30 April 2007: Disliking the French

Newspaper The International Herald Tribune and TV station France 24 conducted a survey on which nations most dislike French people, and got a surprising result.

14 percent of Germans dislike the French, as do 25 percent of Italians, 29 percent of Spaniards, 33 percent of Britons and 38 percent of Americans.

But the people who dislike the French most are ... the French. 44 percent of French people thought badly of their own countrymen.

27 April 2007: Scientists using their heads

Life is full of nagging questions: Is there a God? Is there life on other planets? And why does the foam on a pint of lager disappear faster than the head on a pint of Guinness?

Well, according to scientists, the Great Beer Riddle, at least, may be solved. Writing in the prestigious British science journal Nature, two scientists say they have devised a mathematical equation to describe beer froth.

Apparently, and I quote: "Beer foam is a microstructure with complex interfaces. The walls of these bubbles move as a result of surface tension, and the speed at which they move is related to the curvature of the bubbles."

SaintFM believes this will become immediately apparent to you as you drink your beer tonight; and after a few beers you may come up with answers to the other questions too.

26 April 2007: Mad Cow Alert

An escaped cow has caused around 17,000 pounds worth of damage in the German city of Hanover.

Uschi the cow escaped from a farm, and was chased through the city by the farmer, accompanied by 30 police; fire fighters and camera crews from local TV networks. Unsurprisingly she became increasingly cross, and lashed out at cars, benches, garden fences and whatever else got in her way during the 5-km chase.

After more than three hours, she was brought down by tranquilliser darts.

The local fire department spokesman said "She probably won't remember any of it when she wakes up, but the farmer will, because he's going to have to pay for all the damage".

25 April 2007: Royal Fans

Britain's royal family have been talking about football.

Prince William is already known to be a fan of Aston Villa.

And recently, during a reception at Buckingham Palace, the Queen told one of the players that she is an Arsenal fan.

The Queen's late mother was also an Arsenal fan, and even had a favourite player: Denis Compton.

Compton also played for England, and helped Arsenal win the FA Cup in 1950.

[Production note: in the broadcast the story was introduced by my son, Harry, who is 7, and read by my son, Andrew, who is 9. JT]

24 April 2007: Quite a splash!

An office clerk is likely to be prosecuted after she went for a swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain.

She's in trouble not just because swimming in the Renaissance masterpiece fountain is strictly prohibited, but also because she was completely naked at the time.

"The water is everyone's and I was hot," she told a newspaper, which published pictures of her in the fountain.

Our sister newspaper The Independent asks that anyone wishing to try the same in Castle Gardens calls them first.

23 April 2007: Soap with a kick

If you have trouble waking up in the morning this one's for you. Inventors have created a soap which is infused with caffeine.

The manufacturers claim the soap, called Shower Shock, supplies the as much caffeine as two cups of coffee per wash, and provides a stimulant boost within five minutes.

The caffeine is absorbed naturally through the skin.

Whether it's available made with St. Helena coffee was not clear.

20 April 2007: Don't scare the horses

The Rolling Stones will be playing a concert in Belgrade in July, and the drug-taking has already been planned; but not for the band or the fans.

Preparations are underway to sedate as many as 300 horses, which are stabled at Belgrade's racecourse, to stop them being frightened during the concert. The stables will be only a few metres from the stage.

The plans have enraged animal lovers who are lobbying to have the gig moved to another venue.

19 April 2007: Bread-And-Dance Music

One of Britain's top restaurants is now providing diners with music to match the food they are eating.

Chef Heston Blumenthal, who already serves up dishes such as snail porridge and bacon and egg ice cream, is pushing the boundaries of gastronomy even further by asking customers to listen to the sound of breaking waves to heighten the taste of his new seafood dish called Sound of the Sea.

He claims the sounds enhance the taste. "We ate an oyster while listening to the sea and it tasted stronger and saltier than when we ate it while listening to barnyard noises," he said.

SaintFM would be interested to hear suggestions for what music to play while eating Poke.

NOTE: ‘Bread-and-dance’ and ‘Poke’ are local dishes. Bread-and-dance is a sandwich with a spiced tomato-based filling, so named because it is often served at dances; and Poke is the stomach of a Tuna fish filled with mince, potatoes and other vegetables.

18 April 2007: Chocolate is better than kissing

British researchers have shown that people get more of a buzz from eating chocolate than from passionate kissing.

It has been known for some time that chocolate stimulates the same areas of the brain as passionate activity. To compare the effects, the team recorded brain activity and heart rate from volunteers who tasted pieces of dark chocolate and kissed their partners. Not only did chocolate produce a bigger buzz than kissing; the effects lasted up to four times as long.

And in case you're wondering, both sexes showed the same responses in the tests.

17 April 2007: In the hot seat

Japanese toilet-maker Toto is known for its high-tech toilets, with features such as air purification, bidets that blow-dry and seat-warming functions.

But it has been forced to apologise to its customers after twenty-six of its toilets started smoking, and three more caught on fire.

Toto said no people were injured as a result of the problems, which were caused by friction inside the mechanism. It is offering all its customers a free inspection.

Of the Toilet, that is ...

16 April 2007: Customer Disservice

Global banking giant HSBC, which advertises itself as 'the world's local bank,' has upset residents in the tiny English village of Canford Cliffs.

It has announced that it will charge ordinary customers about £20 per month to use the local branch. Wealthy customers can still use it for free.

To qualify for free branch use with HSBC you need 50,000 pounds in savings, a 100,000-pound mortgage, or an annual income of at least 75,000 pounds.

"Some people have higher incomes and need greater services through the bank. These customers demand a better service", said a spokesman.

13 April 2007: Mammoth Sale

When a shop advertises a Mammoth Sale it usually just means big reductions in prices. But at Christie's in Paris the sign means just what it says.

In addition to a woolly rhinoceros, a dinosaur egg, a cave bear and a collection of prehistoric fossils, the auction house also hopes to sell a 12 ft 6 inch high tusked mammoth.

Reserve prices have not been announced.

12 April 2007: Early Start

The German army still conscripts citizens to undertake a period of military service. But the parents of a boy names Lucio were surprised when his call-up papers arrived. So would have been Lucio if he had been able to read them or even understand what they were.

Lucio is four weeks old.

"Somebody entered the wrong date of birth into a computer" an army spokesman admitted.

11 April 2007: Now you see me ...

Fans of Harry Potter who are intrigued by the boy-wizard's invisibility cloak might soon be able to buy one for themselves.

Last year physicists figured out the complex mathematical equations for bending light around an object. Now a group of engineers at Purdue University in America have used those calculations to design a device that ought to be able to make objects as big as an aircraft simply disappear.

The lead researcher said "It looks pretty much like fiction, I do realize, but it's completely in agreement with the laws of physics."

The still-theoretical design will be published this month in the journal Nature Photonics.

Sadly, if the device is ever developed the first applications are likely to be military.

10 April 2007: Space Marathon

One of the International Space Station's astronauts plans to run the Boston Marathon, despite still being up in space.

Suni Williams plans to run the 26 miles on the Space station's treadmill, which astronauts use to ward off the muscle loss that results from living in the station's low-gravity environment.

While she won't face hills or jostling competitors, she will face challenges unlike those confronting her earthbound rivals.

Because of the low gravity she will have to be strapped to the treadmill with a harness to prevent her floating away.

And apparently sweating is a problem too. "One of the interesting things about sweating or working out up here is that the stuff doesn't evaporate off you or drop off you," she said.
"The water just sort of stays on you until it makes a big enough glop, and then it kind of floats away."

5 April 2007: Google It!

Staff at Internet search-engine Google had to do a different type of searching this week, after a pet snake escaped in the building.

A member of staff brought the 3-foot long python into work because he didn't want it to be left alone all day. It escaped during the weekend and started roaming around the building. The owner claimed the snake was dangerous to mice but not humans.

Happily, a company spokesman was able to report that Kaiser the snake was located in the office and had been taken home by his owner.

Unusually for Google, how many other snakes they found and how long the search took was not reported.

4 April 2007: Working Hard

Following China's plan to make civil servants work for their salaries, now Malaysia's deputy premier has told the country's government workers they need to work harder and spend more time at their desks.

The Deputy Prime Minister told a gathering of civil servants to condition their minds to see work as a virtue, not a punishment.

He urged them to think of the benefit to the country's productivity if people extended their working hours. "I don’t think nine hours per day is too much to ask," he said.

Malaysian government offices currently run working days from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

3 April 2007: Robot Customs

Passengers arriving at Norway's busiest airports can now be 'helped' by a robot customs officer.

The new machine is a bit like a cash machine in reverse. Customers declare their additional booze or cigarettes to the machine and then pay the applicable duty using a credit or debit card.

The Finance Minister said the machine would free staff from routine duties to enable them to fight more serious smuggling.

2 April 2007: The Everyday Life of Bogans

A New Zealand university researcher has won a government grant to study the habits of heavy rock fans.

The grant will allow student Dave Snell to study different types of dancing to heavy rock music -- including head-banging -- as well as the importance of tattoos and body piercing.

The study is entitled "The Everyday Life of Bogans: Identity and Community Among Heavy Metal Fans." Bogan is an insulting term in Australasia for an unsophisticated person, but Snell confesses he himself is a bogan, saying he loves heavy rock music.

New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission defended the study, saying "This research will help us to understand our communities and our younger people".

Exactly what he will spend the 35 thousand pound grant on was not revealed, but SaintFM would be happy to suggest a few albums.