Sophisticated automobile technology makes high-performance engines purr in relative silence, but automakers fear that their most demanding drivers are emotionally attached to the engines' roar. Consequently, as Car and Driver reported in April, the 2012 BMW M5, with 560 horsepower tempered with sound deadeners, has installed pre-recorded engine noise, channeled into the car's cabin via the stereo system. A computer program matches the amplitude of the engine's growl to the driver's accelerator-revving. In other automobile tech news, Peugeot technicians announced in March that they were preparing "mood paint" for the body of the company's iconic RCZ model. The paint's molecular structure would be alterable by heat sensors in the steering wheel and elsewhere that measure a driver's stress levels. A calm driver might see his car turn green, for instance — but watch out for road-rage red!

The Continuing Crisis

-With only 30,000 hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro, and 50,000 visitors expected for the June United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, officials persuaded owners of many of the city's short-time "love hotels" (typically renting for four hours at a time) to change business plans for a few days to accommodate the delegates. A BBC News stringer reported that the hotels will remove some special fixtures and furniture, such as "erotic chairs" and velvet wall coverings, but that the large, round beds would stay. Fortunately, the conference does not begin until June 13. The night of June 12 ("Lovers Day") is a big income-producer for short-stay hotels.

-The Marine Wounded Warriors Battalion at Camp Lejeune, N.C., generally enjoys excellent support from the community, but in an April report of the Government Accountability Office, Marines complained of a "petting zoo" environment in which civilian charities and advertisers use the battalion to seek out "poster" faces and bodies that "looked the part" of wounded veterans, such as those severely burned or missing limbs. Warriors who suffer post-traumatic stress or brain injuries often appear outwardly "normal" and are likely to be ignored by the support organizations, thus setting a "bad tone" among the wounded.

-Oh, Dear!: At a March Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance, the music continued uninterrupted as two patrons engaged in a fistfight over box seating. Conductor Riccardo Muti "never stopped conducting," said a patron. "He very gracefully, without missing a beat — literally — he brought (the second movement) to a very quiet and subdued close."

People Different From Us

-Lawrence Cobbold, 38, has a house in Plympton, England, but has to make living arrangements at his parents' home or elsewhere because his place is totally taken over by his 21,000-item collection of bird ornaments and doodads. Before heading off to sleep elsewhere, he spends an average of four hours a day tidying up the collection. His dad said, "I just hope I die before (Lawrence). I don't want to (have to) clear all this out."

 

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