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Human responses to danger: Fight, flight – or faint

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"I have learned from veterinarians that … animals from Rottweilers and chihuahuas [to] canaries … can also faint in fear, and why that happens is really interesting and shared with us," cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz tells U.S. National Public Radio. She is coauthor of Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing. "It turns out that … danger and noise – the perception of danger – causes these animals' heart rates to plummet – particularly the juveniles – and that really super-slow heart rate keeps them still, and that's probably protective. It's an anti-predation response. … It turns out that animals and humans are equipped not with two, but three responses: fight, flight or faint."

Tiger in the bathroom

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"A Kansas woman likely won't remember her first circus for the clowns or performances – it'll be the tiger in the bathroom," reports Associated Press. "The big cat had escaped briefly after its turn in the ring Saturday at the Isis Shrine Circus in Salina, Kan. Staff members blocked off the concourses at the Bicentennial Centre as the tiger wandered into the bathroom, where one of the doors was blockaded. About that time, Salina resident Jenna Krehbiel decided she needed to use the restroom. When she walked in the door that hadn't been blocked off, she found a tiger standing about two feet away." Krehbiel, a social worker, said she didn't scream or run because she is trained to stay calm. The tiger was recaptured within minutes. Krehbiel said her three-year-old daughter had a different reaction. "My daughter wanted to know if it had washed its hands," she said.

Flying butlers?

"A Chinese budget carrier is planning to dress its female flight attendants as maids and their male colleagues as butlers on some flights, a move that has attracted both praise and criticism online," reports The Shanghai Daily. "Spring Airlines said it would be the first domestic airline to have crew members dressed in such a fashion." A spokesman said the male crew members who would be dressed as butlers would include the pilots, with their outfit featuring a long black apron as well as a tie. He added the move was just one of several measures to improve services for passengers.

Splendid isolation

"If I had to identify that one thing that – more than any other – helps explain the way Americans see the world, it would be America's physical location," writes Aaron David Miller in Foreign Policy magazine. "The United States is the only great power in the history of the world that has had the luxury of having non-predatory neighbours to its north and south, and fish to its east and west. … Canadians, Mexicans and fish. That trio of neighbours has given the United States an unprecedented degree of security, a huge margin for error in international affairs, and the luxury of largely unfettered development."

Walking? How pedestrian

"Walking advocates often point out that walking is the People's Sport – it's democratic because you don't need any special equipment and it can be practised by almost anyone," writes Wayne Curtis in The Smart Set. "But that's actually something of a problem. Because if walking required special equipment or skills, or incurred expense, it would be a multi-billion-dollar industry. And if that were the case, business owners and politicians would fall over themselves to enhance and protect spaces where we walk. Instead, we end up with sidewalk-free arterials, eight-lane crosswalks and parched, treeless lanes. … Walking is too easy, it's too accessible, it's too, well, pedestrian."

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Thought du jour

"As knowledge increases, wonder deepens."

Charles Morgan, English writer (1894-1958)

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