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  February 20th, 2015 | Written by

What We Learned This Week

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Never, never offer a woman unsolicited congratulations on the upcoming birth of a child by saying she’s “really starting to show,” and …

LEGO RULES … Well, duh. But now it’s official. British consulting firm Brand Finance placed the iconic Danish toymaker atop its annual “brand strength” list, unseating a toymaker of a different spot: Ferrari. Brand Finance’s index takes into account such factors as brand familiarity, customer loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation. Lego’s score of 93.4 (out of a possible 100) was well ahead of runner-ups Price-Waterhouse (91.8) and Red Bull (91.1). Lego’s strength comes not only from the fact that children still love the thrill of creating their own worlds but that their parents, sick of hours of video game play, appreciate the tactile creativity Lego encourages while also allowing them to connect with their kids with a product they understand and still like playing with. Given that, it’s not surprising that The Lego Movie rang up nearly $500 million in ticket sales in the U.S. alone, so it seems everyone loves Lego. Well, except the Academy Awards.

TWO–FACED … It’s a common axiom of figurative self-reflection that you can’t lie to the person staring back at you from the mirror. Sure, but what if the face in the mirror is lying to you. Researchers at the University of Tokyo announced they have developed a mirror that makes you look happier than you really are by utilizing “incendiary reflection” to track a subject’s facial expression in real time and then instantly adjusting those expressions, subtly lifting the corners of the mouth while crinkling slightly the area around the eyes. Like so many things that come out of Japan, the news is at once exciting and disturbing and comes with a very real world application: you’re more likely to buy an item of clothing if the person in the mirror seems to be enjoying wearing it, i.e. smiling. University of Tokyo researcher Shigeo Toshida didn’t mince words when he said the mirrors, which could soon find their way to a dressing room near you, could be utilized to “manipulate consumers’ impressions of products.” Now if they could just develop a mirror that wouldn’t make me look fat in corduroy.