Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Charges dropped in teacher sex scandal

State prosecutors decided Tuesday to drop charges against a former Tampa teacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old middle school student.

The decision means Debra Lafave won’t go to trial and the victim won’t have to testify.

Prosecutors announced the decision hours after a judge rejected a plea deal that would have meant no prison time for Lafave. “Quite frankly, if the allegations against the defendant are true, the agreed-upon sentence shocks the conscience of this court,” said Marion County Circuit Judge Hale Stancil.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lady Vols' Parker dunks twice in easy win

Candace Parker of Tennessee slam dunked her way into NCAA history with a feat that even fans of underdog Army had to appreciate.

The 6-foot-4 Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game Sunday, jamming one-handed on a breakaway just 6:12 into the second-seeded Lady Vols' 102-54 victory against a Black Knights team that was making its NCAA tournament debut.

Then, for good measure, Parker ensured her place in history by becoming the first to do it twice in a college game with another one-hander on the baseline. She finished with 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

The first came when Parker took an outlet pass from Sidney Spencer, causing the large contingent of Lady Vols fans to begin buzzing at the possibility that after dunking several times in pregame warmups, Parker would try it on the fast break.

She did, beating Army's Margaree King down the floor, elevating and throwing it down with her right hand as the fans at Constant Convocation Center erupted.

It was the second college dunk attempt for Parker, who missed against Auburn on Feb. 23. She became the fourth woman in college history to dunk in a game, joining Georgeann Wells of West Virginia (twice in 1984), Charlotte Smith of North Carolina (1994) and Michelle Snow of Tennessee, who did it three times in the 2000-01 season.

The play gave the Lady Vols a 15-14 lead against the pesky 15th-seeded Black Knights, who were adopted by most of the fans at Tennessee rival Old Dominion's home arena, and it spelled the beginning of the end of Army's whirlwind NCAA tournament experience.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Eye Color

Your Eyes Should Be Hazel

Your eyes reflect: Intellect and sensuality

What's hidden behind your eyes: Subtle manipulation

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Love: 10 crazy scientific facts

By Laura Schaefer

1. It’s like looking in a mirror! It turns out we all have a little something in common with Narcissus—the mythical fellow who fell in love with his own reflection. Scientists at the University of Liverpool recently concluded that our brains favor people with familiar faces. The research team asked over 200 participants to view a number of digitally altered human faces. They found that subjects preferred the features they found the most familiar—whether that means his or her own visage or that of a family member. This may explain that common phenomenon of couples looking like they could be siblings.

2. Manner, schmanners: Go ahead and stare. Another new study says that when a woman walks into a room, she is considered more attractive if she turns her eyes directly toward a certain man. Men would rate the same woman as less desirable if she doesn’t make strong eye contact. In this study, conducted at Dartmouth University, lead researcher Malia Mason had male participants sit and view a series of faces of fashion models, digitally enhanced to either be gazing toward or away from the participant. The study authors asked the viewer to rate the likeability of each model and found that those who turned away were seen as less agreeable. The study’s researchers went on to suggest that a woman’s gaze can be a powerful arousal cue and that our impressions are largely formed by nonverbal communications such as eye contact. So start locking eyes, ladies!

3. You’ll know it when you see it. A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that regardless of what people say they are looking for in a dating situation, they don’t need a lot of time with or information about a person to tell if they’re interested. Single people’s behavior suggests that individuals know “it” (a person who appeals to them) when they see it—almost instantly. Lead researcher Robert Kurzban and his colleagues studied data from 10,000+ daters. They found that men and women assessed potential compatibility within moments of meeting, using primarily visual cues such as age, height, and attractiveness. Says Kurzban, “Somewhat surprisingly, factors that you might think would be really important to people — like religion, education, and income — played very little roles in their choices.”

4. Listen up. The next time you call up a potential love match, pay special attention to how they sound. Researchers at the University of Albany had 149 men and women rate the attractiveness of a series of recorded voices on a scale from 1 to 10. The researchers also gathered information about the sexual histories of the people whose voices they recorded. They found that the voices found to be the most appealing belonged to people who had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, and were more prone to infidelity than those rated as having less appealing voices. So know that what’s a seductive voice to you may be linked to a person with a bit of a past…

5. I couldn’t help it baby, it’s in my genes. There may be a genetic component to infidelity, says a professor at the Twin Research Unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. This is based on the fact that if one twin exhibits infidelity, the other twin strays 55% of the time. In the general population, the number is 23%. The tendency to remain faithful is a component of personality, the scientist elaborates, which is governed both by a number of genes and societal factors.

6. It’s official. Love makes us crazy. For one, it causes serotonin levels in the brain to drop, which may lead people to obsess about their lover. (The levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by the body, are also low in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder.) Next, it ramps up production of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to slightly higher blood pressure and possible loss of sleep. Finally, a scientist at the University of London has found that when people look at their new loves, the neural circuits that are usually in charge of social judgment are suppressed. All in all, love kind of leaves you obsessive, stressed, and blind. And we love it.

7. Why broken hearts hurt... A recent UCLA study suggests the psychological hurt of a break-up is just as real as a physical injury. Two areas of the brain that respond to physical pain also become activated when a person is dealing with social pain, such as being dumped. The study’s authors used an MRI to monitor brain activity in participants while they played a game simulating social rejection. The researchers believe that the pain of being rejected may have evolved as a motivating force that led humans to seek out social interaction, which is crucial for the survival of most mammals.

8. Blushing is best. If we take our cue from apes, rosy cheeks are crucial in the dating game, says a new study. Scientists at Stirling University in Great Britain have found that primates prefer mates with red faces. A rosy glow might also act as a similar cue in humans, say the British researchers, sending a message of good health. They speculate that it could explain why women use blusher.

9. Kiss this way. Did you know there is a “right” way to kiss? People are more likely to tilt their heads to the right when kissing instead of left, says a report published recently in the journal Nature. A scientist from Ruhr University in Germany analyzed 124 pairs of smoochers and found that 65 percent go toward the right.

10. Meet for drinks before dinner. Researchers at NYU and Stanford have discovered that hungry men prefer heavier women. By staking out a dining hall, scientists had hundreds of students fill out questionnaires about their preferences in a mate. Men who filled out the questionnaire just before they entered the hall described their ideal woman as an average of three or four pounds heavier than men interviewed after they ate. Incidentally, researchers did not find the same change in women’s preferences, so guys: Go ahead and schedule that drinks date for before or after dinnertime.

Monday, March 06, 2006

10 Ways To Wow A Woman

By Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

Try these creative gestures, all guaranteed to impress the lady in your life and win her affections.

In the recent past, men were considered ill-mannered but handsome beasts, and since little was expected from them, an out-of-the-blue bouquet would send a lady into convulsions of delight. Nowadays, it takes a lot more than a wrapped notion to wow a woman. Etiquette, style, general knowledge, compliments, cleanliness, and a decent music collection are individually endearing, but to truly bowl a lady over requires something special. Why not astound yours with one (or more) of these 10 big, thoughtful, exciting ideas:

1. Surprise, surprise. Men are spontaneous, but advance planning is often a weakness. Pull off a surprise party with a full cast or plan a cozy weekend getaway (reservations made, bags packed, time off secretly arranged with her boss), and she’ll be in awe of your efforts. A man, a plan, a B & B…arrivederci.

2. Plucking heart strings. When the ordinary is tinged with personal touches, the results will make her blush. If you have perfect recall of the relationship’s mini-highlights (what she was wearing when you met and so forth), give voice to those memories, especially in front of her friends, and you will cause a jolly uproar. Similarly, a hardcover always makes a fine gift, but when you’ve tracked down a first edition of her favorite children’s book that she mentioned last week, so very much the better. Who knew a dusty old Babar book could earn you major points?

3. Paging Dr. Love. Attraction and a naughty imagination are never amiss, but a bedside manner is more than just kisses between the sheets. Amaze your gal by playing doctor and nurse when the flu hits. Hang around to fetch tissues, ginger ale and soup, and don’t turn squeamish during the sneezing and sniffling phase. She will not soon forget the damp washcloths for the forehead, trips to the pharmacy, or just being there after the contagious period, to watch a Hugh Grant comedy and play unlimited rounds of Yahtzee. (And let’s face it, a Hugh Grant movie IS ALWAYS a romantic comedy, right?)

4. Supersize it. A dozen tulips are nice, but what about ten dozen? A weekend getaway is lovely, but what about being whisked to Paris? Going overboard, when used quite rarely, will leave your honey utterly gob-smacked, as the British would say. For Casanovas without credit cards, get creative without the cash flow: Take scissors to construction paper for a thousand cutout hearts, gather up roadside wildflowers and strew the petals about her bed, or deliver a love note a day for one week to profess your smitten-ness.

5. Kidding around. The ultimate masterstroke in this arena of wow-ing a woman is demonstrating a knack with kids…she’ll go gaga when you goo-goo. While waiting for your Pad Thai to arrive while out for dinner, chat up the moppet at the next table; remark, “Cute baby” when strolling past the strollers at your local park with your date, and so on. This super-husbandly trait always brings down the house.

6. Knight in shining Amex. A magnanimous showing of sacrifice and support wows her and confirms your commitment to a budding relationship. Even when unsexy, mundane crises are afoot, reach in with a helping hand. For instance, a well-off chap might wordlessly supply a loan to pay off a costly brake job that threatens his lady’s commute and checkbook. The penniless can help a damsel in distress, too. When she has night school, offer to walk her pup without complaint. Taking on her temporary troubles as your own impresses mightily.

7. Ode to joy. A syrupy note on Valentine’s Day is standard, but it’s the unexpected declarations of love (no, not during the second date) that astound. During a teary moment at the next wedding ceremony you two attend, punctuate the moment with your own poetic whisper in her ear. Likewise, sweet nothings on the dance floor will make her weak in the knees. Gushing love letters or IM’d e-ffections (for no particular reason) showcase your inner romantic. You’ll know you’ve done right when she proudly recites excerpts to her sis and best girlfriend. Confessing your true feelings can make quite the indelible impression.

8. Slick moves. Hidden talents like diving-board flips, limbo flexibility, crossword-puzzle expertise, card tricks, nimble guitar-playing and athletic prowess will elicit the “I had no idea!” awestruck grin. Besides those skills touted on your professional résumé, work on a few moves that draw comparisons to 007 or the Fonz.

9. Meet the parents: Be the rare bird that charms the pants off her usually hyper-critical, nitpicking parents. Can you ace the battery of trials and the impossible scrutiny of her closest friends to earn a resounding wow? Like passing the Mensa test, your relationship IQ must include the forethought to win over her inner circle. Brush up on their likes, dislikes, favorite wines (come bearing a bottle), and most recent travel adventures before sitting down with them, and you’ll have plenty of conversational fodder.

10. Love me tenderized. How well done is your medium-rare? Preparing an extravagant multi-course meal (not ordering out pre-made gourmet and slyly transferring it into shiny serving bowls) replete with all the trappings is a wow-able moment. And, yes, you can do it: Following a recipe taps every man’s inner do-it-yourself expertise. Allow her to sit back and breathe in the romance and gourmet ambiance: laser-printed menu, chilled Champagne, fresh table linens, slender candles, snazzy presentation, followed by after-dinner liqueurs, first-rate wooing, and fiery seduction. Honorable mention for those who actually get a smooch while sporting a “Kiss the Chef” apron.