Monday, April 7, 2008

Your brain on caffeine. Your brain on speed. Wow!

Singapore Superhero: Batman Bin Suparman

You should never judge a book by its cover, but what if that book turned out to be a comic? Batman Bin Suparman might not be a joke, but his name sure is.

In Singapore, English is the most widely used language and all names are translated or converted to English when their Birth Certificate is issued.

On May 13, 1990, this young man was blessed with being named after two superheroes: Batman and Superman.

Termites feast on trader's money

By Amarnath Tewary

Dwarika Prasad (Pic: Prashant Ravi)
Mr Prasad had saved up for his old age (Pictures: Prashant Ravi)

A trader in the Indian state of Bihar has lost his life savings after termites infesting his bank's safe deposit boxes ate them up.

Dwarika Prasad had deposited currency notes and investment papers worth hundreds of thousands of rupees in a bank safe in the state capital Patna.

The bank says it put up a notice warning customers of the termites.

Mr Prasad says he did not see it in time as he did not go to the bank for months after the notice went up.

Bank officials admit they did not inform the customers individually about the termite problem.


"I'm shattered. I do not know what to do as I had kept the money for my old age," Mr Prasad said.

The trader says he had deposited 450,000 rupees ($11,000) in currency notes, investment papers worth 232,000 rupees ($5,660) and some gold and silver jewellery in a safe deposit box of the government-owned Central Bank of India.

Mr Prasad says that relations with his wife and children were strained and he wanted to put the money in the safe box to keep it safe from them.

Dwarika Prasad's documents destroyed by termites (Pic: Prashant Ravi)
The locker had currency notes and documents worth thousands of dollars

He started using the safe box in September 2005.

He says when he opened it on 29 January, there was nothing in the safe except termite dust and remains of currency notes and that his investment papers were "badly perforated".

The white ants did not even spare the ornaments and their sheen has vanished, he says.

"I wrote to the head office of the Central Bank of India and the regional offices of the Reserve Bank of India," Mr Prasad says. "Even after two months, I'm waiting for a response from them."

'Not liable'

Bank authorities say they put up a notice, dated 8 May 2007, outside the locker room warning customers about the termite infestation.

They advised customers to remove their documents and papers from their safe.

"We received a few complaints of termites in safe deposit boxes so after putting on the notice, we got pesticides sprayed in the bank," said bank manager YP Saha.

Mr Saha says the customer cannot blame the bank because he did not find his locker broken or damaged.

"The bank is not liable for the deposits kept inside the safe as it is only when a locker is found broken that the bank is answerable," he said.

Bank authorities say they have forwarded Mr Prasad's complaint to higher authorities but they say he is not entitled to any compensation for his loss.

"No Honking Day."

MUMBAI, India - Stop honking! That was the message sent out by traffic police Monday in India's busiest city.

Mumbai's police marked World Health Day, April 7, as a "No Honking Day."

They were trying to build awareness of the effects of noise pollution in India's financial and entertainment capital, where it sometimes seems as if the city's 1.5 million vehicles are honking their horns at the same time.

But on there was no perceptible drop in noise levels - not surprising in a country where honking the horn is seen as an integral part of driving.

"Nothing will change in one day, but we need to reach out to people to make people aware that this noise is not normal," said Harish Baijal, a deputy traffic chief.

Police said they planned to extend the experiment and were taking action against those who violated noise-pollution rules.

Over the past week, the police distributed stickers and strung up red banners showing a horn with a knot running through it.

Some 1,900 motorists have been fined since January for using blaring music while reversing and honking in silent zones near hospitals, schools and courts, Baijal said.

Trucks regularly paint the words "Horn Please" on their backs so they can tell if motorists want to overtake, while other cars, auto-rickshaws and motorcycles are often fitted with souped-up foghorns or blast a variety of tunes.

Some Mumbai residents tried to spread the message.

"Stop honking. Don't you know it's 'No Honking Day?"' yelled Rumita Dey, a housewife angrily tapping the car window of a motorist stuck in a traffic snarl in Mumbai's northwestern Juhu suburb.

Dey pointed to red posters nearby that were part of the "No Honking" advertising campaign.

The motorist took his hands off the horn long enough to shrug, before jamming his palm back on and inching forward.

Other motorists said they would hit pedestrians if they did not honk.

"There is so much noise on the roads, you must honk for people to hear you," said Umesh Chitre, a computer salesman driving a small car.

"How can you drive without honking?"

Voice Talkers, Living the Dream of a Voice Actor

“Voice Talkers” was produced by P0YKPAC for the final round of YouTube’s Sketchies II sketch comedy video contest. Voting begins on April 9th.

Jackpot winner to boss: 'I'm out of here'

By Kathy Barks Hoffman, Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. — David Sneath has worked at a Ford Motor Co. parts warehouse for 34 years, but it didn't take him any time at all to walk out once he discovered he had won a $136 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Ford Motor Co. employee David Sneath of Livonia, Mich., won the $136 million Mega Millions jackpot on his 60th birthday, on Tuesday. Friends and family at first thought it was an April Fool's joke. Sheath plans to take the one-time lump payment worth $84.3 million, or just under $63 million after taxes.
Enlarge image Enlarge By Al Goldis, AP
Ford Motor Co. employee David Sneath of Livonia, Mich., won the $136 million Mega Millions jackpot on his 60th birthday, on Tuesday. Friends and family at first thought it was an April Fool's joke. Sheath plans to take the one-time lump payment worth $84.3 million, or just under $63 million after taxes.
"I yelled to the boss, 'I'm out of here,'" Sneath said Thursday after going to state lottery headquarters in downtown Lansing to pick up his first $1 million check.

Sneath, of Livonia in suburban Detroit, said the reality of his win has yet to sink in.

"I still haven't touched base with Earth yet," he said. When he saw in a newspaper that he had a winning ticket, "my whole body went numb."

Sneath plans to buy a cottage on Mullett Lake in northern Michigan and maybe a new fishing boat or two to help him land the walleye he loves to catch. He's tired of misplacing his glasses and may get laser surgery to correct his vision. And he'll probably move out of his three-bedroom, two-bath ranch home, although he plans to stay in Michigan.

He's even considering a return to Eastern Michigan University to finish his bachelor's degree. He's eight credits shy of a major in warehousing and a minor in international marketing.

Sneath turned 60 on Tuesday, the day he won the jackpot. Friends and relatives at first thought it was an April Fool's joke.

"I called my sister; she didn't believe me. I called my daughter; she thought I was nuts," said Sneath, who said he made his first call to his ex-wife, Deborah.

Deborah, whom he called "my significant ex," attended the Thursday news conference where Sneath was presented with a large replica of a $136 million check. His daughter was there with her daughter, as was his son, who had bought the winning ticket on his father's behalf during trip to a gas station to get cigarettes.

Sneath plans to take a lump payment worth $84.3 million, or $59.6 million after taxes. On Thursday, he got the first $1 million; he'll get the remainder in a second payment. At the warehouse, he made $60,000 to $70,000 a year.

A self-described "character," Sneath generally kicked in $6 a week with four co-workers at his job in Brownstown to buy lottery tickets, spending half the money on tickets for Tuesday's draw and half for Friday's.

This time, his son bought him $15 worth of tickets, picking numbers Sneath suggested. The winning combination — 4, 17, 26, 46 and 56, plus 25 for the Mega Ball — were numbers Sneath once got as a random pick and continues to play.

But his four co-workers didn't entirely lose out. He plans to give them $1 million each out of his winnings.

Sneath said he doesn't have any big plans for the money, but noted none will go toward buying a big, new foreign car.

"I worked for Ford Motor Co.," he said. "I won't be buying a foreign product."

Sneath's $136 million jackpot may seem like a lot, but it doesn't even come close to the record. The largest Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million in March last year, given to two winners in Georgia and New Jersey.

Mega Millions is a multistate lottery game offered in Michigan, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington state. Jackpots start at a guaranteed $12 million and grow when no one wins the jackpot.

Thief breaks into 'ketchup' railcar

GALESBURG, Ill. - Police called to investigate a theft at a private railyard in Galesburg encountered a gory-looking scene when they climbed into the burglarized railcar, but it wasn't blood. It was ketchup — a lot of ketchup.

The officers were called to the rail parking facility behind the Railroad Refrigeration Services plant Saturday night after an employee found that one railcar had been forced open. But the car wasn't filled with liquor, prime meat or any of the other usual targets of such thefts. Instead, it was filled with containers of ketchup.

Police said the thief didn't appear to have stolen any of the ketchup, but had — in apparent frustration — squirted some of it all over the inside of the car.