Common Parasite Brings Out the 'Sex Kitten' in Women

One man's infection is another's attraction ... or so it seems with a common parasite that scientists have discovered can turn women into 'sex kittens,' while making men less attractive.

The parasite Toxoplasma gondii infects about 40 percent of the world's population, an Australian researcher has found, and it has different effects on women versus men.

It was thought to be insignificant in healthy people until recently, when researchers realized its other consequences, reported

Sydney University of Technology infectious disease researcher Nicky Boulter wrote about the properties of the parasite in the latest issue of Australasian Science Magazine.

"Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women," Boulter wrote.

"On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls. In short, it can make men behave like alley cats and women behave like sex kittens."

Boulter added that the new discoveries and variations on the effects of the parasite warrant further government funding for research.

Forget Children — Now You Can Adopt Cyber-Sheep

The hottest celeb trend these days may be adopting kids from foreign countries, but children aren't the only options available for wannabe parents.

One farmer in New Zealand has offered his flock of sheep for adoption on the Internet.

Chris Adams, the owner of the 6,000 available sheep, has launched a Web site for people who are looking for a little animal love in their lives, reported United Press International.

The site is aimed at people who don't have any pets. It allows people to keep track of their adopted sheep online.

Adoptive parents get visit their sheep and name it — and will soon be able to watch it on a Web cam.

Adams says he hopes to raise help awareness overseas about New Zealand's farming practices.

Here's a Man Who Really Loves His Pie

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It's no secret that Willis Welch loves pecan pie — someone has left one on his doorstep before Christmas for the past 25 years.

The identity of his Secret Santa remains a mystery, but it appears the 82-year-old Welch has more than one benefactor: The handwriting or typing on the Merry Christmas note has differed each year.

"When it's written by a female, it's a mushy-type thing," he said.

In some years, a disguised voice on the telephone has told him to look on his front porch for his pie.

Welch said many of his friends know he's addicted to pecan pie and anticipate his gift arriving each year.

"I've probably had 25 calls this week wanting to know if the pie fairy has shown up," said Welch, a retired power company executive.

He said he has watched out for his Secret Santa. "The only thing I didn't do was put up a camera," he said.

This year's pie arrived early on Christmas Eve and Welch said he had a piece for breakfast.

Who Ever Said There Was No Santa?

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A man who took out a home-equity loan to buy 1,600 teddy bears for children in local hospitals got some help playing Santa this year.

For nine years, Mark Brant, a computer salesman, has been playing Santa for children in pediatric wards. But this year he didn't have enough money so he took out a $6,000 home-equity loan and borrowed another $4,000.

However, after a story ran in the Chicago Tribune story ran about Brant's work with sick children, more than 60 people contacted him with offers to help.

With that money, Brant delivered teddy bears and provided Polaroid snapshots of children with Santa at seven hospitals.

One of the first to contact Brant was the Rev. Michael Bittel, an administrator with Monarch Landing, a Naperville retirement community.

"When he said, 'Hey, I want to pay for your home-equity loan,' I thought, Oh my Lord. It brought tears to my eyes," Brant said.

Silver Bells, Hear Them Ring ... And Ring ... And Ring

BERGEN, Norway (AP) — At first, Vidar Aarhus thought it was just an annoying local Christmas Eve tradition.

But after hearing the Salhus Church bells ring for five hours straight, he decided to make some telephone calls.

"I was worried that my children wouldn't be able to sleep," Aarhus said, according to a story posted Monday on the Bergens Tidende newspaper's Web site. "It was pretty late. After talking to a few friends I knew something was wrong."

Aarhus, who lives just 100 yards from Salhus Church, moved with his family to Bergen in western Norway six months ago.

The church's priest, Arvid Andreas Fosse, apologized to the neighbors after the bells came to a standstill, saying they weren't supposed to ring so long.

"They're automatic," he said. "They were set for one hour, so I pressed the button to turn them off when I got back to church."

Compiled by's Hannah Sentenac.

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