via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
“Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto,” writes Emily Lakdawalla, “I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.”
We were wrong about how boa constrictors kill their prey
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
I was in two minds about this but so long as I don’t include the picture (and you don’t click through to continue reading) we should both be safe
Since we were kids, we’ve been taught that a boa constrictor wraps itself around its prey and suffocate it. A new study suggests that’s incorrect.
Is Arabic really a single language?
via OUP Blog by Michael Erdman
All language-learners face the difficulties of regional variations or dialects. Usually, it takes the form of an odd word or turn of phrase or a peculiar pronunciation. For most languages, incomprehension is only momentary, and the similarity — what linguists often refer to as the mutual intelligibility — between the standard language taught to foreigners and the regional speech pattern is maintained. For a language such as French, only the most extreme cases of dialectical differences, such as between Parisian and Québécois or Cajun, pose considerable difficulties for both learners and native speakers of dialects close to the standard. For other languages, however, differences between dialects are so great as to make most dialects other than the standard totally incomprehensible to learners. Arabic is one such language.
Sound is the forgotten flavor sense
via Boing Boing by Gastropod
Manipulating sound can transform our experience of food and drink, making stale potato chips taste fresh, adding the sensation of cream to black coffee, or boosting the savory, peaty notes in whiskey.
House Party: 1950
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
From photographs by Stanley Kubrick for the Look magazine article “The Debutante Who Went to Work”: “Socialite model/actress Betsy Von Furstenberg attending a weekend house party. Includes Von Furstenberg, hostess Sandra Stralem and other young women in ball gowns”
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‘Agreeing to Disagree’ Is the End of Truly Listening to Each Other
via Big Think by Orion Jones
When conversation hits a road bump, participants often turn toward a way of agreeing with each other without actually having to agree. It's the famous "let's agree to disagree" line. In my own life, the proposal tends to come up in two specific cases:
- A way to move past a superficial disagreement (someone is quibbling and they think it’s cute) to get closer to the heart of what we’re talking about.
- A socially acceptable way to end a conversation that is beginning to get heated – without saying something like “You're a jerk. How could you think that?”
Pentaquarks Have Physicists Psyched – And Baffled
via 3 Quarks Daily: Sophia Chen at Wired
Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have been smashing protons together, on and off, since 2009. On Tuesday they announced that they’d encountered a new particle as a result of all those subatomic crack-ups called the pentaquark—and it could help explain what holds together other subatomic particles like protons and neutrons.
Continue reading and see some fascinating images
The “There Their and They're” Song, by Jonathan Mann
via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
Shove it down the throats of anyone you encounter who misuses any of these words. Thank you for your service to humanity.
This land is your land
via OUP Blog by Stephen Petrus
Seventy-five years ago folk singer Woody Guthrie penned the initial lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land,” considered by many to be the alternative national anthem. Sung in elementary schools, children’s summer camps, around campfires, at rallies, and during concert encores, “This Land Is Your Land” is the archetypal sing-along song, familiar to generations of Americans. But what most do not know is that Guthrie, the “Oklahoma Cowboy,” actually wrote the song in New York and that its production and dissemination were shaped by the city’s cultural institutions. Indeed, “This Land Is Your Land” is essentially an urban creation.
Why men fight wars – and what could make them stop
via 3 Quarks Daily: David Berreby in Psychology Today
In a sparsely appointed trailer in northern Iraq, close to the sandbagged front line where Kurds faced the advancing forces of the Islamic State, fighters sat on the floor last spring and talked to Lydia Wilson about war. “Here,” one would say, pointing to his neck, “is where I was wounded – and here, and here.” Another trailed off from his own story to tell her about the wars in which his father and grandfather had fought in defense of their ethnic identity. Others praised their French allies’ efficiency in carrying out air strikes – the Americans, they said, took too long to arrive and flew away too soon. Some wondered out loud whether the coming night would bring suicide attackers driving trucks laden with explosives toward their position. Daytime offered quiet and some respite in the trailer, but by nightfall, they knew, ISIS would be back.