Archive for August, 2011

“Most people are simply not designed to eat pasta”: Evolutionary explanations for obesity in the low-carbohydrate diet movement

August 31, 2011

From Public Understanding of Science

The popularity of low-carbohydrate diets in the 1990s and 2000s was prompted, at least in part, by concern about rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the perceived failure of low-fat/low-calorie dietary advice to address these “epidemics.” This study examines the deployment of two distinct neo-Darwinian explanations of health and body-weight in the low-carbohydrate diet movement. First, evolutionary nutrition, and second, the thrifty gene theory. These evolutionary models maintain that the answer to the question “what should we eat” can only be found by turning to the primitive past.

Clinical trials prompted by the popular low-carb diet trend quickly established that low-carb diets are effective for weight-loss particularly in the short term. In addition, low-carb diets have been shown to improve glucose control in type 2 diabetes. However, scientific evidence for the long-term effects of low-carbohydrate dieting remains scarce, The author concludes that community-based nutrition interven­tions are required to address the social and environmental causes of unhealthy eating habits, beginning in childhood. More fundamentally reducing current trends will require policies to address broader socioeconomic inequality, known to be asso­ciated with overweight, ill-health and disease.


Political scandal and new media: A technology of liberation?

August 30, 2011

Managing public outrage: Power, scandal, and new media in contemporary Russia

From New Media & Society

This article challenges the long held assumption that political scandals can only occur in liberal democracies, also as most studies on scandals were authored before the rise of the internet and social media. It scrutinizes scandals that emanate from the new sphere of social media. To address both aspects this study asks the question how are such ‘internet scandals’ impacting politics in contemporary Russia?  Furthermore it aims to enrich the broader, currently on-going academic debate on the question of whether the internet is to be seen rather as a ‘technology of liberation’ or as one of ‘control’. Do scandals that emanate from the new sphere of social media actually ‘empower’ Russian citizens?

Two case studies are presented to vividly illustrate how public outrage over key political issues can also be sparked by blatant violations of moral feelings deeply rooted in the populace. Russian citizens were not outraged because the culprits of the scandals had broken the law. Nor did they later care if the perpetrators were punished according to it. Rather, Russian citizens were appalled because they shared the deep moral feeling that the occurrences were so despicable that they simply should not happen in their country. These scandals presented could not have occurred without the existence of certain ‘spheres’ of media that functioned independently of central power. The relative weight of these media spheres, their respective political ideologies, and their internal structures seem to be crucial variables that determine the course and outcome of political scandals in a context that might be called a ‘hybrid’ media system. The approach proposed in this article seems to open up promising avenues for further comparative research across cultural and political contexts. While the scope of this article was limited to two case studies from Russia, it would be valuable to see how the findings are paralleled by or deviate from those, for instance, related to internet scan­dals in China, Arabic countries, or other regions of the world.


Similarities and differences of how we define romantic love: A cross-cultural analysis

August 26, 2011

Cross-Cultural Analysis of Models of Romantic Love Among U.S. Residents, Russians, and Lithuanians

From Cross-Cultural Research

This study examines how men and women define romantic love.  It uses surveys to find some commonalities and differences among residents in the US, Lithuania and Russia. Researchers found that residents of all three countries listed “being together” as their top requirement of romantic love. From there, the notion of romantic love seemed to diverge with the US respondents having different views than Lithuanian and Russian counterparts. The importance of friendship in romantic love and the time it takes to perceive falling in love are two key differences in how people see romantic love. The idea that romantic love was temporary and inconsequential was frequently cited by Lithuanian and Russian respondents unlike the Americans. Expressions of ‘comfort/love’ and ‘friendship’ were frequently cited by the U.S. informants and seldom to never by the Eastern European informants. Results suggested it takes Americans longer fall in love.


The positive influence of gossip increases fairness and holds selfishness in check

August 25, 2011

How the Grapevine Keeps You in Line: Gossip Increases Contributions to the Group

From Social Psychological and Personality Science

Gossip can be hurtful, unproductive, and mean. It can also be an important part of making sure that people will share and cooperate. Researchers set out to test whether the threat of gossip could suppress selfish behavior. To do so, they brought people into the lab and told them they had been randomly chosen to distribute 100 tickets for a cash-prize lottery. With the task, people could be generous and distribute the tickets to group members, or they could be selfish, and keep a large share of the tickets for themselves. Half of the time, the person was told that the choice would be kept private—none of the other group members would know how many tickets went into their personal account. The rest of the time, people expected that their group members would know exactly how many tickets they kept for themselves. Sometimes the participants were told that other group members were prone to gossip and  sometimes they were told the other group members were quite unlikely to gossip. Findings of this study reveal that when their actions were public and the chance for gossip was high, people became substantially less selfish. When people knew that their selfishness would be on display—and very likely to be talked about—they acted most generously to others. Gossip can therefore have a positive side—the threat of gossip can increase fairness and hold selfishness in check.


Rehab robots lend stroke patients a hand

August 23, 2011

Effects of robot-assisted upper limb rehabilitation on daily function and real-world arm activity in patients with chronic stroke: a randomized controlled trial

From Clinical Rehabilitation

Patients following a stroke often have weakness on one side of the upper body which can make daily life more difficult. This study outlines how robot-assisted therapy helps arm function to improve after a stroke. It is the first to use accelerometers to track patients’ improvement and compare real world results. 20 patients enrolled in a study comparing robot-assisted therapy combined with functional training against an active control treatment group. Stroke patients usually have difficulties transferring motor skills learned in therapy to their daily living environment because of cognitive deficits. Robotic rehabilitation is increasingly available, and holds promise for enhancing traditional post-stroke interventions. Because robots never tire, they can provide massive and intensive training in a consistent manner without fatigue, with programming precisely tailored to each patient’s needs.


Women more likely to recruit other women for political office

August 18, 2011

Informal Influences in Selecting Female Political Candidates

From Political Research Quarterly

Unlike the US, the nomination of party candidates for the Canadian Parliament is solely the prerogative of the local party associations, and local presidents are in a position to both formally and informally influence the nomination of candidates. This research looked at “party gatekeepers” (local party presidents) from the five major political parties in the 2004 and 2006 Canadian national elections and found an important relationship between the gender of party gatekeepers and who ultimately is nominated to run for office. They found; gatekeepers are more likely to directly recruit and promote people like themselves, the professional and social networks of women gatekeepers are more likely to include qualified women who would be suitable parliamentary candidates which increases the opportunities for direct recruitment of female candidates and sends an encouraging signal to potential female candidates that women are welcome and can be active in politics, creating a virtuous cycle of participation.


The authors argue that the gender composition of party gatekeepers—those responsible for candidate recruitment— plays a crucial role in either encouraging or discouraging women candidates to run for office. Using an original data set that includes constituency-level information for all parties and candidates in the 2004 and 2006 Canadian national elections, the authors find support for this proposition. Women candidates are more likely to be nominated when the gatekeeper—the local party president—is a woman rather than a man. The results underline the importance of informal factors for understanding women’s political underrepresentation.

Read this research for free

Article details
Cheng, C., & Tavits, M. (2009). Informal Influences in Selecting Female Political Candidates Political Research Quarterly, 64 (2), 460-471 DOI: 10.1177/1065912909349631

Increasing minority golf participation through PGA education initiatives

August 17, 2011

From SAGE Open

Golf’s history in the US has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, but the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) has taken steps to improve minority participation and exposure to the game. Minori ty participation has increased with the popularity and success of Tiger Woods, and continues today with targeted efforts. These efforts are outlined in this study.

One important initiative is the University of Maryland, Eastern Shoreone of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) being awarded the coveted PGA Professional Golf Management Program accreditation. The Bill Dickey Golf Scholarship Association also serves minorities by affording them the chance to play golf with financial assistance and golf club participation. To target the young the PGA has also established the “First Tee” program aimed at minority golfers ages eight to 18. More than 3 million children from minority groups have participated in the program.


“Feminizing” middle management in universities

August 16, 2011

“Feminizing” middle management? An inquiry into the gendered subtexts in university department headship

From SAGE Open

This article summarizes a number of issues emerging in a research in progress that is concerned with the analysis of university department headship from a gender perspective. It aims to adopt a cultural approach to the gender–organization relationship, making the gender subtexts in the cultural meanings underpinning life at university departments explicit. In this study 20 women talk about their experience as heads of departments at three different universities in the city ofBarcelona(Spain).

Most of these women depict their headship in terms of housecare and describe their role as managers by fallin back on the image of a housewife. This gender script implies a devaluation of middle management that stands in sharp contrast with images of empowerment and feminine leadership that literature on the topic normally portrays. In fact, most of these women hardly see themselves as leaders—at best, they exercise what might be called a “marginal leadership.”


How Paul McCartney and Liverpool FC seduced China and in doing so Liverpool is set to reap economic benefits of many millions

August 10, 2011

L iverpool at Shanghai: The Expo experience 

From Local Economy 

The city of  Liverpool made a bold move in investing in exhibiting at the 2010 World Expo in its twin city of Shanghai, China. Liverpool was the only city in the UKto take the decision to promote itself there.  The city is beginning to reap the benefits both of inward investment, and of a higher profile in, and strengthened relationships with China. Its display at the pavilion included a wall of music, football from Liverpooland Everton football clubs including the opportunity for guests to have a photo taken with soccer stars past and present, and a welcome from Sir Paul McCartney. The ‘Macca message’ was one of more than 80 films created by Liverpool’s River Motion Group and preceded an introductory 3-D film featuring a Chinese dragon and a Liver Bird soaring above Liverpool. During the 184 days that Liverpool’s pavilion was open it welcomed more than 770,000 visitors. This article outlines how this experience has resulted in astounding economic benefits to Liverpool and its region predicted to be anywhere from £5.5m to £47.5m over ten years, from Chinese students and tourists as well as from increased exports and direct foreign investment.


A comprehensive look at the tip wage to help employers ensure their practices are legal

August 9, 2011

A comprehensive look at the tip wage

From Compensation & Benefits Review

Employers increasingly face wage and hour enforcement actions and costly class action lawsuits under the federal and state laws that regulate minimum wages and tipping. With wide variations in federal and state requirements regarding tip credits, tip pooling and service charges, companies must carefully review their policies to avoid labor department investigations and significant liabilities for back pay.

This article considers the tip credit – the amount of tips that may be applied toward the required minimum wage. It outlines common employer practices and pitfalls in calculating pay and overtime pay for tipped employees and keeping records for wages and hours. A number of steps have been advised that employers can take to ensure that their pay practices are legal, to avoid lawsuits that can generate multi-million-dollar settlements,  (more…)

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