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Whatever the season, doing more with less, when superstition goes Add to ...

Whatever the season

"As the temperature chills and the days grow shorter, it's easy to chalk up your gloom to dreary weather," writes Jenny Merkin in Psychology Today. "But a recent paper in Psychiatry Research suggests you find a new scapegoat for your bad mood. 'There is literally no association between weather and how people feel that day,' says lead researcher Marcus J.H. Huibers of Maastricht University. Mr. Huibers's team monitored more than 14,000 subjects' day-to-day affect for several years and found that daily variations in temperature, sunshine and rainfall had no measurable effects. It seems we misattribute cheer when it strikes us on bluebird mornings. 'Today is a beautiful day, and I felt great when I woke up and biked to work with the sun in my face,' Mr. Huibers admits. 'The question is, would I have felt differently if it had rained? Our study says it wouldn't have made much of a difference.' "

Doing more with less

"The boss of the budget airline Ryanair has called for copilots to be removed from the flight deck to save money and suggested that air stewardesses could land planes in an emergency," The Daily Telegraph reported. "Michael O'Leary claimed that air stewardesses could instead be trained to land an aircraft in the event of an emergency. In an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine, Mr. O'Leary, who has previously suggested that planes could fly with 'standing-only' areas for passengers, said: 'Why does every plane have two pilots? … Really, you only need one pilot. Let's take out the second pilot. Let the [blasted]computer fly it.' "

Couldn't get a sitter?

"A woman," BBC News reports, "has taken her five-year-old daughter on an attempt to rob a bank in the German city of Chemnitz, police say. The 34-year-old attempted two robberies and was arrested twice in one day, but did not have her child with her the second time." Police spokesman Thomas Knabe told the newspaper Freie Presse police do not rule out that the attempted robberies were "an act of desperation."

When superstition goes

"A new research study has confirmed suppositions about superstitious individuals; however, one finding is surprising," reports Rick Nauert for Psych Central News. "Kansas State University researchers discovered people who believe that fate and chance control their lives are more likely to be superstitious. But when faced with death, they are likely to abandon superstition altogether." Project leader Scott Fluke said: "We theorized that when people thought about death, they would behave more superstitiously in an effort to gain a sense of control over it. What we didn't expect was that thinking about death would make people feel helpless - like they cannot control it - and that this would actually reduce their superstitious belief."

Dying for your country?

Russia's finance minister has urged his countrymen and women to support the country - by smoking and drinking more," Orange News UK reports. "Alexei Kudrin called for increased consumption of tobacco and alcohol in a bid to boost the state's revenue, reports Metro. 'If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems,' commented Mr. Kudrin. 'People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state.' Russia, noted for high consumption of both cigarettes and alcohol, has among the lowest duties on cigarettes in Europe. … The comments by the minister seem to contradict recent government moves to control Russia's excessive culture and improve its life expectancy rates."

The white car's popularity

The most popular colour among American car buyers right now is plain old white, Justus Bender writes in The Boston Globe. "Since 2007, when white ended silver's long run as the most popular colour, Americans have consistently bought more white cars than anything else, according to the yearly DuPont Colour Popularity Survey. … [W]ite is a colour for people who don't want to stand out - who feel, for whatever reason, insecure. And has there ever been a less secure time in America?"

It's Superbum

"If you're into marsupials (and who isn't?), my favourite, hands-down, is the wombat," writes Starre Vartan for inhabitant.com. "Not just because they are vegan and terribly, terribly cute, or because they're a bit lazy and are known Down Under for their ability to find shortcuts between A and B whenever possible - but because they have developed an incredible physical adaptation: the reinforced rump. When a predator attacks a wombat, it runs to its burrow and uses its tough, cartilage-filled bum to block the hole. Since the super-tough wombat behind is just made from modified skin cells, this physical feature would be a smart place for designers and fabricators to look when they are considering more natural alternatives to non-biodegradable, unsustainable plastics."

Thought du jour

"To forgive is human, to forget divine."

- James Grand (circa 1980)

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