TORONTO, Ontario / The Globe and Mail / Life / Facts & Arguments / May 23, 2011
By Michael Kesterton
Earth to be middle class
“Let’s have a round of applause for an astounding milestone in individual achievement, family prosperity and community improvement around the globe,” The Christian Science Monitor says. “In just a decade the world will, for the first time in history, change from being mostly poor to being mostly middle class. … The middle way is not intrinsically virtuous. It can involve overindulgence and beggar-thy-neighbour conflicts. It can make tragically bad choices. But somewhere within the five billion middle-classlings forecast for 2030 are individuals who will help us figure out how to keep the planet a balanced, enjoyable habitat. We’re counting on that.”
“We’re becoming a nation of bum knees, worn-out hips and sore shoulders, and it’s not just the Medicare set,” says Associated Press. “Baby boomer bones and joints also are taking a pounding, spawning a boom in operations to fix them. Knee-replacement surgeries have doubled over the last decade and more than tripled in the 45-to-64 age group, new research shows. Hips are trending that way, too. And here’s a surprise: It’s not all due to obesity. Ironically, trying to stay fit and avoid extra pounds is taking a toll on a generation that expects bad joints can be swapped out like old tires on a car.”
Musicians’ brains better?
“New research shows that musicians’ brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm and playful,” says ScienceDaily. “The same traits have previously been found among world-class athletes, top-level managers and individuals who practise transcendental meditation.”
Watch that one
“Lingering glances across the office may not be a good thing, claim scientists, as it could mean you are the victim of malicious gossip being spoken about you,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Researchers have found that people unconsciously pay more attention to the faces of others whom they have heard spoken of in negative terms. The reason stems from evolution, when it was useful to know whom to avoid and to keep an eye on them, [researchers] believe. It allowed humans to live in groups and to learn from others, and not just from direct experience. The team, led by Northeastern University in Boston, asked people to look at pictures of faces made to look as neutral as possible, some of which had been linked to negative gossip, some to positive and some to neutral.” Their findings are published in the journal Science.
Keep your mind on your meal
“If the diet and exercise industry is any indication, one of the hardest things for people to do is to control their appetites,” says The Boston Globe. “A new study suggests one piece of advice: pay attention. While eating lunch, young women either listened to a recording that instructed them to pay attention to the sensory experience of eating, or they read an article about healthy eating, or they did neither. Those who focused on the experience of eating were less hungry two hours later and ate fewer snack cookies – an effect that was explained by a more vivid memory of the meal.”
Rudeness seems to rule
“Have you ever noticed that many people with power seem to flaunt their presumed authority by being rude?” Psych Central asks. “A new study investigates this observation and discovers people with power seem to act the part by smiling less, interrupting others and speaking in a louder voice. Researchers determined that when people do not respect the basic rules of social behaviour, they lead others to believe that they have power.”
Votes for future adults
“Sixteen-year-olds are voting in a state election in Germany for the first time,” reports BBC News. “The authorities in the city of Bremen lowered the voting age to try to interest younger people in politics. Sports stars and politicians have taken part in a campaign to persuade teenagers to participate, and schools have held lessons in how to fill in ballot papers. … Skeptics argue that it is inconsistent to give 16-year-olds the vote when they have to wait two more years before they are allowed to drive or sign a contract for a mobile phone.”
Thought du jour
“No man thinks there is much ado about nothing when the ado is about himself.”
– Anthony Trollope (1815-82), Victorian novelist
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