Friday’s Unrelated News Roundup

Here’s a bunch of random, unrelated stuff I’ve been meaning to post over the past couple of days:

– Move over, Bhut Jolokia! Gerald Fowler, a British pub owner and pepper enthusiast, has cross-bred three types of peppers to create the Naga Viper, a pepper that beats the Bhut Jolokia – the former “world’s hottest pepper” – by 300,000 Scoville units. The new pepper comes in at 1,359,000 on the Scoville scale, or around 270 times hotter than an average jalapeño, which ranks at a relatively wimpy 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville scale.

– This is the saddest thing I’ve read in ages: the Holy Thorn Tree, an ancient tree in Glastonbury, England was cut down by vandals this week. According to legend, the tree was created by Joseph of Arimathea, who had come to England after Jesus had been crucified. He stopped on Wearyall Hill, stuck his walking cane (which allegedly belonged to Jesus) into the ground and went to sleep; when he awoke, the cane had sprouted into a tree. The original tree was cut down during Oliver Cromwell’s time, but residents had saved some cuttings, which were used to create new trees around Glastonbury. The current tree was planted in 1951. The tree is (or rather, was) something of a genuine mystery, because the species, Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora, really did originate in the Middle East, and the tree was ancient when Cromwell’s folks cut the original one down. Every year, cuttings from this (or one of the “daughter trees”) are taken and sent to the Queen, were they sit on her dinner table at Christmas time.

– Strangely, Microsoft hasn’t said much about this, but the Xbox 360 has been the best selling game console in the United States for six months in a row! And I can remember when the original Xbox was just a rumor on message boards… who knew it would one day kick Sony’s ass?

– The latest AccuScore projections are out, and they give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 99.3% chance of making the playoffs and a 78.6% chance of winning their division (the hated Ravens are given an 87.8% chance at the playoffs and a 21.4% chance of taking the division from Pittsburgh). And, on this page, Doug Farrar discusses the fastest receivers in the NFL; Brandon Lloyd gets the top slot, barely inching out my main man Mike Wallace.

– A&E canceled their new reality show The Hasslehoffs after just one episode. That seems pretty harsh, given David Hasslehoff’s popularity and the fact that it’s basic cable.

– ACS: Law is a British law firm that’s trying to make copyright infringement a business. They’ve sent out tens of thousands of letters demanding that file sharers pay them $1,500… or legal action will follow. The theory being, of course, that people would willingly cough up the relatively small $1,500 fee instead of risking far more money taking it to court. After months of threats, the firm finally filed its first cases in the UK this week, and it was a complete disaster… for ACS:Law!

– The site verysmallarray.com created this map of the United States by entering each state’s name into Google and posting the first entry from the search giant’s autocomplete feature. I’m especially fond of the result from the state of Georgia! 🙂

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