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social studies

Office friendships may be the stronger than any other Add to ...

Best friends at work

Far from causing fallings-out or cutthroat rivalry for promotions, office friendships are “closer and more emotional than any other,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Even workers who seem to have little in common can become best friends. And far from the backbiting of contestants on television hit The Apprentice, workmates can become best friends in the face of adversity, the study says. The report from Lancaster University for the journal Emotion, Space and Society described an office workplace as ‘the modern day social club.’ People of all ages and backgrounds are often thrown together without any notice or choice, yet have to spend several hours a day side by side, often in stressful situations. This increases the likelihood of tight bonds of friendship, lead researcher Dr. Anne Cronin of Lancaster’s sociology department said.”

Graffiti fun spoiled

“The Egyptian Ministry of Culture has set up special workshops in Cairo to teach newcomers how to spray graffiti and murals on the city’s streets,” reports BBC News. “But some established street artists fear that the government-led initiative – which bans the use of abusive language – defeats the original rebellious point of graffiti.”

Tourist or traveller?

“Tourists go to seek a respite,” writes James Michael Dorsey in The Christian Science Monitor. “Travellers go to experience and learn, and ultimately to open their minds and hearts to let different perceptions rush in. Travel is not just being someplace. If that were the case, then crossing the street would be travelling. No, travel is immersing oneself in the sights, sounds, smells and nitty-gritty of another locale. It is taking the time to learn why that place is so different from the one you came from. ‘Tourists don’t know where they have been,’ wrote acclaimed travel writer Paul Theroux, ‘and travellers don’t know where they are going.’ ”

Our fish-faced ancestors

“The first four-legged animals colonized land 400 million years ago, but it took them 80 million years to lose their fishy heads,” says the New Scientist. “Marcello Ruta of the University of Lincoln, Britain, and colleagues examined the lower jaws of 89 tetrapod fossils, dating from 410 million to 295 million years ago. During this period, fish fins evolved into limbs, allowing their owners to crawl out of the water onto land. The team found that all the animals had jaws of roughly the same shape. Major changes only started around 320 million years ago, mostly occurring in reptiles. The animals’ early fish-like jaws were suited to tearing flesh rather than chewing plants. Ruta’s finding supports the theory that reptiles evolved their jaws only after they had mastered breathing using their ribs, allowing them to devote their mouths to chewing.”

Broomstick traffic control

“Swaziland is cracking down on high-flying witches by banning them from flying above an altitude of 150 metres,” says Orange Co. U.K. “Anyone caught flying on a broomstick above the limit faces arrest and a hefty fine of about $54,000, the country’s civil aviation authorities said this week. ‘A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the limit,’ corporate affairs director Sabelo Dlamini reportedly told The Star newspaper. Witchcraft is taken seriously in Swaziland, where many people believe in the power of black magic. Last year, a leading Swazi MP called for a hike in tax paid by witch doctors to help ease the country’s financial crisis.”

Thought du jour

“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.”

Laurence Peter, American educator (1919-90)

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