Sandy Cornell has just received a bumper Christmas edition of the Economist magazine. "It was delayed and had been opened. I thought someone cheeky had hung on to it for a week ... But no. When I turned it over I saw that it had been censored! I should point out here that I live in Malaysia and this censorship is for real; but heck, they were wearing fig leaves!"

* * *

A reader writes: "My cousin left the town of Pleasant Point some years ago and was, a few years ago, the lone piper at the Edinburgh Tattoo (the first non-Scotsman, apparently). He stayed behind to talk to my uncle and aunt afterwards. While they were talking, a Kiwi couple walked up and said they'd always wanted to meet a "real Scottish piper". Turns out they were from Temuka; the "real Scottish piper" was a lad who'd grown up a mere 10 minutes' drive away!"

* * *

Creepy coincidence: When Robert Park was 16, he was walking his dog with his then girlfriend. "This was in the days of red telephone boxes with coin-operated phones," he explained. "Our usual route took us past just such a phone booth. To our astonishment, it started to ring. Urged to pick up the phone, I did. On the other end was my best friend's little brother looking for his brother. I asked how he got this number. He said he'd rung my home number. I explained that this was a telephone booth and as it turned out, the number of the booth was only one digit different from my home number. A misdial still got the person he was looking for."

* * *

The price of bottled water at Wellington Airport is daylight robbery, declares a furious commuter. "The rip-off price was $4.80. I nearly fell over when I heard that ... At any supermarket, a 750ml bottle of water is $2.50 to $3.50 per bottle, not any more than that. Wellington Airport is charging $1.30 to $2.30 extra a bottle, which is 52 to 65 per cent more than at a supermarket - ridiculous! I then contemplated getting a refund for my unopened bottle and buying it from another outlet at the airport, but alas, I discovered all outlets were charging the same."

* * *

The Darwin Award winners for 2009 (recognising "those who improve our gene pool - by removing themselves from it") are a pair of bank robbers from Belgium who attempted to make a sizeable withdrawal from an ATM and died when they overestimated the quantity of dynamite needed for the explosion. The blast demolished the building the bank was housed in. Among the runners-up is the first-ever female to figure in the award. She drove her moped into flood waters and then leaped back in after she was rescued. The victim's mother speculated that her daughter's motivation for jumping into a flooded creek was to rescue her drowning moped. "She loved that thing." (Source: Neatorama.com)

* * *

View today's Herald cartoon