Big guns meet in Davos

pachauri1.jpgIf the world’s media are to be believed, the masters of the universe are meeting in the (ugly) Swiss resort of Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The usual suspects have turned up for drinks , a chinwag and perhaps the odd business deal. Given the cost of joining the club, it’s only for the very wealthy and/or influential. The pollies are also in the house, trying to find peace in their spare time, but as usual to no great effect…

This year they are ostensibly discussing how to slow climate change (although given that many of them have been in charge for some time and not done anything, I wouldn’t hand over the keys to the family car) and ending poverty (please note that if someone is rich, that means someone else ain’t).

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Sausage hits a snag

snag.jpgSwiss butchers are in a lather over the fate of one of Switzerland’s favourite sausages: the cervelat. The government apparently hasn’t had the guts to take on the European Union over an import ban on one of its main ingredients – zebu intestines from Brazil. There are still enough of these natural casings to keep on making the sausage for a few more months, but after that the Swiss could be facing an untimely demise of a national institution – or at least a shortage during Euro 2008 – at the hands of the health inspectors.

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Hot Rod

berlin_07_1920.jpgIt’s bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s a German engineer’s idea of the car of tomorrow. Swiss-based Peter Maskus has designed the Acabion GTBO, a cross between a Formula One racecar and a fighter jet that looks like nothing out of Detroit, with a price tag to match: SFr3 million ($2.66 million). For that, the purchaser gets a top speed of 545 kilometres per hour, 750 horsepower but also up to 42 kilometres out of each litre of petrol. The trick: aerodynamics that make the Acabion look more like a bullet train and no side-by-side seating for the two passengers. A word of warning though: this vehicle is not street-legal, meaning those who can afford it might have to do with only a Ferrari or that souped-up Volkswagen, the Bugatti Veyron.

What am I looking at?

rorschach.jpgRemember those strange pictures that a doctor would ask you to look at and say what you saw? I don’t know if NASA still uses them (at least that’s what they say in the movies), but despite these tests having no valid scientific basis, they are still part of the collective consciousness. Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss father of the controversial inkblots, is the subject of a unique exhibition at the University Library, Bern, offering an insight into the psychiatrist’s life and work as well as an influential chapter in the history of psychology. While other scientists had previously dabbled with inkblots, Rorschach was the first to use them to develop theories on people’s tendency to project interpretations onto ambiguous stimuli… However his theories were debunked later on.

Funny Pictures

Edelweiss going commercial

580255_35656485.jpgThe edelweiss, one of the symbols of Switzerland, could soon be heading down from the alpine slopes into florists’ shops. Scientists say that they have managed to grow the bloom at ground level and with stems long enough for bouquets. The whitish star-shaped edelweiss normally grows at between 2,000 and 3,000 metres in altitude. It has been a protected species in Switzerland since 1962. Extracts of the edelweiss, and particularly the Helvetia variety, are used in suncare products and in anti-wrinkle creams. It is believed that the plant’s antioxidant properties, a result of its exposure to strong ultra-violet light at altitude, means that it can counteract the human body’s ageing process. The flower has long been used in logos and in thousands of tourist articles.

Swiss government gets friendly

cabinet.jpgInternet users can get virtually, albeit unofficially, closer to Switzerland’s cabinet thanks to the social networking website Facebook. An economics student from Neuchâtel in the western part of the country set up the seven ministers’ profiles on the site, a move that has yet to draw a reaction from the government. Bertil Suter says that to his knowledge, this is the first time an entire cabinet has appeared on Facebook. He says he hopes to convince at least one minister to play ball and make some new friends…