Focus improves with age
"In the new James Bond movie," says Pacific Standard magazine, "there's a testy exchange between the wizened superspy and the young man he's just discovered is his new Q. 'Age is no guarantee of efficiency,' Q says to Bond, who retorts, 'And youth is no guarantee of innovation.' Googling how often that quote, or parts of it, shows up online suggests Bond won that particular exchange. Age wins another point in the operating room. New research finds that novice surgeons do a poorer job of filtering out distractions than it's thought do the old pros, and being distracted can mean making a serious, or even deadly, mistake."
Retirement and happiness
"Given the … slow economic times, having to work longer before we retire appears to be a given for many men," says Psych Central. "Some wonder if having to work longer to make ends meet will taint our golden years? A new study finds that raising the retirement age to increase financial stability does not make men worse off psychologically in the long run. Dr. Elizabeth Mokyr Horner, from the University of California, Berkeley, found that individuals go through the same psychological stages as they adjust to retirement, with life satisfaction stabilizing after 70, irrespective of how old they are when they retire. The study is published online in the Journal of Happiness Studies."
Cavemen more observant
"Paleolithic people living more than 10,000 years ago had a better artistic eye than modern painters and sculptors – at least, when it came to watching how horses and other four-legged animals move," says NBCNews.com. "A new analysis of 1,000 pieces of prehistoric and modern artwork finds that 'cavemen' … were more accurate in their depictions of four-legged animals walking than artists are today. While modern artists portray these animals walking incorrectly 57.9 per cent of the time, prehistoric cave painters made mistakes only 46.2 per cent of the time."
Where Christmas is big
"Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It's hard to say for certain," says CNN.com, "but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning. The Southeast Asian island nation has the world's longest festive season – and pulls no punches in the celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses and festivals held throughout the country from September until January. … [W]hile many countries concentrate on the commercial side of Christmas, Filipinos attend several masses throughout the Christmas season and faith forms an intrinsic part of celebrations. A traditional Filipino event is Simbang Gabi, a series of masses held over nine nights culminating in Christmas Eve. It is believed that if you make a wish after completing the nine masses, it will come true."
Impatience in Japan
"You press a button and wait for your elevator," says The Wall Street Journal. "How long before you get impatient and agitated? Theresa Christy says 20 seconds. As a mathematician steeped in the theories of vertical transportation at Otis Elevator Co., Christy, 55, has spent a quarter-century developing systems that make elevators run as perfectly as possible – which means getting most riders into a [lift] in less than 20 seconds. 'Traditionally, the wait time is the most important factor,' she says. 'The thing people hate the most is waiting.' … In Japan, riders immediately want to know which [lift] will serve them – indicated by a light and the sound of a gong – even if the elevator won't arrive for 30 seconds. That way, people can line up in front of the correct elevator."
Thought du jour
"In this world people have to pay an extortionate price for any exceptional gift whatever."
Willa Cather, American author (1873-1947)