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social studies

What’s that you say? The real reason behind hearing loss Add to ...

It’s not the years, it’s the noise

“Noise, not age, is the leading cause of hearing loss,” writes Jane Brody of The New York Times. “Unless you take steps now to protect your ears, sooner or later many of you – and your children – will have difficulty understanding even ordinary speech. Tens of millions of Americans, including 12 to 15 per cent of school-age children, already have permanent hearing loss caused by the everyday noise that we take for granted as a fact of life.”

Keeping up can be ruinous

“Middle-class households living in [U.S.] states with more rich people spend more, report more financial distress and are more likely to go bankrupt,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Citing ‘growing local inequality,’ [a research paper] found that ‘middle-income households consume a larger share of their current income’ in the face of increased income and consumption on the part of more-affluent Americans. … The researchers suggest that middle-class Americans who live around richer people might be exposed to more pricey goods and might also be struggling to keep up with the Joneses. Higher housing prices in such markets could play a role, too, they said.”

Are we getting cooler?

“There’s a widespread perception that we’ve gotten more touchy-feely over the past couple of generations – increasingly willing to express our emotions,” writes Tom Jacobs for Pacific Standard magazine. “If so, it’s not reflected in our writing. A new study finds that, in a large data set of English-language books, the use of terms expressing six basic emotions steadily decreased over the course of the 20th century. ‘We believe the changes (in word usage) do reflect changes in culture,’ writes the research team, led by anthropologist Alberto Acerbi of the University of Bristol.” They focused on terms representing six basic moods: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise. Over all, the use of words carrying emotional content decreased significantly over the course of the 20th century; terms reflecting disgust had the steepest decline.

Act your age, grandma

“Young people are supposed to respect their elders,” says The Boston Globe, “but a new study suggests that this respect only persists as long as old people behave as young people expect them to. In a series of experiments, psychologists at Princeton asked people of various ages to give their impression of another person who did or didn’t violate an age-related norm – being stingy, demanding an expensive medical procedure, or listening to pop music. Being younger was associated with having a dimmer view of an older person (but not a younger person) who exhibited these behaviours.”

Handle with care

An elderly woman caused a scare at a Swedish recycling facility, says United Press International, when she dropped off a grenade. She brought the device to a depot in Stockholm on Saturday. “When police arrived at the scene, they determined that the item the pensioner dropped off was a grenade meant for a grenade-launcher. … The Swedish government enacted a law March 1 that allows citizens to turn in weapons without fear of potential prosecution.” Police have since received several grenades, including one that dated to the First World War.

A fish seller in the south of China was gutting a squid for a customer when his knife hit a 20-centimetre live bomb, says The Daily Telegraph. The squid, which was one metre long, was caught in the shallow waters off Guangdong province. “This sort of squid lives close to the shore and normally makes a meal of small fish and prawns,” said the dealer. Local police suggested the bomb might have been dropped by a fighter jet, but did not date it.

Thought du jour

I am long on ideas but short on time. I expect to live only about a hundred years.

Thomas Edison, American inventor (1847-1931)

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