Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  Nov. 25, 2005 at 6:30 AM
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Two hurt by errant Macy's balloon

NEW YORK, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The 79th Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade stepped off as scheduled Thursday after concern windy weather would ground the famous balloons.

A straying M&M balloon, possibly whipped by the wind, hit a lamp post at Times Square, sending shattered glass to the ground and two people to the hospital, WABC, New York, said. Their condition was not known.

Another M&M balloon struck WABC's "Good Morning America" studio, also in Times Square.

It didn't rain on Macy's parade, Scooby Doo, Chicken Little, SpongeBob SquarePants and their fellow balloons soared overhead to the delight of the throngs of children lining the streets.

Weather has bungled balloons in the past, CNN said, most notably in 1997 when heavy winds sent The Cat in the Hat balloon into a lamppost that toppled onto four people. One woman suffered permanent brain damage.

Since then, Macy's has implemented improved training for the approximately 1,700 people who help handle and direct the massive balloons.

Holidays can pose perils for pets

CHICAGO, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The holidays are designed for family fun and feast but can pose perils for pets, ranging from lethal leftovers to Christmas tree ornaments.

"You'd be amazed the things they can swallow," Dr. David Cohen of Glenview Animal Hospital in northern Illinois told the Chicago Tribune.

Problems growing from such things as splintering turkey bones to shiny tinsel strands to plastic toys to chocolate treats pop up each year for pets around holiday time. Such hazards often appear innocuous to their owners but can be deadly for the animals of the house.

Experts warn about feeding pets leftovers -- poultry bones that can lodge in a pet's throat or splinter and tear the stomach or intestines -- and the introduction of greasy, spicy or fatty food -- or a little alcohol.

Veterinarians warn that chocolate treats can be poisonous to cats and dogs and caution about pets eating such things as plastic toys or strands of tinsel, ribbons, string and yarn.

England and Wales get 24-hour pubs

LONDON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The new licensing law has gone into effect allowing more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets in England and Wales to sell alcohol for 24 hours a day.

Around 40 percent of premises applied to vary their licenses by either extending their opening by an hour or two or by offering late food and entertainment.

The liberalization has led to fears increased drinking will put more pressure on police and hospitals.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told BBC Thursday the new law was necessary "to make it possible for the vast majority of people who drink but who never get into trouble to have more freedom as to when they drink.

"But also, to give the police the powers that they need to tackle the problem we have as a country of alcohol-related crime and violence," she said.

Newton beats Einstein in British poll

LONDON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Polls of British scientists and the public finds that Isaac Newton is more highly esteemed than Albert Einstein as a scientist and human benefactor.

One survey questioned 350 members of the Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific group, while the other involved 1,000 members of the public, The Scotsman reported. Researchers found that 61.8 percent of the public said Newton was the greater scientist while 38.2 percent chose Einstein; the scientists voted 86.2 percent for Newton and 13.8 percent for Einstein.

On the question of which had done the most for mankind, the public was evenly divided, with 50.1 percent saying Newton and 49.9 percent Einstein. Scientists once again preferred Newton, who got 60.9 percent to 39.1 percent for Einstein.

"Newton essentially started physics," said Tony Weidberg, an Oxford University physicist. He independently developed the maths he needed to uncode the universe. Even after Einstein, his theories still pertain to 99.9 per cent of the things going on in the universe today."

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