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The Daily Bite, July 2011

ABC/Northern Territory News

This month in the Daily Bite: Twitter announces the death of Obama, as well as the Oxford comma. MiNDFOOD reports.

The Daily Bite, July 2011

28.07.11

Dog owners who fail to clean up after their canines are one of my “pet” gripes. I don’t have many, but a Sunday morning stroll can be ruined by a slippy step in the wrong direction.

One city in Taiwan, however, has heard my plea, and has come up with a novel way of encouraging cleanliness in dog owners.

From August 1, residents of New Taipei City will be able to enter a lottery with a difference. By handing in their doggy’s deposit, residents will receive an entry into a lucky draw, where they could win one of three gold ingots worth up to T$60,000 (just over US$2,000). And much like a more regular lottery, entries are not restricted: the more poo handed in, the better your chances of winning.

“We are hoping the draw will attract a wide participation, especially as the gold price is rising,” said New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department official Chen Chao-ming.

Given the failure of the 2009 initiative in Taichung, where every kilo of doggy-do was exchanged for shopping vouchers worth T$100, I’ll perhaps wait until October, when the draw takes place, before making any plans to move.

27.07.11

We’re used to politics playing out on the front pages of the newspapers, but one senator has taken his campaign to a new medium.

Deputy Leader of the Australian Nationals party, Nigel Scullion, has reportedly won a celebrity cake-making challenge at the Darwin Show, with his fruit cake, which was decorated with an iced representation of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the grip of a large crocodile.

Scullion, however, who has been accused of turning his victory speech into a political rant, denies the crocodile was “eating” Gillard. Rather, “she was just taking her new pet, Porous Carbontaxiae, for a walk,” Scullion told the Northern Territory News.

A spokesman for the senator told the ABC “There was no malice intended. It was done in a light-hearted fashion befitting the occasion.” And indeed it seems Gillard chose not to take offence, with her own spokesman confirming the Prime Minister was “disappointed Senator Scullion didn’t save her a slice.”

26.07.11

I’ve never won the lottery. Aside from anything else, gambling just doesn’t appeal to me. However, for one family in the US, it’s certainly paying off.

The McCauley’s from Charlotte, North Carolina, this week defied all the odds to take home their third lottery win, accumulating a total lifetime prize fund of US$15,763,172.

The biggest win came way back in 1991, when Amy McCauley won US$15.5 million in the New York Lotto. Then, sixteen years later, a top up came in the form of US$161,172, again won by Amy McCauley, this time playing Cash 5 in the North Caroline Education Lottery.

Having secured two more payouts of US$1000 each in 2009, it was time for McCauley to make way for her daughter, Kimberley, who this week proved luck definitely runs in the family, winning US$100,000 in the scratch-card game 10 x The Money, which only launched on July 5.

Speaking to lottery officials, Kimberley admits, “I never thought I’d win anything. I figured my mom was hogging all the luck. This is so overwhelming, but it’s a good kind of overwhelming.”

19.07.11

Google+ (aka the search engine giant’s latest attempt at rivalling Facebook) may not be open to everyone yet, but it seems some people have already managed to get kicked out.

Only open to those invited by exclusive invitation, Google+ has reportedly deleted William Shatner’s account already, with the Star Trek actor tweeting “My Google+ account was flagged for violating standards” to his 646,327 followers.

Shatner went on to comment “Saying hello to everyone apparently is against the rules maybe I should say goodbye?”

Fortunately, the bods at Google+, which is currently in Beta phase, reinstated Shatner’s account not long after his tweet, and he was back up and running, alerting his followers with the tweet “I am back plusers, I still do not know what happened but I will refrain from saying hello again for a while just in case.”

Online technology blog, TechCrunch, reports the incident may be down to the tighter security implemented by Google, with the new social network allowing users to report profiles as “fake.”

Whatever the cause it remains to be seen how many people will follow Shatner and “boldly go where no man has been before” when Plus launches to the masses.

14.07.11

Every once in a while, a news story will break that makes me stop and look at my calendar. Is it April 1? Surely, this must be an April Fool. If you’ve been following this blog, you may remember June 23, for example, when we learned of the discovery of none other than Spongiforma sqaurepantsii – a new species of fungus named after none other than (yes, you guessed it) SpongeBob SquarePants.

But it seems stories deemed too strange to be true are not confined to biology, with news breaking today of an Austrian man, with a penchant for pasta. Niko Alm, an Austrian atheist, has made global headlines for winning the right to be shown wearing a pasta-strainer on his head in his driving license. Why, you (quite sensibly) ask? The head gear is a requisite of Alm’s religion: pastafarianism.

As a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (here’s the hyperlink), the BBC reports Alm applied for his license three years ago, when he first learned headgear was allowed in official photographs for confessional reasons.

He may be making a somewhat sarcastic point but, speaking to Austrian News Agency APA, Alm confirmed his next step in pursuit of pastafarianism is to ensure the religion is officially recognised by the Austrian authorities.

13.07.11

Not everyone, it seems, goes gaga for Gaga.

Having been awarded honorary citizenship of Sydney for her support of the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, Lady Gaga hit gay club ARQ, just off Oxford Street, only to be targeted by someone throwing eggs.

Wearing a black leather two piece, Gaga dodged the eggs as she left the club accompanied by her security team. One man, however, was not so nimble, with Splash publishing photos showing he left with egg very much on his face.

Lady Gaga is in Sydney to perform an exclusive event at the city’s Town Hall tonight, which is being transformed into ‘Monster Hall’ for the bespoke extravaganza.

11.07.11

Yesterday, Victoria and David Beckham welcomed a daughter to their growing brood, and with the name confirmed as Harper Seven Beckham, the media is awash with speculation as to the significance of the numerical middle name.

Born in July (month seven), at 7.55 am, the UK’s Daily Mail quotes one family friend as saying “seven is a very lucky happy number.” Indeed, it was a lucky number for father, David Beckham, in the past, who wore a seven on his shirt when playing football for Manchester United.

Numerical names seem to be the latest trend when it comes to celebrity tots. Last week, Natalie Portman made headlines with the announcement of her son’s name, three weeks after his birth. Portman and her fiancee Benjamin Millepied chose Aleph for their son, the number “one” in Hebrew, and also the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

Although Kate Hudson completed the celebrity baby boom, giving birth to her second son over the weekend, details of the birth, including the name, have not yet been released. Perhaps she’s busy choosing between ‘Duo’ and ‘Dos’…

07.07.11

Barack Obama has continued on his quest to make US presidential history, becoming the first US president to tweet.

In keeping with Twitter’s key characteristic – that you may only post 140-character messages – Obama invited 140 guests to the event at the White House, during which he spent an hour responding to questions posted on the social networking site.

The event came just a few days after hackers took control of the FoxNews.com Twitter account, and tweeted the President has been shot dead on American Independence Day.

Although the US president sent just the one tweet, you can find the White House tweeting at @whitehouse.

06.07.11

How many hot dogs can you eat? Two? Maybe three at a push? Perhaps that’s why you and I are not Hot Dog Eating Champions, unlike Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who has won the World Hot Dog Eating Contest for the fifth year in a row.

Scoffing down 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes, Jaws confirmed his victory by eating eight more meaty morsels than last year, at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July championship, designed to celebrate American Independence Day.

“I feel great about my performance. The competition was awesome. I was able to eat more than last year. Next year, if somebody pushes me a little harder, I will definitely go for a new record” Chestnut said.

Consuming just 40 hot dogs was enough for Sony “The Black Widow” Thomas to win the women’s division.

04.07.11

Fox News may have unknowingly tweeted that Obama was assassinated, but it seems those residing in the Twittersphere are more concerned about the death of the comma.

Referred to as the ‘Oxford comma’ or ‘serial comma’, the punctuation mark is an optional comma placed before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list. And although punctuation is becoming something of a lost art, with technology such as Twitter and texting to blame, it seems there are plenty of people aware of the complicated intricacies of comma usage.

The furore was initiated following a tweet by @RantyEditor who claimed “Oxford Style Guide ditches the Oxford comma. I have strong feelings about this, none of them good.” So too did several other punctuation perfectionists, who took to the web to ask “Are you people insane? The Oxford comma is what separates us from the animals.”

But, much like Barack Obama, the Oxford comma lives on, with a spokesperson for Oxford University Press confirming the guidelines were intended for internal communications only.

The news no doubt left millions feeling relieved, comforted, and jubilant.

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