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Longing to be thin, roadside angels, you can kiss the Cup

Longing to be thin?

"As a child, were you encouraged to clean your plate and then go back for seconds?" Corrie Pikul writes for "If so, you probably didn't grow up in France, where children are taught to savour the feeling of longing, or envie, for their next course (just think of the cheese!). Our differing notions of satisfaction were examined in a 2006 study of 133 Parisians and 145 Chicagoans published in the journal Obesity. While the French paid attention to an internal cue, the feeling of fullness, the Windy City-ers relied on the external: when their plate was empty; when their companion had finished eating; or when - quelle horreur! - the credits started to roll on the TV show they were watching. Many Americans ignore the body's subtler signals of hunger and fullness, hearing only the clanging gong at each end of the pendulum - Starving! Stuffed! - and rarely pausing to enjoy the much more pleasant midpoint: Ahhh, satisfied."


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Roadside angels

"A Swiss scheme to use a guardian angel to urge motorists to slow down is proving such a success that it may be extended," Orange News U.K. reports. "Police in the state of Fribourg employed a winged man dressed in white to stand at the roadside to remind drivers to go slow. The professional actor waves and flaps his wings at motorists travelling too fast as part of the safe-driving campaign. … The actor is employed 20 hours per week to 'appear' in different parts of the 670-square-mile region of western Switzerland."

You can kiss the Cup

"Go ahead: Touch it, hug it, give it a big wet kiss. The Stanley Cup isn't the germ bomb you might suspect," Sam Roe reports for the Chicago Tribune. "The NHL champion Blackhawks' beloved trophy stopped by the Chicago Tribune newsroom Thursday, and so we took the opportunity to do something the Cup's keeper said had never been done: We swabbed it for germs. … Just 400 counts of general bacteria were found, [the lab reported] By comparison, a desk in an office typically has more than 10,000. 'I think that's great,' said a somewhat relieved Philip Pritchard, keeper of the Cup and curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Every day, he said, the Cup is washed with a soft detergent. Twice a year it's taken apart and professionally cleaned with a high-end silver polish. When the Cup is on tour, more than 5,000 people touch or kiss it a day, Pritchard said."

A myth evaporates

"It is a piece of advice that has been followed by generations of gardeners: Never water your plants in the full glare of the midday sun," Richard Gray writes for The Sunday Telegraph. "But research has contradicted the widely held belief that doing so can cause 'leaf burn.' Physicists who tested the theory that water droplets can act like mini magnifying lenses, focusing the midday sun's rays and scorching a leaf's surface, found the droplets were not able to concentrate the energy sufficiently to damage leaves before they evaporated." Dr. Gabor Horvath of Eotvos University in Hungary, who led the research, said: "We believe that completely unrelated types of leaf damage might be partly responsible for the widespread belief about sunburn caused by water drops. For example, drops of acid rain, salty sea or tap water, chlorinated water and concentrations of fertilizer or other chemicals can all cause sunburn-like brown patches. Plants could also suffer physiological stress from putting cold water on hot leaves."

That's life

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Some of the best eponymous laws, according to Wired magazine:

- Hofstadter's law: It always takes longer than you'd expect, even when you account for Hofstadter's law.

- Herblock's law: If it's good, they'll stop making it.

- Wirth's law: Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware is becoming faster.

- Stigler's law: No scientific discovery gets named for its original discoverer.

Voice-stress recruiting

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"A voice-based stress detector could identify which job candidates will perform better under pressure," New Scientist magazine reports. "So claims the detector's developer, Bo Yin at National Information and Communications Technology Australia, in Sydney. Normally, we have full control over our vocal muscles and change their position to create different intonations, says Yin. 'But when stressed, we lose control of the position of the speech muscles,' and our speech becomes more monotone, he says. Yin tested his stress detector in a call centre to identify which interviewees were more relaxed during recruitment tests. The number of new staff that left after three months subsequently fell from 18 per cent to 12 per cent, he claims."

Cigarette butt

This month, police in Wenatchee, Wash., were surprised at the amount of contraband an inmate was able to smuggle into jail rectally, Associated Press reports. The man, booked into jail to serve a disorderly conduct sentence, was carrying a cigarette lighter, rolling papers, a baggie of tobacco the size of a golf ball, a smaller baggie of marijuana, a one-inch smoking pipe, a bottle of tattoo ink and eight tattoo needles.

Thought du jour

"True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one self. But the point is not only to get out - you must stay out. And to stay out, you must have some absorbing errand."

- Henry James, quoted in The Independent

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