Our Times: December 2005

 
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40 Years Ago in SIGNS

The SIGNS OF THE TIMES of 1965 featured a column called “Countrdown,” written by various youth but edited by one Desmond B Hills. Forty years on, Des Hills’s name still appears in the magazine, now on the masthead as its director of Marketing, as it has for the past 10 years. But Des Hills’s direct association with the magazine finishes this month, although it will continue on a casual basis.
Countdown featured 22 prophecies concerning the birth and life, and death of Christ (“The Man Who Wrote His Own Biography Before He Was Born”). This reiteration of the message SIGNS has preached since it was first published 120 years ago next month (it was known as the BIBLE ECHO AND SIGNS OF THE TIMES), is still valid and one that he will continue to believe, live and preach as he finally retires.

A Bad Ban

A new political party in Sweden called the Feminist Initiative says it will abolish marriage if it gets into power, claiming marriage “is not about love but about ownership.” In its place, the group plans to introduce a cohabitation law that ignores gender and allows more than two people in a “marriage” partnership.

Clean Living Youth

Standing in the face a global freshwater drought, seven Germans have broken the world showering record, abluting for more than four days. Five men and two women, aged between 17 and 25, from Hoevelhof, showered for over 101 hours to break the 100-hour record set in 2000 by a group of Berliners.

Cheese-Aid

A study conducted by the British Cheese Board claims that eating cheese before you go to bed will help you have a good night’s sleep. Two hundred people ate cheese before bedtime for a week and 72 per cent slept well. Scientists say cheese contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which reduces stress and aids sleep.

Cars Take Control

Finally, a car that steers itself. A “driver assistance system” takes over when a motorist loses control, using laser sensors and a camera to monitor the road and take over the controls if the car veers toward another vehicle. If the driver is too close to another car, the system can slow it down or even stop the car. Manufactures however still ask that drivers take full responsibility for what happens.

Food Index

As a measure of economic affluence, Thailand has created a new financial barometer, the Mama Noodle Index. When the economy is bad, sales of Mama Instant Noodles rise. The Nation newspaper says the index mechanism is: “Tighten your belt; spend less on food.”

Weird Name Nominations

Researchers at the Cornwall Record Office have compiled a list of more than 1000 “unusual” names found in census, births, deaths and marriage records going back to the 16th century. Among them are some familiar ones, including Horatio Hornblower, but what about Philadelphia Bunnyface, Susan Booze, Elizabeth Disco, Edward Evil, Truth Bullock, Charity Chilly, Gentle Fudge and Abraham Thunderwolff. Some remarkable duos from the marriage register include Nicholas Bone and Priscilla Skin; Charles Swine and Jane Ham; John Mutton and Ann Veale. There was also Richard Dinner and Mary Cook.

Roo-Nap

Polish police are searching for at least two people after a kangaroo was stolen from a zoo. A police spokesman said they suspect zoo visitors had fallen for the kangaroo, and had hidden in the zoo until closing time, before breaking into the cage.

With-It Priest

A Thai Buddhist monk has developed mantra-like “ring tones” for mobile phones, such as, “compose yourself before answering this call.”

Virtual Books

USB flash drives such as this are being used by students at Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland, Washington. The small computer memory devices may replace some textbooks and other paper-based learning tools once the new technology is fully implemented at the school.—AAP/AP