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The Globe and Mail

Today's normality, a cat's day planner, desperate pros

Today's normality

"You don't have to be Dr. Phil to know that a lot of people these days suffer from psychological problems," Kevin Lewis writes in The Boston Globe. "But is this state of affairs 'normal'? Or is this a growing trend? A team of researchers across the [United States]analyzed data from psychological tests on high-school and college students over many decades and found an upward trend in various pathologies. The trend does not correlate with economic cycles, but is instead correlated with cultural factors like materialism, philosophy of life, and the divorce rate. The authors also note that their findings may underestimate the trend, given that so many people are now on medication." The study will appear in Clinical Psychology Review.

Save Earth? Think big

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"December should be national Green-Free Month," Mike Tidwell writes for The Washington Post. "Instead of continuing our faddish and counterproductive emphasis on small, voluntary actions, we should follow the example of Americans during past moral crises and work toward large-scale change. The country's last real moral and social revolution was set in motion by the civil-rights movement. And in the 1960s, civil-rights activists didn't ask bigoted Southern governors and sheriffs to consider '10 Ways to Go Integrated' at their convenience."

A cat's day planner

What do cats do when their owners are away? In research sponsored by Friskies cat food, animal behaviour scientist Jill Villarreal gave 50 house cats collar cameras that took a photo every 15 minutes, Associated Press reports. Some of the leading ways the cats occupied themselves:

Looking out of windows- 22 per cent of the time.

Interacting with other family pets - 12 per cent.

Climbing on furniture - 8.

Sleeping, looking at television or other media, hiding under tables - each 6.

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Playing with toys - 5.

Eating or looking at food - 4.

Climate action grounded

"[F]ying is the single most intractable climate-change issue," blogs Justin Rowlatt, the "Ethical Man" for BBC News. "There is a solution to most of the other stuff - we can cut our energy use, change how we generate power, drive electric cars, eat less meat etc. - but there is no alternative to flying. And how we [British]love to fly. At least one foreign holiday a year now seems to be regarded as pretty much a right of citizenship. Which is why politicians are so worried about stopping us doing it."

Desperate pros

"[U.S.]retailers report a surge in applications this year from professionals who had never applied for such jobs before," Associated Press reports. "'You'll find Wall Street stock brokers and small-business owners trying to find temporary retail jobs during the holidays,' said Ellen Davis, vice-president of the National Retail Federation. The pay is low, the jobs temporary. And the work is hardly equal to their experience or expertise. Yet the nation's unemployment crisis left these people jobless so much longer than they'd expected that many count themselves fortunate to have anything."

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Needs some assembly

"As another holiday shopping season gets under way, new toys will soon begin entering households in critical mass," Hilary Stout writes for The New York Times. "To the consternation of countless parents … a startling number will need to be built. For a variety of reasons - from international trading patterns to the amount of shelf space at big domestic retailers - toys are coming in more compressed packaging these days and with more dreaded assembly required. And many adults feel less and less up to the task. … Then there's the ever-growing popularity and educational allure of so-called construction toys, like Lego; for them, building is supposed to be part of the point and part of the fun. Many such kits are no longer designed for open-ended, creative building, but rather to construct a precise model based on a licensed movie theme, for example Star Wars or Transformers . If a child can't recreate the spaceship or warrior by following pages of directions, it is up to the parents to do it."

In the rough

These days, witticisms abound online and in the media poking fun at Tiger Woods. A few printable examples:

What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.

What do baby seals and Tiger Woods have in common? Both were clubbed by a Scandinavian.

Tiger pleaded with cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs: "Help me improve my lie."

"Tiger always gives 110 per cent. That is why he gave 100 per cent to his wife and still had 10 per cent left over for his alleged mistress." - Stephen Colbert

Thought du jour

"When you worry, you go over the same ground endlessly and come out the same place you started. Thinking makes progress from one place to another; worry remains static. The problem of life is to change worry into thinking and anxiety into creative action."

- Harold B. Walker

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