Anxious West, depressed East
Depression and anxiety affect every country and society in the world, according to what is believed to be the world's most comprehensive study of these mental disorders, conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia," reports Psych Central. "In Western societies, anxiety disorders were more commonly reported than in non-Western societies, including countries that are currently experiencing conflict. About 10 per cent of people in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand were experiencing clinical anxiety, compared to approximately 8 per cent in the Middle East and 6 per cent in Asia. The opposite was true for depression, with those in Western countries least likely to feel depressed. Researchers found that depression was lowest in North America and highest in certain areas of Asia and the Middle East."
Bind man's deadly bluff
A British man "who pretended to be blind to get people to pity him was found dead in a flooded ditch after he apparently failed to see the hazard, an inquest heard [Friday]," reports The Daily Telegraph. "Geoffrey Haywood, 65, walked with a white stick and had carers to look after him. But the inquest was told he could see perfectly well and if someone dropped money on a pavement he would be the first to pick it up. … Mr. Haywood's brother Howard said: 'Geoffrey had psychological blindness which started after the death of our mother.' The hearing was told Mr. Haywood's body was found in a ditch just 150 yards from his front door. Coroner David Bowen said: 'Either he didn't see or didn't want to see the ditch, slipped and drowned. It's an extraordinary situation I've not come across before.'"
Paying to puff in Tokyo
"Extensive regulations have made it increasingly difficult for smokers to find space in downtown Tokyo to practise their habit," reports Daily Yomiuri Online. "Smoking bans are the norm in public spaces such as office buildings. In central Tokyo, municipalities have been strengthening controls on smoking in public, with designated spaces on the street among the few places where people can smoke. But these designated smoking spaces have been closing due to continual complaints to municipal governments. … A Tokyo-based firm sees the smoking restrictions as a business opportunity. General Fundex Co. opened three smoking facilities around JR Ochanomizu Station in Chiyoda Ward earlier this month. Named 'ippuku' [a puff], the facility is equipped with an air conditioner, chairs, a vending machine and large displays. Open from 6 a.m. to midnight, use of the facility costs 50¥ [roughly the price of three cigarettes] and there is no time limit."
Let's talk spiders
Police in Switzerland scrambled, says Orange News UK, "after a panicked report that a giant bird-eating spider had been spotted on the boss's table at the firm in Chur. But when cops [arrived] they quickly realized the spider was a fake. Officers told staff at the firm that they would not be fined for wasting police time as the call had been genuine in its intent. But they made them sit through a 20-minute lecture on how to tell the difference between real spiders and plastic toys."
Old termites' last mission
"One species of termite sends its older workers on suicide missions armed with explosive blue 'backpacks,'" says The Christian Science Monitor. "When grabbed by another termite, a predator or a person with tweezers, these backpack-sporting termites, which the researchers call blue workers, rupture and spew a toxic, sticky substance, scientists have found. The unfortunate workers, from this species of tropical termite, Neocapritermes taracua, have two bluish spots visible on the backs of their abdomens. These spots contain crystals made of a copper-containing protein stored in two external 'backpack' pouches, write the researchers. The crystals react with the salivary gland secretions stored in their abdomens to create a droplet of toxic goo that can kill or paralyze worker termites from another species." Among social insects, the practice of sending older workers into battle is common, said Yves Roisin of Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.
Chair rage on the bus
"Police in Devon [England] are asking for help in finding a bus passenger who caused £200 [$316] worth of damage by eating his seat – or at least a chunk of it," reports The Guardian. "The young man was travelling on the bus in Paignton, on the English Riviera, when he was apparently seized by an attack of hunger or boredom and began biting the leather seat. It is not entirely clear whether he swallowed the hunk of seat or spat it out but CCTV footage caught the suspect gripping a bottle of fizzy drink, which he might have used to wash it down."
Thought du jour
"Lucidity of speech is unquestionably one of the surest tests of mental precision. … In my experience a confused talker is never a clear thinker."
– David Lloyd George (1863-1945), British prime minister