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New book discloses objects of import

There's a new book out that may make you feel better about your fierce attachment to that Petoskey stone, cocktail napkin, or bottle cap stowed away somewhere. It's called "Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance," brought to you by Joshua Glenn and Carol Hayes. The team has a fan in the LA Times, who breaks it down thusly:

They asked artists, designers, writers and thinkers to contribute photos of their precious belongings and explain their significance. The result is a wonderfully eccentric collection of "things" and thought-provoking essays that underscore French philosopher Bruno Latour's challenge to regard objects as more than merely matters of fact but, Glenn writes in his introduction, as "an association, a network, a gathering" of meaning and ideas.

Some of the items people in the book hold dear:

  • A pile of red dirt
  • Ceramic pegs from an electric fence at Birkenau
  • A bagel prepared by Christopher Walken

During my entire third grade year, I collected confetti in lunch bags, but I never found a celebration worthy of expending it & eventually let them be thrown away in some domestic deep cleaning session. I'm not sure I even have one precious, unremarkable object to my name. Not an impressive or important or exceedingly maudlin one, anyway...So I'm going to raid my closet until I do & I can feel complete. So this is where I implore you to share your own...

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Food
Learn to Spot the Sneaky Psychological Tricks Restaurants Use
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While dining out, you may have noticed (but perhaps didn’t question) some unusual features—like prices missing dollar signs, or burgers served on plates that could accommodate a baby cow.

These aren’t just arbitrary culinary decisions, as the SciShow’s Hank Green explains in the video below. Restaurants use all kinds of psychological tricks to make you spend more money, ranging from eliminating currency symbols (this makes you think less about how much things cost) to plating meals on oversize dinnerware (it makes you eat more). As for the mouthwatering language used to describe food—that burger listed as a "delectable chargrilled extravagance," for example—studies show that these types of write-ups can increase sales by up to 27 percent.

Learn more psychological tricks used by restaurants (and how to avoid falling for them) by watching the video below. (Or, read our additional coverage on the subject.)

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Animals
Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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