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Dogs' Halloween costumes

"Eileen Proctor is fine with silly," says The Denver Post. "In fact, she's mulling putting together some Mutt Romney and Bark Obama dog costumes." But the owner of a Castle Rock, Colo., boarding and training facility says: "Don't assume that just because a company is selling a pet costume that it is a suitable costume for pets." Her advice:

"If the dog looks miserable, he probably is."

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Don't restrict movement. The dog should be able to walk and sit down without discomfort.

No masks that cover the eyes, ears or nose.

Get the dog used to having something on his neck or back. "Don't just spring it on him."

Nice baboons prosper

"Like humans, baboons with good friends often enjoy better health and longer lives," says Live Science. "Now research suggests the strength of a baboon's social circle depends less on its rank than its personality – and being nice pays off. 'These results have allowed us to, for the first time in a wild primate, link personality characteristics, social skill and reproductive success,' researcher Robert Seyfarth, of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. 'By being a nice baboon, you increase the likelihood of having strong social bonds, which in turn translates to a better chance of passing on your genes.'"

Time to leave, agreed?

"When it's time for elephants at an African watering hole to leave, the matriarch initiates a co-ordinated 'conversation' with herd leaders," United Press International reports, citing Stanford University researchers writing in the journal Bioacoustics. "The matriarch kicks off the conversation with what scientists have dubbed a 'let's-go rumble' while steadily flapping her ears, setting off a series of back and forth vocalizations, or rumbles, within the group before the entire family finally departs."

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The rise of fall

In 12th- and 13th-century Middle English, the fall, when it was considered a season at all, was called haerfest – which also meant the act of taking in crops, writes Natalie Wolchover of "'Autumn,' a Latin word, first appears in English in the late 14th century, and gradually gained on 'harvest.' In the 17th century, 'fall' came into use, almost certainly as a poetic complement to 'spring' … Finally, in the 18th century, 'harvest' had lost its seasonal meeting altogether, and 'fall' and 'autumn' emerged as the two accepted names for the third season. But by the 19th century, 'fall' had become an 'Americanism:' a word primarily used in the United States and one that was frowned upon by British lexicographers."

Cloudy crystal balls

A tourist-attraction boss in Britain says he is considering legal action against the weather office after "a series of overly pessimistic" forecasts he says are threatening to bring the tourist industry to its knees, reports

Prosecutors in Italy have called for a group of scientists to be jailed for four years for allegedly failing to give adequate warning of a 2009 earthquake that killed 309 people and injured hundreds more, says The Daily Telegraph says. At the scientists' manslaughter trial, the prosecutors accused them of offering "an incomplete, inept, unsuitable and criminally mistaken analysis" of dozens of tremors that rattled the area in the days before the 6.3-magnitude quake.

Thought du jour

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"Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one."

Benjamin Franklin

American statesman (1706-90)

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