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SOCIAL STUDIES

What kind of role model are you for your cat? Add to ...

Caring for your copycat

“Cats really do become part of our families,” writes Jennifer Viegas for NBCNews.com, “to the point that they take on human habits – good and bad – and adapt their lifestyle to that of their owners, says new research. … ‘Our findings underline the high influence of human presence and care on the amount of activity and daily rhythm in cats,’ concluded Giuseppe Piccione and colleagues of the University of Messina’s faculty of veterinary medicine.” Piccione pointed out that cats’ food intake is associated with that of owners, perhaps explaining why human and cat obesity rates seem so often to match. Cats may even match their elimination patterns with those of their owners. Humans even serve as role models for their cats, said Jane Brunt, past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. She told NBCNews.com: “It’s important for owners to understand that they are the role model and we have to encourage [cats’] activities with proper play/prey techniques.”

The year so far? Extreme

“The year has just begun, yet it is already shaping up to be an unusual one,” says the New Scientist. “Millions of people in Australia, Brazil, China and the United States are having a rough January as extreme weather events wreak havoc around the world. In the absence of natural climatic triggers like an El Nino event, such an accumulation of extremes is highly unusual, says Omar Baddour of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva. Until further studies are carried out, it is impossible to rule out that some of the extremes are freak events. But they all coincide with regional increases in extreme weather linked to climate change.”

Get them while they’re young

British universities, says The Guardian, “will offer campus trips and workshops to pupils as young as seven as part of a new drive to encourage young people from poor backgrounds to consider staying on in education once they’ve finished school.”

Your soul at the office

“I have this theory,” blogs Erik Vance at Lastwordonnothing.com. “It goes like this: decor in your office is a reflection of your inner science nerd. You see, far more than the living room or the dining room, the office is the window to your soul. In those other rooms you put stuff to impress people – original art, antiques, the carcasses of your fallen foes, whatever. But in your office you put the stuff that you want to look at every day.”

Enemies? But we’re so nice

“The way we behave when threatened sometimes goes against conventional wisdom: We soften up,” says Scientific American. “Andrew White, a PhD student at Arizona State University, and colleagues analyzed data from 54 nations and found that the more a nation spent on its military (presumably a good index of perceived threat), the higher its people scored on self-report measures of how agreeable they were to others.”

Grandmother still in the swing

“A 61-year-old grandmother has become a massive hit in China – as the country’s oldest pole dancer,” reports Orange Co. U.K. “Sun Fengqin took up the raunchy hobby after looking for a new type of exercise when she got bored with tai chi. Now millions of viewers have watched the gran-of-four grind through her gyrating routines either on TV or online.” She said some friends and family have shunned her: “A friend I had known for 20 years told me I wasn’t welcome any more because I might corrupt her children.” Sun’s husband added: “I can’t say I am 100 per cent happy, and I’d rather she did yoga, but I will always support her.”

Though du jour

“All of a sudden, I’m older than my parents were when I thought they were old.”

Lois Wyse, American advertising executive and author (1926-2007)

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