Uber-Lice ain’t Uber-Hip

Lousy at it sounds, a new breed of lice has been discovered living almost exclusively in the beards of Hipsters.

The new breed, tentatively named “Pediculus hipsterus” after the place of its discovery, has larger claws, a thicker shell and is ideally suited to long, shaggy chin hair.

“It may well be that this louse has been around for a while, adapted to the facial hair of humans, and that we have only seen a resurgence in its population since the proliferation of the hipster lifestyle,” says Robert Deakin, Curator of the National Louse, Mite and Tick Association, “We have seen this before with fleas and mites, where a given species was thought to be extinct, only to reappear as society’s habits changed.”

This case is different, he goes on to say, in that the louse under question has never been catalogued before, and shows a particular predilection for long, shaggy beards, a favourite of the hipster movement. Not only this, the louse have shown a strong resilience to conventional treatments, requiring nothing less than physical removal to treat the problem.

“The usual anti-lice shampoos only slow them down. Eggs are attached more strongly. The correlation between the adoption of the hipster lifestyle and the discovery of these lice is too strong to ignore.”

When asked why other periods of high beard usage would not have seen such a creature, Robert replies, “It’s a myth that lice like dirty hair. In fact, the cleaner and more well groomed, the better. In the past, beards would have been hostile, dirty places to live. Hipsters are unique, in that they regularly clean their beards and have access to conditioners designed to soften the normally wiry hair. It is my theory that the shampoos, conditioners and perfumes used to maintain hipster beards is breeding this uber-lice.”ChesterLogoSmall

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18 Holes or 40 Winks?

Watching paint dry is more mentally stimulating than watching a match of golf, according to a report released by Neufchatel Research Insititute.

Candidates were given various interactive tasks, such as playing games or reading books, while others were given passive tasks such as watching television or, in some cases, watching paint dry. Each wore a calibrated cap hooked up to an EEG to record the activity of the brain.

While it may come as no surprise that passive tasks produced brain patterns closely resembling sleep, what scientists were not expecting is that watching golf produced similar results.

“In fact the brain was demonstrating cycles akin to phase 2 sleep in the ‘golf’ subjects. They had effectively switched off. The ‘paint’ subjects actually had a higher level of brain function,” says Renee Curvelle, member of the research team.

Delving into the possible causes of the result proved insightful.

“It seems that in a minority of candidates, watching the sport elicited an excited response. For the majority, though, their brain went through stages of annoyance, boredom, then active imagination to relieve that boredom, finally reaching a quiescent acceptance, at which point it shut down. The ‘paint’ watchers, in contrast, did not exhibit the acceptance stage and remained in the imagination stage,” Renee says.

The study hopes to shed light on sleep disorders related to over-stimulation of the brain and develop non-drug alternatives.

“It is possible that, in the future, rather than prescribing sedatives, we might find doctors prescribing a comfy chair and watching mundane sports like golf.”ChesterLogoSmall

The costs of fads – Pokemon Go

With fads such as “Pokemon Go” hitting smart-device screens, social researchers at Wisconsin Society Administration have evaluated the indirect costs. The figures are alarming.

“If we take the first level of indirection – lower productivity – we see that this, in the Wisconsin area alone, comes to an average of just under 30 minutes per working day lost to ‘screen time’. This comes out to the order of over 15 million dollars per day in lost productivity,” says Sarah Erstman, fellow at the WSA, “That it alarming by itself. We deliberately ignored time off for accidents caused by looking inattention, since the causality for this would be too hard to associate with our study, yet you can consider this figure to rise if we included it.”

She goes on to say that there are many knock-on effects, such as a drop in the quality of work, unsafe workplaces resulting in higher rates of liability and time off for employees. She says to expect higher incidents of food poisoning along with neck, hand and eye complaints, rises in personal liability premiums and telecommunication bottlenecks.

“The figure (of 15 million per day) is conservative. If we include level two factors, the cost can be estimated at somewhere between 40 to 50 million. This is a significant loss and the effects will be felt for years to come,” she says, “We are still waiting on the official results from our sister study, based upon traffic flow, but the current consensus is that trains and busses are being delayed, traffic is more congested. I would expect to double that figure for tertiary effects.”ChesterLogoSmall

Man, it’s hot today!

“It wouldn’t be so bit if it were a dry heat. It’s the humidity that does it.”

The only thing more annoying than a rhetorical complaint is an unwarranted response according to Social Ventures researcher, Jackie Marzden. While designing a new ‘annoy-o-meter’ for their social science research, they developed a system to test it, and came up with various scenarios that people find annoying.

“It’s very difficult to quantify how annoying someone or something is. Quite often the results are skewed depending on the environment, context, people and situations. For example, someone clicking their nails abstractedly might not bother someone on any other day but, given that they recently gave up smoking, their response can be overwhelming,” she says, “The scale is logarithmic in nature, which comes as no surprise. The real challenge lies in getting test subjects to feel annoyance.”

Jackie says that social niceties and politeness masks the true level of irritation a person feels. To mitigate these factors, her team lets the participants score their annoyance anonymously. The early results are interesting.

“The overall level of irritation is like a leaky bucket. The more refreshed, relaxed and comfortable a person is, the holes are in the bucket to allow irritation to dissapate. If someone is sleep deprived, undergoing major stresses or in an unfamiliar environment, their irritability increases exponentially, despite what their outward disposition is like.”

More than this, her team showed that annoying factors have a compounding effect and that ‘irritant-combos’ are exponentially more effective at annoying a subject than any single source of irritation.

Jackie explains, “We found that even the most severe irritants, such as being sneezed upon, scored a less than a combination of lesser irritants. For example and unhelpful complaint, such as those about the weather, scored about a 1 on our ire-scale, while an unhelpful response to that complaint drew an ire of 3, which is 100 times more annoying than the original irritation.”ChesterLogoSmall

Smells like Family Bonding

In what may come as bad news for obsessive cleaners, researchers in Portsmouth have demonstrated that families whose members wash infrequently are more closely bonded and less troubled than families who wash daily.

“We’ve ruled out a pheromone cause. It seems more to be the case that members identify with the signature of the family, the overall smell caused by each member,” says Associate Professor Ruben Trunnel, “The more one washes, the less a defining signature can be established. This leads to discomfort, distrust and dysfunction.”

While stinky families are not guaranteed to be cohesive, the smell factor does play an important part, says Professor Trunnel. He goes on to state that while many studies focus on smell and pheromones in terms of sexual relations, odour is more prominent and powerful in other social factors like identity, trust and acceptance.

“We can see, for example, when a child comes along, there is a level of adjustment as that child’s odour profile is added to the overall signature but, once it is accepted, removal of the scent is detrimental. Likewise, when a family member leaves or dies, it takes longer for families to grieve as the scent lingers in clothing and walls, ” he says, “We are looking now to see if there is any influence of smell in the workforce, such as your ability to get hired or get a raise, or how accepted you are in a team.”

The results highlight a need for families and societies in general to get back to their primitive roots, he goes on to say, to rediscover what it is to be a sociable human.

“I’m not advocating a lack of hygiene. Technology is having too much of an impact on our lives, and not always for the better. Returning to family values is being hindered by too many creature comforts.”ChesterLogoSmall

Don’t Hold It In

A suppressed flatus or ‘fart’ can lead to many health complications, such as anxiety, depression, nausea, constipation and even hives. Studies show that not letting a flatus manifest, or ‘passing wind’, increases levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’.

“Those with existing conditions or predispositions to hypertension, depression or irritation can find that these symptoms exacerbated,” said Petre Anderson of NAWO, Norway, “Flatulence is such a commonplace occurrence. It should be as acceptable as any other bodily function. Therein lies the problem. Social etiquette shuns (farting) and there has been a rise of allergy-like symptoms as a direct consequence.”

Evidence is being gathered to assess whether habitual resistance to passing wind causes chronic or permanent conditions. If found to be the case, Petre suggests that training would be required to desensitise patients from their social predicament to prevent a fart-induced epidemic.

“Such training would be beneficial just from a psychological level. What I would prefer to see, though, is a general acceptance for (farting) and (farting) related illnesses. For this we can expect to see greater resistance and slower change than at a personal level, but with today’s social media and a high quality marketing campaign, I hope to see (farting) elevated to the same status as other expulsions such as coughing or sneezing.”ChesterLogoSmall

I See (Infra) Red!

In a bid to aid special services soldiers, military scientists in France have developed a ‘heat-vision’ serum. Up until now, the only way for spotters and scouts to see out into the inky blackness was to use heavy light amplification goggles or infra-red goggles.

Sérum de vision thermique, or SVT, is being tested on subjects to determine its efficacy for low-light operations.

“This is not light amplification. This serum works to replace the chemicals within the rods of the retina. They become sensitive to lower frequencies, specifically infra-red. This gives the user the ability to detect form, movement and contrast in pitch black environments,” says Jacques Clauzel, Chef Chirugien Optique in charge of the research, “It’s a temporary effect, lasting about two hours before the chemicals are metabolized.”

Preliminary results are positive, he says. While refining the serum, hallucinations were common among subjects. ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Anomalies’ were cause for concern, however these were shown to be actual hot-spots in the testing area.

“It can be unnerving seeing the invisible without the aid of equipment. With training, the soldiers can come to grips with it.”ChesterLogoSmall