Two faces, double chin
"Never mind that some restaurants have started listing calories on their menus," says Associated Press. "Forget even that we keep saying we want to eat healthy. When Americans eat out, we order burgers and fries anyway. … In a country where more than two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese, food choices are often made on impulse, not intellect. So, while 47 per cent of Americans say they'd like restaurants to offer healthier items like salad and baked potatoes, only 23 per cent tend to order those foods, according to a survey last year by food research firm Technomic."
Why mistakes are good
"Individuals who believe they can learn from a mistake have a different brain reaction just after making an error than those who think intelligence is fixed, according to a new study to be published in Psychological Science," Psych Central reports. " 'One big difference between people who think intelligence is malleable and those who think intelligence is fixed is how they respond to mistakes,' says Jason Moser of Michigan State University. … In general, when a person makes a mistake, the brain puts out two quick signals: The first indicates that something has gone wrong, and a second indicates that the person is consciously aware of the mistake and is trying to correct it. Both signals occur within a quarter of a second of the mistake. For the study, volunteers were asked to perform a task in which mistakes could be easily made. … Individuals who believed in the idea of learning from mistakes actually did better after making a mistake. Their brains also reacted differently, creating a stronger second signal, the one that says, 'I see that I've made a mistake, so I should pay more attention,' says Moser."
Who handles global money?
"Conventional wisdom says a few sticky, fat fingers control a disproportionate slice of the world economy's pie," says Science News. "A new analysis suggests that the conventional wisdom is right on the money. Diagramming relationships among more than 43,000 corporations reveals a tightly linked core of top economic actors. In 2007, a mere 147 companies controlled nearly 40 per cent of the monetary value of all transnational corporations, researchers report. … 'This is empirical evidence of what's been understood anecdotally for years,' says information theorist Brandy Aven of Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh."
In search of kindred guts
"Move over Facebook, there's another social network in town," says the New Scientist. "And this one knows its users inside out. MyMicrobes aims to bring together individuals with the same gut flora so that they can share questions and concerns about their digestive health. To join, you must provide a stool sample by post – along with $2,100 [U.S.]to cover the cost of having the DNA of your gut bacteria sequenced. The site offers a way to meet people with similar gastrointestinal complaints and share digestive anecdotes with one another. Yes, it's pretty niche. In exchange, the researchers behind the scheme will gather a wealth of data about the bacteria that live in people's guts."
Survival tips for executives
"British Airways is offering its frequent fliers the chance to trade in their air miles for a place on a course instructing passengers how to survive plane crashes," The Telegraph reports. "Members of the airline's Executive Club will be able to benefit from a four-hour session on air safety, when the scheme begins next year. … [T]ose who sign up to the courses can learn techniques to increase their chances of surviving a crash. Andy Clubb, the BA manager running the course, told The Independent: 'It makes passengers safer when travelling by giving additional skills and information, it dispels all those Internet theories about the 'brace' position and it just gives people so much more confidence in flying.' "
Thought du jour
"No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself."
John Steinbeck (1902-68), U.S. writer and Nobel laureate