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Why the eye patch, matey?

"Ever wonder why a pirate wears patches? It's not because he was wounded in a sword fight," Dr. Jim Sheedy tells The Wall Street Journal. "Seamen must constantly move between the pitch black of below decks and the bright sunshine above, says the director of the Vision Performance Institute at Oregon's Pacific University. Smart pirates 'wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside.' Should a battle break out and the pirate had to shimmy below, he would simply switch the patch to the outdoor eye and he could see in the dark right away.

Need discipline? Ask a friend

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"New research suggests self-discipline is improved when an individual is surrounded by friends who display strong resolve," reports Psych Central. "Duke University investigators found that people with low self-control prefer and depend on people with high self-control, possibly as a way to make up for the skills they themselves lack. 'We all know how much effort it takes to overcome temptation,' said Catherine Shea, lead author of the study and a doctoral student … 'People with low self-control could relieve a lot of their self-control struggles by being with an individual who helps them.' " She added that: "What we have shown is … you get by with a little help from your friends."

Good posture, independent life

"The shape of a person's spinal column," says The Huffington Post, may predict their risk for disability in old age, and thus their need for home assistance, new research has found. A team of researchers in Japan discovered that the trunk angle of inclination – or 'the angle between the true vertical and a straight line from the first thoracic vertebra to the first sacral vertebra' – is linked to whether or not one will require help with bathing, feeding, dressing and other activities of daily living (ADL). … The subjects with the greatest angle of spinal inclination were 3.47 times more likely to become dependent in ADL than those with the least spinal inclination." Also linked to the likelihood that one will wind up in a nursing home or assisted living facility is a good night's sleep. Fragmented sleep is associated with a greater risk.

Haunted real estate

"The riders (or little placards that sit atop real estate signs) usually signal that a home is having an open house or that it has gone under contract," says, a Washington website. "But a four-bedroom home [that] recently hit the market … has a humorous rider. Specifically, it signals that the home is 'not haunted.'"

A frightened British mother is demanding a new home for her and her young family – because she is convinced their terraced house is haunted by the ghost of a man named Nigel, reports the Mail Online. "Housing association tenant Stacey McGill claims a spiritual presence flicks lights on and off, tampers with electrical appliances, moves posters around the walls and causes the floorboards to creak." Graeme Stewardson, head of housing at East Midlands Housing Association, said: "We are aware of the unusual activities reported by Ms. McGill and have listened to her concerns in a sensitive manner. … We will continue to offer Ms. McGill our support and advice as a landlord."

Shaking a rat's tail

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"By linking the brains of a human and a rat, scientists have now helped a man wiggle a rodent's tail using only the man's thoughts," reports Live Science. "These new findings are the first case of a brain-to-brain interface between species, and the first example of a noninvasive [one]."

Thought du jour

"Every generation is a secret society and has incommunicable enthusiasm, tastes and interests which are a mystery both to its predecessor and to posterity."

Arthur Chapman, U.S. poet (1873-1935)

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