Thursday, October 06, 2005

Holy towering inferno, Batman!

Stately Wayne Manor (or the building that stood in for it in the tv series) has burnt down. It was in Pasadena. (Update: another story says that the mansion used in “Being There” has burned down; evidently it is the same place. I may never be able to watch that movie again.)
[Correction: Holy mistaken identity, Batman! The mansion was not in fact Stately Wayne Manor, although I think it was the one used for Being There and other movies. Same street, though.]

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Britain must allow prisoners to vote, although Britain seems to be planning to implement the ruling only partially, excluding those convicted of murder and rape.

The Israeli Supreme Court has banned the military’s use of human shields.

Of course, there’s been an injunction against that practice (which the IDF calls the “neighbor procedure”) since 2002 and it hasn’t stopped them. The decision rested on the question of whether consent could freely be given; the IDF claimed it always asked people nicely if they’d like to be human shields. The court said, “In light of the inequality which exists between the apprehending force and the local resident, the civilian cannot be expected to resist the request to pass on an alert.” D’ya think? Naturally, there are various members of the Knesset ready to defend the practice, just as there are 9 US Senators ready to support torture.

One of the winners of the IgNobel Prizes, Dr. Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, author of “Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh: Calculations on Avian Defecation,” was denied a visa to enter the US to collect his prize.

Other winners included two U of Minnesota professors, who conducted a study to answer the age-old questions: can humans swim faster in a pool filled with water, or a pool filled with syrup (guar gum powder). About the same, as it happens; the increased power of their strokes made up for the increased drag. See, you learn something new every day. And not just that people get really bored in Minnesota, which you already knew. Gauri Nanda of MIT won an award for inventing an alarm clock that hides from you.

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