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(Stock photo/Thinkstock)
(Stock photo/Thinkstock)

SOCIAL STUDIES

Bald equals powerful but not sexy Add to ...

Baldies have an edge

“Men: Do you want to project an aura of confidence, strength and overall masculinity?” asks Pacific Standard magazine. “You could experiment with testosterone supplements, or study the swagger of Don Draper during a Mad Men marathon. Or you could just shave your head. Three newly published studies ‘provide consistent evidence that a shaved scalp is associated with dominance,’ according to Albert Mannes of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, he reports that, at least in U.S. culture, a lack of hair connotes a forceful, assertive personality. … [But] don’t reach for that razor quite yet. Dr. Mannes found the Yul Brynner look came with a down side. The men were consistently viewed as less attractive when their heads were shaved.”

Learning? Take a break

“The adage ‘use it or lose it’ has led many aging adults to work on crossword puzzles, participate in web activities for memory improvement and do mental exercises to challenge cognition,” says Psych Central. “A new study suggests that maybe all they really need to do to cement new learning is to sit and close their eyes for a few minutes. Psychological scientist Michaela Dewar, PhD, and her colleagues show that memory can be boosted by taking a brief wakeful rest after learning something verbally new. ‘Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds,’ says Dr. Dewar.”

Loud sex can be deadly

“Flies may not scream out in ecstasy during sex, but they do create quite a buzz with their wings,” says NBCNews.com. “And now researchers have found these mating moans can be heard by bats hungry for a meal. The result: Wild Natterer’s bats get a double-size meal of copulating flies; the mating flies, rather than offspring, get death. In the study, detailed this week in the journal Current Biology, Stefan Greif from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany and colleagues found bats didn’t seem to notice the flies walking on a ceiling or just sitting. That suggests there’s something about mating sounds that outs the flies to bat predators. The researchers said this is one of the very few studies to show that copulating animals are at a higher risk of being eaten by predators.”

Eating flies? Yech

“Kangaroo ham. Rhino pie. Trunk of elephant. Horse’s tongue. Domestic life was a trifle off at William Buckland’s home,” writes Sam Kean in The Wall Street Journal. “Some visitors to his Oxford, England, house in the early 1800s best remembered his front hallway, lined with the grinning skulls of fossilized monsters. Others recalled the live monkeys swinging around. But no one could forget Buckland’s diet. A deeply religious geologist, he held the story of Noah dear, and he ate his way through most of Noah’s ark. There were only a few animals he couldn’t stomach: ‘The taste of mole was the most repulsive I knew,’ Buckland once mused, ‘until I tasted a bluebottle [fly].’ ”

Extra calories, please

“When you order something online, you avoid long lines, there are infinite options at your fingertips, and no one can see your face,” reports April Fulton for U.S. National Public Radio. “So it comes as little surprise, then, when people order food online, they might go a little overboard. … Ryan McDevitt, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business, examined 160,000 orders of a North Carolina pizza chain over four years. He found that online orders by the same people who had previously ordered in traditional ways were 15 per cent more complex, 4 per cent pricier, and 6 per cent more calorific. For example, people quadrupled their bacon toppings online.”

A linguistic Sherlock

“The pioneer of forensic linguistics,” writes Jack Hitt in The New Yorker, “is widely considered to be Roger Shuy, a retired Georgetown University professor … Shuy has become famous in his discipline for some of the field’s finest Holmesian aperçus. Early in his career, the police in Illinois approached him regarding a notorious kidnapping case; they had several suspects, and they hoped his reading of the ransom notes might help narrow down the list of suspects. In each note, the kidnapper demanded money in a semiliterate rant: ‘No kops! Come alone!!’ followed by a terse instruction – ‘Put it in the green trash kan on the devil strip at the corner of 18th and Carlson.’ Shuy studied the letters and then asked, ‘Is one of your suspects an educated man born in Akron, Ohio?’ The cops were stunned. There was one who matched that description perfectly, and when confronted he confessed. As Shuy subsequently explained, ‘kop’ and ‘kan’ most likely were intentional misspellings by someone posing as illiterate. And he knew from his research that the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street … is called the ‘devil’s strip’ only in Akron, Ohio.”

Thought du jour

“There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats grape-nuts on principle.”

- G.K. Chesterton, English writer (1874-1936)

 

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