And Another Thing …

Posted Sept. 15, 2011, at 7:13 p.m.

• It’s not the endless distraction of the Internet, the quick-cut action of Matt Damon movies or the weight of our over-scheduled lives that’s causing short attention spans. Nope, it’s that sharp-cornered dude who lives in a pineapple under the sea, SpongeBob SquarePants.

A recent study of 4-year-olds found that watching less than ten minutes of Mr. SquarePants’ TV show can cause them to suffer from learning problems and short attention spans. Children in the study who had watched slower-paced programs on PBS scored better on tests following the shows.

The next time Republicans try to kill off PBS, supporters can trot out Public Enemy No. 1 for young minds: SpongeBob.

• Speaking of studies, a recent one conducted in the Philippines revealed, as the New York Times put it, that “testosterone, that most male of hormones, takes a dive after a man becomes a parent. And the more he gets involved in caring for his children — changing diapers, jiggling the boy or girl on his knee, reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ for the umpteenth time — the lower his testosterone drops.”

Analysis suggests this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but rather shows the importance of fathers being involved in their children’s lives: Men’s inner regulators slow the flow of the hormone so they can concentrate on something other than, well, what is usually on their minds.

One question unanswered in the study: Does the hormone return when a couple enters the empty-nest phase?

• An item in the Sun Journal in Lewiston noted tangentially that the Oxford Hills school system’s photocopiers run off about 7 million copies each year. District officials say not everything can be done electronically because some families don’t have access to the Internet and “other documents are meant to be hung up on refrigerators, such as schedules and calendars.”

This is good news for the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company, Inc.

• Way to go, Tom Brady, for perpetuating unflattering stereotypes about the Irish, Boston sports fans and Irish Boston sports fans. Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, told reporters earlier this week that he had a message for fans preparing for the home opener: “Start drinking early. Get nice and rowdy. It’s a 4:15 game. They have a lot of time to get lubed up and come out here and cheer for their home team.”

A Patriots spokesman clarified what he really meant: fans should “stay hydrated, drink a lot of water. Be loud. Drink responsibly.” Right.

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