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facts & arguments

Empathy in the workplace

"In an era of increased competition and economic pressure, some workplaces can seem like a battlefield," says Psych Central. "Many workers may have observed a colleague being chastised or denigrated by a supervisor, and for some the attack has been personal. Provocative new research suggests our subsequent feelings and actions vary by gender and are different depending on whether the co-worker is male or female. Investigators from Texas A&M and Buena Vista University discovered workers who witness incivility toward colleagues feel negative emotions – especially when the incivility is aimed at workers of the same sex." Researchers determined:

  • Female observers reported significantly higher levels of anger, demoralization, fear and anxiety when they saw other female employees being treated rudely. Demoralization was the strongest negative emotion.
  • Male observers were significantly angrier, more fearful and more anxious the more they saw other men being treated uncivilly. Interestingly, demoralization was not experienced in these situations.

Combat vets and driving

"Before going to war, Susan Max loved tooling around Northern California in her maroon Mustang," says The New York Times. "A combat tour in Iraq changed all that. Back in the States, Ms. Max, an army reservist, found herself avoiding cramped parking lots without obvious escape routes. She straddled the middle line, as if bombs might be buried in the curbs. … For thousands of combat veterans, driving has become an ordeal. Once their problems were viewed mainly as a form of road rage or thrill-seeking. But increasingly, erratic driving by returning troops is being identified as a symptom of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD – and coming under greater scrutiny amid concerns about higher accident rates among veterans."

Trends in burglary

"When nights are long, criminal minds turn to the contents of other people's homes: in London, burglary peaks in winter," reports The Economist. "But what to steal? Over the past few years, criminal markets have evolved, leading to dramatic changes in burglars' targets. 'Years ago, you'd see a man in a pub selling CDs,' says Eric Phelps, a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. 'Not any more.' … [CDs and DVDs]are now targeted no more frequently than are toiletries and cigarettes. … Computers, on the other hand, are both valuable and increasingly portable: They are now taken more commonly than anything except purses and wallets. Mr. Phelps says that gold jewellery has also become more popular as the value of that metal has soared."

Avoid swerving

"Do you brake for cats, dogs, squirrels, skunks and possums?" Associated Press asks. "How about horses, cows, elk, moose or deer? Fight the urge to swerve as you brake if you don't have time to check traffic first, said Julie Startup, a Washington state trooper and spokeswoman in the agency's Seattle and Bellevue area. … The size of the animal matters. If it's shorter than your car's hood and you don't have time to check other lanes, go through it, Startup said. If the animal is taller than the hood, avoid it if you can, knowing it still might be better to hit the animal. … The [U.S.]National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 173 fatal crashes and 12,000 injury crashes involving animals in 2009, the latest year statistics are available."

Mastiff adopts chimp

"A baby chimpanzee has been adopted by a motherly mastiff in Russia," Orange News U.K. reports. "A zookeeper took the infant chimp home to hand-rear it when the youngster was rejected by her natural mother. Within hours, say reports, the primate was one of the pack when the family pet dog adopted her as a new puppy. Now the chimp eats with the mastiff and the family's other pet dogs and even shares their bed. Experts say dogs are normally frightened of primates because their behaviour is too unpredictable."

Matilda's snake

"The world's newest snake has menacing-looking yellow and black scales, dull green eyes and two spiky horns. And it's named after a seven-year-old girl," reports Associated Press. "Matilda's Horned Viper was discovered in a small patch of southwest Tanzania about two years ago and was introduced last month as the world's newest known snake species in an issue of Zootaxa. Tim Davenport, the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania, was on the three-person team that discovered the viper. … 'My daughter, who was 5 at the time, became fascinated by it and used to love spending time watching it and helping us look after it,' Davenport [said] 'We called it Matilda's Viper at that stage … and then the name stuck.' "


"If you hear a voice within you say 'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

- Vincent van Gogh (1853-90), Dutch post-impressionist