“A Chinese man bought his girlfriend a gold necklace and hid it in a cake – only for her to wolf it down in one gulp,” says Orange News U.K. “Xaio Li, 22, watched horrified as Wang Xue, 22, swallowed the [$800 Canadian]necklace he’d baked inside a special muffin for her birthday party in Qingdao, Shandong province. ‘I thought it would show how much I love her and it would be a good joke, too,’ he said. ‘But before I could say anything she’d swallowed it in one bite and I had to tell her the truth on the way to the hospital.’ ” Doctors fished out the necklace from her stomach via endoscope, but Mr. Xaio said: “I’m not sure she will ever feel very comfortable wearing it even though I spent hours cleaning it for her.”
Is failure contagious?
“In poignantly predictable baseball news, the Chicago Cubs have once again failed to reach the post-season,” says Miller-McCune. “Some fans speak of the team as being cursed, while others dismiss that notion as an excuse for poor play or bad management. … Well, a new study of soccer tournaments finds a team’s history of failure can hurt the performances of its players – including those who weren’t part of the losing effort. This suggests a team’s propensity to choke in high-pressure situations may become self-perpetuating. … A research team led by [Geir Jordet of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences]examined video footage of every penalty shootout held in two major international soccer tournaments – the World Cup and the European Championships – between 1976 and 2006. Such shootouts are used to decide a winner when two teams are tied after overtime play. … They found teams that had lost the preceding shootout made 65.7 per cent of these game-winning goals. That’s far below the 85.1 per cent of such goals made by those teams that had won the previous shootout. Those with no previous major penalty shootouts made the goal 76.4 per cent of the time. Intriguingly, the researchers report this pattern was ‘also found with players who took no personal part in the preceding games,’ which had sometimes occurred years earlier. Although they hadn’t shared in the glory or shame of the past win or loss, these players’ performances differed very little from those of their teammates.”
Play concertos and win
“Noa Kageyama is in the business of bulletproofing, but his work does not involve Kevlar vests or polycarbonate,” says The Wall Street Journal. “The performance psychologist runs a consultancy, ProMind Coaching, whose clients include Olympic athletes and CEOs. … On his blog, The Bulletproof Musician, he takes principles developed to toughen up tennis pros and uses them to help musicians cope with the intense pressure of solo performance. Last month, he joined the faculty of the Juilliard School. Performance psychologists are invited into music departments [across the United States] as educators recognize the need to prepare musicians for the competitive, high-stakes world of classical music. … Today, performance psychologists advertise their services as coaches, not shrinks, providing musicians the same concrete tools and drills offered athletes and CEOs.”
How to conquer inertia
“Is there any way we can resist procrastination and get more done?” writes Eric Barker in Wired magazine’s U.K. edition. “Let’s dismiss a common excuse first: You don’t work better when you put things off. Evidence from micro-economics research suggests that non-procrastinators score higher than their faffing counterparts. So what works?”
– To start, make goals and deadlines as concrete as possible.
– Give a friend $50 and ask for $5 back every time you visit the gym, a technique known as “changing the default.”
– Force yourself to do nothing but work on a task for a short burst. Even a minute will help you break the spell of procrastination and make some progress.
I’m koala, hear me roar
“Despite the tree-dwelling mammal having a cute and furry appearance, a 15-pound [male]koala is as loud as a cow weighing more than a tonne, a study found,” The Telegraph reports. “Researchers discovered the marsupial emitted a louder sound as a way of attracting sexual partners during mating season. The team of Australian and Austrian scientists, writing in the Journal of Experimental Biology, also found their cries were a way of boasting about their body size and intimidating rival lovers. Using complex medical imaging, [researchers]discovered the sounds were louder because their larynx had ‘descended’ and sat deeper in their throat and chest than other species. This was similar to human development because as a person grows up, their larynx also becomes lower, and deeper, as they learn more complex language and speech.”
Thought du jour
“A failure is a man who has blundered but is not able to cash in on the experience.”
Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), American author and philosopher
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