Pot Pourri

Jane Austen died of arsenic poisoning, claims crime novelist

London: Jane Austen died due to arsenic poisoning, one of Britain’s leading crime novelists has claimed.

Novelist Lindsay Ashford came to this staggering conclusion after coming across one of Austen’s last letters in which she had described her months of illness.

“[I] am considerably better now and recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour,” Austen wrote in the letter.

After reading the letter, Ashford immediately thought that what Austen had described sounded very much like symptoms of arsenic, which causes skin spotting if taken in small doses over a long time.

Initially, Ashford disregarded the idea as it was too preposterous to be true but a few months later, a chance conversation with an ardent Austen fan from New York at the local library changed all that, the Daily Mail reported.

The girl asked the author if she had seen the lock of hair on display at the cottage where Austen lived and told her about the American couple she knew who had donated it.

Harry and Alberta Burke were collectors of Austen memorabilia and had bought it at auction at Sotheby’s in 1948.

The girl told the author that Harry had always been curious about what killed Jane and he had the hair tested for arsenic, the results of which came out positive.

This fortified the author’s belief that Austen was a victim of arsenic poisoning.

The arsenic in Austen’s hair indicated that she had ingested the poison in the months before her death.

Many theories about her death have been proposed but none of them matches her description of her face in the letter.

However, chronic arsenic poisoning – which is caused by small amounts being ingested over weeks or months – produces all the symptoms about which Austen had mentioned in the letter.

Austen died at an early age of 41 in 1817. (ANI)

 Man thinks moon is UFO, calls emergency

London: A Briton rang up emergency number 999 to report an UFO hovering above his house, but later said the “mysterious object” was only the moon.

The caller was in a state of panic, saying the object’s lights were blazing, The Sun reported.

But a few moments later, he phoned the operator again to say the UFO turned out to be the moon.

Hertfordshire police, which received the call, reminded people not to block emergency lines. The alert was initially treated seriously.

“While the caller may not have been phoning out of malice, his call still tied up valuable police resources and time for something which was not an emergency,” said Jason Baxter, assistant manager at the police force’s communications room.

“I would like to encourage people before they phone 999 to ask themselves is this really a police matter?”

“If this is not a police matter, please do not call us. Otherwise you could potentially put others with genuine police or emergency calls at risk or prevent them from getting through.”

“Also, if you are thinking it would be funny to play a ‘trick’ this Halloween and make a hoax call, be very careful. You could find the ‘trick’ is on you when we prosecute you for making a hoax call,” he said. (IANS)

 Chinese matchmaking event

Beijing: Around 10,000 single young women and men in Shanghai attended one of the biggest matchmaking events held in the Chinese metropolitan city.

Speed dating was one of the main activities there Saturday. Each woman found a male partner and they were allowed to talk for eight minutes. When the clock stopped, they changed partners. If someone made a good impression, they could exchange contact information.

“I collected several names and some cell numbers. But that’s that. I don’t know whether I’ll keep in touch with all of them,” 32-year-old Zhao Junqi told Shanghai Daily.

He said he was a bit lost at the event, but there was nothing to worry about because it was not a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Some women were not so relaxed.

Cui Yi, 28, watched each man closely. She said she was worried that it would be hard to find a good husband as she gets older. But she too had many demands.

“He needs to have an apartment. I think an apartment gives me a sense of security,” she said.

While the singles talked, more than 4,000 parents were busy advertising their son’s or daughter’s marriage credentials.

“My son couldn’t come as he had a training class today. I believe talking to parents also works. I can imagine how a woman is raised by the way her parents act,” said a mother named Xue.

The event was organised by the Shanghai Matchmaking Trade Association. (IANS)

 ‘Virtual tailor’ allows you to ‘try clothes’ in 3D

London: Online shopping experience has now escalated to yet another level with the introduction of new software called ‘virtual tailor’, which boasts of being able to take your vital statistics in less than three minutes.

The software allows the users to ‘try on’ clothes in 3-D image of themselves to determine if the outfit suits them.

It can also make recommendations for size and shape to ensure that the shoppers don’t make fashion blunders.

The software works by scanning the body as the user stands in front of his webcam at home.

By holding up a familiar object like a CD or DVD, the software can accurately make exact measurements and then upload a 3-D template of the shopper’s body.

According to Asaf Moses, chief executive of Upcload, a database of around 100,000 people is then used to recommend clothing, which might suit their size, shape and age.

“It means we can suggest clothing ideas to people that they may never have thought of before,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

“The program is using your body shape to suggest genuinely new ideas to people rather than simply suggesting on the basis of your historic buying pattern. It is like having your best friend with you.”

All the product characteristics like textile material and consistency are also taken into consideration before making a final recommendation for the proper size and fit.

Moses said that he came across this idea after he had to exchange online clothing purchases too often. (ANI)

 Australian Senator scared of teddy bears!

Melbourne: An Australian Senator is scared that teddy bears to be given to the children of the defence force personnel may be bugged by the country’s enemies.

Senator Barnaby Joyce said that even though the bears seemed harmless, he understood the need for strict security, especially if they were made in China or another country.

Joyce, 44, has warned that the toys could be bugged by countries trying to learn the state’s secrets.

The Australian Defence Force has ordered 24,000 “army bears” over the next two years for it’s armed force’s kids, the Courier Mail reported.

However, the contract for the plush toys is far from a teddy bear’s picnic, with the winning bid facing high-level security clearances. (ANI)

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