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Some dogs have a naturally gloomy outlook.


Dogs happy or gloomy

"Scientists have confirmed what many pet owners have long suspected: some dogs have a more gloomy outlook on life than others," The Guardian reports. "The unusual insight into canine psychology emerged from a study by Bristol University researchers into how dogs behave when separated from their owners. Dogs that were generally calm when left alone were also found to have a 'dog bowl half full' attitude to life, while those that barked, relieved themselves and destroyed furniture appeared to be more pessimistic, the study concluded."

Lights out to stay slim?

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"The secret to maintaining a healthy weight," The Daily Telegraph reports, "could be as easy as turning off the lights at night, new research suggests. … Researchers found mice exposed to a relatively dim light at night over eight weeks had gained a third more weight than those in a standard light-dark cycle. Laura Fonken, a neuroscientist at Ohio State University, said: 'Although there were no differences in activity levels or daily consumption of food, the mice that lived with light at night were getting fatter than the others.' The findings, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest there is a 'wrong' time to eat."

Free-market fattening

In a recent study, economic historian Avner Offer of Oxford University and two co-authors looked at obesity rates of wealthy, developed countries and found striking disparities, Foreign Policy magazine reports. "Some 30 per cent of U.S. citizens and 29 per cent of Australians are obese, while fewer than 20 per cent of carb-loving French and Italians are overweight. … The real culprit, Offer argues, is anxiety about money and jobs. In other words, citizens with more economic stress tend to supersize their fries. This squares with new research published by the American Medical Association on 'recession obesity,' the tendency of waistlines to grow along with unemployment numbers. … So could it be free-market capitalism itself that is making us fat? According to Offer's findings, countries with fewer labour protections and government benefits have an obesity rate six percentage points higher than those with more generous welfare states."

A good way to study

"Spelling bees have become a surprisingly popular spectator sport, televised live and celebrated in books, films and a Broadway musical," reports. "Our fascination with this phenomenon is multifaceted, but it's based in wonder at how those kids could possibly learn all those words. New research provides a clear answer: Because they studied. A lot. By themselves. That's the conclusion of a team of scholars led by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth."

Break the routine

"How do you count time in a marriage? In a career? In a research project? What is the measure of time during an illness?" Alva Noë writes for "Not seconds, minutes, hours, days. So now we come to the crux: Time goes faster as you get older, but this is because, as a general rule, by the time we are older, we have settled in on the story lines and narrative arcs by which we structure our lives. … Want to live forever? Break your habits. Do things you don't know how to do and forswear the routine."

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Addiction: 9 per cent

"Marijuana is addictive for about 9 per cent of adults who use it (compared with about 15 per cent who use alcohol and 15 per cent who use cocaine), according to [U.S.]federal data."

Los Angeles Times

Social networks: 233

In a survey of social networking around the world, Malaysians were No. 1 with an average of 233 friends each. The Japanese, with an average of just 29 each, were ranked last out of the 46 countries surveyed.

BBC News

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Thought du jour

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions."

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006), Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate

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