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The Gander – 23 July

By Dermot - 22nd Jul 2015 | 9 views

<h3>It’s all relative</h3>

A study by UK genealogists suggests that a typical passenger on London’s tube network unwittingly shares the transport system with as many as 12,000 relations on any given day.

A new study of the British population by genetic analysis service AncestryDNA used a computer modelling system that takes account of shifting birth rates and family sizes for a period of approximately 200 years. They estimated that the typical British citizen has 193,000 living cousins, from first to sixth cousins.

Even in a multicultural city such as London, they estimated that a typical bus passenger unknowingly travels with a distant relative on one in every four journeys and on a crowded train, that figure increases exponentially.

They also observed that those who embark on a holiday romance while aboard a cruise ship should be aware that on a typical ship, 20 fellow passengers will be relatives. Overall, the authors say that if someone walked across the UK, they would encounter two cousins in each square mile.

“It’s incredible to think that many of us will be in daily contact with unknown relatives, with no idea that we share much more than the same sporting team or commute to work,” commented Brad Argent, Director at genealogical firm Ancestry.


<h3>Tell no lie</h3>

In a bid to tackle institutional corruption, Colombian government officials are to be polygraph-tested both before and after allocating contracts for goods and services provided to government, according to Reuters.

Last year, the organisation Transparency International ranked Colombia 94th out of a total of 174 countries for the amount and severity of corruption.

The least corrupt country was Denmark, while the most corrupt was Somalia. Ireland ranked 17th on the list, jointly with Hong Kong and Barbados.

The lie-detector tests will be used to test officials in 72 government departments and the move is designed to increase investor confidence in the country.

One of the most prominent examples of corruption saw a family with connections to a former Mayor of Bogota disappear with more than €1 billion after a number of contracts were awarded. None of the contracts were executed, with the company claiming it had run out of money to complete the works.


<h3>Word up</h3>

The Oxford English Dictionary has approved some 500 new entries to reflect changes in the way language use has developed over the past year.

Some of the entries are self-explanatory, such as ‘vaping’, ‘pharmacovigilance’, ‘e-cigarette’ and ‘retweet’. However other newly-approved words require a little more explanation.

For example, ‘FLOTUS’ is now included, a reference to the First Lady of the United States. Also included is ‘hard-arse’, referring to a person who rigorously enforces set standards, as well as ‘homo economicus’, a coldly-calculating, self-interested, rational, objectively judgmental person who ruthlessly pursues goals of wealth and/or power.

‘Interweb’ is included as a parody to refer to a new Internet user, as is ‘Masshole’, a US term to describe someone from Massachusetts who drives dangerously or inconsiderately.

‘Photobomb’ — referring to a person who invades a photo being taken of someone else — is now in the dictionary, as is ‘broken heart syndrome’, used to describe a temporary heart ‘condition’ often brought on by stressful situations.

‘Twerking’ is also now among the list, a term used to describe a sexually-provocative style of dance, while the South African word ‘tenderpreneur’ is now an entry, used to describe someone in government who uses their influence to win tenders and contracts.

Worthy of note is the peculiarly Irish idiom ‘go away with you’, used to express surprise at something that is clearly untrue. An example of the usage is: ‘Does my bum look big in these trousers?’

‘Ah, go away with you, you look grand.’


<h3>Tight fit</h3>

A 35-year-old Australian woman was forced to crawl out of a park to seek medical attention after her ‘skinny’ jeans proved so tight that they cut off the blood supply to her calf muscles.

The woman had spent the day helping relatives to move home, which involved hours of squatting. Her jeans were so tight that medical staff were forced to cut them from her before she could receive treatment.

Describing the woman as a “fashion victim”, Prof Thomas Kimber, Consultant Neurologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, told ABC: “When she got up that morning she decided to wear ‘skinny’ jeans. She noticed that they were somewhat tight, but I guess skinny jeans tend to be.

“She had spent all that day really squatting down to help her relatives clean out cupboards. She noticed her legs were becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the day went on but didn’t really think much of it.”

Following her collapse in the park, the woman crawled outside and took a taxi to the hospital.

Prof Kimber documented the case for the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

“As a result of this prolonged squatting, she had really cut off the blood supply to her calf muscles, they had become massively swollen and as a result of that, she suffered compression of two of the major nerves in her lower leg and developed leg weakness as a result.”

He continued: “She had quite severe ankle and foot weakness for several days and she’d suffered quite significant calf muscle injury and, as a result of that, some proteins were released into her bloodstream and she needed an IV drip to flush those proteins through so that she wouldn’t develop damage to her kidneys.”


<h3>Diplomatic balls-up</h3>

A diplomatic row has broken out between the Swiss Ambassador to Venezuela, Sabine Ulmann, and an elite golf club next door to her residence.

The Ambassador was so peeved that golf balls kept appearing in her gardens that she had a large placard erected, which read: “Launching balls into this residence is a danger to whoever is within Swiss territory and a violation of the Vienna Convention if a golf ball injures or kills anyone on Swiss soil.”

A spokesperson for the elite Caracas Country Club said they were “astonished” at the “over-reaction”.

“We have no fear whatsoever that we are attacking Swiss territory should a golf ball land on Embassy premises.”

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