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Even those people who are tone deaf and so lacking in rhythm as to be unable to find the beat in a Katy Perry song have taken comfort that in a planet-wide dance-off, they'd outlast most other species on earth.
That admittedly and pitiably small consolation just went "Oh! Oh! Oh!" and shot across the sky-y-y-y. This was made clear in an article on the research of neurobiologists Aniruddh Patel and John Iversen in the Brain special issue of Discover magazine. Patel explains to Discover that our sense of rhythm may have evolved from the brain development that allowed us to learn to speak. Therefore, Patel says, the only other animals that can boogie to a beat would be those that are advanced in "vocal learning," or the ability to mimic the sounds of others: parrots, an Asian elephant and Snowball the sulfur-crested cockatoo, a YouTube phenom whose dance moves and habits were studied by Patel and his team.
In their experiments with Snowball, the bird was videotaped reacting to music that was sped up and slowed down under a variety of circumstances (in isolation, with verbal encouragement, with another person). The videos showed that Snowball can not only synchronize his moves to different tempos, but can do it when no one else is in the room (although he danced the most when he had a human partner). This cockatoo loves mainstream pop like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, and he's a huge fan of the Backstreet Boys (wonder if he knows they're on tour this summer? I'd love to see him get pulled up on stage to lead the crowd in a dance to "Everybody").
What about the salsa-dancing retriever, you are undoubtedly wondering? When I shared this video with my husband, an enthusiastic freestyle dancer, he dropped the phone. Patel tells Discover that he suspects booty-shaking pets like this are reacting to cues from their human trainers, instead of innately responding to the beat. So for now, in this species-wide dance-off, the cockatoo is the true champion—at least from a scientific perspective.
But the story isn't over yet! Patel and Discover are looking for other examples of animals that can dance to a beat. If you have a video of an animal grooving in time to music, please send it to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Go to the greenmarket at least once a week for fruit (strawberries now, cherries in July, peaches in August) and vegetables (especially arugula and corn). Though, I refuse to fall for those pricey zucchini flowers...at least not too often.
2. Always have home-brewed iced tea in the fridge.
3. Eat more no-cook dinners, whether it's a chilled soup, cold roasted chicken, a hacked meal or a big salad.
A few years ago, I learned a painful lesson about what not to wear while sightseeing in the summer. As part of my unofficial tour guide uniform for a friend's visit, I slipped into a pair of old Reef flip-flops. I misinterpreted the deep indentations (classic indications of overuse) as signs that they'd been comfortably broken in by a jungle trek in Thailand and a day of beach hopping around Nantucket. I figured they were the best things to wear to walk around town (what are flip-flops but topless sneakers, right?). That night, a throbbing pain in my right ankle kept waking me up. A podiatrist later diagnosed the pain as Achilles tendinitis, and recommended that I wear a soft cast...until Labor Day! My summer was officially a flop.
When walking farther than a quarter of a mile, I now stick to running sneakers. But they feel clunky in warm weather, so I asked Hillary Brenner, DPM, a podiatric surgeon and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, to help me find some breezy alternatives. We asked Dr. Brenner to helps us rank ten summer shoe styles in order of how likely they are to knock you off your feet and cause injuries, starting with the most foot-friendly and ending with the Freddy Kruegers of footwear (can you guess what they are?).
More than half (56 percent) of women who use anti-aging facial skincare say they're not sure these products work, but they use them anyhow, reports the marketing research company NPD Group. This is a sad state of affairs, don't you think? Here's one way to be sure to get what you pay for.
Stress is something Joan Borysenko knows something about. She's a Harvard-trained biologist and author of the new book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. For 10 nonstop years, she juggled completing her clinical research, running a working farm (yes, that meant feeding chickens), raising two kids, writing a book and running 25 miles a week. In her two free minutes each evening, she secretly smoked cigarettes behind a tree in her front yard. Then came the back pain. After that, a scary feeling that she was sleepwalking through her life, immune even to her kids' excitement about riding their new pony through the woods.
She, the stress expert, was at the point of nonfunction.
Borysenko was a perfect example of how trying to do more than you can do for too long can result in a host of problems: emotional exhaustion (say, feeling numb inside when you know you'd normally feel happy or sad), recurring physical effects (back pain, constant colds, headaches) and a sense of spiritual emptiness that leaves you isolated from others.
This state can look a lot like depression. In fact, it might be easier to think of yourself as depressed; you can seek treatment from a doctor for that. Recent research, however, has found that although both result in a loss of motivation and pleasure, if you're burnt out, you can usually reclaim your everyday happiness—from taking great delight in a piece of crispy morning bacon to enjoying your hours at work or as a parent—once you make some fundamental changes. So the question is, How fried are you and what do you need to do about it? Go answer these questions to find out.
Ten Thousand Saints
By Eleanor Henderson
The setting: Gritty, energetic New York City in the '80s (with a little small-town Vermont)
Character you'll fall for: Fifteen-year-old Jude because he actually is named after the Beatles song and you don't want him to be afraid
Why we loved it: "The hard-edged settings highlight the touching vulnerability of young characters, who are—behind the sex, drugs and punk rock—innocents..."
Read the full review and browse the complete list of 16 books to watch for this month
Last night, Anthony Weiner admitted to and apologized for sending lewd pictures of himself to women over the Internet. He asked forgiveness from his wife, his family and the reporters he had originally "misled."
Standing in front of news cameras in a packed ballroom of reporters is one way to say sorry. But considering the magnitude of the situation, Weiner might consider visiting ShameBeGone.com—a site that asks "Are you in shame spiral?" and promises to dig you out by writing humble-pie emails to those you've hurt, let down or embarrassed.
"We handle end-of-relationship fall-out," claims the site. "Missed connections ... best friend's ex-boyfriends, family members, low-grade stalkers, people who owe you money, people to whom you owe money—almost anything and anyone." All you have to do is tell them about "a situation that you just can't deal with;" then you suggest what you think is a fair payment to them for fixing it and await the response. If the site accepts, its editor will provide you with a reconciliatory email to forward to the parties you offended.
Clearly, for Weiner this would be an expensive proposition. He'd have to pay for an email to every person in New York State whom he represents, not to mention the young high-school kids of America who aspired to, one day, be like him. Also women. Everywhere.
Here's the rub: Let's say ShameBeGone.com were magically engineered to achieve what it promises—even in big, ugly, impossible situations like this. Would I really want to Weiner's shame to be gone? There's a small, ungenerous, even unkind part of me that wants him to stew in his shame.
And, sigh, another part of me that knows that shame is too ugly to heap on anyone, that shame only causes more shame due to the cycle of guilt that inevitably occurs.
So what I really want is a magical site that will not take anything away from Weiner, but instead instill him with something else: remorse, responsibility and a way to find the real man inside.
Because infidelity is excruciating. Ask any real woman, including one our favorites, Wynonna Judd.
1. Savory Rhubarb and Chipotle Goat Cheese Pizza from Eats Well with Others
A pizza topped with a compote of rhubarb, balsamic vinegar and cranberry juice, sprinkled with smoky chipotle-infused goat cheese. Sounds weird? It works.
2. Sweet-and-Savory Rhubarb Jam from Cookbook Archaeology
This would be good with sharp Cheddar; some might even put it on grilled cheese. Also: with sausage on an English muffin for breakfast.
3. Savory Rhubarb Lentil Curry from Scissors and Spice
French lentils + rhubarb + mustard seeds + sweet potatoes = delicious