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Social studies

Forget working out: Drum yourself to an endorphin high Add to ...

The drummer’s high

“Jealous of the ‘runner’s high’ serious athletes feel after an intense vigorous workout?” asks Pacific Standard magazine. “Well, newly published research reveals three alternative ways you can release those mood-enhancing endorphins: singing, dancing and drumming. That’s the conclusion of a study by University of Oxford psychologist Robin Dunbar. He and his colleagues report people who have just been playing music have a higher tolerance for pain – an indication their bodies are producing endorphins, which are sometimes referred to as natural opiates. In their experiments, simply listening to music did not produce this positive effect. ‘We conclude that it is the actual performance of music that generates the endorphin high, not the music itself,’ the researchers write in the online journal Evolutionary Psychology.”

The ‘poorest’ President

“Laundry is strung outside the house,” reports BBC News. “The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside. This is the residence of the President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders. President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife’s farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo. The President and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers. The austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donates about 90 per cent of his monthly salary … to charity – has led him to be labelled the poorest President in the world.”

Dirty money rubs off

“Be careful the next time you handle dollar bills that aren’t crisp and clean – they might actually cost you,” writes Kevin Lewis of The Boston Globe. “In a series of experiments, psychologists found that dirty-looking money leads to dirty ethics. People who handled, or read about, dirty bills behaved more selfishly and were less concerned about reciprocity and fairness. It wasn’t the dirt alone that caused this debasement; handling dirty paper other than money actually made people more ethical. It was the combination of dirt and money that mattered. The researchers found this was true in the real world as well. After being presented with dirty bills, vendors at a farmer’s market were more likely to cheat customers.”

A necktie didn’t help?

“The demand of dozens of citizens has been denied in the Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil: There will be no jackass running for the legislature,” Associated Press says. “At least 40 people paraded their candidate through the city’s streets to the electoral council offices. Mr. Burro even wore a tie. But officials refused to even let them in the door on Thursday, even though backers had dummied up a mock voter registration card showing the candidate’s photo superimposed on a man wearing a business suit. Donkey backer Daniel Molina told local television stations the goal was to call voters’ attention to the seriousness of the February election, not to insult any party.”

The spread of new words

“Where do new words come from?” asks the New Scientist. “On Twitter at least, they often begin life in cities with large African-American populations before spreading more widely, according to a study of the language used on the social network. Jacob Eisenstein at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and colleagues examined 30 million tweets sent from U.S. locations between December, 2009, and May, 2011. Several new terms spread during this period, including ‘bruh,’ an alternative spelling of ‘bro’ or ‘brother,’ which first arose in a few southeast cities before eventually hopping to parts of California.”

Thought du jour

There is no mistake so great as the mistake of not going on.

William Blake, English poet and painter (1757-1827)

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