News is a powerful thing. Current events influence our lives and shape our future, and in order to be socially competent, individuals must keep themselves informed.But who cares about all that stuff anyway?This column is dedicated to bringing you true stories that are completely irrelevant to our modern lives. As if that is not a good enough reason to read them, the stories are at least slightly amusing. Of course, valuable life lessons may be derived from this information, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying this week’s limited selection of weird-but-true news.Speaking of valuable life lessons, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, kids. Officials in Aliso Viejo, California have recently removed a measure from the city ballot that would have banned foam cups in the town because the “dangerous” chemical dihydrogen monoxide was used in their production. A legal assistant employed by the city obtained information from a website that described dihydrogen monoxide as a deadly “odorless, tasteless chemical” and reported his finding to the city government. After seriously debating banning the cups, it was pointed out that the common notation for dihydrogen monoxide is H2O. At press time, there was no word yet on a measure to require chemistry classes for city employees.On the medical front, the condition known as “pica,” or the abnormal desire to eat inedible objects, was recently at the forefront of health news in France. A man complaining of the inability to eat or pass food through his system recently admitted himself to a nearby hospital. X-rays showed that his stomach was filled with various items, including jewelry, needles, and approximately 350 coins, worth about 650 Euros. At least he is well on his way to paying for the surgery to remove the foreign objects.In other health news, the Associated Press reported that a pair of super-clean restaurant employees will not be charged with endangering public health earlier this month. Evidently, the powerful water jets in the dishwashing sink at the Wendy’s where they worked inspired the two men to go for a dip. They were caught when a photograph developer in Advance, North Carolina, came across the two men’s photos of each other “hot-tubbing” in the sink.Here is some good news for non-musicians: you may be able to make money selling “anti-music.” The New York Times recently reported on a 63-second-long track that is downloadable from iTunes as part of Sonic Youth’s “White Album.” Those customers downloading the album must pay the regular price of 99 cents for the track. Of course, the “song,” entitled “Silence,” contains one minute and three seconds of just that-silence.Four firefighters in Melbourne, Florida, received an embarrassing call on March 8. In an ironically circular sequence of events, a local firefighter spotted a fire at a firehouse and called 911. The 911 operator then called the team of four firefighters to fight the fire, which happened to be burning down their very own firehouse. On the bright side, the efficiency of the emergency response system has now been proven by real-life circumstances.A couple of Hawaiian genealogists have put their mark on the presidential race. Bruce and Kristine Harrison have concluded that President Bush and his main competitor John Kerry are blood-related. According to the Harrisons, they are 16th cousins, three times removed, but related nonetheless. While no juicy scandals have been attributed to this information, there may be one waiting in the wings. The same research also indicates that Bush may be even more closely related to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.And finally, on an educational note, a math instructor at a prison in Arkansas was scolded recently by the state’s department of corrections. The instructor was using story problems involving illicit drug references to teach inmates arithmetic: “Rico sells 422 rocks per week in four different territories. He wants to expand to seven territories…at the same rate, how many rocks per week will he sell in seven territories?… Jim Bob is cookin’ crystal meth in his back yard…[the formula for meth]…How many Sudafed pills must he mix with 2.8 quarts of ammonia?”That should be enough drivel for this issue. Until next time, keep your nose in the papers. You never know what you might find.