A herd of Americans
"Americans like to see themselves as rugged individualists," Claude Fischer writes for The Boston Globe. "… But are Americans really so uniquely individualistic? Are we, for example, more committed individualists than people in those socialist-looking nations of Europe? The answer appears to be no. For many years now, researchers worldwide have been conducting surveys to compare the values of people in different countries. And when it comes to questions about how much the respondents value the individual against the collective - that is, how much they give priority to individual interest over the demand of groups, or personal conscience over the orders of authority - Americans consistently answer in a way that favours the group over the individual. In fact, we are more likely to favour the group than Europeans are."
A horde of cockroaches
"Cockroaches 'recommend' good food sources to each other by communicating in chemicals, according to scientists. The much-maligned insects appear to make a collective decision about the best food source," BBC News reports. "The study, carried out by a team from Queen Mary, University of London, helps explain why the creatures are often found feeding en masse in our kitchens late at night. It was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau from Queen Mary's school of biological and chemical sciences led the research. … It was generally accepted that the insects foraged individually, 'but that's definitely not true,' said Dr. Lihoreau. 'Anyone who has cockroaches in their home will tell you that's wrong - you see them in groups.' "
Need a job? Have a job
"Still waiting for a response to the 300 résumés you sent out last month? Bad news: Some companies are ignoring all unemployed applicants," Laura Bassett writes for Huffingtonpost.com. "In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defence and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Tex., advertises for a 'quality engineer.' Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, 'Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.' " A human resources representative for the company explained: "We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. … [We]try to rifle-shoot the folks we're interested in."
Have a cup of nature
"Just 20 minutes outdoors can have the same pick-me-up effect as a cup of coffee because of the instantly energizing powers of nature, according to psychologists. From being stuck in the house to deskbound workers," The Daily Telegraph reports, "a simple stroll in the open air is as revitalizing as a caffeine-fuelled injection, a new study claims. And people do not even have to do something active outside to enjoy the benefits. U.S. research found they would be more energized outdoors even if they were doing nothing, it adds. The underlying bond between the human body and the natural world serves to make 'people feel more alive,' said psychology professor Richard Ryan for the Journal of Environmental Psychology. The researcher from the University of Rochester, [N.Y.] added: 'Nature is fuel for the soul.' "
Twittering on high
Big-box stores and some office buildings are occasionally visited by birds, who always sound lost. Kathryn Rem of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., looked at birds in buildings in 2007 and wrote: "Experts say they're most likely just fine. … 'Mostly, you see house sparrows or European starlings. Possibly, there's a mourning dove or rock pigeon,' said Steve Bailey, an ornithologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey in Urbana-Champaign. But usually it's the little brown sparrows - cavity nesters by nature - that settle in the steel beams of home-improvement stores, farm stores and warehouse groceries. … Bailey said the most humane way to rid a big-box store of birds is to entice them to a lower area with food and then catch them with a net or cage."
Thought du jour
"Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you."
- John Irving, quoted in The Times of London