Chimps’ arms race
“Baboons can distinguish between written words and gibberish,” says Associated Press. “Monkeys seem to be able to do multiplication. Apes can delay instant gratification longer than a human child can. They plan ahead. They make war and peace. They show empathy. They share. … For a few years, scientists have watched chimpanzees in zoos collect and store rocks as weapons for later use. In May, a study found they even add deception to the mix. They created haystacks to conceal their stash of stones from opponents, just like nations do with bombs.”
Airport security, unplugged
On Saturday, a terminal at New York’s JFK Airport had to be evacuated and hundreds of passengers marched back through security screening, says The New York Post, “all because one dimwitted [security] agent failed to realize his metal detector had been unplugged. … Higher-ups at the Transportation Security finally discovered the security boondoggle at 9:44 a.m. – leaving the Port Authority with no choice but to call for a complete evacuation of the international terminal.” Also, two jumbo jets had to return to the gate so passengers could be rescreened at a metal detector that was actually turned on.
Afraid of being wrong? Not guys
“If you’ve taken standardized tests like the SAT,” writes Kevin Lewis of The Boston Globe, “then you may remember the agony of risking a wrong-answer penalty in deciding whether to answer a question you weren’t sure of – unless you’re a guy, in which case this may not have bothered you at all. When men and women were asked to answer the same SAT-like questions with penalties for wrong answers, women skipped significantly more questions than men, whereas everyone tended to answer every question when there was no penalty. The gender disparity was not explained by actual knowledge, as women performed just as well as men when required to answer all questions.”
When do we dine?
“How mixed up is our dining history?” writes John Yemma of The Christian Science Monitor. “To start with, the word ‘dinner’ comes from the Latin (via the French) for breakfast. … The evening meal has always varied depending on work hours, preparation time, and, most important, available light. In his excellent domestic history At Home, Bill Bryson notes that if you open your refrigerator door ‘you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the 18th century.’ Darkness and dining were not happy partners. So it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century, with the eight-hour workday and the spread of indoor lighting, that we settled on breakfast, lunch, and dinner at morning, noon, and evening.”
Quality time in the Alps
“A chance for a couple to spend a romantic night in a double bed [3,000 metres] up a mountain in the Alps is to be auctioned off on eBay,” reports Orange Co. UK. “The winners will get to spend one night in a bed placed at the top of a glacier in complete seclusion apart from the stars and the odd mountain goat. Tourism chiefs in Ramsau, Austria, laid on the offer, which comes with no mod cons apart from a loo and a luxury food hamper. … ‘It is a very romantic site under a sky of stars with no one to hear or see you,’ said one mountain guide. ‘Mind you, if they feel the earth move they’d better get going. It could be an avalanche.’”
Bullying on a school bus
“What is it about buses that make them such an ideal behaviour for this kind of behaviour?” writes Jeremy Stahl for Slate.com. “The geography of the school bus certainly plays a big part. When you are on a bus, you are physically trapped. There is nowhere for a victim to hide. Bullies can easily gather around their target in a semi-circle – as seen in the [Karen] Klein video – or in a seat right next to their prey. As PsychCentral.com editor-in-chief John Grohol noted in an article about the Klein case, the constrained environment can lead to a mob mentality. This creates a sense that the individual bullies are an anonymous part of a larger pack, which leads children to lower their inhibitions and behave in ways they normally would not.”
THOUGHT DU JOUR
“The bagel is a lonely roll to eat all by yourself because in order for the true taste to come out you need your family. One to cut the bagels, one to toast them, one to put on the cream cheese and lox, one to put them on the table, and one to supervise.”
American actress and screenwriter (1898-1966)