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How fish get drunk

"Carbon dioxide in the ocean acts like alcohol on fish, leaving them less able to judge risks and prone to losing their senses," says the New Scientist. "The intoxication adds to the threats that global warming and ocean acidification pose to marine ecosystems. … Philip Munday and colleagues at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, have previously found that if you put reef fish into water with more carbon dioxide than normal in it – similar to the levels expected in oceans by the end of the century – they become bolder and attracted to odours they would normally avoid, including those of predators and unfavourable habitats."

Getting a phantom buzz

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"Smartphones are so addictive many users now hear 'phantom vibrations' because they are desperate to receive new messages, a study has found," The Telegraph reports. "BlackBerrys and iPhones are meant to help workers manage their workload by giving them access to messages and alerts while away from the office. But people become so obsessive about checking their e-mail accounts and social networking sites that they actually become more stressed as a result, researchers said. Some are so hooked to their devices that they even begin to experience 'phantom' vibrations where they mistakenly believe their phone is buzzing in their pocket, it was claimed."

Pocket money studied

"The conventional wisdom is that allowances make children responsible money managers as they learn to budget so they don't run out of cash," The Baltimore Sun says. "But Lewis Mandell, professor emeritus of finance and former dean of business at the State University of New York in Buffalo, says that's not always the case. In fact, says Mandell, who has studied financial literacy, certain allowances may even be hurting kids. According to Mandell, high-school students who didn't get an allowance performed better on a financial literacy test than those who did, especially teens who received stipends with no strings attached. And children receiving unconditional allowances – no chores required – also were less motivated to get a job or go to college, he says. Mandell goes further, saying these unconditional allowances could be 'child neglect.' "

Who fakes it?

An economics professor at Emory University has developed " 'a rational expectations signalling model of lovemaking' that makes predictions about the likelihood of faking orgasm," The Boston Globe reports. "Specifically, he predicted that middle-aged women are less likely to fake than older and younger women, and that love makes people more likely to fake. Testing the model against survey data, he found that middle-aged women are indeed less likely to fake, but only if they're in love. He also found an unexpected result: Educated men and women are more likely to fake. He speculates that this reflects their higher opportunity cost of time."

Backlash to smart meters

" 'Smart meters' that use radio waves are touted by utilities as a more accurate way to track use and pinpoint outages, but some Metro Detroit residents fear the devices could jeopardize their health, privacy and wallets," says The Detroit News. "The protests of charged-up customers have caught the attention of the Michigan Public Service Commission, which launched an investigation of the high-tech meters. … Opponents such as David Sheldon of Oak Park said they fear the devices could harm their health, privacy and finances. 'They're collecting a lot of information,' said Mr. Sheldon, 70. 'Each household, they're tracking utility usage minute by minute, day by day, second by second.' Mr. Sheldon is worried the radio frequencies emitted by the meters can cause cancer. He said he fears hackers could intercept his personal information. And he said utilities might use consumption data to hike rates during peak-use times."

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Computer waits tables

Tablet computers are taking the wait out of waiting tables, says the San Francisco Chronicle. "The Presto [a tablet computer used by the diner]takes orders, predicts when diners' food will arrive at their table, acts as a personal sommelier, provides self-checkout, splits cheques and even calculates the tip. It will either e-mail the receipt or a server can bring a paper one – your choice. Eventually, it will tell diners what kinds of wine they like based on a personality quiz. And there are games: interactive ones that the whole table can participate in or ones that will keep a child busy for hours. Restaurants in Japan and Europe have experimented with similar tablets. Big restaurant chains in the United States have employed on-table self-checkout stations. And white-tablecloth establishments have begun listing their wines on iPads. But until now, there hasn't been a system as all-encompassing as the Presto tablet, according to E la Carte, the Palo Alto [Calif.]company that makes it."

Thought du jour

"It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I've gone and come back, I'll find it at home."

Rumi (1207-73)

Persian poet

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