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Feeling optimistic? You might be bad for the economy Add to ...

No smiling economists

“Over-optimism can actually hurt the economy by spurring foolish fiscal decision-making,” says Psychology Today. “A Duke University study found that ‘extreme optimists’ (those who predicted they’d live 20 years longer than their health data suggested) worked fewer hours, saved less money, and planned less for the future. So an abundance of overly upbeat denizens might drive the economy into the ground – housing bubble, anyone?”

World o’ carnivores

– “[A] 53-year-old man in Carlisle, Pa., was caught eating raw meat off a Wal-Mart shelf,” reports The Huffington Post. “He opened packages of raw ground beef and raw stew beef, ate a little beef and then put the packages back on the shelf. A Wal-Mart employee saw [the man], and a loss prevention officer and a store manager followed [him] outside and pointed him out to a police officer. He was arrested at taser point and charged with retail theft. … Stranger still is that, from the looks of his photo, [the man] doesn’t appear to have teeth.”

– Last month, Swedish pensioner Eskil Carlsson “decided the time was ripe to treat his neighbours to a cut of beef which had been stored in a glass jar by his family for over 70 years, revealing that it had held the test of time,” reports The Local newspaper. Although Mr. Carlsson had consulted authorities and they said there shouldn’t be a problem, he took a cautious approach. “The cat got the first taste,” he said, “and when it survived, we all had a taste.”

Delivery right on time

“[Chinese] couples worried about the seven-year itch can now plan a reminder of their love by posting a letter to their future selves,” China Daily says. “Beijing Post is offering to store letters and deliver them after seven years, part of a series of romantic services they have introduced. … [C]ustomers have been able to buy special stamps, postmarks, postcards, envelopes and even a Love Passport, which can be stamped every anniversary. A new zip code, 100099, will be written at the bottom of all letters and postcards. ‘We came up with the services not only to expand our business but also to offer the public another way to express their love,’ said Liu Jingmin, manager of the post office.”

Tattoos fading away?

“Tattoos are designed to last for life – but nothing endures that long in Hollywood,” says The Sunday Times of London. “Film stars such as Megan Fox, the Transformers actress who helped make them fashionable, are now leading a backlash against ‘body art.’ … Statistics suggest Fox is far from alone. According to a Harris Poll, the number of tattooed Americans, which was below 10 per cent until 1990, soared to 16 per cent in 2003 but fell back to 14 per cent in 2008. Since then, the number of U.S. tattoo parlours has fallen by 10 per cent and laser removal treatments are booming, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.”

Four legs good, too

From a review in Orion Magazine of Dale Peterson’s The Moral Lives of Animals: “Dogs and many other animals play co-operatively and fairly by obeying agreed-upon rules of social conduct that do not permit cheating or harming their playmate, while elephants help others in need by guarding or feeding them, and rats and monkeys won’t eat if others are [electrically] shocked when they do. Many animals display fairness, co-operation, compassion, generosity, justice and empathy. Among young coyotes, individuals who don’t play by the rules often wind up living alone and suffer higher mortality rates than individuals living in packs. There’s a price to pay for violating social norms.”

Lose article? What’s big idea?

“Sitting down to chat last year with Amazon.com Inc.’s chief executive Jeff Bezos, television host Charlie Rose announced that the two would discuss ‘the Kindle,’ Amazon’s e-reader,” says The Wall Street Journal. “But throughout the interview, Mr. Bezos repeatedly dodged the word ‘the,’ saying how ‘Kindle is succeeding,’ that ‘Kindle is a companion to tablet computers’ and touting how many e-books are ‘available for Kindle.’ Mr. Bezos is part of a growing cadre of marketers who conscientiously object to using articles – the tiny English words ‘the,’ ‘a’ and ‘an’ that typically precede many nouns. … In Silicon Valley especially, dropping ‘the’ before product names has become an article of faith. Without the omission, people might be friending each other on TheFacebook.com. After Mark Zuckerberg moved his social network from Cambridge, Mass., to Palo Alto, Calif., adviser Sean Parker persuaded him to drop what he called the awkward article. Branding gurus defend the ‘the’ omission. ‘When you can drop an article, the brand takes on a more iconic feel,’ argues Allen Adamson, managing director of WPP Group PLC’s branding agency, Landor Associates.”

Thought du jour

“Eating is touch carried to the bitter end.”

Samuel Butler (1835-1902), British novelist

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