Blondes may just be a passing attraction, the Iditarod has to find a new route and an Australian mother takes on a croc.

Fair Play
Blondes had more fun back in the Ice Age, and that’s why they’re still around today. According to a new study out of the University of St. Andrews, fair hair started as a rare mutation in northern Europe around 11,000 years ago. At that time, men often got killed on long mammoth-hunting trips, leaving the populations with a serious female surplus. A massive evolutionary cat-fight erupted, and the big winners of the men’s hearts (and genetic material) were those freakish blonde mutants, perhaps because, beyond their radiant hair, they also have a slightly higher estrogen level than their brunette counterparts. The World Health Organization believes natural blondes will die out within 200 years due to a lack of available genetic material. If that happens, what will become of all those wonderful “dumb blonde” jokes?

Foul Play: Apparently this study is shady, and the WHO never predicted the doom of the blonde.

(source: the Times)

The Victorian Error
If you or someone you love dies in a hospital in the Australian state of Victoria, you or someone you love probably asked for it. A recent study on the ethics of euthanasia found that doctors play a role in nearly two-thirds of patient deaths—10,000 deaths per year—in Victorian hospitals. The report also found that 40% of doctors are willing to help a patient die.

Conservatives down under, much like conservatives in the States, are less than thrilled by these statistics. They are gently reminding doctors that assisted suicide is still illegal in Australia, even though a Victorian Supreme Court judge suspended the sentence of a man who pleaded guilty to “aiding and abetting” the suicide of his terminally ill wife. The judge deemed the man was motivated by the right emotions.
(sources: Herald Sun, Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization)

Mush on Slush
Many of the science-conscious fear climate change will go unnoticed by the common man until it affects him personally. Well, common man, wake up. Global warming has dealt a swift bitch-slap to the greatest sporting event in the world: the Iditarod.

The arduous sled dog race will not be tracing its usual route this year, as the trail is covered by mud, slush and ice instead of the usual snow. The new trail begins 30 miles north of Wasilla, AK, the town that normally serves as the starting point and relies on the race to fuel its economy. 

The Arctic has been hit hard by global warming: Temperatures in Alaska have risen nearly 8° F over the past 60 years. A few more years of that, and the race will…go to the dogs.
(source: Reuters)

Hardened Hearts
When spouses feel their blood boil, they might be feeling the beginnings of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the coronary arteries. A recent study out of the University of Utah shows that marital spats can cause both men and women to develop coronary problems. Women tend to get sick when either they or their husbands express hostility during marital arguments. Men, on the other hand, wear down when either they or their wives act in a dominant, controlling manner, independent of which one is the dom.

Researchers observed healthy couples arguing, noting whether their comments expressed hostility or friendliness, dominance or submissiveness. After three years, they tested the couples’ arteries for calcification, the first sign of potential heart problems. The study also mentioned that the experimenters referred a number of the test couples to marital counseling. This is what happens when you let scientists into the bedroom: They make you pay to see more scientists.
(source: University of Utah)

The Real Academy Awards
“I’d like to thank the Academy for extending my life expectancy by four years.” We didn’t hear it at the Oscars, but perhaps we should have.

The newest issue of the Harvard Health Letter reports that Oscar-winning actors and actresses, on average, live almost four years longer than their merely nominated colleagues. Author Donald Redelmeier attributes this boost in longevity to the celebrity social status that comes with the statue.

If Matt Damon is starting to feel sad that he never got his acting due for Good Will Hunting, here’s something to make him feel even worse: Oscar-winning screenwriters die 3.6 years earlier on average than nominated screenwriters. Redelmeier credits this to the absence of celebrity status for even the “winningest” writers and the lack of incentive for successful writers to stay in shape and look their best. Hmmm…maybe ol’ Matt will be all right after all.
(source: Harvard Health Letter)

“Give Me a Milk. Chocolate.”
George McFly may have known what he was doing when he requested his signature, super-macho beverage in Back to the Future. A new study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism shows that chocolate milk is at least as good for athletes as traditional sports drinks like Gatorade. Scientists already knew that consuming carbohydrates within a half hour after exercising helps athletes recharge, but new research indicates that a dose of protein with the carbs speeds up recovery.

In the chocolate milk study, nine bikers pedaled until they were spent and then rested for four hours while drinking either chocolate milk, Gatorade or the protein-infused drink Endurox R4. They then biked again until they were exhausted. The chocolate milk-drinkers and the Gatorade-drinkers fared better on the second leg than the cyclists who drank Endurox R4. The scientists are baffled that the monstrous protein boost from Endurox did nothing. What a misnomer!
(source: WebMD)

Get Down Tonight
If you’re ever short on pillow talk, try serenading your lady with a smooth rendition of “Old Man River.” The low notes will practically do your work for you. A new study out of St. Andrews shows that women prefer deep male voices to higher ones—they prefer the James Earl Joneses of the world even more during the most fertile part of their menstrual cycle.

The researchers attributed the periodic acceptance of tenors to a desire to find a man who would be a good, caring father. The rest of the time, women want cavemen. Lead researcher, David Feinberg, who has a self-described high-pitched voice, told other squeaky men they could find comfort in knowing he was in a long-term relationship. “It might be that someone with a high-pitched voice like me might be able to get a committed relationship with a woman, but there’s always the possibility that women are going to go out and cheat with a man with a deep voice,” he told the press. Great comforting, Feinberg.
(source: Scotsman)

Grandma v. Crocodile
The government of Australia bestowed its highest civilian honor, the Star of Courage, on a 61-year-old grandmother of two who wrestled a crocodile. Alicia Sorohan was on a camping trip with her family, when she awoke to the sounds of her son’s friend screaming. She ran outside to find a 14-foot crocodile attacking a man, dragging him by the ankle toward the water. She jumped on the crocodile’s back, wrestling it as it writhed. The croc broke Sorohan’s nose and clamped its jaws around her arm, but she held the beast at bay until her son was able to shoot it.

After two plates, 12 screws and a year of physical therapy, Sorohan’s arm is back in decent shape, and she’s still going back to the same campsite. “After it happened, we said we wouldn’t go back, but last year we had to go back because I love it so much. I call it paradise,” she told the press. If that’s your paradise, lady, I don’t want to see your hell.
(source: Brisbane Courier Mail)

Originally published March 6, 2006


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