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In this Friday, May 3, 2013 photo, Diane Nott, of Elyria, Ohio, holds a gerbil prior to the society's annual New England pageant Saturday, in Bedford, Mass. (Rodrique Ngowi/AP)
In this Friday, May 3, 2013 photo, Diane Nott, of Elyria, Ohio, holds a gerbil prior to the society's annual New England pageant Saturday, in Bedford, Mass. (Rodrique Ngowi/AP)

A beauty pageant … for gerbils? Add to ...

Is your gerbil attractive?

This weekend, the American Gerbil Society held its annual pageant. Society president Libby Hanna tells the Associated Press what makes a gerbil good-looking:

“A male gerbil should be a good, strong, hefty-looking gerbil. If you are going to think of it in human terms, you might think of a football player – someone who’s big, thick neck, nice, strong-looking male gerbil.”

An ideal female gerbil will have a more streamlined appearance. “So she would be strong and athletic-looking – not really scrawny, but slim. I usually use a figure skater as my mental image, or gymnasts.”

Rich people not entirely awful

“Investment bankers raking in the dough on Wall Street may get a bad rap for being selfish, but a desire to make boatloads of money won’t automatically turn you into Scrooge McDuck,” says PopSci.com. “A study published in the April issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that many people primarily driven by a desire for wealth are still willing to help someone in need. Previous research has shown that people are more likely to help others if they aren’t in a hurry, and might be less likely to help others if they love money.” Yet in an experiment with 50 wealth-driven college students, mostly business majors, 78 per cent displayed a willingness to stop and lend assistance to someone in trouble regardless of whether they were in a hurry.

Smiling fools?

“In the history of portraiture – all the paintings of people done before the advent of photography – it’s hard to think of anyone smiling except Mona Lisa,” writes Lenore Skenazy in Psychology Today. “Smiling makes its entry into Western art primarily in the Renaissance ‘vanitas’ paintings depicting the folly of human existence and the temptations of the flesh, from sex to gambling to cheating, observes Richard Estelle, a Philadelphia artist who, along with his wife, Camille Ward, has studied the art history of smiles. The only folks grinning in those pictures are the fools about to have their wallets lifted or their money taken by cardsharps. To the old masters, smiles were for losers.”

Marriage and the age gap

“There’s a certain glamour in May-December relationships – where one partner, male or female, is much older, and the other is much younger,” writes Kevin Lewis of The Boston Globe. “But in slightly awkward news for these couples, it sounds like spouses with a big age gap may actually have some less desirable qualities, on average, than couples where partners are similar in age. Economists at the University of Colorado analyzed data from several nationwide surveys and found that spouses of the same age had higher test scores, higher educational attainment, worked in higher-wage occupations, were more attractive and (among women) had lower BMI in high school. Evidence suggests that ‘higher quality individuals spend more time in age-homogenous settings at ages when marriages most often form,’ as in selective universities and ‘in jobs with higher upward mobility, so that other individuals who share the same job description are similarly aged.’”

What tabloids talk about

Buzzfeed.com looked at all tabloid covers for the past year and counted the appearance of important words. The top 10, in descending order: 10. Diet; 9. Divorce; 8. Cheating; 7. Shocking; 6. Sex; 5. Marriage; 4. Pregnant; 3. Wedding; 2. Secret; 1. Baby.

Thought du jour

“Ultimately, politics in a democracy reflects values much more than it shapes them.”

Arnold Rogow, U.S. political scientist (1924-2006)

 

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