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CURIOUS TIMES JULY 9 EDITION

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THE FIVE MASCOTS OF THE APOCALYPSE

Superstitions of a cursed Olympic Games are all over Internet chat rooms in China after flooding in Sichuan province seems to have fulfilled the curse of the five Olympic mascots—each of which are said to have predicted a different disaster to befall China due to the 2008 Olympic Games. The prophecy now seems to be fulfilled as each of the five mascots is said to be linked to one of the five recent upheavals to befall China in recent months. First, the many protests that plagued the Olympic Torch Relay earlier this year were linked to Huanhuan the Olympic Flame (aka The Bearer of Incendiary Strife). Next, Jingjing the Giant Panda (aka The Lord of Angry Earth) brought the massive earthquake that killed 69,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless. Yingying the Tibetan Antelope (aka The Creature of Righteous Unrest) caused the demonstrations and riots linked with Tibetan protesters. Nini the Swallow/Shayan Kite (aka The Bearer of Unfortunate Wind) is claimed to have caused the China Railway Train crash that killed 72 people. And last but not least, the massive flooding of the past month is believed to have been caused by Beibei the Chinese Sturgeon (aka The Bringer of Torrent and Flood). (Reuters)

HAPPY PLANET

Good news for a change. Despite the seemingly messed-up state of our world, people are generally happier than ever. The latest research, which spans 17 years, 52 countries and 350,000 people, has concluded that happiness increased in 40 of those countries between 1981 and 2007 and fell in only 12 countries. The rise in happiness is attributed to the economic growth in previously poor countries, democratization in other countries and rising social tolerance for women and minority groups overall. The research also confirmed the obvious: People in rich countries are generally happier than those living in poor countries, and the very happiest citizens are those who live in societies that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives. (Associated Press)

BUNDLE OF STRESS

An article in Newsweek magazine claims the commonly accepted societal belief that having children will bring you happiness is nothing more than an urban (suburban, to be more accurate) myth. A review of several scientific studies concludes that parents are about 7 percentage points less likely to report being happy than the childless. The research found that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child and doesn't return until the last child has left home. "Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers," says Florida State University's Robin Simon, a sociology professor who conducted the largest ever survey of 13,000 American adults in 2005. "In fact, no group of parents—married, single, step or even empty nest—reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children." (Newsweek)

IF YOU THINK being a PARENT IS TOUGH, TRY BEING A KID

But there are ways to deal with the stress of being a parent. Like locking your kids in a cage when you go to work. Sure enough, this was the brilliant plan of a father of two in Chicago who is now facing charges of child endangerment after authorities found his two daughters, aged 2 and 5, locked in a cage in the back of the father's truck. Ricardo Gonzales, 35, told authorities he had been locking up his kids in a cage because he couldn't find a babysitter and he didn't want the children to run away. (Chicago Tribune)

LOVE IS ONLY SKIN DEEP

A Chinese man has divorced his wife and is suing her for something like $100,000 after he discovered that she was once ugly. The story goes that the man had been horrified when his attractive wife gave birth to an ugly baby daughter. Outraged and demanding to know how this could happen, the wife admitted that she had once been ugly and paid more than $150,000 for plastic surgery before she met her husband. After seeing the photo of his wife before the extreme makeover, he immediately filed for divorce and is taking her to court. (Daily Times)

INTERNET FACT OF THE WEEK

Mosquitoes prefer blondes to brunettes.

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