We've got a winner here

Ever notice, when listening to pop music, that there are similarities in those numbers that reach the top of the charts? No? Well, programmers in Spain have developed software that does. Hit Song Science (HSS) searches the tunes on the market at any given time for "traits of known hits" - melody, harmony, beat variation, tempo, rhythm, and pitch. Said the chief of Polyphonic HMI, which markets the software: "There are a limited number of mathematical formulas for hit songs. We don't know why." Perhaps it won't surprise you to learn that the most enthusiastic HSS customers are record companies.

But I didn't open any of it

From little Twizel, New Zealand, comes word that some residents recently received, all at once, eight years' worth of mail - letters, bills, even wedding invitations. Reason: The part-time postmistress couldn't keep up with the flow and let it pile up until a visiting government inspector discovered it. The fact that she's "quite highly respected" around town didn't prevent her from being fired.

Hard times for airlines made easier travel for passengers

In rare good news for beleaguered US airlines, the results of an annual study found improvements for a second straight year in the quality of service for travelers. Even as United and US Airways filed for bankruptcy and most carriers cut staff and flights in 2002, there were more on-time flights, fewer bumped passengers, and less lost luggage, according to the report by researchers from Wichita State University in Kansas and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. How airlines ranked in quality of service:

1. US Airways
2. Alaska Airlines
3. Southwest
4. America West
5. Continental
6. American
7. Delta
8. United
9. Northwest
10. American Eagle - Associated Press

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