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Positive news only

"One reason optimists retain a positive outlook even in the face of evidence to the contrary has been discovered, say researchers. A study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests the brain is very good at processing good news about the future," says BBC News. "However, in some people, anything negative is practically ignored – with them retaining a positive world view. The authors said optimism did have important health benefits. Scientists at University College London said about 80 per cent of people were optimists, even if they would not label themselves as such."

Drawn to your peculiar scent

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"Scientists have uncovered why it is so difficult to buy perfume for others – because we are drawn to fragrances that complement and enhance our own body odours," The Sunday Telegraph reports. "Researchers claim that rather than using perfumes and aftershaves to mask the smells produced by our own bodies, we actually select fragrances to enhance our own natural scent. They have found that when people choose their own perfume and it is mixed with their own body odour, the resulting smell is rated as being more pleasant and attractive by others than when a perfume is imposed upon individuals. Dr. Jan Havlicek, an anthropologist at Charles University in Prague who has been studying how fragrance influences behaviour, is due to present his results at a conference in London."

How's your influence score?

"There's never been a worse time to be an introvert," writes Jim Sollisch for The Christian Science Monitor. "… The extroverts have won the values battle. Probably because they talked louder and faster. More and more creative companies, filled with introverts, have reorganized into teams. More and more schools sit students in pods and assign projects to teams. And now introverts, who like to reflect before they speak and who are naturally more self-conscious than extroverts, have something else to worry about. It's called the 'influence score.' And having a low one could some day prove worse than having a low credit score. The influence score is the brainchild of companies with names like Klout and PeerIndex. If you haven't heard of them yet, you will. There's a good chance these social analytic companies have already heard of you if you're on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. In fact, they may have already assigned you an influence score based on the number of friends or followers you have, how often you post, how often your posts attempt to persuade. Several companies are already targeting consumers with high influence scores. But your influence score may also have a darker side: It may impact whether or not you get a job offer or a promotion. A few years ago, no one would have guessed that having a low credit score could cost you a job offer. Well, your influence score is going to be even more important to companies as they look for employees who can spread the word and gain clout and notoriety for businesses and their clients."

This is a useful memory?

"Do you remember what you were doing a year ago today?" asks Clive Thompson of Wired magazine. "Daniel Giovanni does. A social media specialist in Jakarta, he recently began using a clever service called 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo. The service plugs into your Foursquare 'check-ins' – those geotagged notes showing where you ate, drank and socialized. Each morning, it finds your check-ins from precisely one year earlier and e-mails you a summary. The result is a curiously powerful daily jolt of reminiscence. … 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo is an example of a new trend I call memory engineering – the process of fashioning our inchoate digital pasts into useful memories."

How the unequal survive

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going," says The Boston Globe. "Researchers from Stanford ran computer models of the population dynamics of egalitarian versus inegalitarian tribes and found that inegalitarian tribes split up and spread out in response to hardship at a faster rate than egalitarian tribes. This – rather than any inherent practical advantage – may explain why inequality became pervasive in modern civilization."

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From ashes to bullets

"When he dies, Clem Parnell expects his soul to ascend heavenward," Religion News Service reports. "He wants his ashes to be loaded into a shotgun shell and blasted at a turkey. 'I will rest in peace knowing that the last thing that turkey will see is me screaming at him at about 900 feet per second,' says Mr. Parnell, 59. Mr. Parnell and his business partner, fellow Alabama state game warden Thad Holmes, believe other hunters have similar hankerings. This July, they launched Holy Smoke LLC, which offers to load the cremains of customers into shotgun shells, rifle cartridges and bullets."

Thought du jour

"Those that know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories."

Polybius (c200-118 BC), Greek historian

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