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Job can be worse than no job

"Scientists have long known that stress can lead to physical symptoms, but the explicit link between job-related anxiety and ailments is now becoming clearer," writes Paula Froelich in The Daily Beast. "According to a study by the Centre for Mental Health Research at Australian National University, people with jobs characterized by high demand and low control over decision-making, high job insecurity and an imbalance between expended effort and reward actually experienced poorer mental health than those who were jobless. In other words, people who can't find a job have a healthier state of mind than those who are employed and feel overwhelmed, insecure, underpaid, and micromanaged."

Sometimes the Grinch wins

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Hundreds of shoppers in England were left confused when a festive light unveiling had to be cancelled because no one could find the "on" switch, reports The Daily Telegraph. "More than 200 people had braved the cold conditions in Dovercourt, Essex for the town's big switch on. Carol singers, a choir and Father Christmas gathered for the event but chaos ensured when the lights would not turn on. Organizers rushed around trying to solve the problem … The 'on' switch was only located the next day."

An incredible discovery

"Normally, North Korea's official state news agency is the place to go for reports ranging from the reclusive totalitarian state's unparalleled scientific achievements to the limitless love which its inhabitants reserve for their successive leaders," says The Guardian. "Yet in what appears to be a genuine world exclusive, the inimitable Korean Central News Agency has now broken the incredible news that architects in Pyongyang have discovered a unicorn's lair. … The KCNA goes on to state that the location happens to be 200 metres from a temple in the North Korean capital, adding: 'A rectangular rock carved with words 'Unicorn Lair' stands in front of the lair.'"

Pollution rate rises

"Last year, all the world's nations combined pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to new international calculations on global emissions published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change," reports Associated Press. "That's about a billion tons more than the previous year. The total amounts to more than 2.4 million pounds (1.1 million kilograms) of carbon dioxide released into the air every second."

Too hot to be bothered

"Are you turning the heat up too high?" writes Kevin Lewis in The Boston Globe. "According to a recent study, it's a simple-minded mistake for more than one reason. People in rooms that were at 25C were more cognitively depleted, especially when confronted with complex decisions, compared with people in rooms at 20 C. An analysis of lottery sales throughout the year in St. Louis also revealed that purchases were down on hotter days, especially for more complicated gambles. Not only do these findings suggest that office managers and retailers should be minding the thermostat … but the authors of the study note that this effect may explain different economic behaviour at different latitudes."

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Clichés, good and bad

From a review in Prospect magazine of Nigel Fountain's Clichés: Avoid Them Like the Plague: "The word [cliché] itself originates in mid-19th-century France, where printers would assemble time-saving blocks from the most commonly used word combinations. … Not all clichés, you might say, are created equal. 'At the end of the day,' which has been justly voted the most hated cliché, is little more than a verbal tic. 'All things being equal is another. Strip them from a sentence and its sense remains unchanged. Attempt the same thing with an apposite cliché and you might find you're missing more than succinct wisdom. You've lost a bit of history because, far from being vacuous, the most enduring clichés tether you to generations of human experience."

Thought du jour

"Predominant opinions are generally the opinions of the generation that is vanishing."

Benjamin Disraeli

British Prime Minister (1804-81)

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