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Fear of rabbits, heat-ray guns for troops, crafty old mom Add to ...

Why avoid frowns?

"New research suggests facial expressions do more than inform others of what kind of mood you are in, or what you are thinking or feeling," Psych Central News reports. "Amazingly, scientists have discovered facial expressions also affect your ability to understand written language related to emotions." In a study by psychology PhD candidate David Havas at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 people's speed in reading emotional sentences was measured before and after they received a Botox treatment to paralyze the muscles that cause brow-wrinkling frowns. "The results showed no change in the time needed to understand the happy sentences. But after Botox treatment, the subjects took more time to read the angry and sad sentences. Although time difference was small, it was significant." Mr. Havas said his study suggests: "When you're not frowning, the world seems less angry and less sad."

Fear of rabbits

A teacher in northern Germany has lost a defamation suit in which she claimed that a 16-year-old student spread vicious rumours saying she has a rabbit phobia, Der Spiegel reports. The action brought by the 60-year-old teacher of German and geography was dismissed on the grounds the schoolgirl had proved the phobia was fact. The teenager caused the stir by drawing a rabbit on the classroom blackboard. Upon entering the room and seeing the drawing, the teacher reportedly fled the class in tears. In 2008, she had brought a similar suit against another student.

Heat-ray guns for troops

"Coalition forces in Afghanistan have been issued a newly developed heat-ray gun to disperse crowds and repel enemies without injuring them," The Daily Telegraph reports. "The Active Denial System (ADS) uses a focused invisible beam, which causes an 'intolerable heating sensation' but does not permanently harm the skin. The first batch of the vehicle-mounted non-lethal weapons has been sent to U.S. troops in the war-torn country but has not yet been used on the battlefield. When the beam is pointed at a person, it penetrates the skin to the equivalent of three sheets of paper - enough to cause pain by burning nerve endings."

Word watch

From Wired magazine's Jargon Watch:

- Yaka-wow: "A nonsense phrase that's popular in the blogosphere. The meme was born when a reporter mistranscribed an interview with neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, who described the Internet as 'a load of breezy people who go around saying 'yuck' and 'wow.'' "

- Maido-kun: "Nickname of the humanoid robot that a Japanese business group hopes to send to the moon in 2015. The $11-million [U.S.]droid, whose name translates as 'Hello Boy,' will be programmed to walk and draw the Japanese flag in the lunar dirt."

Holy sports book?

"A special-edition new biography of Indian cricketing star Sachin Tendulkar will contain drops of his blood, its publishers have reportedly said. Costing $75,000 [U.S.]each, 10 copies are being printed containing a signature page mixed with his blood," BBC News reports. "The 37-year-old batsman described the unusual tribute as 'mind blowing.' … Carl Fowler, chief executive of the publisher Kraken Opus, told the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper that their book may not be 'everyone's cup of tea.' 'Some may think it's a bit weird,' he said. 'But the key thing here is that Sachin Tendulkar to millions of people is a religious icon. And we thought how, in a publishing form, can you get as close to your god as possible?' "

That old trick

"Police in South Carolina said they arrested a woman who allegedly stuffed a McDonald's sandwich into her pants and loudly complained that she never received it," United Press International reports. Investigators said the 39-year-old received two sandwiches and quickly concealed one of them in her pants, according to the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, S.C. Employees said she started screaming at workers when they refused to give her another one free of charge. A sheriff's deputy noticed the woman smelled strongly of alcohol and had a large grease stain on her pants.

Significant digits

- 72: The number of hours that the winning British serviceman is believed to have spent polishing a single pair of boots before receiving the Best Turned-Out Trooper award from the Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

- 93: Studies show that the human brain reaches 93 per cent of its maximum size when a person is only six years old. Bigger brains have more neurons

Sources: The Sunday Telegraph, the Los Angeles Times

Crafty old mom

In Parenting magazine, Stephanie Dolgoff's list of "Things we know we shouldn't do - but do anyway" includes:

- "Fib that Bunny Lala got a brand-new fur coat when you accidentally shredded the real Bunny Lala in the dryer and bought a look-alike."

- "Set the clocks ahead an hour so it's 'bedtime,' just because you need some silence."

- "Sit back and let your kid be hyper-loud in the yard because it annoys your mean neighbour lady so much."

- "Give in and let the kids paint the dog's nails because you're too tired to come up with a reason not to."

Thought du jour

"Now I know the things I know, / And do the things I do; / and if you do not like me so, / To hell, my love, with you!"

- Dorothy Parker

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