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A school for guys, in the driver's seat and extended play Add to ...

Time to quit, kid

"Two-year-old Aldi yanked on his mother's hair and squirmed in her arms. Tears formed a small pool in the folds of his double chin," Arwa Damon reports at CNN.com. " 'He's crying because he wants a cigarette,' said Diana, his mother, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. We caught up with Aldi, who is nearly twice the weight of other babies his age (20 kg), and his mother at Jakarta's airport. Video of him plopped on a brightly coloured toy truck inhaling deeply and happily blowing smoke rings had circulated on the Internet last week, turning him into a local celebrity. … 'Smoking has been a part of our culture for so long it isn't perceived as being hazardous, as causing illness, as poisonous,' said Seto Mulyadi, chairman of Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection. … Mulyadi told Diana that she needed to find other things to occupy the boy's time."

Could you be an artist?

A Serbian artist who has spent 700 hours staring at members of the public, on Monday brought to an end the longest piece of performance art ever undertaken, The Daily Telegraph reports. "Since her retrospective, The Artist Is Present, opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on March 14, Marina Abramovic has sat for seven hours a day, six days a week, on a chair in the museum's atrium. Visitors were invited to sit in a chair facing her and simply return her silent gaze. … Other parts of her retrospective at the museum proved similarly controversial, particularly Imponderabilia, in which visitors must squeeze past a naked man and woman who stand facing each other in a narrow doorway. Abramovic's more challenging solo work has also included stabbing herself, playing with fire and standing motionless for six hours, having invited visitors to do anything they liked to her."

A school for guys

"A Chinese elementary school is teaching boys to be more masculine as it's worried they are turning into sissies," Orange News UK reports. "Qinlinglu Elementary School in Zhengzhou, Henan province, has launched an initiative called 'Looking for a Real Man' to encourage boys to act more like boys. As part of this, the youngsters are taught how to act more masculine and must take an oath swearing to act like 'real men,' reports the Dahe Daily. Wang Jianhua, who has been teaching at the school for 14 years, says he has noticed that boys have become 'more and more girly.' He said: 'During class breaks their favourite game is elastic-band skipping, which is a typical girls' game. … '[Girls at the school]not only like physical fighting, but are also quite straightforward and have strong characters.' "

In the driver's seat

For the first time, more women than men are buying vehicles and that shift could prompt auto-makers to move more women into key roles to respond to changing consumer tastes, Karolyn Hart, executive vice-president of Women's Automotive Association International, told the Chicago Tribune.

Do they see their shadows?

"If you want to know what the weather is up to, it might be best to start looking down," writes Beth Hale in The Daily Mail. "For apparently the length of a woman's skirt is a good way of forecasting whether to expect rain or shine. The bizarre claim is the result of sales analyses by experts at the online marketplace eBay. They insist that the length of skirts sold rises several days before the arrival of sunny skies. And when the air is about to cool, they drop. This happens, they say, at least three days before the weather changes, and sometimes even before the forecasters at the [weather bureau]have issued their most traditional predictions."

Accounting rules

The safest of all degrees for Americans to be acquiring this year is in accounting, reports The New Yorker. Forty-six per cent of graduates in that discipline have already been offered jobs.

Extended play

An experimental spray improved sex for some men who regularly experience premature ejaculation, according to the results of two studies that were to be presented yesterday at a urology conference, The Wall Street journal reports. Men who applied the aerosol spray, a mixture of the anesthetics lidocaine and prilocaine, reached orgasm a mean of three minutes and 18 seconds after beginning sex, compared with 56 seconds for those who got a placebo spray. The 539 men completing the two studies, who were randomly assigned to the real drug or the fake version, had an average time of less than 36 seconds before they took part in the research.

Divvying resources

In a study of 500 Norwegian schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 19, researchers from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration found that children start out as strict egalitarians, preferring to divide resources equally among peers. But as they grow older, by late adolescence, they come to prefer a more meritocratic method of resource distribution - based on individual contributions or performance, Time magazine reports. The study appeared in the journal Science.

Thought du jour

"There are multitudes of men and women who … attempt to get rid of the sense of moral failure by identifying themselves with groups which condone or approve the indulgences which they are either unable or unwilling to give up."

- Anton T. Boisen (1876-1965)

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