Monkey wins promotion
"A 'change of power' ceremony," says The Japan Times, "took place in early March for a troop of some 540 wild monkeys fed by humans at a mountain in Oita, with a local official issuing a certificate to formally recognize the new alpha male. The Takasakiyama (Mount Takasaki) Natural Zoological Garden conducted the ceremony March 3 after a one-month observation period to make sure that Makoto, a male macaque estimated to be 14 years old, had indeed become the troop's boss, taking over the post from Tiger, believed to be 26 years old.… During the ceremony, which was observed by zoo visitors, Makoto was given an alpha male certificate, issued by Oita Mayor Ban Kugimiya, and bananas, a special treat for the macaques."
Who is happiest?
"Who are the happiest people?" asks The Huffington Post. "According to a new report from Gallup, it's those who regularly go to a place of worship, whether it be a church, mosque or synagogue. And maybe it shouldn't be a surprise, but the churchgoers' positive emotions are especially high on Sundays – while everyone else actually sees a decline in mood on that day, according to the findings of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index."
Rich and happy
"[N]w research suggests that the relationship between happiness and money is far more complex than has been appreciated," The Guardian reports. "Two leading economists claim that happiness makes people earn more, possibly because happier people are more productive and are promoted faster. Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of University College London and Prof. Andrew Oswald of Warwick University examined the earliest years of randomly selected people and found that, even when other factors were taken into account, their happiness levels when young clearly determined the likelihood of whether they would go on to enjoy higher earnings later in life."
The endowment effect
"The human urge to acquire is so deeply ingrained that even when we aren't diagnosable [as compulsive hoarders] we can be overrun," Psychology Today reports. "This deep-seated bent results in counterintuitive, sometimes illogical, relationships to stuff. It was University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler who demonstrated the endowment effect – the phenomenon in which just owning something causes you to overestimate its worth. When Prof. Thaler gave half his experimental subjects mugs and the other half pens, no one wanted to trade – even though the rate of trade, by chance alone, should have been 50 per cent. Yet other researchers extended the endowment effect to money, showing that sports fans would spend far more for a ticket bought with a credit card than one bought with cash; parting with paper bills caused true emotional pain."
Squirrel attacks officials
"Park officials planning to chop down woodlands … were attacked by an angry squirrel," reports Orange News U.K. "The town hall experts in Bialystok, Poland, were discussing which trees to fell in the public park when the [furious]beast leaped into their office through an open window and destroyed all their plans and paperwork. 'The squirrel jumped onto the table and went berserk, tearing all our papers to shreds. If I didn't know it was impossible, I'd think he'd overheard us planning to cut his trees down,' said one official. Wildlife experts eventually trapped the tufty terror and took him back to the nearby woods."
George comes first
"A British woman said she had to postpone her wedding after spending more than $4,700 on chemotherapy for her pet lizard," reports United Press International. "Lizzie Griffiths, 25, of London said she adopted George, her bearded dragon, last year and decided to postpone her wedding to Chris Fisher so she could spend their saved cash to treat the reptile's cancer, The Sun reported Thursday. 'Chris knows George will always come first,' Griffiths said."
Thought du jour
"It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."
- Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author and humorist