Three zebras that escaped from the Hearst Ranch in California were shot to death by neighbouring ranchers who claim the exotic animals were threatening their horses and cattle, Associated Press reports. William Randolph Hearst's great-grandson, Steve Hearst, said the ranchers should have called the Hearst Ranch to report the runaway zebras. "Neighbours are usually there to help their neighbours, not shoot their zebras," he added.
The craving for praise
"Are young people addicted to feeling good about themselves?" writes Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times. "Given the choice, young bright college students said they'd rather get a boost to their ego - like a compliment or a good grade on a paper - than eat a favourite food or engage in sex, a new paper suggests. … 'I was shocked,' said the lead researcher, Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University. 'Everybody likes compliments, but more than engaging in your favourite sexual activity? More than receiving a paycheque? I was surprised that it was such a powerful thing that it trumped everything else.'"
Prepare to be astounded
"Teenagers who look on the bright side of life appear less likely to suffer depression, Australian researchers reported. In a longitudinal study of more than 5,600 adolescents," says MedPage Today, "optimistic thinking appeared to protect against health risks such as emotional problems, substance use and antisocial behaviour, according to Dr. George C. Patton of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, and colleagues." Their study is published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Locks of love
"All around the world, lovers have unique ways of showing their affection for one another," reports weburbanist.com. "But few are as sweet and enduring as the act of locking a couple's love with a padlock and throwing away the keys. Love padlocks can be seen adorning walls, fences, chains, bridges and even lampposts throughout much of the world." The practice is thought to have originated in China, where lovers would write their names of initials on a padlock, lock it to a permanent public fixture and throw the keys into a river. Most love padlocks seem to be found in Europe and Asia. The custom probably originated in the 1980s, although many locks only appeared in the past five years.
Sex and taxes
The Dutch government has warned prostitutes who advertise their wares in the famed windows of Amsterdam's red-light district that they can expect a business-only visit from the taxman, who will audit them. Under Dutch law, says AP, prostitutes should be charging 19-per-cent sales tax.
"It's just what the midwife ordered," writes Max Benato in The Guardian. "You've given birth, your body's in free-fall, the baby's howling, your shoulder's covered in sick, you're propping your eyelids open with matchsticks and battling the baby blues. But, hey, why not have a party? The new baby trend taking the U.S. by storm is 'sip and see' - a post-birth, show-off extravaganza where you throw an open house party for people to drop in, sip your booze (champagne, obviously) and see your new offspring (looking angelic, obviously). It's only a matter of time before the phenomenon crosses the Atlantic - baby showers are just so last trimester."
Are you a Gink?
"As we zoom toward seven billion, population growth is looking ever more hairy and daunting," says Lisa Hymas at grist.org. "The big-picture solution is empowering women everywhere and making sure they have the tools, knowledge and support to control the size of their families, but that's not something an average person can tackle on a lunch break." She offers a list of suggestions, including: "If you think parenting isn't your thing, you could declare yourself a GINK (green inclinations, no kids). It might seem like a lonely choice, but more and more people are going child-free: Nearly one in five women end up not having kids, according to the latest stats."
Why not have a mammoth?
The woolly mammoth, extinct for thousands of years, could be brought back to life in as little as four years, thanks to a breakthrough in cloning technology, says The Daily Telegraph. "Previous efforts in the 1990s to recover nuclei in cells from the skin and muscle tissue from mammoths found in the Siberian permafrost failed because they had been too badly damaged by the extreme cold. But a technique pioneered in 2008 by Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology, was successful in cloning a mouse from the cells of another mouse that had been frozen for 16 years. Now that hurdle has been overcome, Akira Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University, is reactivating his campaign to resurrect the species that died out 5,000 years ago."
Thought du jour
"Nothing is so contagious as example - and our every really good or bad action inspires a similar one."
- François de la Rochefoucauld (1613-80), French author of maxims and memoirs