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Summer reading tips, mood map of America, Harvard lite Add to ...

Paint it black

"Is it true that the world looks grey when you are depressed? Science may back up the sense that colours just don't seem as bright during a major depression," Psych Central News reports. "Recent research published by Dr. Emanuel Bubl, of the department of psychiatry and psychotherapy at Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg in Germany, and his colleagues showed that the retinas of depressed patients were less sensitive to contrast. … Previous research has demonstrated that depressed patients themselves perceive that their vision is not as acute as when they were not depressed, and that they see less visual contrast."

Awake, frosty face

"Devotees of Botox and other forms of cosmetic surgery are turning to 'power massages' to bring their frozen faces back to life," Kevin Dowling reports for The Sunday Times of London. "Muscles paralyzed by Botox injections are repeatedly pummelled by hand to make up for the exercise they lack and to restore blood circulation. Some treatments involve the masseur or masseuse putting their fingers inside a client's mouth to massage the cheeks from the inside. 'The skin becomes dull and waxy looking with Botox,' said Nicola Joss, a beauty therapist who charges more than £200 [$320]for a 90-minute facial, including a power massage."

Summer reading tips

- "You wouldn't think it would be hard to find a good book," Marjorie Kehe blogs for The Christian Science Monitor. "The only thing more common than a '10 best' list is a 'best summer reading list!' and these compilations even come in various flavours - 'best romance,' 'best fantasy,' 'best sci-fi,' et cetera. The bad news is, however, that the people making the list don't know anything about you and whether your idea of 'romance' tends more in the direction of Nora Roberts or veers distinctly toward Jane Austen. So why not turn to the pros? Writing for Salon, book critic and author Laura Miller lauds three expert book 'matchmakers.' " One of them, Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, asks readers a list of 16 questions to find out what's important to them. She says there are three "fail-safe" books that can be safely recommended to almost any reader: To Kill a Mockingbird, Lonesome Dove and Angle of Repose.

- "Rather than risk ruining your [summer]break with a big book you don't get on with, why not spread your risk with the novella? … A good novella can be just as rich and rewarding as any novel, but can be read relatively quickly - in a day or two at most. And even if one particular novella fails to satisfy, very little reading time has been squandered - besides which, there's another one ready to go."

Other source: The Guardian

Mood map of America

"America, are you happy?" Celeste Biever writes for New Scientist. "The emotional words contained in hundreds of millions of messages posted to the Twitter website may hold the answer. Computer scientist Alan Mislove at Northeastern University in Boston and colleagues have found that these tweets suggest that the west coast is happier than the east coast, and across the country happiness peaks each Sunday morning, with a trough on Thursday evenings. The team called their work the 'pulse of the nation.' "

Crossing off Jordan?

This week, an environmental group called for a halt to baptisms in the Jordan River, where tradition holds that Jesus was baptized, saying the waters there were dangerously polluted, Agence France-Presse reports. "Friends of the Earth Middle East call on regional authorities to halt baptism in the lower Jordan River until water quality standards for tourism activities there are met," said a statement from the group. The group issued the call following media reports that Israel's health ministry had urged the tourism ministry to stop people bathing in the river, saying it posed a health risk. In recent years, the flow of the river has slowed to a dirty trickle as fresh water running into the river has been replaced with sewage.

Harvard lite

"According to Harvard magazine, final exams are 'going the way of the dodo,' " The Huffington Post reports. "Last spring, a mere 23 per cent of the school's 1,137 undergraduate courses gave exams, the magazine reports. … The impetus behind exam extinction? Among other factors, professors questioned their value as assessment tools and disliked the responsibility of proctoring them."

Watching the watchers

Two inmates have escaped from a prison in Argentina after guards placed a dummy with a soccer ball for a head in the watchtower because of a shortage of manpower, The Daily Telegraph reports. "The two men … leapt over a wire fence before scaling the perimeter wall and making their escape unnoticed by the remaining guards. Prison workers said that a shortage of staff meant they were only able to man two of the 15 guard towers so they had to resort to using a stand-in. A prison source said: 'We've made a dummy out of a football and a prison officer's cap, so that the prisoners see its shadow and think they are being watched.'"

Thought du jour

"A book worth reading is worth buying."

- John Ruskin

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