This sign was spotted outside a Devonport pub.

Taming the tongue-twister

A British student is so obsessed with Korean culture that she has had her tongue surgically lengthened to help her speak the language. Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones, 19, plans to take Korean Studies at university and dreams of living in the country, even though she has never visited it. While taking language lessons, she struggled to pronounce certain sounds in Korean. It was blamed on Rhiannon having a slightly shorter than average tongue, caused by an unusually thick lingual frenulum which joins the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Her parents agreed to her having a lingual frenectomy, a 15 minute operation under local anaesthetic that involved an incision in the flap of skin. (Source:

Common sense on the run


A reader writes: "Our local school can no longer do cross country training around the local streets because the Auckland Council classes it as an event which would require marshalls, flags and traffic control (although the only street they cross is a quiet cul-de-sac supervised by a teacher). So any school team going for a training run around the streets or any school doing a run around the block is effectively breaking the law."

The biggest ... by half

A reader writes: "I saw an item on the morning TV news today claiming that a new work of art in Christchurch [Pulse, by Christchurch artist Darryn George which is about 300sq m ] was the 'biggest in the Southern Hemisphere' so I started to think of what might have been the previous biggest. I immediately thought that it had to have been the statue of Christ in Rio in Brazil. However, I now wonder if the claim means it is only the biggest in Australia or New Zealand. So often we see claims about something being the biggest, longest, or best in the Southern Hemisphere when it is forgotten that the Southern Hemisphere is the half of the world south of the equator which includes nearly all of South America and about half of Africa as well as Australasia and most of Indonesia ... (please don't print my name as my wife thinks I get too pedantic about such things)."

Sidestepping the book-banners

The Republic High School in Missouri has banned author Kurt Vonnegut's masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five. In response, the Vonnegut Memorial Library is offering the students a free copy of the novel so they can read it on their own and draw their own conclusions. A library representative said: "We have up to 150 books to share, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor ... We're not telling you to like the book ... we just want you to read it and decide for yourself."