Down with vacations Yesterday afternoon (at 5:10 p.m. EDT), the halfway point of summer whizzed by and we are now closer to fall than spring. For some people, this is good news. Human beings weren't really made for a two-week summer vacation, according to Craig Kinsley, an associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Virginia. Looking at early humans, he says, it's apparent that competition for resources and for mates defined us. We needed time for rest, but rest amounted to a good night's sleep. And then we were ready for more action. "[Humans]were not designed nor were we shaped by the crucible of natural selection, to just sit around," he writes. "We crave stimulation, work, competition. Or most of us do." Sources: Chase's Calendar of Events, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant More thoughtful mice? "Do we want a mouse with a human brain?" writes Ronald Kotulak in Chicago Tribune. "A Stanford University professor proposes to replace mouse brains with human neurons to study neurological disorders. Would that be unethical or just yucky? Will the mouse develop human attributes such as self-awareness? That seems highly unlikely, but a Stanford ethics panel is mulling over whether to approve the experiment." Ask a journalist
How about those airline sandwiches? While working in Qatar, Jonathan Boyd and Katie Deacon of England adopted a cat named Ozzy and decided to bring him home, reports The Week magazine. Upon arriving in London, they found he had escaped from his cage. After 10 days, Ozzy was eventually found stowing away in the aircraft's tail. He had taken 10 trips between London and Qatar and apparently survived by snacking on airline workers' sandwiches while they were unloading the plane.
How do interrogators work? The head of the U.S. army interrogation team at Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan, is a 30-year-old reserve sergeant who works in civilian life as a corporate tax specialist in the London office of accounting firm KPMG. Another Bagram interrogator, says The Los Angeles Times, is a public-relations consultant with Fleischman-Hillard in New York. Both say that their civilian and military jobs are not entirely dissimilar. In interrogation work, says the PR guy, "everything that you say matters. How the room is set up matters. That's the same in public relations. Everything is a rehearsed event." Torsos: short or long? Women have three body types, reports The Cleveland Plain Dealer: short torso-long legs; shorter legs-long torso; a combination of both.
"If you don't know which type you are, here's a way to find out: Measure the distance between the bottom of your rib cage and the top of your hipbone. If it is one or two inches, you have a short torso; three to five inches, a combination body; and more than five inches, you have a long torso." Let's talk birds
Chatham, Ont., which is mobbed by 160,000 cawing birds, is considered the unofficial crow capital of North America, reports The Chicago Tribune. The American Crow can bark like a dog and it can begin shrieking about 4:30 a.m. Crows have performed as well as monkeys in some psychological tests.
Extremely wary and obsessed with food, crows have been known to post sentries to watch for danger when they eat.
Almost everything about turkey vultures is a turn-off, says The Boston Globe. The birds defecate all over their legs. They regurgitate dead animals and sling them at intruders. Their strong digestive juices can kill any disease-carrying germs; in fact, when they expel their feces onto their own legs they are actually cleaning them.
Pigeons are almost entirely unaffected by opium, according to Gail Bell's recently published book, The Poison Principle. Out of sites Some Western celebrities make big money by appearing in Japanese commercials. Their magnificently silly antics are shown at , writes David Lyman of the Detroit Free Press.
"There's Brad Pitt grimacing while waiting to use the bathroom. Mariah Carey squealing and playing soccer . . . be sure to peek in on the Brooke Shields Nescafé ad in which she portrays a professional dancer." Thought du jour "It would be nice sometimes if the kind things I say were considered worthy of quotation. It isn't difficult, you know, to be witty or amusing when one has something to say that is destructive, but damned hard to be clever and quotable when you are singing someone's praises." -- Noel Coward