Geezers in the middle
"As people age, they develop the tendency to maintain a more central path [when driving]because they no longer feel entirely safe," The Telegraph reports. "… Although this safety mechanism might frustrate other drivers hoping to overtake, it helps elderly motorists cope as their movements become slower and less precise with age. Researchers from Leeds University compared the motor skills of a group of over-60s with younger adults aged 18 to 40 on a driving simulator which took them down virtual winding roads. They found that the older group was more likely to stick to the middle of the road and only cut corners when forced to drive fast, but the younger contingent took more risks."
A dozen new amphibians
"There hasn't been a lot of good news for frogs lately," The Denver Post reports. "First came the discovery of frogs with extra legs. Then, five years ago, the journal Nature reported that global warming, human encroachment and other factors had wiped out more than 100 amphibian species, of which frogs are the most prevalent, in just two decades. Into that bleak scenario rides a hero, Colorado State University researcher Chris Funk, with good frog news: There are more kinds of frogs than we thought. Prof. Funk, an assistant professor of biology, and his South American colleagues have spent years in Ecuador's Amazon Basin, cataloguing species. And what they found was a total of 12 never-before-identified species of frogs and toads."
Vending machine sees you
"A 'smart' vending machine that analyzes users' age and gender has been launched in the United States by Intel and Kraft Foods," says BBC News. "The iSample is being used to offer customers trials of a new dessert. It allows Kraft to tailor the product to the shopper, and exclude children from the adult-focused promotion. Intel says it intends to retrofit the technology to existing vending machines to allow companies to study what type of people are buying their products. The machine uses an optical sensor fitted to the top of the machine to recognize the shape of the human face. A computer processor then carries out a series of calculations based on measurements such as the distance between the eyes, nose and ears. These are used to determine the sex of the shopper and place them in one of four age brackets."
Cow memorial proposed
"It was a gruesome accident May 22," says the Chicago Tribune, "A truck driver lost control and his rig carrying 36 cows partially tipped over on an overpass. … The death toll totalled 16 head of cattle, including one badly injured animal that police shot to end its suffering. An animal-rights group now wants the Illinois Department of Transportation to erect an official roadside memorial sign. It would serve as a tribute to the victims, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which also seeks installation of a second memorial to six cows killed in traffic after they were thrown from a truck that overturned on Oct. 14 near Cambridge, Ill. 'Cows are intelligent, sensitive animals that feel pain the same way we do,' said Tracy Patton, a campaigner for PETA."
Doormen's tips rebound
"If holiday tipping is one indicator of where the economy is headed, then the doormen of Greenwich Village have good news: Tips are up this year," The Huffington Post reports. "Bolivar Morales Jr., a 26-year veteran doorman at a faculty apartment building for New York University, said the tips were still coming in on Friday morning. The envelopes contained an average of $200 [U.S.]to $300, which was better than during the Great Recession. 'I got an empty envelope a few years ago,' Morales said about the lowest point he experienced for a year-end bonus. 'I accepted it and I didn't say anything.' Other apartment building workers in the area reported receiving healthy cash tips in the last week. … This slice of the informal economy underscores news on Friday that the overall economic picture in the United States appears to be brightening."
"Large areas of northern Uganda are experiencing an outbreak of nodding syndrome, a mysterious disease that causes young children and adolescents to nod violently when they eat food," reports the New Scientist. "The disease, which may be an unusual form of epilepsy, could be linked to the parasitic worm responsible for river blindness, a condition that affects some 18 million people, most of them in Africa. … There is no known cure for nodding syndrome, so Uganda's Ministry of Health has begun using anticonvulsants such as sodium valproate to treat its signs and symptoms. Meanwhile, the disease is continuing to spread."
Thought du jour
"I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it." - Jonathan Winters (1925-), American comedian and actor