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Parenting: 12 minutes a day may just be enough

What to ask your kids

"After commuting, cooking dinner and doing household chores, the average [British] parent has just 30 minutes to devote to their children in the evenings," reports The Daily Telegraph. "However, parenting experts believe just 12 minutes a day may be enough for mothers and fathers to fully reconnect with their child – as long as they ask the right questions." Suggested open-ended questions:

(Ages 3-4) "Who is taller – mummy or your teacher?"

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(Ages 4-8) "Can you act out what you did at [recess]?" "Give you three guesses what I did today!"

(Ages 8-14) "I've got a great story for you but I want one in return – you first!" "Where are you off to with your friends this week?"

Husky voices are sexiest?

"In 1977," says The Times of London, "Barry White sang I'm Qualified to Satisfy You. It has taken 30 years, but science has now confirmed that women really are more satisfied by deep, husky voices. Men, however, prefer their partners to have higher-pitched voices." Yi Xu, a researcher at University College London, believes that the explanation is all to do with a careful tradeoff between body size and, in the case of women choosing men, not being too scary. "What we found is that for males listening to females, they preferred the voice to be high-pitched – although not too high – and as breathy as possible. These suggest a small body size," he said. "Marilyn Monroe would be a very good female example." For women, too much male aggression is to be avoided. "The pitch [of a man's voice] indicates masculinity," Xu said. "However, breathiness, which is not associated with being large, moderates the aggressiveness."

Speak and be seen

"New research shows the sound of a person's voice strongly influences how he or she is seen," writes Sue Shellenbarger in The Wall Street Journal. "The sound of a speaker's voice matters twice as much as the content of the message, according to a study last year of 120 executives' speeches by Quantified Impressions, an Austin, Tex., communications analytics company. Researchers used computer software to analyze speakers' voices, then collected feedback from a panel of 10 experts and 1,000 listeners. The speakers' voice quality accounted for 23 per cent of listeners' evaluations; the content of the message accounted for 11 per cent. Other factors were the speakers' passion, knowledge and presence."

Long-distance composers

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Many composers, such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, required a long daily walk to keep their ideas flowing, writes Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. "The most extreme example is the French composer Erik Satie, who each morning would walk from his home in a Paris suburb to the city's Montmartre district, a distance of about 10 kilometres. There he would visit friends, work on his compositions in cafes, eat dinner and go out drinking – often missing the last train home, in which case he would walk back again, slipping into bed just before sunrise (and then getting up and walking back a few hours later)."

Honest dollars preferred

"New research finds that morals and conscience play a role in how we view money," says Psych Central. "In particular, researchers discover that when people perceive money as morally tainted, they also view it as having less value and purchasing power since it was obtained by immoral means. … In the new study, social scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University discovered compelling evidence that the source of wealth really does matter. In fact, some people avoid ill-gotten gains – such as profits from unfair labour practices or insider trading – for fear of 'moral contagion.'"

Thought du jour

"Oratory: the art of making deep noises from the chest sound like important messages from the brain."

H.I. Phillips, American writer (?-1965)

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