The truth is out there: 27/02/2010

A weekly look at the world

*Thousands of Vietnamese fishermen gathered this week to give a 15-ton dead whale a royal send-off.

Nearly 10,000 people converged in Bac Lieu province to bid farewell to the 52ft cetacean they called Your Excellency. According to Viet Nam News they burned incense and plan to build a temple at the site of his burial at the mouth of the Cai Cung River. Whales are considered sacred in Vietnam's fishing culture and are referred to by the title "ngai", the same honorific used for kings, emperors and other esteemed leaders.

*Forbes magazine this week listed its top 15 kookie inventions drawn from the files of the US patent office. The number of patent filings has increased dramatically in recent years, leaping 130 per cent between 1996 and 2008 to 485,000. Among the favourites were a cheese filtered cigarette, a periscope for graves, a flame-throwing trumpet and an application for childbirth by centrifugal force.

*A giant primeval horned crocodile may have been early man's biggest predator, a new find suggests. Crocodylus anthropophagus – which means "eater of humans" in Latin – was a 19ft-long monster believed to have snacked on hominids 1.84 million years ago. The croc's fossils were discovered in Tanzania's fossil-rich Olduvai Gorge, where hominid bones with crocodile bite marks had previously been found, said the Laelaps blog.

*Chaos theory can make or break a blockbuster, according to an American academic. He studied 150 films from the past 70 years to find what makes one soporific and others gripping. James Cutting analysed the films shot by shot to develop his 1/f pattern, a rhythm that appears throughout nature, and works much like the golden ratio aspired to by Renaissance painters and architects. His study, published in Psychological Science and reported by New Scientist, found modern Hollywood more adept at hitting the perfect rhythm, though there were exceptions, such as Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and Rebel Without a Cause.

*The economy is back in boom in China's Pearl River Delta, known as the workshop of the world, as a survey of large companies revealed major labour shortages. Interviews with 270 companies found employers predicting that one in 12 migrant workers would not return after the spring festival holiday. And there are an estimated 150,000 job vacancies in Guangzhou alone, according to a survey by the Guangzhou Human Resource Market Service Centre reported in China Daily.

*For the first time in America's history, there could soon be more women in employment than men, according to predictions from The New York Times columnist David Brooks. The gap between male and female unemployment rates has reached its highest level since government records began. Last November nearly a fifth of all men aged between 25 and 54 did not have jobs. And Brooks highlighted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics where at age 22, 185 women have graduated from college for every 100 men who have done so.