It's sting time
"Though summer is winding down, this is the most likely time of year to be stung by wasps and similar predatory insects, entomologists say," The Boston Globe reports. "… There are now more adult wasps than at any time of the year, and they are all competing for sustenance, making them more likely to prowl garbage bins, picnic tables, or anywhere people leave food … 'This is the time of year that they're scavenging for food stocks to keep their queens alive for the coming year,' said Lee Corte-Real, director of the division of crop and pest services at the [Massachusetts]Department of Agriculture Resources. 'They're foraging desperately as the weather gets cooler, and sometimes people get in their way.' "
Maybe it didn't like you
"Individual insects and bugs may all look alike to human eyes, but each and every one is unique and possesses its own personality, suggests new research that also helps to explain how personality arises in virtually all organisms," Jennifer Viegas reports for Discovery News. "Some individual bugs, like humans, turn out to be shy, while others are very forceful, determined the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 'Boldness, explorativeness, activity and aggressiveness are the main personality traits usually measured because these connect to each other and appear together,' lead author Eniko Gyuris [said]"
Useful study tips
"Every September, millions of parents try a kind of psychological witchcraft, to transform their summer-glazed campers into fall students, their video-bugs into bookworms," Benedict Carey writes for The New York Times. "Advice is cheap and all too familiar … Yet there are effective approaches to learning, at least for those who are motivated. In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying. … For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing."
No show of hands, please
"Put your hand down, smarty-pants," Jack Grimston writes for The Sunday Times of London. "An experiment has found that a class of schoolchildren learns twice as quickly when the most confident ones are not allowed to use their hands when the teacher asks a question. Instead, all the children in the class write the answer to the teacher's question on a small white board and hold it up simultaneously or stick their thumbs up or down at the same time to answer a yes or no question. 'The kids and teachers hated it at the beginning,' said Prof. Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of London University's institute of education. 'The kids who were used to having a quiet time were rattled at having to do something; the ones who were used to showing off to the teacher were upset.' Prof. Williams' methods … will be shown in The Classroom Experiment, two one-hour documentaries to be shown on BBC2 later this month."
No napping in public
Taiwan's military has banned its soldiers from napping - or even closing their eyes - while wearing their uniforms in public, media and the defence ministry said late last month, The ban immediately met a hail of criticism, including some from soldiers who said they are being treated like robots. "Servicemen should avoid napping or resting with their eyes closed while taking public transportation to maintain the image of the armed forces," the ministry said in a statement.
Source: Agence France-Presse
16 films? Staggering
"Call it Zombies 101," Associated Press reports. "The University of Baltimore is offering a new class on the undead. The course is being taught by Arnold Blumberg, the author of a book on zombie movies, Zombiemania, and the curator of Geppi's Entertainment Museum, which focuses on American pop culture. Students taking English 333 will watch 16 classic zombie films and read zombie comics." Chicago's Columbia College and Simpson College in Iowa also have zombie studies.
Other hot courses
At Harvard this fall, The Daily Beast website reports, star chefs are teaching a science class on molecular gastronomy. Middlebury College in Vermont has a class on the "millennial generation" that looks at representations of adolescents in Harry Potter and Glee. Meanwhile, Smith College in Massachusetts is offering a philosophy course on the semiotics of garbage titled Talking Trash.
Thought du jour
"There is a Law of Reversed Effort. The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent Unknown Quantity may take hold. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us."
- Aldous Huxley