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Guilt is a sweetener

"Many of us who generally maintain a healthy diet will fall off the wagon over the upcoming holidays," says Pacific Standard magazine. "We'll be offered a particularly enticing appetizer or dessert and, after some initial hesitation, indulge. While that process inevitably produces internal conflict, it turns out we are rewarded for our discomfort. According to newly published research, the guilt we feel may make that decadent treat taste even more delicious than it otherwise would. When succumbing to temptation, 'people who are primed with guilt subsequently experience greater pleasure than people who are not,' reports a research team led by Kelly Goldsmith of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management."

The cost of a little brother?

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"Things that can raise blood pressure: eating too much salt, stress … having a little brother?" says The Huffington Post. "A new study of Bolivian villagers shows a link between having a younger brother and slightly increased blood pressure levels later on in adulthood, though Brandeis University researchers did note that the effect seemed to diminish with age. … They found that the study participants who reported having a younger brother had as much as 5.9 per cent higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels than those who didn't have a younger brother. Blood pressure levels were also slightly increased for people with a younger sister, though not as much as those with younger brothers."

Parlez-vous Hollywood?

"In an episode of the forthcoming French television series Jo, a Parisian police detective heads to the Eiffel Tower to solve a murder," writes Sam Schechner in The Wall Street Journal. "The biggest twist in the drama isn't who pushed a supermodel from the monument's edge. It is the language coming out of the hard-boiled French cop's mouth: English. As the television business becomes increasingly global, television producers worldwide are facing a new challenge. In order to compete with big-budget American TV shows like The Mentalist that are popular in many countries, non-U.S. producers increasingly have to look overseas for more money. That means making TV shows that sell abroad, in the image – and language – of Hollywood. The result is that in France, a country fiercely proud of its linguistic heritage, several new TV shows are being shot in English, and will be dubbed later into French when they air at home."

Using Santa to threaten

"An Australian psychologist says smartphone apps allowing parents to send their naughty children phone calls from Santa 'are not useful' and 'could be abused,'" reports United Press International. "Dr. John Irvine said the smartphone apps – including the free Fake Call From Santa app and the $1.99 Parents Calling Santa app – are 'not productive' methods of behaviour correction … 'These kinds of apps have made the Santa threat much more real and immediate and they could be abused by some parents in the lead-up to Christmas Day,' he said. 'What is the point in threatening something that you are not going to carry out? Is mum really going to cancel presents on Christmas Day?' "

Thought du jour

"Today, while the titular head of the family may still be the father, everyone knows that he is little more than chairman, at most, of the entertainment committee."

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Ashley Montagu

British-American anthropologist (1905-99)

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