Wacky warnings defy common sense
DETROIT, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A flushable toilet brush warning "Do not use for personal hygiene" has been named the world's wackiest warning label of 2004.
The annual Wacky Warning Label Contest, now in its eighth year, is conducted by Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch and draws hundreds of entries from around the world.
The toilet brush label was found by Ed Gyetvai, of Oldcastle, Ontario. He receives $500 and a copy of the book, "The Death of Common Sense" by Philip K. Howard.
The $250 second place award went to Matt Johnson of Naperville, Ill., for a label on a scooter for children that warns: "This product moves when used."
Third place and $100 went to Ann Marie Taylor of Camden, S.C., who found the following warning on a digital thermometer that can be used to take a person's temperature several different ways: "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."
Study confirms conspicuous consumption
NEW YORK, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The theory that rich people often buy expensive things because they mirror social standing rather than desire appears borne out in a new study.
Conspicuous consumption, as it's widely known, does indeed make up a greater share of buying budgets of wealthier families, says Ori Heffetz, a doctoral student in economics at Princeton. He seeks to make his point in a broad-gauged index based on visible purchasing for his thesis, the New York Times said Thursday.
Heffetz measured the visibility of various products by conducting a telephone survey of 243 randomly chosen individuals last summer, asking about 29 types of products.
The survey shows cigarettes, clothing, cars and jewelry are the most visible products, while underwear and insurance are the least.
Eggheads lookin' to translate Texas twang
SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Two linguistics professors at the University of Texas are researching the nuances of what they call Texas English, before the rascals go changing it.
The husband and wife team of Guy Bailey and Jan Tillery hope to have the research done by the summer, and then might publish a translation guide.
One of their concerns is based on some of their early observations that Texans are slowly and subtly changing Lone Star language as more "outsiders" adopt it, the Chicago Tribune said.
The traditional "Y'all," originally was Texan for "you all," meaning more than one person. But as its use spread into other southern states and even the dreaded north, the researchers have noticed Texans are now using the expression to mean just one person.
"If the rest of the country says you can't use y'all except for more than one person, then of course we're going to take it and say, no, you can use it for one person," said Tillery.
For their research, the couple has divided the state into 116 geographic grids and will try to interview four representative Texans in each one.
Breast growth pill pusher arrested
YOKOHAMA, Japan, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Police in Yokohama, Japan, have arrested the head of a company for selling phony breast enlargement pills to thousands of women.
Police said 42-year-old Akihito Ishii, president of the health product firm ISI Mail House, was arrested for violating the country's pharmaceutical affairs law, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.
Police say Ishii falsely told his customers that the pills would make their breasts larger.
"No matter what bust size you have, you'll be two sizes bigger by the following month. You'll easily make that D-cup bust you've always wanted," he allegedly told the women.
Authorities suspect Ishii sold about 36,000 boxes of the tablets to around 25,000 people nationwide, raking in about $1 million in profits.
No side effects were reported from the pills but the women said the product had "no effect."