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Monday, November 19, 2007

Scientifically Proven: Blondes make men act dumb

WHEN men meet fair-haired women they really do have a “blonde moment”. Scientists have found that their mental performance drops, apparently because they believe they are dealing with someone less intelligent.

Researchers discovered what might be called the “bimbo delusion” by studying men’s ability to complete general knowledge tests after exposure to different women. The academics found that men’s scores fell after they were shown pictures of blondes.

Further analysis convinced the team that, rather than simply being distracted by the flaxen hair, those who performed poorly had been unconsciously driven by social stereotypes to “think blonde”.

“This proves that people confronted with stereotypes generally behave in line with them,” said Thierry Meyer, joint author of the study and professor of social psychology at the University of Paris X-Nanterre. “In this case blondes have the potential to make people act in a dumber way, because they mimic the unconscious stereotype of the dumb blonde.”

The research adds to a body of evidence that people’s behaviour is powerfully influenced by stereotypes. Previously scientists have found that people walk and talk more slowly in front of the elderly, while other studies have revealed that unconscious racial assumptions and prejudices emerge in written tests.

Researchers believe that blondes have been particularly vulnerable to stereotyping over the past century.

The image of the dizzy blonde came to prominence in the 1925 Anita Loos novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Film stars including Marilyn Monroe, Suzanne Somers and Goldie Hawn further popularised the “dumb blonde”.

The persona has more recently been boosted by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, the member of the hotel family nicknamed the “heirhead”, and Jessica Simpson, the singer.

Others believe its origins go far deeper. According to researchers at St Andrews University, north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.

Psychologists have suggested that because white babies are often born blond, there is a primal association between blondness and childhood, encouraging people to admire and fawn over the pale-haired.

The new peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, was based on two trials.

In all cases those participants exposed to images of blondes recorded the lowest scores.

Real-life blondes were sceptical about the findings. Laura Bailey, the Marks & Spencer model, said: “I’ve always been taken very seriously. I have always been blonde and I have never had an issue with the way I am. If I’m being insulted, then I’m blissfully unaware.”

Michelle Collins, the blonde-haired former EastEnders actress, suspected the results were more to do with men’s approach to sex than intelligence. “I don’t think it’s to do with hair at all; it’s all about the breasts,” she said.

“But if someone walks round with extensions down to their bottom, even I would treat them differently.”


Exactly why and when humans developed blond hair is a mystery. It appears to have emerged late in evolution after humans had first travelled out of Africa.

Up to a third of women in Britain may look blonde, but only about 3% are naturally so.

How blondes developed a reputation for dizziness is also unclear, though the likes of Marilyn Monroe may have helped the process along. Certainly “blonde jokes” have become a popular genre.

For example: Q: What do you call a blonde with two brain cells?

A: Pregnant.

Some blondes are of course highly intelligent. Susan Greenfield is an Oxford professor of pharmacology and director of the Royal Institution. The actress Joanna Lumley is a noted environmentalist and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

90 suicides a day spur Japan into action

The Japanese Government is calling for a complete national rethink about attitudes to suicide in an effort to unravel centuries of social pressure and tradition.

The practice, which claims more than 90 lives each day, should no longer be seen as “the honorable way out” but as an act of desperation and – perhaps – preventable misery.

The Government has published a “counter-suicide White Paper”, which sets out a nine-step plan to transform the way in which suicide is regarded and treated. Measures include training more counselors and expanding Samaritans-style telephone helplines.

The White Paper exposes the traditional approach in Japan of ignoring the issue altogether and presses for the kind of basic research into causes that is standard in most developed nations. It says that Japanese should know more about the causes of suicide and be better equipped to spot the signs of an impending attempt. There should be help for those who have survived an attempt. The paper notes that Monday is by far the most likely day of the week on which a co-worker or loved one may try to end it all.

Government sources told The Times that the document could be seen as evidence that, after decades of inaction, Japan had finally grown embarrassed by its extraordinarily high suicide rate, which stands at ninth in the world but is far ahead of any other developed nation. Japan is hoping to reduce its current rate – of about 32,000 suicides a year – by 20 per cent within the next decade.

Suicide rates used to rise when unemployment was higher and fall during more prosperous spells. The Government’s sudden alarm, though, arises from the apparent breaking of that cycle: Japan’s economy has recently experienced its longest run of expansion since the Second World War but the suicide rate has continued to rise during that time.

The White Paper comes as Japan is approaching its tenth successive year in which more than 30,000 people have taken their own lives. The statistic gives Japan a higher per-capita rate than nations blighted by civil war, desperate poverty or long periods of the year without sunlight.

The timing of the White Paper is also strongly linked to emerging trends in Japanese suicide that threaten to worsen the problem before it gets better. Phenomena such as “web suicides”, in which several strangers – usually in their twenties – meet on the internet and arrange to die together, have received plenty of media attention but, experts say, are only a tiny fraction of the problem.

Work-related causes for suicide have long dominated men’s suicide rates and experts believe that women between the ages of 25 and 45 may become increasingly vulnerable as they enter the workforce in greater numbers and rise to positions of greater seniority and stress. Studies are also likely to be made of the “March problem”, the traditional spike in suicides in March that coincides with university entrance examinations and the main job-hunting season.

Means to an end

- A Japanese legend relates the mass suicide of the 47 samurai. After avenging their master’s death they committed ritual suicide at his graveside

- In 1970 the writer Yukio Mishima led a revolt and urged the Army to overthrow the Government. He then committed hara-kiri in front of an audience of 800

- In 1993 author Wataru Tsurumi published The Complete Manual of Suicide, which sold 1 million copies

- In 2001 railway stations in Japan introduced mirrors to deter suicide attempts by showing victims their own face before they jump

- Every February the Fuji-Yoshida police scour the Aokigahara woods at the base of Mount Fuji for bodies of suicide victims

Source: Times research

Thursday, November 08, 2007

USB 3.0: The next generation

A new generation of USB interface will allow for much faster downloads

Transferring files from your digital video camera to your computer will happen in an instant as USB enters a new generation.

The head of the USB Implementers Forum, Jeffery Ravencraft, said last month that USB had become the standard for connecting devices to computers. He said the formation of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group would help deliver a "faster sync-n-go capability".

"USB is the most successful interface in the history of computing. Last year 2.1 billion USB connections [were shipped] and to date over six billion units [have been sold]," Ravencraft said at the Intel Development Forum in Taiwan in October.

"It's phenomenal, people use it everywhere. [But] the consumer has very low tolerance and is impatient with technology."

The growing use of video and audio devices, with their bigger files sizes, was one of the reasons behind the development of faster transfer rates, he said. For example, a 27GB high-definition movie takes about 14 minutes to download with high-speed USB 2.0. With superspeed USB 3.0, it will take 70 seconds, according to Ravencraft.

USB 3.0 would also be more energy-efficient than its predecessor, reducing the load on laptops, he said.

"We're wanting to drive power efficiency for all of our platforms, (therefore) USB 3.0 will not constantly [talk to] the device."

However, users will still be able to charge devices such as mobile phones and PDAs, Ravencraft said.

"We may even allow the ability to charge even better."

He confirmed the next generation of USB would be compatible with previous versions of USB interface.

The promoter group is expected to deliver its USB 3.0 specifications in the first half of next year and the first products may appear in late 2009.

On display at the forum was wireless USB, which has received regulatory approval in several countries, but is yet to get the tick in Australia.

The technology uses ultra-wideband technology to deliver transfer rates of 480Mbps at a distance of three metres; comparable to wired USB 2.0 and several hundred times faster than Bluetooth.

The US, Japan, Europe and South Korea have decided which portions of the radio spectrum ultra-wideband devices may use, and Canada and China are expected to announce similar decisions before the end of this year.

There is no word on when Australian regulators will reach a decision on spectrum approval for wireless USB.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

eBay is apparently selling an Airbus A380

Click on the picture to enlarge.

So eBay is apparently selling an Airbus A380, I wonder what I will see after I click on their ad?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ten Ways to Avoid a Google Reputation Management Nightmare

Google is no longer just a search engine. With your potential customers, future employers, and members of the media turning to Google for information about your business, Google has become a reputation engine.

In helping clients with their online reputation, I’m consistently asked how they can push out negative content that appears on the first page of Google for a search for their name. Whether they were fined by the SEC, ridiculed by an ex-employee, or investigated by their local newspaper, they share one common goal: get that negative result off of the first page!

Of course, it’s near on impossible to make a negative Google result simply disappear—although there are some black-hat SEOs that claim to have that gift. Instead, your best approach is to provide Googlebot with a healthier diet of web content that shows your reputation in a positive light.

On that note, here are my recommendations for the best web content to fill up the first page of Google results.

1. Get your own web site.

It sounds simply enough, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, you’d be surprised at the number of individuals and companies that haven’t registered their own branded domain name and thrown up a web site. Registering or and adding a basic web site is a sure-fire way to occupy one of the top ten Google listings for your name.

2. Start a blog.

image If you love and nurture a blog, it will likely become a great asset in your reputation management arsenal. But the great thing about a blog is that it tends to rank well, even when left un-watered. Blogs are the cactus of online content. and both provide free blogs and free hosting. Add just a few posts, keep it targeted to your name—that means use it in the blog title, posts etc—add a few links and bake for a few days. It will be on the first page of Google in no time.

3. Add a sub-domain.

If you’ve put a lot of effort into growing your main web site, chances are there’s an opportunity to add a sub-domain. Sub-domains are great. Google considers them as separate from your main site, but they still include your main brand. There are a lot of great reasons to add a sub-domain: careers, corporate info, and product info. Take a look at as an example.

4. Create a social networking profile.

image profiles can rank well for your personal or company name. When you sign-up, be sure to use your real name—using a nickname won’t help with your Google reputation—and enable the option that lets you pick the URL of your profile. works a whole lot better than

5. Create your own social network.

image If a social networking profile ranks well in Google, how much more so your own social network? will let you create your own customized social network. Better yet, you can pay just $5 a month and point your own domain name at it. Take a look at for an example.

6. Create a business profile.

image You should join because it’s a great tool for networking with your peers. You should also join LinkedIn as it allows you to talk about yourself, link to your other Google-friendly web content, and customize your profile URL. Wouldn’t you rather your potential employer find your LinkedIn profile on Google, than that run-in you had with your last boss?

7. Share your photos.

image is very Google friendly. Upload photos of you, your company logo, your products, etc, and label them using your name. Add some comments to each photo (including your name) and Voila! You’ve just added a dozen pages of content, each labeled with your company name! Be sure to do the same when selecting your profile name for Flickr too.

8. Claim your identity.

image is a blessing for those looking to control their Google reputation. It effectively lets you create a profile and then link out to all of your other profiles. Whereas LinkedIn is heavy on the networking-side, Naymz is more of a holding-tank for your brand. Best of all, Google seems to love it!

9. Create your own Wiki.

image If you’re facing a Google reputation nightmare, you may be tempted to create a Wikipedia profile for yourself. After all, Wikipedia ranks all over Google, right? Bad move. Not only is it hard to get one approved, but they’re totally unbiased. That DUI incident, you’re trying to cover-up, will likely make its way on to your profile. Not good. Instead create your own wiki and build your profile that way. is perfect for this. You can focus it on your personal name, or your company name. The best part is that you get to decide who contributes to it.

10. Get a free page from Google.

image I’ve saved the best until last. Ok, I lied. While a free page from Google Page Creator ( isn’t the best web content for managing your Google reputation, there’s something satisfying about having Google help mend your reputation.

So, there you have it. While these shouldn’t be used as a “get out of jail free card”—you should avoid a reputation nightmare to begin with—they’ll at least help you re-build your Google reputation.