Bragging, even humbly, doesn’t go over well, so have someone else do it for you
Q. Just how bad can a big bad bird get? A. Very bad indeed. Just ask biological anthropologist Samuel Urlacher, who was doing field work in the jungles of Papua New Guinea when he encountered an adult cassowary, considered “one of the world’s most dangerous birds,” writes “Discover” magazine.
At least five feet tall and flightless, the bird is able to sprint 31 mph and deliver fatal slashes with its daggerlike middle talons. Some 150 cases of attacks against people have been recorded, with at least one culminating in death.
Urlacher told his story to the magazine’s Bridget Alex: Machetes in hand, he and his local guide were hiking from his research village to a neighboring community when “all of a sudden, trotting directly toward us appears this huge, fully grown adult cassowary. It’s taller than I am and probably 120 or 130 pounds.” His guide was already climbing a tree when Urlacher belatedly sprang into action, climbing as fast as he could. He got up only a few feet before the cassowary was right on him, but fortunately, it turned away and veered off the trail, stared at them and then walked off.
Concluded Urlacher: “It could have been a very bad story had it decided to actually get me. So we survived, laughed about it, then picked up our machetes and moved on.” Q. “Everyone hates a ‘humblebrag,’” declares “New Scientist” magazine. Just what is a “humblebrag,” anyway? A. It’s feigning modesty while boasting, a practice that “annoys people even more than outright self-promotion,” says the magazine’s Ann Klein. According to Ovul Sezer at the University of North Carolina, a “humblebrag” can be expressed either as “a display of humility — ‘I’m so shocked my new book is a bestseller’ — or a complaint — ‘I’ve got nothing to wear after losing so much weight.’”
When volunteers judged the likeability and sincerity of complaints, brags, and these two forms of humblebrag, none were very popular but humblebragging (both kinds) scored lowest on both measures (“Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”).
As Sezer explains, people humblebrag to broadcast achievements without looking too arrogant, but it comes across as sneaky and strategic, lacking the critical element of sincerity. A bet- ter strategy is to tell a trusted friend to spread the news. Or announce it yourself but be sure to credit those who helped you, thus appearing “warm and communal, which people find attractive.” Q. “If the aviation sector were a country, it would rank seventh worldwide in carbon pollution,” writes “Scientific American” magazine. What is being done to address this dire statistic? A. “A team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with their government and industry collaborators, is attempting to fundamentally redesign airplanes,” says the magazine’s Annie Sneed. Dubbed “double-bubble” D8, the concept changes the standard Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft to include a wider, more oval-shaped fuselage (like two bubbles joined side by side); smaller and lighter wings and tail; and a more aerodynamic nose. Most critical, however, is the repositioning of the engines from underneath the wings to atop the body near the tail — where they suck in and reaccelerate the slow layer of air, greatly reducing drag. As aerospace and mechanical engineer Alejandra Uranga explains, an airplane thus designed would use 37% less fuel than a typical jet.