Etc...

Next time, hold your nose

In Sydney, Australia, last week, quite a stink was raised when the city's Botanical Gardens opened the gates to patrons eager to see the long-awaited blooming of Titan Arum, an exotic species imported from the rain forest of Sumatra. In its natural habitat, the crimson-and-green flower grows to a height of almost 10 feet on a vivid yellow stalk. So was the problem that the entry fee was too high? Or perhaps picture-taking was forbidden? No, it was the odor that the flower gives off, a bouquet described as "overripe Camembert cheese on a bed of roadkill."

But you may have milk

Later this year, when its gleaming new headquarters opens in Brussels, something will be missing from the menu options at InBev's employees' cafeteria: beer. The company's product: beer. Notably such popular brands as Beck's and Stella Artois. Quaffing suds with lunch, a spokeswoman explained primly, is no longer in tune with the culture that InBev wishes to project.

HELLO, IRS? WHEN WEB CAN'T HELP YOU CALL GOVERNMENT

Increasingly, Americans turn to the Internet to conduct business with government offices and agencies. Just how well e-government is faring is the focus of a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, "How Americans Get in Touch With Government." A key finding: People benefit from greater direct access to online government information and services, but since roughly one-third of adults still don't have Internet access, other channels remain essential for reaching agencies and solving problems. The types of contact Americans have with government, in percentages (the total being greater than 100 percent because multiple answers were accepted), according to the study:

Telephone 42%
A government website 29%
Visited in person 20%
Sent an e-mail 18%
Wrote a letter 17%
Used multiple means 22%
- www.pewinternet.org

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