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Your car as your designated driver Add to ...

Will your car take you home?

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. In the future, your car could be that friend,” writes Joseph B. White of The Wall Street Journal. “Researchers working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are developing technology that could be built into a car’s dashboard or controls to check a driver’s blood-alcohol level and refuse to start if above the legal limit. The effort, which began in 2008, is officially known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS for short. ‘We’ve made more progress, faster, than we expected,’ says Rob Strassburger, vice-president for vehicle safety at the alliance. … It sounds futuristic and it will likely be years – eight to 10 by Mr. Strassburger’s estimate – before cars and trucks with built-in blood-alcohol detectors are for sale. The next phase, additional years off, is a commercially produced vehicle with the technology to drive a tipsy owner home autonomously. Whether drivers will be comfortable with cars that could potentially override their commands is another matter. Already, a restaurant group is lobbying against the technology.”

A dog’s self-control

“Man and his best friend have something in common: Both get worn out by having to exert self-control and end up making dumb decisions, a new study finds,” writes Stephanie Pappas for Live Science. “Dogs required to sit and stay for 10 minutes were more likely to approach a caged, aggressive dog when they simply had to wait in a cage for the same amount of time, according to new research. The findings reinforce the biological nature of self-control, said study researcher Holly Miller of the University of Lille Nord de France. ‘When humans are depleted, they are less helpful, more aggressive, gamble more, etc.’ [the researcher said] ‘ … When dogs are depleted, they too are more likely to behave rashly and impulsively.’ … Dog owners should take note, too, Ms. Miller said. A family dog that has to restrain its urge to snap at yelling, screaming kids all day may eventually reach a willpower limit and bite, possibly explaining a large proportion of the 4.5 million dog bites in America each year. It’s up to people to recognize that dogs need breaks and rest as much as we do, she said.”

Slips of the tongue

“[D]cades of research in psycholinguistics reveal that … [t]e vast majority of [speech errors]come about simply because of the sheer mechanical complexity of act of speaking,” blogs Julie Sedivy for Discover magazine. “[W]en it comes to talking, the mind cares much more about speed than it does about accuracy. We literally speak before we’re done thinking about what we’re going to say, and this is true not just for the more impetuous among us, but for all speakers, all the time. Speech production really is like an assembly line, but an astoundingly frenzied one in which an incomplete set of blueprints is snatched out of the hands of designers by workers eager to begin assembling the product before it’s fully sketched out.”

Banish negative thoughts

“New research suggests early suppression of negative thoughts can keep millions of people from developing full-blown depression,” Psych Central reports. “The key is identification of the thought processes before they become established. To assist in this effort, researchers have developed a brief survey to help health care providers identify depressive thinking patterns that may lead to serious depression if not identified and addressed early. Jaclene Zauszniewski, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University, developed an eight-item Depression Cognition Scale. The questionnaire asks individuals to respond to questions about helplessness, hopelessness, purposelessness, worthlessness, powerlessness, loneliness, emptiness and meaninglessness using a scale that ranges from ‘strong agree’ to ‘strongly disagree.’ ”

Thought du jour

“Good works will never save you, but you can never be saved without them.”

– Thomas Fuller (1654-1734), English writer and physician

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