- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Bristol stomp

“Sarah Palin is supposedly attending Monday nights season premiere of ‘Dancing With the Stars ‘to cheer on daughter Bristol Palin, one of the contestants in the dancing competition this season - yeah, were still trying to figure that one out - and TMZ.com says security has been beefed up in preparation for Sarahs attendance at Bristol’s debut.”

“Think Levi Johnston will be there? Ha! We kid.”

“We’re still not sure why the world is so fascinated with B, C and D list celebrities ballroom dancing in front of the camera, which, to us, sounds like a form of torture that could only be replicated by listening to the cast of Glee perform ‘80s Madonna hits, or stapling our lips to our tongue and drinking lighter fluid through a straw. But we digress.”

“TMZ is also reporting that the song Bristol Palin and Mark Ballaswill dance to is Three Dog Night’s ‘Mama Told Me (Not to Come)”. Bristol will supposedly wear glasses and a conservative outfit but rip off her clothes in the middle of her performance.

“Excuse us, while we try to contain our explosive enthusiasm.”

- Kitty Kincaid, writing on Sunday for the Long Island Press.

Pencil it in

“Ulysses Grant, an American general, jotted down battle plans with one. Otto von Bismarck, a Prussian chancellor, used his to tamp down the tobacco in his pipe. Vincent van Gogh used one to ‘draw a woman sewing’ and found they ‘produce a marvelous black and are very agreeable to work with.’ Craftsmen have made pencils in Stein, near Nuremberg, for nearly four centuries. Faber-Castell, the worlds biggest branded pencil manufacturer, has done so since 1761.

“Many people thought that pencils would become obsolete in the computer age, yet sales continue to grow. Perhaps 15 billion to 20 billion are made each year, roughly half of them in China. Faber-Castell produces about 2.2 billion.”

“They are cheap, sturdy and popular in schools, especially in poor countries. As countries grow richer, childrens pencil cases grow fatter, though only up to a point. Sales of pencils in most European countries are growing only slowly, if at all.

“Faber-Castell, however, has kept growing despite the recession. In its past financial year sales increased by almost 6 percent. The firm does well in emerging markets with vast numbers of bright-eyed schoolchildren. It is also grabbing market share in the rich world by making its pencils better.”

- From “The Future of the Pencil”, The Economist, Sept. 16

Carcass watch

“If you ever passed roadkill, you probably did the internal ‘ewww’ and moved on as fast as you could, giving a silent prayer to the unfortunate animal.”

“In California, people memorialize the final resting places where thousands of creatures met their final, violent moments - not for sentimentality’s sake, but for a one-year-old project called the “California Roadkill Observation System,” which culls photos, species identification and GPS coordinates given to University of California, Davis researchers by volunteers who scour the state’s roads and upload the information to the database. In March, the researchers started a second site on the other side of the country: the Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch.”

- Athima Chansanchai, writing “Roadkill database tracks most dangerous roads for animals” for MSNBC’s technolog, Sept. 16.

Wake-up call

“In a 400-square-foot storefront across the street from Iowa State University, a peppy woman cooks up a batch of Iowa’s newest alternative energy. Allison Nelson pulls a sheet of brownies from the oven, lets it cool, then slices the sheet into 4-inch-long treats. Baked inside each is the magic ingredient of Nelson’s business, a fledgling bakery called A Snack in the Face: 200 milligrams of pharmaceutical-grade caffeine.”

“The nation’s first caffeine bakery, now a year old, plans to expand to a larger manufacturing facility and supply convenience stores in Iowa and nationwide. The tiny Lincoln Way shop garners surprised looks from many who walk past. Some seem scared. But for most who pop in, it’s like a revelation. Their faces light up at a delectable brownie with an energy burst.”

- Reid Forgrave, “Ames bakery harnesses power of caffeine, in the Sunday DeMoines Register.

Heavy with sadness

“Obese Americans, a group already grappling with many physical health problems, are also suffering in terms of their emotional well-being. The more than one in four American adults who are obese are significantly more likely than those who are normal weight or overweight to report having been diagnosed with depression and experiencing stress, worry, anger, and sadness.”

The disparity in depression diagnoses is even more severe, with 23.2 percent of obese Americans reporting having been diagnosed with the condition compared with 14.3 percent of those who are a normal weight reporting the same.”

“Carrying some extra weight does not appear to have the same effect as being obese, as negative emotion levels among those who are overweight are about the same as among those who are a normal weight. On the other hand, not weighing enough does link to higher levels of negative emotions. Underweight Americans’ emotional health is about on par or slightly worse than that of obese individuals, underscoring the clear benefits of maintaining a relatively healthy weight.”

- Gallup Poll analyst Elizabeth Mendes, “Obesity linked to Lower Emotional Well Being,” on Sept. 17.

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