When the FBI Tried and Failed to Find Ethel Merman’s Stolen Jewels

Ethel Merman in 1953.
Ethel Merman in 1953. Walter Albertin/Public Domain

“Some of my best friends are homosexual,” Broadway musical star Ethel Merman has famously said. “Everybody knew about J. Edgar Hoover, but he was the best chief the FBI ever had.”

Merman and Hoover had a friendship spanning from 1938 until Hoover death in 1972, and Merman’s off-the-cuff allegations regarding the Director’s sexuality have spurred many of the Director’s detractors to hang involved psychological analyses on. But personal insights aside, was there any investigatory benefit to being among the Bureau’s BFFs? According to the singer’s personal FBI file, released via FOIA by Stephen Johnson, to be rich…

‘Despite the headlines, people care’ say team behind new refugee befriending scheme

Londoners are being asked to take part in a befriending scheme that matches people with spare time and goodwill, to asylum seekers and refugees who are in need of friendship

A befriending scheme has been launched to match Londoners who have spare time and goodwill, with asylum seekers and refugees in need of friendship.

HostNation, which launched a pilot scheme in Greater London in March and hopes to expand across the UK by 2018, would like to hear from volunteers willing to befriend newcomers to the city. Anneke Elwes, who came up with the concept of HostNation after studying for a master’s degree in Anthropology of Development, has worked with refugees and asylum seekers for more than five years. Her dissertation titled Humanitarianism at Home, looked into the private practice of hosting refugees and asylum seekers.

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“I’m acutely aware of how desperately lonely and bored so many of them are,” Elwes told Positive News. “They are stuck in substandard accommodation on the fringes of our cities, often with only £5 of vouchers to see them through the day. When I asked a conversation group I run how they could improve their English, they said ‘make an English friend’ but when I asked how they would do that, they…

Searching for better, cooler friends might backfire

friends, happy
friends, happy

Your mom may have told you that you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends — so do so wisely. But how much effort should you spend selecting those pals? The answer may surprise you. Good friends may only have to be “good enough,” not the best available. That’s the finding of some new research.

Indeed, the new study finds, the more that people try to find the very best people available on any given day, the less happy they will tend to be.

Psychologists are scientists who study behavior. And they say that there are two basic strategies people use when making choices. This first is something they call “maximizing.” Here, people make a choice only once they’ve considered every available option. The alternative is to look at only a few options and settle with the first one that seems “good enough.”

Maximizing might make it possible to find the very best option. But it can have negative consequences. When people take this approach while shopping, studies find, they tend to be less happy with what they buy. Instead of enjoying what they’ve brought home, they wonder if they might have missed out on something a little bit better.

David Newman wondered whether something similar happens when people choose whom to spend time with. Newman is a psychologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He and his team conducted several experiments with people to find out. Their findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

For one experiment, college students filled out a survey every night for two weeks. Some questions asked about how they spent time with their friends that day. Participants rated how much they agreed with various statements that they read. One example: “No matter…

Always Suspecting Others Have Hidden Motives Can Be a Sign of Mental Illness

You may recognize this person: Always suspicious of the decisions, actions and motives of others.

This paranoid individual could be a friend of yours, or perhaps a relative. But one thing is for sure – they have a universal distrust of other people.

You may remember a grandparent who was always suspicious of everyone who walked past their house. They would constantly peek out their windows, and stare intently at anyone who walked by. If they saw anyone acting even a little unusually, their imaginations would run wild, and they would quickly become agitated or panicky.

Individuals such as the character above are likely to be suffering from a mental illness known as “paranoid personality disorder.” People with this disorder will nearly always be suspicious of others.1 As well as paranoid behavior, they may also display odd or eccentric ways of thinking and acting.

People with Paranoid Personality Disorder are difficult to get on with.

While it’s not unusual to have times in your life when you are suspicious (or even paranoid), when this becomes the norm, then something is definitely wrong.

Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) sufferers are so caught up in their world of defensiveness, that they can easily become incessant complainers, argumentative or even hostile. Their hyper-vigilant behavior often leads to a cold, guarded and lonely existence.

As you can imagine (or perhaps have experienced), PPD sufferers don’t tend to attract or hold onto harmonious friendships or relationships.

Family influence and childhood trauma are some potential causes of PPD.

At present, mental health researchers have been unable to determine the exact cause of…

This Surprising Dog And Duck Friendship Shows That Animals Pick Friends Not By Their Looks

Meet Barclay, the Golden Retriever and his best friend, a four-year-old Pekin duck Rudy, who both have a thing or two to teach you about friendship.

As great friendships go, this one had a rather bumpy start, when Barclay discovered just how tasty the stolen duck chow is. Rudy, being the alpha duck of his group, would chase Barclay away from it. But soon the Retriever became such a frequent visitor in the coop that it was just a matter of time before these guys clicked. As the owner, Pam Ishiguro explained to Daily Mail: “When they are together, somebody is always chasing or jumping on someone else, but when they are apart, they’re always calling for each other.”

By now these guys have developed a healthy relationship, where everybody is getting something out of it. For example: “[Barclay] likes to drink their bath water and, if he happens to be stealthy enough, he loves to sniff a little duck butt.” And as for Rudy, he’s become a fan of dog climbing: “Now Rudy has to ‘claim’ Barclay every once in a while by climbing on top of him. Barclay doesn’t seem to mind terribly because that gives him the opportunity to sniff Rudy’s butt – win-win!”

Although no family is without its quirks, this one seems to solve their disputes with cuddling and playing together: “Rudy and Barclay need…

The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life

purpose of friendship

Are you aware that as you grow up, friendship is the thing that drifts away most easily? Work, vacation, relationships, family times — they’re all so important to life that it’s just hard to put friendship at a higher priority.

Have you ever been at supper at a friend’s home, you and your friends just didn’t have anything to talk about and had to force yourselves to just talk about something, like “so how have you been recently?”, or “oh the pasta is really nice…”?

This kind of awkward situation only leaves us wondering what friendship is for; but then, we also feel uncomfortable to have to declare that friendship has to be for something — how contradicting we are.

Here’s some good news for you…

Friendship does have its purpose, and having a purpose doesn’t ruin true friendship.

People come to your life for a reason. (Duh.) People do come together to become friends for some reasons though.

Alex Lickerman, the author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self talks about the things that draw people together as friends.

Instead of building friendships with random people, we tend to build bonds with people who share the common interests, share common values, have gone through the same difficulties, and who support each other equally.[1]

We’re being selective about friends because not everyone can serve the purpose of being able to exchange thoughts and feelings with us.

When we get to know people, there are four things we really look for.[2]

Firstly, we want reassurance so we know we’re not alone in being a specific way.

Everyone of us has our weak spots. There’s always something that we aren’t satisfied with, or some thoughts that we’re reluctant to share with others because we’re afraid of being judged or being let down.

We need the kind of friend who understands our thoughts and weaknesses; so we can feel comfortable to let down our…

I Deleted 564 Friends On Facebook But I Have Saved 100 Real Life Friendships

I was meeting one of my best friends from college last weekend. She lives abroad for work but she will come back at least once a year; every time she’s back she will definitely make an effort to see me and It feels like she never left.

During our chat, she asked: “Do you think it’s getting a lot harder to make friends as we grow up?” I laughed and said: “Who doesn’t think like that?”

Her question was stuck in my mind that night, and suddenly I have come up with another thought.

I opened my Facebook. Slowly and gradually, I deleted 564 friends that night.

Making friends is actually a lot easier than you think.

Let me prove this.

Imagine you met someone interesting at a party and you feel like it would be great if you guys can stay connected after the party. So the next thing you do was get onto Facebook, search the name, move your fingertip to the magic button “Add friends” and JOB DONE!

Just one magic click and you guys are friends now. Just as simple as you see.

However, I think this redirected me to a deeper question.

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What’s the true meaning of friends?

I tried to find an answer by recalling memories on how I make friends before “The Dawn Of Facebook”.

We approach new people, we talk to them, we share, we build trust and most importantly we make connections, in real life. After experiencing parts of our lives together, we value them as “friends.”

Then I asked myself while looking at my Facebook friend list, “How many of them have gone through that process?”

This is why I decided don’t want to get overwhelmed by life updates from people who I don’t even recall who they are.