|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/02/27 16:21 《英语学习》|
Dishing up a Quality Seal for Authentic Eateries
So long soggy spaghetti, tasteless tagliatelle and papery pizza--at least if the Italian government's taste police get their way. Ministers said they wanted to clean up the red-white-and-green credentials of the estimated 60,000 restaurants around the world passing themselves off as Italian. So the government is creating a certificate that will be awarded to deserving establishments abroad from the 300 or so in the Middle East and 25,000 in Europe. The dual aim is to promote Italy abroad and ensure tastebuds are being tickled by authentic Mediterranean fare. "There are people out there who don't realize pizza is an Italian word and ask us what we call it," lamented Adolfo Urso, deputy industry minister, at a news conference. And Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno said even if eateries did flaunt Italian roots, it was often a false claim. "Most have nothing more Italian about them than the name above the door or a tricolor flag draped outside," he said. The certificate, still without a name, would ensure restaurants offered genuine Italian menus and used authentic produce, instead of ingredients such as a German cheese marketed with the Italian-sounding name of cambonzola. Some argue that Italy's taste police will be toothless because restaurants will have the final say on whether or not they want to be tested under the voluntary scheme.
Blondes Headed for Extinction?
In the end, it seems it was just another dumb blond joke ? The World Health Organisation, the Geneva-based health arm of the United Nations, has insisted that despite the many media reports to the contrary, it had never conducted a study predicting the extinction of the natural blond hair gene. Before this, there were many stories around the world citing WHO research stating that natural blondes would become extinct by 2202. Reports to that effect had appeared in recent days on CNN and ABC News and in the Daily Mail, among others. But WHO said it has never conducted research on the topic. WHO "has no knowledge of how these news reports originated but would like to stress that we have no opinion on the future existence of blondes," it said in a statement released at United Nations headquarters in New York. According to the published reports, the supposed WHO study had predicted that the last blond on earth would be in Finland, which today has the world's highest concentration of true blondes. The reports said blond hair was caused by a recessive gene, so both sides of the family have to have it to extend the shade \into\ the next generation. But too few people carry the gene to assure its long-term survival.
Mutant Gene "Sparked Art and Culture"
A tiny mutation in a gene common to mammals may have changed the destiny of humanity. The gene, foxp2 ? identified by British researchers two years ago ? could have been the switch that lit up art, culture and social behaviour in Homo sapiens* 50,000 years ago. Richard Klein, an anthropologist at Stanford University in California, said that early modern humans 100,000 years ago were confined to Africa and seemed no different from their now-extinct cousins Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus in Europe and Asia. Then, 50,000 years ago, behaviour altered dramatically: "There was a biological change, a genetic mutation of some kind that promoted the fully modern ability to create and innovate." "When you look at the archaeological record before 50,000 years ago, it is remarkably homogeneous. There are no geographically delineated \groups\ of artefacts. Suddenly, modern-looking people began to behave in a modern way, producing art and jewellery... manufacturing styles and different cultures." Anthropologists have argued for years about this. Some researchers say population increase triggered creativity.
* Homo sapiens：智人(现代人的拉丁学名)。后文的Homo neanderthalensis及Homo erectus都是古人类的拉丁学名。
Tomb Curse Pronounced a Myth
Researchers at Australia's Monash University have studied the curse of Tutankhamun's tomb, which was opened in 1923. The myth of the Mummy's Curse arose when some of those involved in opening the tomb in Luxor died prematurely, including the sponsor of the expedition Lord Carnarvon. Another member of the team Alb Lythgoe died in 1934 after a stroke. However, the researchers discovered that the 26 present at the excavations in the Valley of the Kings, or later coffin-openings, lived to an average age of 70. The British Medical Journal states that the research, led by Mark Nelson, shows the myth has little basis in fact. A rumour suggested that anyone opening the royal tomb would have a curse placed on them. However, the expedition leader Howard Carter, who opened the tomb, survived \into\ old age although his canary was eaten by a cobra the same day. Dr Nelson believes that the rumours of a curse could have been generated by rival newspapers after The Times of London was given exclusive rights to the story.
Magazine Offers a Prize to Die For
A leading science magazine is offering readers a prize to die for ? cryonics treatment. The lucky winner of the prize promoting the revamp of New Scientist magazine won't be able to collect the award until death when he or she will be cooled to a temperature at which decay of the body stops and then suspended in liquid nitrogen in a state known as cryonic preservation. "We think that the cryonics promotion is a way of making science interesting to everyone, not just scientists, which is exactly the same message we are trying to communicate about the magazine itself," editor Alun Anderson said in a statement. If and when the medical technology allows, the winner, preserved at The Cryonics Institute of Michigan in the United States, will be revived to continue their life. If the winner is not eager to be preserved, the magazine is offering an alternative prize--a week in Hawaii and a visit to the Mauna Kea* observatory.
U.N. Upholds Ban on "Dwarf Throwing"
A tiny stuntman who protested against a French ban on the bizarre practice of "dwarf throwing" lost his case before a U.N. human rights body, which said the need to protect human dignity was paramount. Manuel Wackenheim had argued the 1995 ban by France's highest administrative court was discriminatory and deprived him of a job being hurled around discotheques by burly men. In a statement the U.N. Human Rights Committee said it was satisfied "the ban on dwarf-tossing was not abusive but necessary in order to protect public order, including considerations of human dignity." The committee also said the ban "did not amount to prohibited discrimination." The pastime, imported from the United States and Australia in the 1980s, consists of people throwing tiny stuntmen as far as possible, usually in a bar or discotheque. The stuntman wears a crash helmet and padded clothing which has handles on the back to facilitate throwing the human projectile. The Frenchman, who measures 1.14 meter (3 ft 10 inches), filed his case in 1999 with the U.N. committee made up of 18 independent experts who examine states' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Parliament Speaks out for Ostrich Rights
German parliamentarians stood up for the rights of ostriches, calling on the government to lay down minimum standards under which the birds should be kept before being killed for their meat. The Bundesrat upper house asked for existing animal protection legislation to be fleshed out to include the ostrich. The bird has become a popular dish for Germans seeking alternatives to traditional meat and poultry after a number of Europe-wide health scares. The regional government of Schleswig-Holstein, which is home to 20 ostrich farms, said studies had shown the birds, which can grow up to six feet tall and weigh up to 330 pounds, each need 2,150 square feet of space. It said safeguards were also needed to ensure the animals, usually found in Africa, do not freeze in cold German winters.
Can Airbags Save the World?
Giant airbags could one day save the world from the disaster of a cosmic collision with a giant comet, according to a scientist in the United States. Forget nuclear warheads to stop a crash with a comet that could have cataclysmic effects such as the one that is believed to have triggered the demise of the dinosaurs, Hermann Burchard of Oklahoma State University told New Scientist magazine. Far better to send up a space ship equipped with a massive airbag that could be inflated to several kilometres (miles) wide and used to gently buffet the invading solar body away from a collision course with earth. "It seems a safe, simple and realistic idea," Burchard told the magazine's latest edition. However, he admitted there were still numerous details to be worked out including the material for the airbag which had to be light enough to cart \into\ space yet strong enough to bounce the comet off its course to earth.
Reading on a Roll
Germans who like to read on the toilet no longer need to take newspapers in with them, but can instead turn to novels and poems printed onto toilet paper, a German publisher said. "We want our books to be used. That's our philosophy," said Georges Hemmerstoffer, head of the Klo-Verlag which publishes the toilet paper literature. About half of all people liked to read on the toilet, he added. Poems by German literary giants Heinrich Heine and Christian Morgenstern*, as well as tales and detective stories could be found on the toilet rolls, Hemmerstoffer told reporters at the Frankfurt book fair. Each text was printed several times on one roll, so that readers could actually use the paper and still leave behind some entertainment for the next toilet visitor.
* Christian Morgenstern：克里斯廷-摩根施泰恩(1871-1914)，德国诗人。
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