The Monitor award for this week's most entertaining press release must surely go to the British Psychological Society. It tells us that 'pooches are probably not psychic'. It is nice to know scientists have the time and resources to carry out such important research. A team from Edinburgh and Hertfordshire universities tested a dog which appeared in a television programme to back up the idea that pets can psychically detect when their owners are coming home. But in four experiments, the dog failed to detect accurately when its owner was setting off. What's going on is 'normal, not paranormal' one of the scientists tells us. The term 'barking' comes to mind.
And Monitor is concerned that managers might not be getting the kind of rest that will bring them back from their holidays ready to squash absurd research requests. That's the implication of a quick and dirty piece of research from the Institute of Management, which shows that nearly seven in 10 managers leave their holiday address with the office, and four out of 10 make contact at some time during their break. A frightening number take work documents away, as well as mobile phones or laptop computers. Monitor believes in 'leave' being interpreted literally and will not have anything to do with work while away.
Monitor once worked in an office where there was a slogan on the wall to the effect that 'to err is human, to really fuck things up you need a computer' - a lesson that Dumfries health board must be taking to heart. It has had to apologise for sending a card to Janet Edgar, 103, advising her to care for her teeth. The computer read her date of birth as 1995, instead of 1895. Whether or not Ms Edgar still has any teeth is not recorded.
Talking of personal intrusion, was it really necessary to remind us of an early failure in the glittering career of renowned haematologist John Wilkinson who has died at the age of 101? According to his obituary in The Independent, in addition to his great gift to mankind - devising the zip fly - Dr Wilkinson was employed by the navy during the second world war. His job was to train sea-lions to defuse bombs. Unfortunately, instead of following their training, they would swim away never to be seen again.
The Labour government, meanwhile, appears to be swimming away from its anti-smoking policy again, in circumstances that obviously have nothing to do with Bernie Ecclestone of Formula One. The Scottish National Party has come up with an eminently sensible idea for reducing consumption. It wants to add a 15p health tax to the price of cigarettes sold in Scotland. Scottish industry minister Brian Wilson objects that this would lead to massive smuggling, with traffickers operating nightly runs across the border to bring addicts cheaper fags. Bearing in mind that the traffickers would not be doing it out of altruism, one wonders just how much the addicted would save by buying bootleg cigarettes. Perhaps public health minister Tessa Jowell could explain that tobacco policy just one more time.