September 20, 2008

The Truth is Out There


Anyone scratching their heads at Sarah Palin's popularity should look at some new UCLA research which rates voters' instant reactions to politicians "facial competence". Palin scored in the top 5 per cent. Worrying for the Democrats: the more competent-looking candidates win elections 70 per cent of the time.

Gene Expression has been charting levels of neurosis across America and determined that the 10 most neurotic states are all in the north-east of the country. Woody Allen, you have a lot to answer for. For extroverts, look to the Midwest; for openness, the West Coast.

Those New England neurotic types don't know how lucky they are. 'Harpers' reports that the one in eight US troops in Iraq are on psychiatric medications. In Afghanistan it's one in seven.

Before dismissing the fact that 93 per cent of people are scared of going to the dentist (survey carried out by the 'Cosmetic Dentistry Guide') as a statement of the obvious, think about the 7 per cent who are NOT scared. You wouldn't find them on psychiatric medication in Iraq.

Paper and card account for 1,264,077 tons of waste per year across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to Friends of the Earth. Disposable nappies account for 922,817 tons, kitchen waste for 640,200 tons.

If that's not shocking enough, how about this from environmental blog Grist: a baby's body contains nearly 300 alien chemical compounds by the time it takes its first breath. Grist blames a chemical industry that "pays little mind to what its products do to people and the planet".

Yesterday marked the 500th anniversary of what is thought to be the largest earthquake ever to hit Britain. Studies suggest it could have measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, which would put it on a par with the devastating quake that hit Kobe in Japan in 1995. The epicentre was just west of the Outer Hebrides.

Couldn't quite stretch to anything in the 111m Damien Hirst Sotheby's auction? Let's hope you settled for the three-volume catalogue, a 5lb tome in a special slipcase for which, depending on where you were in the world, you shouldn't have had to pay more than $160.

We trust that 'The Independent''s Love & Sex series has proved a valuable distraction in these otherwise stressful times. It is there that we discover that 70 per cent of Britons say that they are currently in love, with more than 80 per cent believing that love can be everlasting. These findings make the UK the most romantic country in Europe. Bless.

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