Short Takes: News From All Over: November 6, 2003

Aim Low
By Patience Highbottom,
Ph.d candidates and aspiring academics the world over will be happy to hear that the secret to success is nothing more than … well … nothing. One doctoral fellow offers advice on how to avoid the long hours and ill health involved in earning an advanced degree.

A Common Trust
The Friends of the Commons have released their annual report, and the good news is that we citizens of the earth are richer than we think. The bad news is that this wealth is being grossly mismanaged and bankruptcy is not an option.

WTF, Mates?
Those of you who are old enough to remember the 1980’s ‘This is Your Brain on Drugs’ campaign will appreciate this animated cautionary tale of impending Armageddon. Consider it a 21st-century version of a similar campaign: ‘This is Your World on Bush.’ Any questions?

Do Good Looks Equal Good Evaluations?
By Gabriela Montell, The Chronicle of Higher Education
A beautiful professor is far more likely to get good evaluations from students. That was the conclusion of a recent study by Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, and Amy Parker, a student. They asked students to rate photographs of 94 professors for their beauty and compared average student evaluation scores for the courses those professors taught. The difference of one point — student evalutions don’t vary by much — between ugly and beautiful teachers proved a strikingly shallow point: Hot teachers get the big ratings.

Finding Your Real Political Orientation
The reality of today’s political landscape is a bit more complex than the labels ‘right’ or ‘left.’ It encompasses positions ranging from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian. And political identities like ‘green,’ ‘communitarian,’ and ‘populist’ don’t easily fit the traditional left-right dichotomy. So if you’re lost, take the quick quizzes at and to find your real political orientation.

Virtually Nothing to Fear
By Staff, New Scientist
Recently, I moved to a lovely brownstone with an elevator the size of a coffin. Thanks to psychologists at the University of Quebec, I may some day be able to enjoy it. According to a New Scientist report, specially designed virtual reality video games can treat a variety of phobias, including fear of spiders, fear of heights, and claustrophobia.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.