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Looking for a bit of understanding? Try a woman in her 50s or 60s

The most empathetic

"Anyone looking for someone to feel their pain should talk to a woman in her 50s or 60s," reports The Daily Telegraph. "According to the latest study of more than 75,000 adults, women in that age group are more empathetic than men of the same age and than younger or older people. 'Over all, late middle-aged adults were higher in both of the aspects of empathy that we measured,' says Sara Konrath, co-author of an article on age and empathy forthcoming in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences. 'They reported that they were more likely to react emotionally to the experiences of others, and they were also more likely to try to understand how things looked from the perspective of others.'"

How Gen X connects

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"As a sign of the times, new research discovers young adults in Generation X are as likely to connect with friends, family and co-workers online as they are in person," says Psych Central. "University of Michigan researchers say this is only the beginning of a new paradigm where electronic connections will be the dominant form of personal interaction. In a typical month, adults in their late 30s report that they engaged in about 75 face-to-face contacts or conversations, compared to about 74 electronic contacts through personal e-mails or social media. 'Given the speed of emerging technologies, it is likely that electronic contacts will continue to grow in the years ahead, eventually exceeding face-to-face interactions,' said Jon Miller, PhD, author of the latest issue of the quarterly Generation X Report."

Why stroking feels nice

A gentle stroke on hairy skin could feel pleasant because these areas contain specialized nerve cells that send "pleasure pulses" to the brain when stimulated, scientists have discovered, reports The Independent. "The existence of special pleasure detectors in hairy skin has long been debated but now researchers have finally found strong evidence of their existence – in laboratory mice." A study carried out by David Anderson and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena has shown that the hairy skin on the back legs of mice contains sensory nerve endings that respond to pleasurable rubbing but not to pain.

12-year-old must get job

"A Massachusetts appeals court upheld a judge's order for a 12-year-old tagger to get a job so he can pay $1,000 restitution to his victim," says United Press International. "The boy, who was 11 at the time of the crime, had been ordered to pay restitution to his Easthampton neighbours in exchange for having charges of juvenile delinquency put on hold for one year … and [he was ordered] to get a job when he failed to pay the damages within the allotted year … The boy can 'earn money by obtaining a paper route, mowing lawns, shovelling snow, babysitting, delivering groceries or by recycling items upon which a deposit had been paid,' Judge William Meade wrote in the three-judge panel's decision."

Restrooms for pets

"Public restrooms in China will no longer be limited to just pedestrians," reports The Huffington Post. "As part of new civility laws to keep city streets clean, China plans to build bathrooms just for pets, according to Chinese-language news site Shenzhen Special Zone Daily. Launched as a trial in the Luohu district of the city of Shenzhen … the open-air pet restrooms are filled with sand and measure about one square metre in size. They are placed near parks and along sidewalks." About 80 pet toilets have been installed and as many as 1,000 more may follow.

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Thought du jour

"At the simplest level, only people who know they do not know everything will be curious enough to find things out."

Virginia Postrel, U.S. political writer (1960-)

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