13 Stories

Ex-Facebook Exec: 'I Feel Tremendous Guilt'

Chamath Palihapitiya did some 'soul searching' about social media, and it's not good

(Newser) - Social media was supposed to bring everyone closer together, but a former Facebook exec fears it's doing the exact opposite. "I feel tremendous guilt," Chamath Palihapitiya, who used to be the VP of user growth at the social network, said during an appearance in November at the... More »

How the Words We Use Changed Over 200 Years

'This is an indicator that happiness may be on the decline'

(Newser) - It is well established that humans across languages and cultures have a tendency to use more positive words than negative ones. This is called linguistic positivity bias (LPB), but why the phenomenon exists remains unclear. Now researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that their big... More »

6 Degrees of Separation Down to 4.74

Most Facebook users fewer than 5 friends apart

(Newser) - The oft-cited "six degrees of separation" between individuals has—at least for the 721 million users of Facebook—narrowed to 4.74, researchers say. That's the average number of acquaintances that separate any two random Facebook acquaintances, according to a study that used algorithms to analyze the links... More »

Crust Eaters, Squirrel Fans Among Weird College Clubs

There's a society for every taste

(Newser) - Looking to meet like-minded people as the new school year begins? Never fear—these days, there’s a club for everybody, the Detroit Free Press reports. A few of the oddest:
  • Squirrel clubs. Both the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University offer societies aimed at interacting with our bushy-tailed
... More »

Yale Society's Skull for Sale

Skull and Bones' ballot box expected to attract at least $10,000

(Newser) - A human skull that apparently was turned into a ballot box for Yale's secretive Skull and Bones society is going on the auction block. Christie's estimates the skull will sell for $10,000 to $20,000 when auctioned on Jan. 22. Fittingly, the auction house has agreed to keep the... More »

The C-Word Ain't What It Used to Be

'Superstar of four-letter words' hits Guardian's front page, losing its bite

(Newser) - Rest assured, Dear Reader: As a respectable organization, Newser won’t publish what Kathleen Deveny in Newsweek calls “the rudest, crudest, most taboo term in the English language.” To be blunt, on this issue we must punt, because, on a family website, that dog just won’t hunt—... More »

Arrest Made in 2008 Conn. Hit-and-Run

(Newser) - A year after a hit-and-run accident in downtown Hartford, Conn., captured international attention, and just days after the victim died of his injuries, police have made an arrest, the Courant reports. “The defendant appeared to have remained in the area for at least the past year and never made... More »

Son 'Manhandled Astor to Change Will': Prosecutor

Anthony Marshall exploited mom's dementia to funnel fortune to him, says prosecutor.

(Newser) - Brooke Astor's son "dragged" his frail mom from her nurse's arms to a closed-door meeting about her will, which was immediately changed in his favor, according to the prosecutor at the heir's  fraud and grand larceny trial yesterday in New York. Anthony Marshall exploited his vulnerable mother's dementia to... More »

I'd Rather Say I'm in Porn: Shunned Wall Streeter

Financial types feel they're unfairly 'vilified' in crisis

(Newser) - Working on Wall Street used to have glamor to it—but now, saying you work at JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs immediately establishes you as “one of them,” the New York Times reports. Wall Streeters are facing a new pariah status, and many believe they’re taking an unfair... More »

Psychologists: Victorian Novels Helped Us Evolve

Victorian literature upheld cooperation, personal sacrifice

(Newser) - Victorian novels didn't just tout moralistic values of 19th-century British society, they helped altruistic genes flourish, a study claims. Evolutionary psychologists say classic characters such as Mr. Darcy and Count Dracula helped instill and promote a sense of right and wrong in society, the Guardian reports, specifically the notion that... More »

Between Home and Work, Public Life Declines

More than ever, we need surprises of 'third spaces': Rodriguez

(Newser) - In the 1980s sociologists introduced the term "third place," neither home nor work, to encompass the bars, restaurants, and other public spaces that allow us to build relationships. Today, with global economic woes besetting even the iconic French cafe culture, our "public living rooms" are... More »

Forget MySpace—Neighbors Should Work on Our Space

One man tries to build community ... through sleepovers

(Newser) - Feeling a disquieting disconnect, author Peter Lovenheim recounts his attempt to weave a neighborhood—one sleepover at a time. Americans interact with their neighbors less than ever, Lovenheim writes in the New York Times; by some estimates, the decline has been underway since 1950. So Lovenheim decided to get to... More »

Hit-and-Run Sparks Soul-Searching

Police chief blasts city amid violent incidents

(Newser) - A video of a 78-year-old hit-and-run victim lying paralyzed in the street has residents of Hartford, Conn., wondering what's wrong with their city, their society—and themselves. The police chief blasted Hartford this week after a wave of appalling, headline-grabbing incidents, including the savage beating of the deputy mayor and... More »

13 Stories