There's Something About Shug
When Simon is sitting on the sidewalk, few can pass him by without stopping for a chat and some fur. A work-at-home neighbour watched him for some time one afternoon and reported that not one person just walked on by. Everyone loves Simon, or Shug, as Stewart has dubbed him. (The neighbours down the street call him Snowball, and at the frat house on the corner, where he originally lived, he was called Maurice, so he goes by many names.)
I have never felt the urge to dress cats up in clever little hats or cute jackets or sunglasses. Until now. There's something about Shug that leads the imagination that way. He's pure white and large, with thick glowing fur and the sweetest face. He's like an engaging canvas, just waiting to be adorned. With a little Santa hat at Christmas, maybe a red bow tie... ooh, little saddlebags, or boots...
Stewart has finally succumbed to the creative pull and designed a spacesuit for him, to make those interstellar journeys a bit more comfortable. Shug controls the suit with his mind, he says. Up, up and away!
“I think fear really propagates a lot of negativity in our society. It stops us from doing the right things. I made a pact to always challenge that sense of fear in myself because it never outweighs the value of doing work that matters.” - Emma Halpern, Equity Officer, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
In 2012, adults in the United States provided more than a billion hours of unpaid caregiving every week--equal to the work of 30.5 million full-time caregivers. Source.
Digging In, Digging Out
In the wake of widespread public and community interest following the discovery of misogynistic Facebook posts in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry, on January 9 President Richard Florizone announced the commissioning of an external task force. The task force believes the culture in the dental school has been paternalistic, oblivious to changing mores and to what sort of behaviour — in particular, behaviour towards women — is no longer acceptable. "In order to move forward, the professors, the administrators, the staff and the students have to collectively come to the decision that the way they are doing things is not correct, and they have to change,” said Prof. Constance Backhouse. Source.
Violent Video Games: The Effects of Narrative Context and Reward Structure on In-Game and Postgame Aggression
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, June 29 , 2015
Previous research suggests that playing violent video games can increase post-game aggression. The generalized aggression model (GAM) attributes this to the generalized activation of aggressive schemata. We examined the effects of reward structures and narrative context in a violent video game on in-game and post-game aggression. Players who enacted in-game violence through a heroic character exhibited less post-game aggression than players who enacted comparable levels of in-game violence through an anti-heroic character. Effects were not attributable to self-activation or character-identification mechanisms, but were consistent with social–cognitive context effects on the interpretation of behaviour. These results contradict the GAM’s assertion that violent video games affect aggression through a generalized activation mechanism. From an applied perspective, consumer choices may be aided by considering not just game content, but the context in which content is portrayed. Abstract link.
IN THE NEWS
German Temps Hit Highest Since 1881
Bangkok Post, July 6, 2015
The heat wave blanketing wide parts of Europe has pushed temperatures in Germany to their highest since record-keeping began in 1881. The town of Kitzingen in Bavaria recorded a temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius Sunday afternoon, beating the previous record of 40.2 degrees last reached in 2003, the country's DWD weather service said Monday. The heat boosted power demand, lifting the cost of electricity for next-day delivery on the European Energy Exchange 32% to 49.02 euros a megawatt-hour, the highest since Dec 8. Full story.
Cities, Regions Call for 'Robust' World Climate Pact
Business Standard, July 3, 2015
Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December. In a declaration at the close of a two-day gathering in the French city of Lyon, they committed to doing their part to halt global warming in support of national and international efforts. But they also asked for money to do so. "We call on national governments and financial institutions to upscale financial resources dedicated to the fight against climate change," said the document. It also called for new mechanisms like guarantee facilities, green bonds, third-party financing, "with a view to increasing the capacity of actions." Story link.
Oceans Face Massive and Irreversible Impacts Without Carbon Cuts
Guardian, July 3, 2015
Time is rapidly running out for the world’s oceans and the creatures that live in them as the Earth’s climate continues to warm, say scientists. Only “immediate and substantial” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can hope to prevent “massive” impacts on marine ecosystems, warn the experts. Researchers compared the fate of the oceans under two scenarios, one a “business-as-usual” approach and the other involving drastic cuts in emissions. Their analysis showed that business-as-usual would have an enormous and “effectively irreversible” impact on ocean ecosystems and the services they provide, such as fisheries, by 2100. Story link.
Corals Are Already Adapting to Global Warming, Scientists Say
University of Texas at Austin, June 25, 2015
Some coral populations already have genetic variants necessary to tolerate warm ocean waters, and humans can help to spread these genes, a team of scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Oregon State University have found. The discovery has implications for many reefs now threatened by global warming and shows for the first time that mixing and matching corals from different latitudes may boost reef survival. The findings were published this week in the journal Science. Full story.
Ontario Invests $4.9M in Toronto's Bike Share Program
CTV News, July 6, 2015
The Ontario government has announced a nearly-$5 million investment in Bike Share Toronto, promising to double the city's current network. The investment comes from a partnership between the Toronto Parking Authority, the company behind Green P parking lots, and Metrolinx, a crown agency that manages public transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The investment will "more than double" the size of the current network in the next few years. More bike depots will be placed within walking distance of transit stations including GO and TTC hubs. Full story.
Catching Rudeness Is Like Catching a Cold
Journal of Applied Psychology, June 29 , 2015
In three studies, we investigate the contagion effect of rudeness and the cognitive mechanism that explains this effect. Study 1 results show that low-intensity negative behaviours like rudeness can be contagious, and that this contagion effect can occur based on single episodes, that anybody can be a carrier, and that this contagion effect has second-order consequences for future interaction partners. In Studies 2 and 3 we explore in the laboratory the cognitive mechanism that underlies the negative behavioral contagion effect observed in Study 1. Specifically, we show that rudeness activates a semantic network of related concepts in individuals’ minds, and that this activation influences individual’s hostile behaviours. In sum, in these 3 studies we show that just like the common cold, common negative behaviours can spread easily and have significant consequences for people in organizations. Abstract link.
How Relationship Satisfaction Facilitates Momentary Goal Pursuit
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, June 29, 2015
In a large-scale, intensive experience sampling project of 115 couples we closely tracked fluctuations in state relationship satisfaction (SRS) and four parameters of effective self-regulation. Individuals experiencing higher SRS than they typically do exhibited higher levels of perceived control, goal focus, perceived partner support, and positive affect during goal pursuit than they typically exhibit. Together, these four self-regulation-relevant variables translated into higher rates of daily progress on specific, idiographic goals. Findings suggest that momentary increases in relationship satisfaction may benefit everyday goal pursuit through a combination of cognitive and affective mechanisms. Abstract link.
Attachment Style, Relationship Factors, and Mental Health Stigma Among Adolescents
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, June 29 , 2015
A sample of 115 high school students were surveyed using self-report measures of self-stigma, social distance, attachment style, self-esteem and an inventory tapping into peer and parent relationships. Analyses indicated that perceived secure attachment style and strong affiliations with supportive peers are associated with reduced self-stigma of seeking help and social distance from individuals with mental illness. In contrast, analyses of the relationship measures indicated that students who strongly endorsed having a parental figure as a safe haven report heightened social distance from people with a serious mental illness, suggesting that parental overprotectiveness may produce wariness about mental illness. Abstract link.
Lack of Trust in the Health-Care System After Losing a Child to Suicide
Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, June 30 , 2015
This nationwide population-based survey included 569 parents who lost a child to suicide 2–5 years earlier and a matched comparison group of 326 nonbereaved parents. Using a study-specific questionnaire, we asked bereaved and nonbereaved parents if they trusted the health-care system and measured psychological and background variables. Prevalence of lack of trust in the health-care system differed between the bereaved (46.5%) and the nonbereaved parents (18.3%), giving a relative risk of 2.5 (95% CI = 2.0–3.3). Lack of trust in the health-care system after losing a child to suicide may prevent bereaved parents from seeking professional treatment when needed, thus diminishing their chances of recovery. Abstract link.
Negative Social Interactions and Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Old Age
Neuropsychology, July 2015
Participants were 529 older people without cognitive impairment at study onset. They completed annual evaluations that included assessment of negative social interactions (e.g., unsympathetic behavior, rejection), cognitive testing, and clinical classification of mild cognitive impairment. During a mean of 4.8 years of follow-up, 198 individuals (37.4%) developed mild cognitive impairment. Higher baseline frequency of negative social interactions was associated with higher risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. This association was mainly due to neglect and rejection. Frequent negative social interactions may be a risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and cognitive decline in old age. Abstract link.
ART + CREATIVITY NEWS
The Science of ‘Inside Out’
By Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman, New York Times, July 3, 2015
Five years ago, the writer and director Pete Docter of Pixar reached out to us to talk over an idea for a film, one that would portray how emotions work inside a person’s head and at the same time shape a person’s outer life with other people. He wanted to do this all in the mind of an 11-year-old girl as she navigated a few difficult days in her life. As scientists who have studied emotion for decades, we were delighted to be asked. We ended up serving as scientific consultants for the movie, “Inside Out,” which was recently released. Our conversations with Mr. Docter and his team were generally about the science related to questions at the heart of the film: How do emotions govern the stream of consciousness? How do emotions color our memories of the past? What is the emotional life of an 11-year-old girl like? (Studies find that the experience of positive emotions begins to drop precipitously in frequency and intensity at that age.) “Inside Out” is about how five emotions — personified as the characters Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Joy — grapple for control of the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley during the tumult of a move from Minnesota to San Francisco. ... The movie’s portrayal of sadness successfully dramatizes two central insights from the science of emotion. First, emotions organize — rather than disrupt — rational thinking. Second, emotions organize — rather than disrupt — our social lives. Full story
Connecting Self-Reported Narrative Engagement to Psychophysiological Measures
Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, June 29, 2015
Psychophysiological measures were used to observe real-time variation in mental processes activated when individuals viewed narrative content that was manipulated in two fundamental content characteristics: cohesion and emotional content. The results showed consistent influences of cohesion and emotional content on self-reported narrative engagement as well as psychophysiological indicators (heart rate, skin conductance, corrugator activity [eyebrow]). Self-reported attentional focus was related to lower levels of heart rate, while self-reported emotional engagement was positively related to corrugator activity. Both attentional focus and emotional engagement were related to increases of skin conductance levels over time. The results support the validity of the dimensional concept of narrative engagement and open further avenues for clarifying mechanisms of narrative persuasion. Abstract link.
A Deep, Dark Mystery
UC Santa Barbara, June 29, 2015
UC Santa Barbara geologist Jim Boles has found evidence of helium leakage from the Earth’s mantle along a 30-mile stretch of the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone in the Los Angeles Basin. Using samples of casing gas from two dozen oil wells ranging from LA’s Westside to Newport Beach in Orange County, Boles discovered that more than one-third of the sites — some of the deepest ones — show evidence of high levels of helium-3 (3He). Leakage suggests that the Newport-Inglewood fault is deeper than scientists previously thought. Full story.
Nearby Black Hole Wakes Up After 26 Years
Financial Express, July 1, 2015
A NASA satellite has detected a brief, super-bright, high-energy flare, an X-ray nova, erupting from a star system 8,000 light-years away from Earth named V404 Cygni. This system is in the constellation Cygnus and includes a black hole and a star just slightly smaller than the Sun. This black hole has been known to burp up an X-ray nova occasionally, but it had been slumbering since 1989 until the detection by NASA’s Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer on June 15. Relative to the lifetime of space observatories, these black-hole eruptions are quite rare and so, when they see one of them flare up, they try to throw everything they have at it, monitoring across the spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, said Neil Gehrels, Swift’s principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Full story.
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