By David R. Hoffman
Now George it is over. Your Faustian deal gave you eight years of illegal and undeserved power.
And did you make the most of it! You stole elections without hesitation, you lied without compunction, you started illegal wars without any consideration for international law, you shredded the Constitution without any respect for the check-and-balance system, you opened up concentration camps without any concern for the rule of law, and you maimed, tortured, and murdered without any regard for fundamental human rights.
You fiddled while New Orleans floundered, while your cronies in the oil industry drove prices through the roof, while war profiteers ruthlessly plundered Iraq, and while the economy suffered its worst decline in decades.
Yes George, you served your master well.
And he served you. The suffering you inflicted upon others never touched you—aside from a pair of poorly aimed shoes. You were never impeached, prosecuted or even censured as a war criminal. And the fact that you intend—as you stated in your final press briefing—to spend your days lounging on the beach, when you should be spending them in a prison cell, adds just another name to the historical list of evildoers who have been rewarded for their crimes.
You've heard of "you break it, you buy it," but what about "you touch it, you buy it?"
A new study suggests that just fingering an item on a store shelf can create an attachment that makes you willing to pay more for it.
Previous studies have shown that many people begin to feel ownership of an item - that it "is theirs" - before they even buy it. But this study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, is the first to show "mine, mine, mine" feelings can begin in as little as 30 seconds after first touching an object.
Participants in the study were shown an inexpensive coffee mug, and were allowed to hold it either for 10 seconds or 30 seconds. They were then allowed to bid for the mug in either a closed (where bids could not be seen) or open (where they could be seen) auction. The participants were told the retail value of the mug before bidding began ($3.95 in the closed auction; $4.95 in the open auction).
The study, detailed in the August 2008 issue of the journal Judgment and Decision Making, found that on average, people who held the mug for longer bid more for it - $3.91 to $2.44 in the case of the open auction and $3.07 to $2.24 in the closed. In fact, people who held the mug for 30 seconds bid more than the retail price four out of seven times.
"The amazing part of this study is that people can become almost immediately attached to something as insignificant as a mug," said study leader James Wolf, who began the work while he was a graduate student at Ohio State. "By simply touching the mug and feeling it in their hands, many people begin to feel like the mug is, in fact, their mug. Once they begin to feel it is theirs, they are willing to go to greater lengths to keep it."
A little bit of flirting at work, pillow talk, sudden courtesies – what is there behind all those things? Does a man harbor serious feelings to you, or does he do that for his own advantage? Psychologist Ivan Fenin, Candidate of Biological Sciences, believes that such riddles are quite easy to read.
Observation: He starts acting like a little boy.
Conclusion: He doesn’t care what I may think about him.
As a matter of fact, this kind of behavior with men indicates that he likes you. As a rule, men feel like fish out of water when it comes to feelings. That is why adult men return to that period of their life when feelings were much closer to them – their childhood. Reflexively, they start acting like little boys. Incommunicative men would smile and giggle, whereas intellectual men would start saying stupid things of no importance. It is an open secret that boys usually fight with girls whom they like a lot – they call their names, find faults with them on every possible occasion, etc. They try to hide their true feelings, which is so typical of all men. Adult men may have this very type of behavior with adult women too: a man may like a woman, but he feels that he must disguise his feelings.
Observation: He remembers nothing of what I told him, or what he told me.
Conclusions: He is not interested in me.
Hunting and gathering has a profound impact on animals and plants, driving an evolutionary process that makes them become smaller and reproduce earlier, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.
Their study of hunting, fishing and collecting of 29 different species shows that under human pressure, creatures on average become 20 percent smaller and their reproductive age advances by 25 percent.
The human tendency to seek large "trophies" appears to drive evolution much faster than hunting by other predators, which pick off the small and the weak, the researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"As predators, humans are a dominant evolutionary force," said Chris Darimont of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "It's an ideal recipe for rapid trait change."
Darimont and colleagues calculated the rates of trait change with a metric called the "Darwin," after Charles Darwin, who developed the theory of natural selection to help explain evolution.
They studied changes in the size of fish, limpets, snails, bighorn sheep and caribou, as well as two plants -- the Himalayan snow lotus and American ginseng.
In virtually all cases, human-targeted species got smaller and smaller and started reproducing at younger ages -- making populations more vulnerable.
China's online population, already the world's largest, rose to 298 million by the end of 2008, almost the same as the entire population of the United States, an industry survey said Tuesday.
The figure is up 41.9 percent from a year ago and is still growing fast, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said in a report published on its website.
Users in the countryside surged by 60.8 percent year-on-year to 84.6 million, compared with much more modest growth of 35.6 percent in the urban areas, the report said.
The CNNIC report said 117.6 million people accessed the Internet using their mobile phones last year, up 133 percent from 2007.