000 bags that never get found.

Chopsticks tax

With 45 billion disposable chopsticks used every year, and forests and bamboo stands shrinking, the Chinese government last week introduced a five per cent tax on the eating implements. The move is part of a package of consumption measures meant to curb environmental waste and reduce in-

come gaps. Taxes have also been imposed on yachts, gas-guzzling vehicles, golf carts and wooden floor panels. The disposable-chopsticks tax reverses a former government policy that encouraged their use as a means of curbing communicable disease.


No signal

Why don’t American motorists use their signals when changing lanes? Of the 57 per cent who admit to not signalling, 23 per cent say they’re lazy; 17 per cent say they’re afraid they’ll forget to turn the signal off; 12 per cent say they change lanes too often

to bother; 11 per cent say it’s not important; and seven per cent say it adds excitement.

Thais divided

Voters in Thailand disagree over whether the kingdom should go to the polls next month, following escalating demonstrations against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A poll found that 39.5 per cent want an election postponed, while 30.2 per cent disagree. The current crisis stems from a decision by the Shinawatra family to sell their stake in a telecom conglomerate for US$1.9 billion. Critics have charged the

sale placed strategic assets in foreign hands, but there have also been allegations of official corruption, and mishandling of Muslim unrest in the country’s south.


Lion’s share

Three destitute South African women, whose father wrote the pop hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight, have won a six-year court battle for royalties. The award gives the sisters 25 per cent of royalties past, present and future—running into the millions—for a song their father recorded in 1939, inspired by his childhood memories

of guarding cattle from nocturnal lions. In the 1950s, when South African blacks had no negotiating rights, Solomon Linda sold his song for less than $1.

Tank’s love

Tank Carter has seen his prison sentence extended for failing to report to prison. Why didn’t he report? Because his brother, Tyrone Carter, was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl and Tyrone encouraged Tank to attend. As a result of missing his date with jail for driving with a revoked licence, Tank’s sentence has been upped from six months to five years. “Even knowing what I know now, I would do it again,” Tank said.


Lumumba Carson, a.k.a. Professor X, 49, rap musician. Leader of the ’90s group X-Clan, he became best known for his recordings of Funkin’Lesson and Fire & Earth (100% Natural). He died of spinal meningitis.

Bernard Lacoste, 74, clothier who turned his family’s crocodiletrademarked shirts into a global clothing empire. Lacoste took a company founded by his father and extended it into women’s wear and accessories, making it one of the most recognized labels on earth. M