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Beauty is in the shifting eye of the beholder

Angelina Jolie and Marilyn Monroe are classic beauties of the Western world. Experts say it's their symmetrical facial features that give an impression of attractiveness.

In parts of Ethiopia, it's a lip that's been stretched around a plate that's considered desirable. And in one Burmese tribe, it is a long neck wrapped in brass coils.

These standards were all cemented into those cultures over a long period of time. But new research suggests that it might not take generations to hard-wire our brains about what we find beautiful.

"Beauty may be very fluid," said Haiyang Yang, an assistant professor of marketing at Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School. "Even highly contagious."

The research indicates that a person who finds, say, a woman with a button nose and curly hair attractive will subconsciously start to find, instead, women with aquiline noses and straight hair attractive if it is perceived that the latter is generally considered attractive by others.

Yang used an...

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As prank, Hogan announces presidential bid

Gov. Larry Hogan opened Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting in somber tones laced with self-praise that built to a stunning announcement.

"Over the past few months, my administration has received a lot of recognition for our bipartisan approach to governance," Hogan said. "It seems to me that approach is something that is desperately lacking in Washington, D.C.

"So after much encouragement and reflection, I've come to the decision today to announce my candidacy for the president of the United States."

Laughter erupted immediately, and grew as Hogan reminded it everyone it's April Fools' Day. But, he added, it shouldn't be that unbelievable.  Maryland's two previous governors - Robert L. Ehrlich and Martin O'Martin - are both weighing presidential bids, after all.



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Cynthia Lennon, former wife of John Lennon, dead at 75

Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of former Beatles guitarist John Lennon, died of cancer Wednesday at her home in Spain. She was 75.

Her death was announced on the website and Twitter account of her son, Julian Lennon and confirmed by his representative.

Julian Lennon posted a moving video tribute to his late mother with a song he had written in her honor.

"You gave your life for me, you gave your life for love," it begins, showing footage of him as a young boy with his parents. It also shows footage of Cynthia with John during the early days of Beatlemania.

"The love you left behind will carry on," Julian, 51, sings in a style influenced by his late father.

It concludes with the words: "I know you're safe above."

A statement from Julian's representative said Cynthia died at her home in Mallorca "following a short but brave battle with cancer." It said Julian was at his mother's bedside throughout.

Cynthia and John Lennon met at art school in Liverpool in 1957 and married shortly before...

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Baltimore living column: Adult world has classier day drinking season

Each year, an otherwise unremarkable day becomes a holiday whose date we can't predict: the first day of warmth as winter finally comes to a close.

As the above-freezing air floods our endorphin-starved brains, we celebrate by wearing clothing that is still wildly inappropriate for the temperature and posting pictures of iced coffee on Instagram. The cold is likely to make a pesky comeback, but the sunlight and the end of the tunnel is there.

When I stepped out into the first warm air of this year, I was greeted by two thoughts. First, "This is amazing." Then, prompted by some internal code programmed in college, "Great day-drinking weather."

It was a weekday and I was heading to work, so my focus quickly shifted. But I did reminisce, with equal parts nostalgia and shame, of mid-afternoon drunken escapades of undergrad life.

Visit a university campus on a sunny Saturday in May, and you'll see firsthand the primal link between warm weather and drinking. Students in tank tops and...

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Can adopting a pet help prepare you for parenthood?

First plants, then pets, then kids.

That has always been Sandra Magura's theory, she said, so that's the course the 34-year-old wife, mother of two and children's book author followed. After marrying her husband, Josh, in May 2008, the couple bought a house and revisited that daunting question: Do we want to have kids?

"We had talked about having kids before, but he told me that up until he met me, he had no plans on ever having them," Magura said.

In August 2008, the newlyweds adopted a Golden Retriever named Miller and a month later another dog, a shepherd/lab mix, named Lola. Miller has epilepsy and hypothyroidism and needs medication twice daily. Magura said caring for two dogs quickly taught the couple about dividing responsibility, a test they both needed to pass before having children.

"Josh was always wonderful, caring and gentle with all our pets. It was reassuring to see him like that," Magura said. "I would have to say watching him with the dogs did help to increase my...

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You can play 'Pac-Man' on Baltimore streets right now

Think you're going to get work done today? Think again.

The good folks at Google Maps are letting folks play the classic arcade game on streets of your choosing.

All you have to do: Go to Google Maps here. Type in a city packed with lots of roads (it only works when there are enough roads for Pac-Man to eat through) and click the Pac-Man icon on the bottom left.

Then just press play. You'll be chomping your way through Canton or Fells or downtown in no time.

That revenue presentation due by 5 p.m.? Consider it postponed.


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