Dump the chatterboxes
"Worried about loose-tongued friends sharing your private details with the world?" says the New Scientist. "Culling the least discreet members of your social network will help you feel more secure, but it's not a perfect solution. What if your best friend is an offender? … Pritam Gundecha at Arizona State University in Tempe has a technique for working out which friends are most likely to leak private information so you can remove them, if you choose. Gundecha examined the relative importance of data two million Facebook users elect to share with the world and calculated the privacy risks friends pose to each other. For example, around 80 per cent of users are happy to disclose their gender, but less than 1 per cent share their home address. That suggests people publicizing their address aren't particularly privacy-conscious and you might want to avoid them."
Flattering old mirrors
"As recently as the mid-19th century," writes Joshua Zeitz in Flapper (2006), "most mirrors cast back cloudy representations of real life, leading one historian to speculate that 'American women and men had only a hazy apprehension of their facial qualities.' When Maria Lydig Daley gazed upon her image in a hotel mirror, she was appalled at how 'old and ugly' she appeared. Upon returning home, Daley was reassured by her own looking glass, which offered a more familiar image of youth and beauty."
Glamorous world of tutors
"It's a Saturday evening, and 45 teenagers have gathered here to watch Richard Eng perform," Slate reports. "Some days he'll play to three or four times as many kids, his high cheekbones and bright teeth projected on flat-screen TVs. … The 17-year-olds sit rapt as a headset-wearing Eng gesticulates wildly, using adolescent slang and poking fun. They giggle at steady intervals; one girl produces a palpable sigh. When he leaves, they'll congregate to take bets on what he's likely to wear next time. The glossy manuals they hold, emblazoned with the words 'Richard 2011' and portraits of the man in various outfits, look like event programs. But this isn't a pop concert – it's an after-school tutoring session. Welcome to the flash and glitz of Hong Kong's celebrity tutors. Eng, 47, was the first to realize he could become famous – and rich – by packaging himself like a teen idol, but an entire industry of after-school instructors has since followed suit. They appear on the backs and sides of buses, on billboards that overhang well-trafficked avenues, in radio spots, television shows and full-page newspaper ads."
If only we had known
"Not all college students are extroverted, and not all college students need to party to be happy," Psych Central reports. "Researchers in a new study compared strategies used by extroverted college students and their less socially inclined peers. They discovered happy people who are less outgoing relied less on partying and drinking to be happy and more on connections with family and friends, or cognitive strategies such as positive thinking."
Bees in peril
– "A Washington State fire chief says a man dumped gasoline on a beehive in a tree in retaliation for a bee sting, then ignited the hive, causing an explosion heard throughout his suburban neighbourhood, just a few miles south of the Canadian border," Associated Press reports. "Lynden chief Gary Baar [told]the Bellingham Herald that the Sunday night fire caused a large 'whoosh,' singed the tree and killed the bees, but no people were hurt. … The fire chief [said] 'The correct way to do that is to call a beekeeper.' "
– Tropical Storm Irene ripped a hollowed-out branch off an enormous tree in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park, exposing a hive of 30,000 to 40,000 honeybees, The New York Times reports. Word quickly spread that a feral hive was up for grabs, setting off a feud between two of the city's main beekeeping groups. They squabbled as a police bee handler freed the hive. Eventually, a compromise of sorts was reached: The hive will be cared for by one keeper and split in the spring, if any bees survive the winter.
A step toward rainmaking
"Researchers from the University of Geneva used lasers to create water droplets in the air, in a development which could eventually lead to man-made weather systems," The Telegraph reports. "Although the technique, known as laser-assisted water condensation, does not work in dry air, scientists were able to generate the droplets in very humid conditions over the Rhone river in Switzerland. The drops created – just thousandths of a millimetre across – were nowhere near heavy enough to fall as rain, but the experts hope that by making them hundreds of times larger they will be able to create or prevent rainfall in the right conditions. The method works by firing laser beams into the air, creating nitric acid particles which draw water molecules together and stop them from evaporating, according to a study in the Nature Communications journal."
Thought du jour
"Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real."
– Iris Murdoch (1919-99), Irish-born British author