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How to dress for chess

The European Chess Union has adopted new, and very specific, dress-code rules, says The Boston Globe. "Some rules cut down on female sex appeal: no short skirts, and no shirts unbuttoned past the second button. But, according to [union secretary-general Sava]Stoisavljevic, 'In fact these rules will be more useful during men events. In general, women take care about their looks and what they wear. There is not a lot of trouble with women …' The rules aren't that stringent: Players can wear sunglasses at the board, for example. But hats are prohibited, except for religious reasons … as are all forms of 'beach wear.'"

Fine dining for the young

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"Upscale restaurants, which have long catered to the grey-templed, expense-account set, are courting younger diners to pay the bills," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The Great Recession pummelled the U.S. restaurant industry, as diners traded down or ate at home. Even patrons who could afford a fancy meal celebrated less ostentatiously amid the new austerity. … To compensate, upscale eateries are trying to fill their seats with younger diners. Although not as flush as their elders, they tend to cook less and eat out more often … They're also more adventurous eaters, favouring small plates and lively venues over dark wood and candlelight."

Chairs for the young

"While teaching a design class at California College of the Arts several years ago, Brian Kane noticed that his students often didn't sit," says The Wall Street Journal. "They instead draped themselves across their chairs or lounges, completely absorbed by their various electronic devices. Sealed off from the world by earphones and entranced by glowing screens, they were as likely to sprawl sideways as to sit up straight. Even in public places, many of them liked to rearrange the furniture and transform those spaces into their own customized zones for working, meeting or socializing. Mr. Kane [an]authority on public furniture design … created upholstered chairs with arms only on one side. They can be shoved together to form a love seat, or pulled apart for solo perching. … Though the Swoop furniture is designed to let people flop however they like, Mr. Kane deliberately excluded long flat surfaces that would encourage napping."

House already occupied?

"A New Jersey landlord has filed a lawsuit against a couple who claim their rented house was haunted," reports Associated Press. "Landlord Richard Lopez is seeking damages in state court from Michelle Callan and her fiancé. Mr. Lopez says their claim will scare away potential new tenants or buyers of the house in Toms River, N.J. The Asbury Park Press reports the couple fled the house in March. The couple say they found clothes mysteriously ejected from closets and heard all kinds of strange noises, including the sound of something being dragged through the basement. … Mr. Lopez has said the couple bolted because they apparently couldn't afford the rent. The couple deny that."

Japanese bathtub fatalities

"Japan's health ministry is to launch an investigation into bath-time fatalities after it was estimated that 14,000 people die every year in the tub – three times as many as those who died in car accidents," The Daily Telegraph reports. Statistics point to many of the victims being elderly. "The high number of bath deaths can be traced back to the role the bath plays in Japanese families and society. The ritual of bathing in Japan is less about washing but more about relaxing at the end of the working day and, in more traditional communities and older buildings, keeping warm in winter."

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Those Guinness records

– "More than 1,000 people in samurai costumes marched through Kofu city [Japan]and into the Guinness World Records … as part of the Shingen-ko Festival," The Asahi Shimbun reports. "The annual festival, honouring the 16th-century daimyo feudal lord Takeda Shingen, featured 1,061 'samurai' as part of its famed parade of warriors, which was recognized by Guinness as 'the largest gathering of (contemporary people dressed as) samurai' in the world."

Tourist poetry

"A ceremony to mark the installation of a Tourist Haiku Post Box was held [last month]in Brussels, joined by EU President and haiku fan Herman Van Rompuy," reports The Daily Yomiuri. "The box was placed at the Mission of Japan to the European Union by the city of Matsuyama, which promotes tourism through haiku poems. In his speech at the ceremony, Mr. Van Rompuy delivered a haiku that portrays a spring scene. 'Flowering orchard, born again every year. I welcome the blossoms,' he wrote and dropped it in the box. Matsuyama, the hometown of renowned haiku poet Shiki Masaoka, has placed haiku boxes, along with paper strips, at 90 locations in Matsuyama so tourists can enjoy the traditional poem casually."

Thought du jour

"We tell lies when we are afraid … afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger." – Tad Williams (1957- ), American writer

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