August 22, 2010
Source: Edmonton Journal
Large, icky rats have long been the stuff of science fiction legend. Yet even a legion of Hollywood B movies would be hard-pressed to duplicate the real-life shock of encountering rats the size of dogs.
That's the story according to London's Sun newspaper. Homes in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, have been invaded by giant rats; one that was shot measured 30 inches in length.
The rats commonly seen in England are already huge by Canadian standards -- comparable in size to a cat or a lapdog. But the "super rats" showing up in Bradford's kitchens and living rooms are twice that size. It is suspected they were introduced to Britain from South America.
"They are more like Ratzillas than rats," said Brandon Goddard, the fellow responsible for shooting the critter now being touted as Exhibit A. He saw four others just like it get away.
Said local mother and homemaker Rebecca Holmes: "I've seen them as big as cats, but never that big."
Guilt by association
"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."
-- Lily Tomlin
No break for McDonald's
Meanwhile, French sensibilities have been offended again, this time by McDonald's restaurants.
According to London's Daily Telegraph, the uproar has been sparked by an advertising campaign for the burger chain that features Asterix the Gaul. He's a popular cartoon character in France, famed for defending his ancient village from Roman invaders.
Asked a writer in Le Figaro: "After resisting the Romans, have the Americans finally scalped the invincible little Gaul."
In the commercial, Asterix and his sidekick Obelix are seen at McDonald's enjoying a Big Mac and fries with a Coke. The duo's customary meal involves feasting on wild boar, washed down with ale.
Francophone purists accuse the cartoon hero of "surrendering" to the American fast-food emporium -- something Americans would say the French have a lot of experience doing.
Speaking of wild boars, they are still the centrepiece of grand feasts in Europe, but a little problem has cropped up: the beasts are radioactive.
A hunter in Germany, Georg van Bebber, hauled a wild boar he shot out the Ebersberg forest, near Munich, but before he could take it home, a Geiger counter revealed the problem: the boar's meat was so radioactive, it was considered dangerous to eat. The animal was cremated instead.
"I really would have liked to have this boar," van Bebber said.
The radioactive meat is the legacy left by the Chornobyl nuclear meltdown in Ukraine in 1986, reports CBS News. "There are more and more boars in Germany, and more are being shot and hunted; that is why more contaminated meat turns up," said one German official.
The boars' diet of mushrooms and truffles that absorb radiation gets the blame.
High on life?
"(The bears) were extraordinarily docile and mellow, Mansveld said."
-- Comment in the Windsor Star about a dozen or so bears
found guarding a pot farm at Christina Lake, B.C.
Only just begun
It's not just rainy days and Sundays that get the police down in Cypress, Calif.
The headquarters for the Orange County police force was evacuated and a bomb squad called in after a strange-looking box arrived that made the cops nervous, reports the Orange County Register.
It turns out the package contained only a 45-rpm vinyl record by the 1970s pop group The Carpenters -- as well as a note asking police to find the record's owner.
A survey once revealed most Italian men live within a few kilometres of their mothers. That might explain how a suspected mobster on the lam was arrested when he showed up at his mom's for lunch.
Rosario Scognamillo, 39, a supposed high-ranking member of the Mafia, had been a fugitive from the law since May. But, according to the New York Post, he could not resist the temptations of his mother's cooking and showed up at her home in Naples. Police were waiting.
Then there is the guy who broke into a school in Georgia, only to drop his cellphone while he was there.
Police in the town of Athens responded to an alarm at the school just in time to see the man running through the cafeteria and out a back door. They didn't catch him, but did find his cellphone.
According to the Atlanta Journal- Constitution, the police found an entry for "Ma" in the phone's logs and called the number. The woman who answered gave them her son's name. An arrest quickly followed.
Police in western New York State arrested an impaired motorist who drove his van 17 kilometres on only three tires.
The Genesee County Sheriff's Office said another motorist reported seeing the right rear tire falling off the van in Bethany, N.Y. Its driver kept going. Police later found the van and its 61-year-old driver at home. The man was charged with impaired driving and driving without a licence. His licence expired in 1977.
Yes, there's a law
"Jersey Shore Star Snooki Charged With Annoying People"
-- Headline at AllHeadlineNews. com over a story that should come as no surprise to anyone
If you can brave the smoke and the mosquitoes while gathering around the barbecue, you will need to be armed with more startling facts with which to fascinate friends and family -- and we aim to please.
Astute reader Lesley O'Neil found these on the Internet.
-More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska. - -The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20 per cent of the world's oxygen supply.
- -The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than 160 kilometres at sea off the mouth of the river, you can still draw fresh water out of the ocean.
- -Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.
- -Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. Ninety per cent of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents 70 per cent of all the fresh water in the world.
- -Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.
- -Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded, making it the oldest inhabited city in existence.
- -Siberia contains more than 25 per cent of the world's forests.
- -Woodward Avenue in Detroit car-ries the designation M-1, so named because it was the first paved road anywhere.
- -The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930s who used the slang expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time, The Big Apple.
- -There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin; more Italians than in Rome; and more Jews than in Tel Aviv.
- -There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio. Every one is man-made.
- -Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents.
- -Los Angeles' full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula -- and can be abbreviated to 3.63 per cent of its size: L.A.
- -The first city to reach a population of one million was Rome in 133 BC.
- -Tidikelt, Algeria, in the Sahara Desert did not receive a drop of rain for 10 years. Technically though, the driest place on Earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island. There has been no rainfall there for two million years.
-Spain literally means "The land of rabbits."
And finally ...
- -Chances that a road is unpaved: in the U.S., one per cent; in Canada, three-quarters of one per cent.