60 and never better
"A long-term study of over 3,500 adults revealed that self-esteem ramps up as young adults progress to middle age, and then begins to decline around retirement age," Psych Central News reports. "Researchers studied men and women ranging in age from 25 to 104. The study took place during the period 1986-2002 with researchers assessing self-esteem on four occasions. … Self-esteem was lowest among young adults but increased throughout adulthood, peaking at age 60, before it started to decline. These results are reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology."
Two ways to be anxious
"Worrying could actually be good for you because it lessens the effect of depression, a study suggests," Richard Alleyne reports for The Daily Telegraph. "Scientists studying the mental condition found that anxious apprehension or worry negates the ill effects of the disease. This was in direct contrast to a different type of anxiety called anxious arousal which is characterized by fear and panic. Scientists made the discovery by monitoring activity in the brain when people were experiencing one of the two types of anxiety while also depressed. The results suggest that fearful vigilance sometimes heightens the brain activity associated with depression, whereas worry may actually counter it, thus reducing some of the negative effects of depression and fear. Prof. Gregory Miller, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, said: 'It could be that having a particular type of anxiety will help processing in one part of the brain while at the same time hurting processing in another part of the brain.' "
"What good is a currency that is not even worth the paper it's printed on?" Jeremy Kahn writes for The Boston Globe. "That's the intriguing question raised by the new 'zero rupee note' now circulating in southern India. It looks just like the country's 50-rupee bill but with some crucial differences: It is printed on just one side on plain paper, it bears a big fat 'O' denomination, and it isn't legal tender. The notes do, however, have value to the people who carry them. They're designed as a radical new response to the pervasive problem of petty corruption. Citizens are encouraged to hand the notes to public officials in response to the bribery demands that are almost inescapable when dealing with the government [in India] … In one sense, the idea seems absurd - fighting a serious problem like entrenched corruption with something that looks like a prank. But remarkably, the zero rupee note appears to work, as 5th Pillar [the good-government organization that prints it]says it has found in hundreds of cases."
Truckers' idle time
Thanks to the economy, some U.S. truckers are finding themselves with more spare time on the road, Jennifer Levitz writes for The Wall Street Journal. "Though evidence is anecdotal, industry groups and trucking-company owners say the increase in spare time has spawned more hobbies. 'We've got guys who are into opera, photography, skydiving,' said Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a truckers' group. … Iowa-based Don Hummer Trucking Corp. last year started a loosely organized 'sewing club,' and encourages drivers who are nimble with a needle to show off their handiwork at headquarters. 'We want them to pass the time to make themselves happy, rather than get frustrated waiting,' said Dena Boelter, Hummer's human resources manager … Thomas McConnaughy, a married grandfather from Hemet, Calif., hauls cereal, reads his Bible, plays sudoku and talks trout fishing at truck stops. He doesn't let on to other drivers that he keeps 15 coils of yarn in his cab and makes what he describes as 'really cute slippers.' "
Being able to see time
"Two per cent of readers," New Scientist reports, "may be surprised to discover that they are members of an elite group with the power to perceive the geography of time. … They experience time as a spatial construct. Synesthesia is the condition in which the senses are mixed, so that a sound or a number has a colour, for example. In one version, the sense of touch evokes emotions. To those variants we can now add time-space synesthesia. 'In general, these individuals perceive months of the year in circular shapes, usually just as an image inside their mind's eye,' says David Brang of the department of psychology at the University of California, San Diego. … One of Brang's subjects was able to see the year as a circular ring surrounding her body. The 'ring' rotated clockwise throughout the year so that the current month was always inside her chest with the previous month right in front of her chest. … Brang suspects that time-space synesthesia happens when the neural processes underlying spatial processing are unusually active."
Thought du jour
"Inside every older woman is a young girl wondering what the hell happened."
- Cora Harvey Armstrong