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facts & arguments

The stress of relaxing

"Most people relish time away from work or routine and live for vacations," says Psych Central. "But a subset of individuals becomes anxious when they take time away to relax. A new research study examines the phenomenon by asking individuals to complete a questionnaire called the Relaxation Sensitivity Index. Preliminary findings suggest that individuals who are high in relaxation sensitivity are also high in anxiety sensitivity. 'Relaxation-induced anxiety … is a relatively common occurrence,' said Christina Luberto, a doctoral student in the University of Cincinnati's department of psychology." From the questionnaire:

"I hate getting massages because of the feeling it creates when my muscles relax."

"I don't like to relax because it makes me feel out of control."

"I worry that when I let my body relax, I'll look unattractive; I worry that if I relax, other people will think I'm lazy."

Easiest science marks ever

"As many as one in five teachers in Kansas and neighbouring states are reporting science grades on student report cards without actually teaching it or testing students on the subject," says The Huffington Post. "Trego school district superintendent George Griffith presented to the Kansas State Board of Education a report that surveyed more than 900 elementary teachers across Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. … Educators said they reported science grades simply because there was a blank space for it on report cards. Cutting back on science lessons also meant teachers could spend more time focusing on high-stakes reading and math exams."

Post-election bitterness

"An Arizona woman," reports Reuters, "in despair at the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama, ran down her husband with the family car in suburban Phoenix on Saturday because he failed to vote, police said on Monday." The 36-year-old man was in critical condition at a local hospital but is expected to survive.

Giving fish leadership

"Robotic fish can make real fish like them simply by waving their artificial tails in a special way," reports "[Researchers say] these droids could lead real fish away from perils such as underwater turbines and help scientists learn more about how real animals behave, investigators added. … Robot fish convincing enough to lead groups of real fish around are being developed by mechanical engineer Maurizio Porfiri at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and his colleagues. 'In the long run, we'd like to use robots to influence the behaviour of fish – to steer them away from pollution or oil spills or dangers in general,' Porfiri said."

Thought du jour

"I personally am inclined to approach [housework] the way governments treat dissent: Ignore it until it revolts."

Barbara Kingsolver,

American novelist (1955- )