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Talking points: Video games and memory, the Mushroom Diet and ‘jobless' wasps

UPS driver Dustin Bockman tracked this 330-kilogram alligator in the Mississippi River for two hours before getting close enough to spear it in Vicksburg, Miss.


Gaming your age

Don't toss out that Pac-Man game just yet. A study published in the journal Nature claims that video games may actually improve the memory of older players. Long accused of making people dumber, video games were the focus of a study designed to boost the memory power of players aged 60 and older. Participants played a car-racing game that forced them to divide their attention between steering the vehicle and recognizing road signs. After only 12 hours of play, they improved their memory to the point where they could beat people in their 20s playing for the first time. "Challenging yourself with new situations is needed for maintaining your brain," said Maria Carillo of the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association.

Out, damned spot

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Mad about mushrooms and looking to drop a few pounds? The British weight-loss craze known as the Mushroom Diet, a.k.a. the M-Plan, has officially made the move to North America, courtesy of ringing endorsements from Kelly Osbourne and other celebrities. The Mushroom Diet resurrects the long-standing miracle claim of "spot reducing" and supposedly allows women to trim down such problem spots as the waist and upper arms while leaving their bosom intact (Katy Perry is also an advocate). The mushroom regimen seems simple enough – swap out your regular lunch or dinner with a mushroom-based dish for two weeks – but are there any dangers? "The Mushroom Diet is simply a low-calorie diet," New York dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot recently told ABC News. "If you consume less calories you will lose weight, just not everywhere but your breasts."

Beware jobless wasps

For those who thought the wasps here were a nuisance, be grateful you don't live in Britain. The British Red Cross has issued a statement warning the public that record numbers of inebriated and "jobless" wasps are more likely to attack people in the weeks ahead. Thanks to a harsh winter and late spring, there are far more wasp colonies in England than usual this fall. At this stage in their life cycle, the wasp queens have been fully supplied with all the nectar they require, which leaves the worker wasps with nothing else to do but laze about and get inebriated on fermenting fruit. And just like humans, wasps apparently get aggressive when tipsy.


"A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart."

Peggy Noonan

Wall Street Journal columnist and former political speechwriter

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