... and don't do that again!

Presumably, the workout club LA Fitness could have plastered the English countryside with big sexist billboards of sweaty men and women in form-fitting attire and not caused half the furor that its latest promotional campaign has. Reports say the operator of gyms has been reprimanded by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority for placing under the windshield wipers of cars in London a leaflet that offers a two-for-the-price-of-one membership deal. And the problem with that is? Well, at first glance the leaflet looks exactly like a parking ticket , which, the ASA said, is "likely to cause distress to recipients." Worse, LA Fitness essentially ignored the complaint, which is a strict no-no under the group's code of conduct.

Mega-languages swallow up minnows of the world

Most of the world's languages are either endangered or will be by the end of this century, according to a report in the current issue of the Indiana University Alumni Magazine. Author Daniel Comiskey says linguists generally agree that it takes at least 100,000 speakers to sustain a vocabulary, which means that 90 percent of the more than 6,000 languages spoken today could be extinct by 2100. The more people become interconnected by networks, among them roads and computers, Comiskey writes, the more so-called "predator" languages wipe out those spoken less widely. An example of the latter: Kuskokwim, which is unique to the sparsely populated region of Alaska's Kuskokwim River. The world's principal languages, based on 2004 estimates, and the numbers of people, in millions, who speak them:

Chinese (Mandarin) 873
Spanish 322
English 309
Hindi 180
Portuguese 177
Bengali 171
Russian 145
Japanese 122
German, standard 95
Chinese (Wu) 77
- The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2005

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