Political Correctness Rings Hunchback Death Knell
A British theater company has dropped the word hunchback from its stage adaptation of the classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame to avoid offending disabled people, newspapers reported. Oddsocks Productions has renamed its touring production The Bellringer of Notre Dame after discussions with a disability adviser who raised the possibility of offending people with spina bifida or scoliosis. "We have not changed the novel in any way, we simply felt changing the title would cause less offence of people," producer Elli Mackenzie was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. French author Victor Hugo's classic 1831 novel, set in 15th century Paris around the cathedral of Notre Dame, tells the tragic story of a deformed bellringer Quasimodo and his love for a beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda. The novel has been translatedsintos20 languages and adapted several times for the stage and screen--including a 1939 Hollywood film starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara. The original title of the novel was Notre Dame de Paris, but its name was changed when the book was translatedsintosEnglish and the hunchback has remained part of the title until now.
* Political Correctness：政治正确。此词自上个世纪九十年代以来在西方颇为流行，是指一种在公共领域反对种族、性别等各种歧视的话语姿态。
"World's Worst Poet" Wins Immortality
A Scottish poet so bad he was often asked to perform just so the audience could laugh at him will have his verse etched in stone in the cityswhereshe worked. William Topaz McGonagall, who died in 1902, has gained posthumous recognition in the Scottish city of Dundee, which plans to mark the centenary of his death by engraving part of his poems on a walkway by the river Tay. "His poetry is so bad it's memorable," said Niall Scott, director of City of Discovery Campaign, the organization behind the plan. "Dundee has recognized the need to honor McGonagall as somebody absolutely dedicated to the art of awful poetry." McGonagall was a textile industry worker who began writing poetry at the age of 47 after a "muse" visited him in his Dundee apartment. "All of a sudden my body got inflamed, and instantly I was seized with a strong desire to write poetry, so strong, in fact, that in imagination I thought I heard a voice crying in my ears write! write!" the poet recounted in his autobiography. For the following 25 years, McGonagall chronicled events from battles to the opening of hotels in dreadful verse. "No one can surpass him for being the worst poet," said Mervyn Rolfe, chairman of City of Discovery Campaign and a member of the Dundee-based McGonagall Appreciation Society. "He doesn't care how many words there are in the line as long as the last words rhyme, so the meter is appalling."
Those Boys Really Will Be the Death of You, Mom
Mothers who have complained through the centuries that their sons will be the death of them may be right--a study published in the journal Science showsshavingsboys shortens a woman's life span. Each son takes an average of 34 weeks off a woman's life span, evolutionary biologist Samuli Helle and colleagues at the University of Turku found. On the other hand,shavingsdaughters adds, but only very slightly, to a woman's life span. Helle and colleagues looked at birth and marriage records of Sami* people from 1640 to 1870. "Our results suggest that giving birth to sons had a higher relative long-term survival cost for mothers than giving birth to and raising daughters," they wrote. There could be biological reasons for this. Studies show boys are physiologically more demanding to produce--they grow bigger and faster in the womb, and some studies show it takes a woman longer to get pregnant again aftershavingsa son than aftershavingsa daughter. Testosterone produced by the fetus could suppress the mother's immune system and perhaps make her more susceptible to disease. There could be genetic or social differences among the Sami, who are distinct from their Finnish and Swedish neighbors, Helle said. But he does not think so. "There is no reason to believe that this effect would be only visible in Sami people," he said. "Generally, boys get on their mothers' nerves more than girls because they are running around, and girls are more willing to help their mothers."
Census Counted 3.6 Million Fake People
Local authorities seeking to boost their budgets resulted in Turkey counting at least 3.65 million non-existent people in a national census in 2000. "It has been established so far that 3,651,000 people were recorded as imaginary population," Sefik Yildizeli, the country's chief statistician, told reporters. Officials acknowledge that the 2000 census, which reported a national population of 64,059,000, was distorted by fake counts at scores of municipalities, whose state budgets are tied to population size. Statisticians are trying to strip the results of the corrupted data and revise the figures. The census was also criticized by some local politicians for failing to count many people in shanty housing, particularly in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Man Makes Film Based on His Messy Divorce
After a bitter divorce, a custody battle that resulted in total estrangement from his teenage daughter and a mid-life crisis, Steven Dworman decided to produce and direct a funny movie based on his troubles. The film depicts the wife asshavingsa lizard's face. And he premiered the movie in a theater five blocks from his ex-wife's Santa Monica, California, home. Now after selling half his infomercial and advertising consulting business to finance "Divorce, the Musical," Dworman hopes he will break even and maybe even make some money. "This certainly wasn't a revenge story. That was the farthest thing from my mind," said Dworman, 46.
Couple Hooked on Madonna
Priests thought a young South American couple were devoted to a Madonna statue in their local church until they realized the pair were more interested in the effigy's electrical charge than its spiritual vibe. The young couple were regular visitors to the Milan church for more than a month and spent an hour sitting attentively in front of the Madonna before silently departing. Priests assumed they were seeking spiritual guidance until a cleaner noticed an electricity cable poking out from behind the statue. Closer examination revealed the visitors were using the electricity socket used to light up the Madonna to charge their mobile phone. However, parish priest Don Antonio Colombo said there was no question of the pair being barred entry in future. "They come here because they don't have a house. The church is their house and letting them charge their mobile phone is a bit like giving them a glass of water," he told a local newspaper.
Someplace You May Not Want to Fly...
Swaziland's international airport has no working control tower or radar system, and lighting for night time landings is so poor that pilots are forced to fly by memory, the government has been told. Transport Minister Titus Mlangeni told a shocked Swaziland Senate in closed session that lightning destroyed the airport's radio 18 months ago and had not been fixed. "The Senate expressed surprise at the unsafe state of the airport, and at a lack of security. The machine that screens baggage does not work," Senate deputy speaker Abadnego Dlamini told reporters. Jabu Ngubane, a senior air traffic controller, confirmed severe problems at Matsapha airport. "Instruments to record wind velocity and direction are inoperative, and with the radio broken there is no way for the control tower to communicate with aircraft," he said. The Transport Ministry has said it is aware of the problems, and intends to address them, but has given no timeframe. But carriers flyingsintosthe airport warn that the state of the airport makes it an accident waiting to happen. "Conditions are extremely dangerous in fog, rain and at night. It is just a matter of time before a plane crashes in Swaziland," said Dwayne Elderkin, operations manager of Stephen Air Charter Services, one of two regular operators flyingsintosthe airport.
Fear of Fat Keeps Women Hooked on Smoking
A national obsession with the body beautiful may be damaging Brazilian women's health. In a country renowned for its sexy supermodels and revealing beachwear, up to 90 percent of Brazilian women who smoke may be afraid of giving up the habit in case they put on weight, according to a medical study. The study, by the Sao Paulo Heart Hospital, showed many women choose to smoke to suppress their appetite. "What makes a person eat too much is anxiety and if she begins to smoke, the attention is diverted to the cigarette and away from food," said Silvia Cury Ismael, coordinator of the study. Brazilian women show more resistance to quit smoking than men. The National Cancer Institute found that the number of male smokers dropped by 14.7 percent in Rio de Janeiro between 1989 and 2000, while women smokers declined just 3.5 percent. Tais Thormann, a 23-year-old model from the same region as the world-famous beauty Gisele Bundchen, backed up the study's findings. "I know smoking is bad, but I don't want to stop because it makes me lose weight," said Thormann. "When I am hungry, I go for a cigarette and a little coffee."
Single Lychee Sells for ,053 at Auction
A single lychee from a tree that once produced fruit for Chinese emperors sold for a record 555,000 yuan (,053) at a weekend auction in China's affluent southern province of Guangdong, state media said. At last year's auction, a single lychee from the tree named Xiyuangualu fetched a price of 55,000 yuan, gaining entry to The Guinness Book of World Records, the official Xinhua news agency said. The 400-year-old tree yields only a few dozen lychees per year and was known as the "king of fruit" when its produce was served as imperial tributes in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), it said. A local textile firm called Xintang International Jeans Town bought this year's lychee, another nine lychees were sold for a combined total of 760,000 yuan at the auction in the city of Zengcheng, a major producer of subtropical fruit. The money from this year's auction would be invested in education and in tending the Xiyuangualu tree. It did not say what the company plans to do with its lychee, but it is becoming increasingly common for companies in Guangdong to buy expensive items at auctions to generate publicity.