As barriers disappear, some gender gaps widen. To test hypotheses about the origins of differences between the sexes, a series of research teams have repeatedly analyzed personality tests taken by men and women in more than 60 countries around the world. For evolutionary psychologists, the bad news is that the size of the gender gap in personality varies among cultures. For social-role psychologists, the bad news is that the variation is going in the wrong direction. It looks as if personality differences between men and women are smaller in traditional cultures like India’s or Zimbabwe’s than in the Netherlands or the United States. — New York Times [via 3quarksdaily]

King of kitsch rules at Versailles. An aluminum red lobster hangs from the ceiling alongside a crystal chandelier in the Mars Salon. A Plexiglas-encased display of vacuum cleaners and floor polishers sits in front of the official portrait of Marie Antoinette. And an open-mouthed, bare-breasted blonde holding a pink panther seems to be laughing at a 1729 painting of King Louis XV giving peace to Europe. America has invaded the gilded chambers and sculpted gardens of the Château de Versailles in the form of an exhibition by the artist Jeff Koons. — International Herald Tribune

Machiavelli’s Daring ‘Gift’. It was a daring political move that the exiled Niccolo Machiavelli, his career in ruin, made in 1512 from his family farm south of Florence. He had sent a short treatise, “The Prince” (Il Principe), as an offering of counsel to the most powerful man in Florence, Lorenzo (called “the Magnificent”) de Medici, the man who himself had ordered Machiavelli’s dismissal and exile. The cover letter is as masterly as the treatise. “Take this little gift,” Machiavelli wrote, “in the spirit I send it, and if you read it diligently you will discover in it my urgent wish that you reach the eminence that fortune and your other great qualities promise you.” — Wall Street Journal

The Clash: Final Days. Mick Jones: On our way to New Zealand after Japan we stopped for an afternoon in Australia and were all thrown out of the hotel for playing our music too loud. We’d only stopped off there for a couple of hours, yet we managed to get banned from the best hotel in Sydney. — Times Online

Peter Fray

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