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Whale friendships, let's have grandchildren, fear of shortness Add to ...

Glance at this, it's about you

"Are our Facebook friends more interesting than those you have in real life?" Tara Parker-Pope writes for The New York Times. "Has high-speed Internet made you impatient with slow-speed children? Do you sometimes think about reaching for the fast-forward, only to realize that life does not come with a remote control? If you answered yes to any of these questions, exposure to technology may be slowly shaping your personality. Some experts believe excessive use of the Internet, cellphones and other technologies can cause us to become more impatient, impulsive, forgetful and even more narcissistic."

Whale friendships

"Humpback whales form lasting bonds, the first baleen whales known to do so," BBC News reports. "Individual female humpbacks reunite each summer to feed and swim alongside one another in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Canada, scientists have found. Toothed whales, such as sperm whales, associate with one another, but larger baleen whales, which filter their food, have been thought less social. The finding raises the possibility that commercial whaling may have broken apart social groups of whales. Details of the discovery are published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology."

Long-distance surfers

"How did the world's largest living reptile, the saltwater crocodile, reach so many South Pacific islands separated by huge stretches of water, despite being a poor swimmer?" Charles Q. Choi writes for LiveScience. "Apparently, like a surfer catching a wave, these goliaths can ride currents on the ocean surface to cross large areas of open sea, researchers now reveal." The saltwater croc is a ferocious beast that has been known to devour sharks. "There were already many anecdotal accounts of large crocodiles sighted far out at sea, but nothing confirmed. Now, for the first time, using sonar transmitters and satellite tracking, scientists find that saltwater crocodiles actually do ride surface ocean currents for long-distance travel, enabling them to voyage from one oceanic island to another."

You snooze, you lose

"After a Tennessee police department let its website expire, the site was snatched up by a new owner - a man who uses it to gripe about traffic cameras that issue speeding tickets," Associated Press reports. "Computer network designer Brian McCrary says he discovered the Bluff City Police Department site was up for grabs, so he paid domain provider Go Daddy for the rights. … Police Chief David Nelson said the officer who managed the site had been on medical leave and the expiration date slipped up on the department."

Let's have grandchildren

"Some studies have found that having more daughters makes people more liberal," Kevin Lewis reports for The Boston Globe. "The theory is that parents perceive conservative policies as constraining the freedom of women. A new analysis by sociologists at New York University contests this finding. Controlling for gender, religion, age, education and marital status, the analysis indicated that having a higher proportion of daughters relative to sons was associated with being Republican or conservative. The authors of this latest study suggest that conservative policies 'support the genetic fitness of women by capitalizing on each pregnancy, reducing male promiscuity and increasing paternal investment in children' and ultimately maximizing the number of grandchildren, despite restricting the freedom of daughters."

Now showing: humans

"Orangutans may enjoy watching us as much as we enjoy watching them, according to researchers who observed primate interaction with zoo visitors," Australia's The Age newspaper reports. "As part of a long-term study on the welfare of zoo animals, researchers from Melbourne University and Zoos Victoria found that given the choice, the orangutans would rather sit within sight of visitors."

Fear of shortness

Tall security agents have been discreetly advised not to apply for a job guarding [French President]Nicolas Sarkozy, police sources have claimed," The Daily Telegraph reports. The president is notoriously sensitive and secretive about his height of around 5 foot 5. "Besides wearing specially designed stacked shoes, Mr. Sarkozy has been caught standing on tiptoes in global leader group shots and stood on a box to remain shoulder-to-shoulder with Barack Obama, the U.S. President, when the pair gave speeches to commemorate the Normandy landings last year."

No fear of heights

"Miley Cyrus debuted jaw-droppingly high seven-inch heels on a recent visit to Madrid," Amanda Sidman reports for the New York Daily News. "The tween queen's Christian Louboutins were so steep, she needed a wall to steady herself as she descended a flight of stairs. While heels in the past few years have soared as high as five or six inches, these seven-inch spikes take the cake. Even Cyrus, no stranger to high heels, had trouble walking in them. … Sky-high heels, whether seven inches or five, are your friend, not your foe. No one's suggesting you take a long stroll in them. But what better excuse than too-high heels to take an overpriced taxi? And if you're struggling on cobblestones, kindly men might pass by and offer to carry you across the street. Your butt will never look better and your legs will never look longer."

Thought du jour

"Our intentions tend to be much more real to us than our actions, and this can lead to a great deal of misunderstanding with other people, to whom our actions tend to be much more real than our intentions."

- E.F. Schumacher

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