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Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung (second right) is challenged by Newcastle United’s Cheik Tiote (left) and Mike Williamson (right) during their English Premier League soccer match in Newcastle, northern England January 4, 2012. (NIGEL RODDIS/REUTERS)
Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung (second right) is challenged by Newcastle United’s Cheik Tiote (left) and Mike Williamson (right) during their English Premier League soccer match in Newcastle, northern England January 4, 2012. (NIGEL RODDIS/REUTERS)

SOCIAL STUDIES

Soccer fans pick their wives over their teams Add to ...

Soccer fans devoted to wives

“University of Bristol research has found that men actually prefer their partners almost five times as much as their [soccer] teams,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Newcastle United fans had their stress levels measured when cutting up pictures of their team and their partners. Despite the fans telling scientists that they had as much affection for their team as their wives, results showed that they were far more stressed when destroying a picture of their partner.” The research was commissioned by sportswear manufacturer Puma.

Windshield gets a poop star

“A Chicago-area man put the windshield of his car up for auction because it has a bird dropping he says looks like the late pop star Michael Jackson,” reports United Press International. “‘One of two things will happen,’ said owner Brandon Tudor, an Oswego salesman and father of three. ‘It will go for an astronomical amount or I’ll get nothing.’ Mr. Tudor, 29, said he was driving along U.S. Highway 30 near Big Rock Wednesday when bird poop hit the windshield of his 1996 Cadillac Seville, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. He said he immediately saw a resemblance to the pop icon and it became more obvious ‘after it hardened.’”

Sex and how we hear music

Does a performer’s gender shape how we hear music? “A couple of studies we’ve reported on suggest it might,” says Pacific Standard magazine. “One study reported that knowledgeable listeners described the same performance as more ‘precise’ when performed by a man and more ‘dramatic’ when performed by a woman. Another found that people told [accurately] that they were listening to a Brahms symphony conducted by a woman, Marin Alsop, judged the performance as less powerful and more delicate than those who were told the conductor was a man.”

Identifying with a protagonist

“Reading a good book immerses you in a character’s world – and may even change your views, according to a recent study at Ohio State University,” writes Daisy Yuhas in Scientific American Mind. “Psychologists Geoff Kaufman and Lisa Libby assigned 78 heterosexual males to read one of three stories, two about a homosexual protagonist and one about a heterosexual protagonist. Afterward, the readers reported having no trouble identifying with the straight character, but their ability to relate to the gay protagonist varied based on when they discovered his orientation. Those who read a story in which the character was introduced as gay in the first paragraph did not connect to the character as strongly as those who learned of the character’s orientation near the story’s end. More important, the latter group – the men who identified most with the gay protagonist – relied less on stereotypes to describe the character and reported more positive attitudes toward homosexuality in general.”

Can you live in the dark?

“Russian police have discovered 57 cult members living in an underground bunker in the Republic of Tatarstan,” writes Brian Palmer for Slate.com. “Many of the children ensconced in the bunker have never seen the sun, according to authorities. How long can you live without exposure to sunlight? A normal lifespan, with the right diet. Recent research suggests that sunlight deprivation might increase susceptibility to a wide range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as infectious diseases like tuberculosis and the common cold. But it’s very unlikely that an adult could die directly and exclusively from prolonged darkness.”

Only in America

“Seth Horvitz,” says The Huffington Post, “a Washington, D.C., resident, ordered a flat-panel television online but instead had a high-powered assault rifle delivered to his door, according to a report from WTTG-Fox 5.” Mr. Horvitz had ordered the flat-panel TV through a third-party seller on Amazon.com. “The box was left in the hallway of his apartment building. WAMU reported that while Mr. Horvitz’s address and name were printed on the box, the invoice said that the intended recipient of the SIG716 was a gun retailer in Pennsylvania. Upon receiving the package, Mr. Horvitz called the police who came to his home and took the gun. The police told him that it was illegal to transport the gun in a car and therefore it couldn’t be sent back.”

People go for the rookie

“Whom would you advise the Red Sox to recruit: a rookie with a good shot to win Rookie of the Year, or a player who’s already won the award?” writes Kevin Lewis of The Boston Globe. “According to researchers from Stanford and Harvard, you’re more likely to go for the rookie. In a series of experiments, people consistently preferred someone with the potential for a certain level of achievement over someone who had actually attained that level of achievement. The researchers even confirmed this phenomenon in a real ad campaign: Facebook ads that highlighted a comedian’s potential outperformed ads that highlighted the comedian’s achievement.”

Thought du jour

“Being poor is like being a child. Being rich is like being an adult: you get to do whatever you want. Everyone is nice when they have to be; rich people are nice when they feel like it.”

Fran Lebowitz

American author, (1950- )

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