Woman breastfeeds tigers
The 4th of April 2005
A Burmese woman is breastfeeding two tiger cubs at a zoo in Rangoon after they were removed from their aggressive mother.
Hla Htay, 40, who has three children, the youngest seven months old, offered her services after the Bengal tiger cubs' mother, Noah Noah, killed the third member of her litter.
The two others, a male and a female, were taken from her and now receive bottle feeds as well as Hla Htay's milk four times a day.
"I felt sorry for them so I decided to feed them before their teeth grow," she told the Myanmar Times, an English-language paper in the capital.
The cubs were born at the Rangoon zoo a fortnight ago, the first there for 16 years.
The Bengal tiger, Panthera tigris, is listed as endangered on the World Conservation Union's red list, with the global population estimated at fewer than 2,500.
A tenth of them live in Burma, where they are under threat from poachers seeking to feed markets for traditional medicines and trophies.
Big cat skins are easily obtained at markets on the Thai-Burmese border, with snow leopards the most commonly available. Dealers say that tiger parts are becoming more expensive and hard to obtain because of their dwindling supply.
Noah Noah and her mate were one of two pairs of tigers sent to the zoo from Thailand four years ago as part of an animal exchange.
The Telegraph, London
Whipping therapy cures depression and suicide crises
The effect is astounding: a patient starts seeing only bright colors in the surrounding world
Russian scientists from the city of Novosibirsk, Siberia, made a sensational report at the international conference devoted to new methods of treatment and rehabilitation in narcology. The report was called "Methods of painful impact to treat addictive behavior."
Siberian scientists believe that addiction to alcohol and narcotics, as well as depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic diseases occur when an individual loses his or her interest in life. The absence of the will to live is caused with decreasing production of endorphins - the substance, which is known as the hormone of happiness. If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the "production of happiness" and eventually remove depressive feelings.
Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.
Doctor of Biological Sciences, Sergei Speransky, is a very well known figure in Novosibirsk. The doctor became one of the authors of the shocking whipping therapy. The professor used the self-flagellation method to cure his own depression; he also recovered from two heart attacks with the help of physical tortures too.
"The whipping therapy becomes much more efficient when a patients receives the punishment from a person of the opposite sex. The effect is astounding: the patient starts seeing only bright colors in the surrounding world, the heartache disappears, although it will take a certain time for the buttocks to heal, of course," Sergei Speransky told the Izvestia newspaper.
The whipping therapy has not become a new discovery in the history of medicine. Tibetan monks widely used it for medical purposes too. Soviet specialists used a special method of torturing therapy at mental hospitals. They made injections of brimstone and peach oil mixture to inspire mentally unbalanced patience with a will to live. A patient would suffer from horrible pain in the body after such an injection, but he or she would change their attitude to life for the better afterwards.
"People might probably think of me as a masochist," Dr. Speransky said. "But I can assure you that I am not a classic masochist at all," he added.
The revolutionary method may take the Russian healthcare to a whole new level. The method is cheap and highly efficient, as its authors assure. Why not using something more efficient, a rack, for example?
Read the original in Russian: (Translated by: Dmitry Sudakov)
Hit snooze, if you can find me
The 24th of March 2005
Scientists at MIT's Media Lab in the United States have invented an alarm clock to make even the doziest sleepers leap out of bed.
After the snooze button is pressed, the clock, called Clocky, which is equipped with a set of wheels, rolls off the table to another part of the room.
"When the alarm sounds again, simply finding Clocky ought to be strenuous enough to prevent even the doziest owner from going back to sleep," New Scientist magazine said.
Sex doll sparks bomb alert
The 18th of March 2005
A blow-up sex doll sparked a bomb alert in a German post office after it started to vibrate inside a package awaiting delivery, police said on Wednesday.
"Workers were unsettled when it began vibrating and made strange noises," a spokesman for police in the eastern city of Chemnitz said. "They were worried the package might be a bomb."
Officers brought the sender to the scene and discovered the source of alarm was an electrical device inside a life-size female sex doll. The man told police he had wanted to return the doll because it kept turning itself on at the wrong moment.
Order was restored after the sender removed the doll's batteries so the defective product could be returned.
The 18th of March 2005
A Vietnamese man who took a fake tablet of the impotence drug Viagra was hospitalised after his erection lasted two days.
The 47-year-old man was admitted on Sunday to Binh Dan Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City from nearby Vinh Long province, two days after taking the Chinese-made tablet, said a doctor from the hospital where he was treated.
The man bought the pill from an acquaintance for less than $US2 ($2.50) on Friday and took it that evening.
The man did not have intercourse after taking the pill, but could not get rid of the erection, said the doctor who declined to be named.
Doctors performed a minor operation to drain some blood from the man's erect penis.
They were not sure what was contained in the pill since no sample was available.
Raising the bar
The 16th of March 2005
A Chinese man has lifted a 75-kilogram barbell for 10 seconds - with his penis.
Zhan, 55, attributed the skill to a branch of kung fu, the Yangtze Evening Post said.
He said his father taught him the skill to help him get fit after a serious illness when he was 18.
He started training by lifting small bricks with his penis, then gradually added weights and extended duration.
Zhan, a director of the Hong Kong Chinese Culture Development Fund, said he had no interest in applying to Guinness World Records.
Who'd buy a time machine?
By Ben Davey
The 14th of March 2005
Want to buy a Time Machine? Too late, it's sold.
It's not the usual thing you find under your house - but then this is eBay, where all manner of weird stuff goes under the cyber hammer.
The seller, known as iknowrodeo, reckoned the machine was built in the future - 2239 - by a Dr. J. S. Strauss.
But it is "now in a non-working condition", probably because it "broke down or caught on fire or something", he said.
"I know this time machine might be one of the most important discoveries of all time, but if I can't get the time machine to work, then its not worth that much to me, so that is why I'm selling it on ebay."
It was enough to convince a casino to buy it for $816.
Man unaware of 12cm knife stuck in head
The 2nd of March 2005
A 63-year-old Pole suffering headaches and lack of appetite was reportedly completely unaware a 12-cm-long knife blade stuck in his head was the source of his woes.
Physicians in Bialystok, eastern Poland, were shocked to find the knife blade lodged in the cranium of the unidentified patient.
The man suspects he sustained the injury after falling off a kitchen stool when he was drunk, but noticed no blood and had no major pain at the time. He later found the handle of his favourite knife but the blade had mysteriously vanished.
"The knife blade entered under the right ear near the sideburn and went to the base of the skull near the roof of the mouth. It stopped on the jawbone. It could have caught major blood vessels and nerves but did absolutely no harm," physician Marek Rogowski told Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza.
Physicians simply pulled the blade out of the man's head without any complications, Rogowski said.
The man was sent home with a clean bill of health after only two days in hospital.
The 2nd of March 2005
A sculptor who created an orchestra of instruments from ice cancelled his show at the last minute because he didn't like the sound of the musicians tuning up.
The concert was to feature clarinets, trumpets, guitar and cellos all carved from ice by artist Tim Linhart.
But organisers said Linhart spontaneously cancelled the Swedish show, to be held in a 100-seat igloo concert hall as part of the city of Piteaa's annual winter festival, because he didn't think the musicians were good enough at playing his creations.
"It was an insult to our city, who employed him, and an offence against the student musicians who have only had a few days to train on the instruments," said Christer Wiklund, head of the city's music school.
The 1st of March 2005
Ancient Chinese craftsmen used a secret ingredient to keep their structures standing through the centuries: sticky rice.
The legend that rice porridge was used in mortar to make robust ramparts is believed to have been verified by archaeological research in the north-western province of Shaanxi, the state news agency Xinhua reported.
During maintenance work on the city wall of the provincial capital, Xi'an, workers found plaster remnants on ancient bricks were hard to remove.
A chemical test showed the mortar reacted the same as glutinous rice.
Ogling ... with sign language
The 28th of February 2005
A third woman has filed a lawsuit claiming a caretaker for Koko, the world-famous sign-language-speaking gorilla, pressured the woman to expose her breasts as a way to bond with the animal.
Iris Rivera, 39, has sued the Gorilla Foundation in San Mateo County Superior Court, saying the foundation's president, Francine Patterson, repeatedly told her to expose her breasts.
Rivera, an administrative assistant at the foundation until she quit last month, claims Patterson told her last year that Koko was signing that "she wants to see your nipples".
Two other former employees of the foundation, Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller, filed similar claims recently.
But while Alperin and Keller refused to expose themselves to Koko, Rivera acquiesced, the lawsuit states.
"She took it as a disagreeable duty of her employment," said Rivera's lawyer, Michael Adams.
An attorney for the foundation said the lawsuits had "no merit".
Rivera's lawsuit alleges sexual and disability discrimination, invasion of privacy and Labour Code violations and seeks unspecified damages.
The Gorilla Foundation was founded in 1976 to promote the preservation and study of gorillas. It's best known for Koko, a 136 kg simian who has mastered a vocabulary of more than 1,000 signs.
Spouses vie for national wife-carrying glory
Saturday, The 26th of February 2005
One lucky man could win his wife's weight in beer this weekend if he is strong enough to carry her across an obstacle course at the inaugural Australian wife-carrying championships, being held in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
Organiser Peter Heffernan says the competition is open to anyone and entrants do not have to be married to participate.
Along with the beer there is also a $3,500 prize.
Mr Heffernan says the winner will be invited to participate in the international championships in Finland later this year.
"It's 80 metres, [the] potential competitor must really read the rule book, which you can get off the Internet," he said.
"There's two hurdles they must go over, there's a sand pit that's about 10-metres long and that will really work the thigh muscles out, and there's a water course, believe [it] or not - it's eight-metres long, five-metres wide by one-metre deep, and they have to go through the water with their passenger on their back and every time a passenger touches the ground it's a 15-second penalty."
Monkey mammary business
The 21st of February 2005
Two American women sacked from their jobs caring for a "talking" gorilla have sued their ex-employer for allegedly ordering them to bare their breasts to the nipple-obsessed simian.
The former employees claimed in their bizarre lawsuit that they were told to display their breasts in order to bond with, Koko, a 33-year-old female gorilla famed for her ability to "speak" sign language.
Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller sued the Gorilla Foundation, based in Woodside, near San Francisco, and its president, Francine "Penny" Patterson, earlier this week, according to several local newspapers.
Patterson told Alperin several times last year that "exposing one's breasts to Koko was a normal component to developing a personal bond with the gorilla", the suit alleges, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
"On at least two incidents in mid-to-late June 2004, Patterson intensely pressured Keller to expose herself to Koko while they were working outside where other employees could potentially view Keller's naked body," the suit stated.
"On one such occasion, Patterson said, 'Koko, you see my nipples all the time. You are probably bored with my nipples. You need to see new nipples. I will turn my back so Kendra can show you her nipples'," the suit added.
The women say they never did undress for the voyeuristic gorilla.
But the Gorilla Foundation, set up in 1976, strongly denied the allegations made in the suit filed in court in San Mateo County, accusing the women of distorting the facts to draw publicity to their workplace gripes.
"We unequivocally deny these allegations and are confident that this case lacks merit," said the foundation's lawyer Todd Roberts in a statement.
"We intend to try this case in the San Mateo County court and not in the press," he said, adding that the suit was a bid by the women and their lawyers to "manipulate a purported employment issue and miscast it purely for publicity purposes".
The women, who were sacked on August 6 last year, are seeking more than $US1 million ($A1.3 million) in damages for alleged sexual discrimination, wrongful dismissal in retaliation for reporting health violations at the foundation and for outstanding overtime pay.
They claim they were sacked after telling authorities of alleged health violations, including the alleged storage of gorilla urine in the same fridge as human food, various local media reports said.
The 47-year-old Alperin is seeking $US719,830 ($A914,000) in damages while Keller, 48, is asking for $US366,192 ($A465,000).
Koko became the subject of books, television shows and press reports in 1998 after learning more than 1,000 words in American Sign Language from Patterson.
The hirsute linguist, who also has a reported taste for painting abstract and still-life artworks, took part in an internet chatroom conversation with fans later the same year.
The art of getting naked
The 19th of February 2005
A strip club in Idaho has found an artful way to prance past a city law that prohibits nudity. On its "art club nights", the Erotic City strip club charges $US15 ($19) for a sketch pad, pencil and a chance to see naked women dancers.
In 2001 the Boise City Council passed an ordinance banning total nudity in public unless it had "serious artistic merit" - an exemption meant to apply to plays, dance performances and art classes. "We have a lot of people drawing some very good pictures," said Erotic City's owner, Chris Teague, who has posted drawings around the club.
Wednesday, The 16th of February 2005.
German zoo says penguins can stay gay
A German zoo which suspects its entire male penguin population might be gay has now said the birds can remain as same-sex couples.
Humboldt penguins are an endangered species. So when the six humboldts in Bremerhaven failed to breed, the zoo became concerned.
The penguins had been observed trying to mate with each other, and spent months sitting on stones trying to get them to hatch.
Tests revealed all six penguins were male, so the zoo flew in four females from Sweden.
Director Heike Kück said they wanted to see if the birds were really gay, or just lacking in opportunities.
Gay groups around the world deluged the zoo with angry emails and phone calls. The zoo now says its penguins have shown no interest in the new arrivals.
They say the same sex couples are too well-established, and the males can remain gay if they choose.
The 16th of February 2005
A pregnant woman has sold her "bulge" as advertising space for $200, it was reported yesterday.
The oft posed question "when is the baby due?" led Auckland woman Julz Thomson's fiance, Gerrard Simmons, to believe the attention her "bulge" was attracting would have value to an advertiser.
The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported yesterday that space on her considerable seven-months-pregnant belly was auctioned on a web site last week.
The highest bidder was a customs agent, whose business uses the slogan, "The mailman always delivers."
Thomson will wear a black tee shirt with the slogan printed in white over her "bulge" for the rest of her pregnancy, which her doctor predicts will end on March 18.
Among the unsuccessful bidders was a motel owner who wanted his slogan to read, "I got this way at Ol Alfie's motel."
Thomson said she had received considerable support for the scheme from other pregnant women, though some people had suggested she was simply exploiting her pregnancy.
"But the money will go towards a few extras to spoil him when he is born," Thomson said.
Rugby fan 'cuts off testicles' to celebrate win
The 8th of February 2005
A Welsh rugby fan has reportedly cut off his own testicles to celebrate Wales beating England at rugby.
Geoff Huish, 26, was so convinced England would win Saturday's match he told fellow drinkers at a social club, "If Wales win I'll cut my balls off", the Daily Mirror reported today.
Friends at the club in Caerphilly, south Wales, thought he was joking.
But after the game Huish went home, severed his testicles with a knife, and walked 200 metres back to the bar with the testicles to show the shocked drinkers what he had done.
Huish was taken to hospital where he remained in a seriously ill condition, the paper said. Police told the paper he had a history of mental problems.
Wales's 11-9 victory over England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was their first home win in 12 years.
The 7th of February 2005
An over-enthusiastic policeman slapped a parking ticket on the windscreen of a fellow officer's squad car while his colleagues were setting a radar trap to catch speeding motorists in a town in eastern Germany.
Defending the zealous officer, Hans-Joachim Schneider, head of the Jessen town office, told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung: "Traffic regulations apply for everyone."
The radar police had parked their squad car on the wrong side of the road - facing the oncoming traffic.
Carving out a record
The 5th of February 2005
A group of Taiwan sculptors has carved an 8.5-metre wooden penis, hoping to set the world record for the longest sculpture of the male genital.
Eight sculptors in Pingtung, in southern Taiwan, spent half a year carving the wooden penis. Now their artwork - 8.5 metres long and weighing 12 tonnes - is on display at an amusement park in Pingtung, Taiwan Television Enterprise (TTV) reported.
The sculptors plan to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records to have their creation officially declared the longest in the world, TTV said.
"The Asian certification centre for the Guinness World Records said they have a category for wooden sculptures but the Guinness World Records Museum in London could reject the application if it considers the sculpture immoral," Huang Chih-ying, from the Guinness World Records Asian certification centre in Taichung, central Taiwan, said by phone.
Ref red cards himself
The 2nd of February 2005
A referee has sent himself off in an English amateur league football match for eyeballing a player who disagreed with a decision.
Andy Wain had to abandon the Sunday league match between Peterborough North End and a Royal Mail side in the 63rd minute after throwing down his whistle and marching up to confront North End's keeper.
"It was totally unprofessional. If a player did that I would send him off, so I had to go," Wain, 39, was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"I heard the keeper say 'It's always the bloody same with you, ref. We never get anything'. It was the last straw, but fortunately I came to my senses."
Northamptonshire Football Association refused to comment.
Piste to the eyeballs
The 31st of January 2005
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.
Rescue teams found a drunken Richard Kral staggering on a mountain path four days after his Audi was buried, Ananova.com reports.
Unable to dig himself out, he drank one of 60 half-litre bottles of beer in the car and realised he could melt the snow with urine - then drank the rest.
"It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there," he said.
Who's a silly boy then?
The 22nd of January 2005
An Israeli who taught his pet parrot the name of his mistress now faces divorce after the bird kept squawking it to his wife.
The wife grew suspicious when the parrot kept greeting her with the strange name, and hired a detective to unravel the mystery, the newspaper Maariv reported.
It said the detective took compromising pictures of the husband and mistress - with the parrot right next to them.
Rattling her chains - in jail
The 17th of January 2005
A Polish woman, who harboured a grudge against her husband's employer, has been sentenced to four months' imprisonment for terrorising the boss by making ghostly sounds at his castle-like estate.
The 42-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was convicted on nuisance charges after she allegedly spent weeks masquerading as a ghost and making mysterious noises, Austrian television reported.
Police captured the woman on videotape after the jittery owner, who employed the suspect's husband, begged authorities in the alpine province of South Tyrol to solve the mystery.
The haunted owner had complained of hearing footsteps in the hallways and slamming doors late at night at the estate near Austria's southern border with Italy.
It was unclear why the woman had become angry.
Gay bombs: US secret weapon plan
The 14 th of January 2005
A US plan to develop a bad breath bomb and a chemical weapon to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other has been revealed in newly declassified documents.
New Scientist's web site reports that the documents show the Pentagon considered a range of non-lethal chemical weapons aimed at disrupting enemy discipline and morale.
The "sex bomb" idea would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, it states.
Also considered were concoctions that would be irresistible to wasps or angry rats to render enemy bases uninhabitable.
And there was the bad breath bomb idea - a weapon that caused "severe and lasting halitosis" to make it easier to sniff out spies.
Other ideas dating back to 1994 from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Ohio included making soldiers' skin react painfully to sunlight.
The lab sought Pentagon funding for research into what it called "harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals". The plans have been posted online by the Sunshine Project, an organisation that exposes research into chemical and biological weapons.
Spokesman Edward Hammond told New Scientists it was not known if the $7.5 millio research proposal was ever pursued.
The 10th of January 2005
A Russian lawyer has staked a claim on the world's clouds.
Vladimir Osipiv is using a law that allowed an American man to claim the moon. He hopes to sell the clouds to environmentalists who will take legal action against governments that let clouds be polluted.
"The conquerors of the Wild West used the same principle, when they pronounced their ownership of the land," said Osipiv, 48, from the Krasnodar region. "It is probably incomprehensible for the vast majority of people that clouds can be privatised. However, I am absolutely sure that I will get support both in Russia and in the international community."
Dennis Hope, an American who claimed the moon in 1980, has since sold plots of land there to more than 2 million people. A legal claim to the clouds has so far been posted in 150 countries, the Russian media reports.
Labels say it all
The 8th of January 2005
A toilet brush that comes with the warning: "Do not use for personal hygiene" has won a US award for the wackiest consumer label of the year.
Second prize went to a label on a children's scooter that said, "This product moves when used". And third prize? A warning for a digital thermometer that said: "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."
The eighth annual awards are organised by anti-lawsuit group Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, which says the goal is "to reveal how lawsuits, and concern about lawsuits, have created a need for commonsense warnings on products".
Loo paper files unravelled
By Ben Fenton in London
The 5th of January 2005
Britain's civil service embarked on an 18-year search for the perfect toilet paper after a doctor voiced concern about a diplomat's haemorrhoids, a previously secret file reveals.
The file is among several released to promote Britain's new Freedom of Information Act.
The toilet paper campaign, which would be at home in an episode of the comedy Yes Minister, began in 1963, following a letter from a doctor to the medical adviser to the Treasury.
Dr John Hunt wrote to his friend Dr Cornelius Medvei, describing the piles that afflicted his patient, Sir John Pilcher, GCMG, Her Majesty's ambassador to Austria and later Japan.
His letter said: "[My patient] thinks that the government lavatory paper is out of date and extremely bad for his complaint, and he has asked me if there is any chance of it being changed to a softer type."
Dr Medvei discovered that money lay at the root of the objection to softer paper, which was bought for the entire Government by Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO). He told Dr Hunt that if lavatory paper purchases rose by as little as "half a farthing daily" it would cost the Government an extra £130,000.
The Treasury document shows that the baton of the soft tissue brigade, once taken up, was not dropped easily. Other Foreign Office staff urged Dr Medvei to become their champion.
It took years for official action to follow, and in 1967 there was a setback for the campaigners when the public health laboratories ruled that soft tissue paper was "distinctly more pervious to infections such as dysentery".
In 1969 a representative of the Treasury's typing pool wrote to Dr Medvei asking him to help "us poor females" to avoid "damage to our delicate parts". "Tommy" Thomson, the chief medical adviser to the civil service, referred the matter to Professor Sir Gordon Wilson at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who ruled in 1970 that the hard, shiny paper was healthier.
Finally, on June 30, 1980, the advice came from the epidemiological research laboratory that Professor Wilson had been wrong. Dr Mair Thomas wrote: "I think HMSO and other providers should now be encouraged to supply the soft tissue variety of toilet paper." She concluded that hard paper was less hygienic than soft. The laboratory's findings were not passed on to the long-suffering civil servants but the soft lavatory rolls at last were - in 1981.
The toilet paper file is one of about 50,000 between seven and 29 years old that have been chosen for release to coincide with the first full day of the new act. Under the previous regime all of the files would have stayed secret for 30 years.
The Telegraph, London
Too close to home
The 27th of December 2004
A squad of firefighters accidentally set their own sauna ablaze but could not extinguish the fire despite their training.
The sauna, at Lappi, 225 kilometres west of Helsinki, was destroyed despite the volunteer firefighters' efforts, Finnish news agency STT said.
But the fire caused no injuries.
Bathing in a sauna is a national pastime in Finland, especially in winter, and most households have access to one.
Remote NZ bridge stolen
The 24th of December 2004
Thieves have dismantled and carried off most of a 30 metre aluminum bridge over a wetland in New Zealand, probably to sell for scrap, New Zealand Department of Conservation officials said.
The thieves took aluminum base-plates, side panels and one entire section of framework from the bridge at the wetland reserve south-west of the South Island city of Dunedin, said department officer Bill Wheeler.
"You have to go across the railway line and then through a rather boggy section of wetlands" to reach the bridge, he said. "It's been quite a manhandling job for somebody."
Officials used a helicopter to install the bridge, which was mainly used by hikers and to give people in wheelchairs access to the wetlands.
Senior Sergeant Alistair Dickie said the section removed by thieves was worth about $37,500. Scrap metal dealers nationwide had been alerted to the theft.
Wheeler told National Radio that while the department could claim insurance, "I'd much rather have the bridge back. If it was left in the corner of a paddock somewhere we'd be happy to go and pick it up."
Lap pillow for lonely men
The 16th of December 2004
Single or lonely Japanese men may get lucky this Christmas.
One popular item for holiday shoppers is the lap pillow, with skin-coloured polyurethene calves folded under soft thighs - a comfy cushion for napping, reading or watching television.
The 9429 yen ($119) pillow, which comes with one red and one black skirt, went on sale in late November and maker Trane Co Ltd says shipments have reached 3000 in just a few weeks.
"We created this item to help tired people relax," said Makoto Igarashi, Trane's managing director.
Care was taken with details such as the softness of the thighs, panty lines on the pillow's "backside" and wrinkles in the lap of the skirt so as to make the pillow look and feel as real as possible.
"We thought our main customers would be men in their 20s, but even men in their 60s are buying it," Igarashi said.
At stores, lap pillows gather crowds where people poke and pry at the foam legs.
"I think this may be good for single men, but it could cause trouble for someone who is married," said Shingo Shibata, a 27-year-old company employee browsing at a toy store which sells the pillow.
Warning: laptops can affect your sperm count
The 9th of December 2004
Teenagers and young men should keep their laptops off their laps because they could damage fertility, according to new research.
Laptops, which reach high internal operating temperatures, can heat up the scrotum which could affect the quality and quantity of men's sperm.
"The increase in scrotal temperature is significant enough to cause changes in sperm parameters," said Dr Yefim Sheynkin, an associate professor of urology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
"It is very difficult to predict how long the computer can be used safely," he told Reuters. "It may not be at all, if the testicular temperature goes up high within a very short period of time."
Adolescents and young men who use laptops several times a day over many years face the greatest risk. Sheynkin fears that if laptop use is not curtailed, in 15-20 years when they want to start a family the men could face problems.
"Long-term use may have a detrimental effect on their reproductive health," he said.
Sheynkin and his team studied the impact of using a laptop on 29 healthy volunteers between the age of 21-35 by measuring scrotal temperature before and after they used a computer on their lap.
The research is reported in the journal Human Reproduction.
Even without turning the laptop on, the scrotal temperature rose by 2.1 degrees Celsius when the young men sat with their thighs together to balance the computer on their lap.
When they switched it on the temperature rose - by 2.8 degrees on the right side and 2.6 degrees on the left.
"It shows that scrotal hyperthermia is produced by both special body posture and the local heating effect of laptop computers," Sheynkin said.
A serious case of laptop burn was reported in a letter published in a medical journal two years ago after a 50-year-old man burned his penis while using a laptop balanced on his legs for an hour, despite wearing trousers and underpants.
The researchers used two different brands of computers in the study.
"All laptop computers generate significant heat due to the increasing power requirements of computer chips. New laptops with higher power requirements may produce even more heat," Sheynkin added.
Mum breastfeeds dog
The 18th of November 2004
A New Zealand woman says she is breastfeeding her staffordshire bull terrier pup because she wants the dog to protect her baby girl as the pair grow up.
Kura "Kat" Tumanako, of Hawke's Bay, on the north island, said she started breastfeeding the pup after her own baby stopped taking her milk.
"I didn't want to waste it so I gave it to Honey Boy," she said.
The pup was instantly hooked and has been having two feeds a day for the past week.
Ms Tumanako said she would probably wean the puppy off in six weeks time. Her baby, Honey Pauline Philomina Flo, was born on August 29 and is now on bottled milk.
"I wanted to raise it (the pup) with my baby," Ms Tumanako said.
"I wanted to bring it up with a baby. It will protect her as they grow up."
The pup came from a litter of 10.
"He drinks more than the baby. It doesn't hurt, but it's a little bit ticklish," she said.
Ms Tumanako who is two months pregnant, said she did not care what people thought about her breastfeeding the pup.
"It's my life, my responsibility. I make my own choices," she said.
"I'm going to look after me, my baby and my puppy."
Hastings veterinarian Sharon Marshall said it was uncommon, but not unheard of, for one species to provide milk to another.
"But from a veterinarian viewpoint it's always better for any species to have its own milk. If a bitch was available that would have been better," Ms Marshall said.
She knew of instances where a sow had given milk to puppies and dogs giving milk to cats, but had not heard of a human breastfeeding another species.
"It's not going to hurt the puppy. I would be more concerned for hygiene issues for any baby sharing the milk," she said.
Victoria University associate professor of anthropology Jeff Sissons said he was familiar with a practice among women from Papua New Guinea hill tribes who breastfed pigs, but he had not heard of any other instance of a human breastfeeding another species.
The national president for the SPCA, Peter Mason, said there was nothing in the Animal Welfare Act that applied specifically to a case like this, but he had some concerns that the dog could develop long-term behavioural issues.
"It doesn't sound like the animal is suffering. It's not a cruelty thing as such," Mr Mason said.
The director of La Leche League, a support organisation for breastfeeding mothers, Rosemary Gordon, said she had heard of anecdotal cases involving mothers giving their milk to household pets or sick or elderly relatives, but she felt the matter was "beyond the league's area of expertise".
Police charged over NZ PM's dash to rugby
Friday, the 12th of November 2004.
Six people, including five police officers, who allegedly drove the New Zealand Prime Minister at high speed so she could attend a rugby Test match, have been charged with traffic offences.
Prime Minister Helen Clark came under fire after members of the public complained that her motorcade broke speed limits so she could attend a rugby Test match between New Zealand and Australia in July.
Police say the motorcade took 96 minutes to cover the 206 kilometre journey from the South Island town of Waimate to Christchurch, from where Ms Clark flew to Wellington for the rugby game.
The open road limit in New Zealand is 100 kilometres per hour and 50 kph in towns.
Following a police inquiry, six people involved in the motorcade have been charged with driving in a dangerous manner, Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said.
Several other traffic charges have also been laid.
Fighter pilot mistakenly targets school
Friday, the 5th of November 2004.
A United States National Guard F-16 fighter plane has mistakenly fired 25 rounds of ammunition at the Little Egg Harbour Intermediate School in South New Jersey.
Lieutenant Colonel Roberta Niedt, of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, says the pilot was meant to fire the rounds about 5.5 kilometres away at a military target range.
A lone custodian was inside the building at the time, but was not hurt.
Damage is minimal as the non-exploding, 20 millimetre bullets left only puncture marks in the school's roof and the asphalt outside the building.
The fighter jet is part of the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard assigned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
An investigation is being conducted into how the pilot mistook the school for a target range.
The 4th of November 2004
A supermarket in eastern Germany was evacuated briefly after a "suspicious-looking" avocado triggered a bomb scare.
Store staff called police after finding an avocado, which appeared to be wired to explode.
Bomb squad experts found that the wires were used by an importer to aid in determining the ripeness of the shipment of fruit.
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