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The Globe and Mail

Writing by hand, not typing, makes for better learning

Write it, don't type it

"The process of putting pen to paper and reading from a book seems to imprint knowledge in the brain in a better way than using a keyboard and computer screen," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Reading and writing involves a number of senses and when writing by hand our brain receives feedback from our muscles and fingertips, [researchers]say. These kinds of feedback are stronger than those we receive when touching and typing on a keyboard and strengthens the learning mechanism, according to the findings published in the journal Advances in Haptics. It also takes more mental effort and time to write by hand and so this is thought to also help imprint memories."

More eyes in the skies

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"The drone technology that has revolutionized warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is entering the national airspace: Unmanned aircraft are patrolling the border with Mexico, searching for missing persons over difficult terrain, flying into hurricanes to collect weather data, photographing traffic accident scenes and tracking the spread of forest fires," The Washington Post reports. "[O]e of the most far-reaching and potentially controversial uses of drones: as a new and relatively cheap surveillance tool in domestic law enforcement. … Such technology could allow police to record the activities of the public below with high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging cameras. One manufacturer already advertises one of its small systems as ideal for 'urban monitoring.' The military, often a first user of technologies that migrate to civilian life, is about to deploy a system in Afghanistan that will be able to scan an area the size of a small town. And the most sophisticated robotics use artificial intelligence to seek out and record certain kinds of suspicious activity."

Ogling smokestacks

"Armed with expensive and elaborate camera equipment, the tourists excitedly disembarking the charter bus [in Yokkaichi, Japan]have all the markings of a stereotypical tour group," Daisuke Wakabayashi writes for The Wall Street Journal. "But they aren't interested in the area's renowned pottery making or its tranquil Shisuian teahouse. They are here to see a giant power plant billowing smoke. … What started as a fringe subculture known as kojo moe, or 'factory infatuation,' is beginning to gain wider appeal in Japan, turning industrial zones into unlikely tourist attractions. … Unlike the tourists who visit the factories of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese manufacturers, the kojo moe crowd has little interest in the inner workings of the plants. They get excited by the maze of intricate piping around the exterior of a steel plant or the cylindrical smokestacks sending up steam."

Jack LaLanne's habits

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne died this week, "still dashing and spry just four years shy of 100," The Daily Beast reports. Some of his unusual health habits:

- Get used to waking up early. For years, Mr. LaLanne rose at 4 a.m. to start his daily workout regimen. Once he hit his twilight years, he started sleeping in to 5 a.m.

- Eat twice a day. Mr. LaLanne consumed exactly two meals, breakfast and dinner. Snacks were strictly verboten.

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- Kick the sugar habit. Mr. LaLanne never ate a Twinkie - in part because the last time he ate dessert (in 1929) the iconic junk food hadn't been invented yet.

- Make sure it tastes bad. Mr. LaLanne passed on processed foods. "If it tastes good," he ordered, "spit it out."

- No matter who you are, you've got to work out. "The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," he said. "Inactivity is the killer, and remember, it's never too late."

Shall we bury Vladimir?

"An online poll organized by Russia's ruling party suggests there is strong support for burying Lenin's body," BBC News reports. "Of more than 250,000 people who have voted in the poll, two-thirds so far say Lenin should now be buried. The revolutionary leader's embalmed body has been on display in a mausoleum in Red Square in Moscow since his death in 1924. The debate about what to do with his body resurfaces with every anniversary of his death - on Jan. 21, 1924."

Thought du jour

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"Communism was overthrown by life, by thought, by dignity."

Vaclav Havel (1936-), Czech politician and playwright

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