Watercooler Stories

Official removes 'unacceptable' display

CHICAGO, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- An aide to the Cook County, Ill., recorder said a clerk was ordered to take down a Christmas display that appeared to be soliciting tips.


Darlena Williams-Burnett, chief deputy to Recorder Eugene Moore, said Wednesday that a clerk's holiday display, which featured photocopies of $1 bills above Christmas stockings at cashier's stations, was inappropriate, The Chicago Tribune reported.

"It's unacceptable behavior," she said. "I hope none of the customers felt obligated to donate because some fool had this hanging from his work station. I gave instructions for them to be taken down."

Williams-Burnett said she did not have any confirmed reports of tips being solicited by employees -- a practice outlawed more than 20 years ago -- but "that's the appearance that (the display) gives."

"I manage a bunch of knuckleheads on a daily basis," she said.


The chief deputy also said she manages many good, hard-working employees but a few have been known to make trouble. She said the clerk who decorated the office faced disciplinary measures.

Program pinpoints toilet locations

LONDON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A British mobile technology firm has developed a satellite system to help cell phone users locate the nearest toilet.

SatLav -- named after driving satellite system SatNav -- uses technology similar to the global positioning system to direct users who text the word "toilet" to 80097 to the nearest restroom, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The system is currently only available across 8.5 miles of London's Westminister area but could be spread to other regions if it is successful.

Robert Thurner, commercial director of SatLav developer Incentivated, said the technology is aimed at "making residents' lives easier."

"From today onwards nobody should get caught short again, and we understand how important that is, be it for a young mum with children in tow, older people or friends on a shopping trip or a night out," said Westminster councilor Alan Bradley.

Professor says world not ending

CLEVELAND, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A Cleveland professor who said in a magazine article that humans have dramatically shortened the life span of the universe, has issued a clarification.


After a week of withering criticism, Case Western Reserve University professor Lawrence Krauss says he was "too glib" with his comment in New Scientist magazine, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday.

"I had just completed this paper about a subject that I found so fascinating, and I was excited to talk to another scientist about it," said Krauss. "But I was running off to Nashville from California. And I didn't spend enough time explaining myself."

The article was based on a paper in which Krauss and colleague James Dent of Vanderbilt University dealt with how a mysterious anti-gravitational force known as dark energy might affect the universe's rate of decay, the Plain Dealer said.

Right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh lashed out at Krauss, calling his ideas "patently absurd."

"The hubris and the arrogance, the vanity of humanity, leading us to such conclusions, destructive, evil conclusions about ourselves, this self-hatred, this self-loathing that so many seem to have for the human race in general angers me," Limbaugh said.

Stanford U. considers coed dorm rooms

PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Stanford administrators are trying to figure out how to take the final step in coeducation at the California university -- coed dorm rooms.


Many of the students pushing for the change say it is about comfort, not about sex -- although some of them are couples who say they should be free to share a room if they wish.

"Our motivation is that to be a healthy student, you need to feel comfortable in your living space," Katherine Roubous, a senior and organizer of the Genderblind Task Force, told The San Jose Mercury News.

Stanford opened its first coed dorms in 1966, although men and women originally lived on different floors. About 30 colleges already allow students of opposite sex to live together.

The major advocates of the change at Stanford are transgender students.

Thomas Schultz, a freshman who belongs to the Stanford Conservative Society, said he does not believe many students really want coed rooms. He said some "creepy guys" might opt for coed living to exploit female roommates.

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