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The upside to paying taxes

"Isn't paying taxes annoying? Doesn't it feel like you're flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet?" writes Tom Jacobs for "A scholarly paper … suggests the answers are yes, and no, respectively. 'People would prefer to keep a dollar than pay it in tax,' the researchers write in the Journal of Economic Psychology, 'but paying it in tax is not equivalent to throwing the money away.'" In an interview, Iwan Djanali, who co-authored the study, said: "Economists generally assume that human beings get 'zero utility' from paying taxes … [We believe you]get some 'soft utility' out of it. We call this the 'warm glow.' You feel good about helping others, even though you don't get a direct monetary reward out of it."

Going online? Ho hum

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"Even though the Internet has become a key tool for accessing services, getting an education, finding jobs, getting the news, keeping up with people you know and much more, one in five U.S. adults still does not use the Internet at all, according to a new Pew report," says "Why? Mostly they're just not interested – not in the Web, e-mail, YouTube, Facebook or anything else that happens online."

Women and exercise

"On average," says The Huffington Post, "men are nearly twice as active as women – getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, according to a recent study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. That's particularly bad news for women, the researchers say, because their comparative inactivity puts them at greater risk for metabolic syndrome, a descriptor for a cluster of related conditions such as high cholesterol, extra abdominal fat and high blood pressure that often lead to heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. It's also associated with higher levels of depression, the researchers found."

Bad plastic surgery

"[S]metimes plastic surgery doesn't make a person look younger or more beautiful [an arguably subjective word]" writes Alene Dawson in the Los Angeles Times. "It can instead just make the person look, well, weird. … 'There's good surgery out there and then there is bad, at least in this town, but you just don't notice the good because those people look natural; they look rested,' says Dr. Leslie Stevens, co-director of the Lasky Clinic in Beverley Hills. … A poorly done cosmetic procedure may manifest as a look one sees a lot in Los Angeles: that kind of overly puffy, trout-mouthed, robot-like-glaze of a Botox and filler-injected face replete with frozen forehead and static smile lines. This look replaced the 'wind-blown' face-lift look from the 1970s."

A musical species

Richard Morrison, the chief music critic of The Times of London, writes in More Intelligent Life about "the sheer variety of [musical]instruments. We began creating them ridiculously early [the earliest extant flute is 67,000 years old]and have never stopped. Recently, I've been to concerts featuring virtuosi on both a six-stringed electric violin and the hang, a Swiss-invented steel drum of beguiling sensuality. Neither existed 20 years ago. Take a look, if you have the strength, at the 12,000 entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (1985). Then consider that the next edition will have 20,000."

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The friendship limit

"Among monkeys and apes brain size corresponds to social group size, and by extrapolating this relationship we would expect to have a natural group size of about 150," says the New Scientist. "Known as Dunbar's number, it turns out to be surprisingly common in human social organization. Historically, it was the average size of English villages. It is also the ideal size for church parishes, and is the size of the basic military unit, the company. Although an individual's social network may include many more people, 150 marks the limit on those with whom we can have a real relationship involving trust and obligation – move beyond 150 and people are mere acquaintances."

Having a hoot in Edinburgh

"An award-winning Scottish comedian is to go on the room service menu of a new hotel in Edinburgh," reports Orange Co. UK. "Guests of the Hotel Indigo will be able to order a 10-minute show from Janey Godley along with their food and drink from April 19 to 21. … Dominic Kutschera, general manager of the hotel, said: 'Edinburgh plays host to the world's largest arts festival every summer and as a result Edinburgh has become synonymous with comedy. The festival theme is reflected throughout our hotel and we thought it would be fun to take this a step further by putting comedy quite literally on the menu.'"

Thought du jour

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion." – Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher and statesman

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