The Elvis indicator
"A Kentucky store manager said the return of Elvis Presley impersonators after a year-long lull may be a good sign for the economy," United Press International reports. "Rob Baker, manager of the Doo Wop Shop in Louisville, said Elvis impersonators were absent from the store for about a year until last week, when one came in to buy a wireless microphone and another stopped in later to rent portable show lights, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reported Monday. 'Elvis is a dipstick, of sorts, for our economy,' Baker said. 'The party business is coming back. People are not thinking twice about having an event. They are feeling a bit more relaxed.' Uric Dufrene, an economist at Indiana University Southeast, said Baker might be on to something by using Elvis as an economic indicator. 'The increase in Elvis-related consumption items suggests that discretionary spending might be on the upswing,' Dufrene said."
"When classes begin [this week] some students at Northern Arizona University will have a little extra incentive to roll out of bed for that 8 a.m. calculus class," U.S. National Public Radio reports. "The school is installing electronic scanners outside some large lecture halls to track attendance. NAU may be the first American educational institution to try the technology. … When students flash their ID cards near a scanner, a light turns green and they get checked off on an attendance report." Universities across the United States are struggling to boost lagging graduation rates, and research suggests that missing even one class can result in a lower grade point average for first-year students.
On the other hand
"Right is right, left is wrong," Kevin Lewis writes for the Boston Globe. "Because most people are right-handed, this bias has become customary. … But what do left-handers think? The authors of [a recent]paper compared the gestures made by the presidential candidates in the final debates of the 2004 and 2008 [U.S.]elections to the phrases that were spoken at the same time. John McCain and Barack Obama, who are both left-handed, preferred their left hands for positive comments and their right hands for negative comments, while the pattern was reversed for George W. Bush and John Kerry, who are both right-handed." The study appeared recently in PLoS One.
- "A man has paid for a van in China," BBC News reports, "with 100,000 yuan ($14,700 U.S.) in pocket change he gathered over years, state television reports. Mr. Zhao, a businessman, dropped bundles of notes, none worth more than one yuan - about 15 cents - at the dealership in Jining, in northern Shandong province. Extra staff had to be brought in to work shifts to count it all, a clerk at the dealership said."
- "A businessman who tried to pay a property tax bill with 33,000 pennies got turned down by a county treasurer in Washington State who said she didn't have the staff to count them," Associated Press reports. "Ron Spears told the Ellensburg Daily Record he rolled buckets of the coins into the Kittitas County treasurer's office [last week]to protest the fines he incurred by failing to pay a $34 [U.S.]bill that was due in April [increasing the bill to $330] Spears owns Spears Interiors in Cle Elum and also serves on the city council. He says his business is struggling and he didn't have the money at the time. … [He]agreed to pay in a more conventional manner."
The bedroom dilemma
"We moved in together," Elizabeth Bernstein writes for The Wall Street Journal. "And although we've had to learn to compromise in many areas of our coupled lives, the bed may prove to be the hardest. It's a small area to share. And we're often tired and cranky - or flat-out unconscious - when we're in it. Is it any wonder, then, that almost one in four couples sleeps in separate beds or bedrooms, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Yet here's the dilemma: No matter how annoying we find the body next to us in bed, we miss it when it's not there."
Thought du jour
"No matter: I will live so that none shall believe him."
- Plato, when told someone had spoken ill of him