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Learning A New Language: An Illicit Love Affair

Languages are like human beings. Each one has its own distinct characteristics, and personalities. Each language also has its own set of beliefs which a person can discover through his encounters with various words and sentences as he learns the language.

Much like human beings, there are languages that you can be friends with, and there are languages which are so difficult to understand that you just don’t want to learn it anymore. And there are languages that can make you fall in love.

Those are the languages that will consume you – all of you – as you do everything to make them yours. You dissect syntax structures. You recite conjugations. You fill notebooks with rivers of new letters. You run your pen over their curves and cusps again and again, like you would trace your fingers over a lover’s face. The words bloom on paper. The phonemes interlace into melodies. The sentences taste fragrant, even as they tumble awkwardly from your mouth like bricks built of foreign symbols. You memorise prose and lyrics and newspaper headlines, just to have them at your lips after the sun dips and when it dawns again.

Check out the full article over at Aeon to know more about this topic.

(Image Credit: geralt/ Pixabay)


Why Junk Food Is So Nostalgic

When properly prepared, the pasta becomes thick and warm. Its texture and flavour have no flaws; it is perfect entirely. Such is Kraft Dinner, or KD for short. It is, for Emily Baron Cadloff, the junk food that gets her nostalgic.

I enjoy everything about it: the simplicity of mixing together butter, milk, and a packet of nearly fluorescent cheese powder; the tantalizing neon orange of the resulting mess; the gloopy noises it makes when I put my fork in the bowl…
Of the collection of foods I ate as a child, KD is one that I haven’t yet abandoned. Years later, there’s something about the particular taste that no other food can touch. And I know I’m not the only one. For some, the lure of Cheez Whiz is unmatched. For others, it’s fried bologna sandwiches. Some may fondly remember Pixy Stix or Pop Rocks, delicious, too-sweet candy that would be inhaled after Halloween. The most recent season of Stranger Things featured boxes of Mr. T cereal and touted the virtues of “new” Coke. Some of these products no longer exist. But many of us keep reaching for those that do, even if we don’t exactly like them, even if they don’t taste as good to our adult palates or fulfill our nutritional needs or even justify their own costs. The question is: Why?

Check out The Walrus for more details about this story.

(Image Credit: NowIsntItTime/ Wikimedia Commons)


The U.S Should Have Listened To This Woman

It might seem that human-induced climate change is a purely modern phenomenon, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Even people from ancient Greece knew that human activities can impact and change climate.

As time went by, the U.S became a lab that attested to this age-old fact as U.S settlers changed their landscape, thereby altering nature in the process.

By 1800 it was known that the mass clearing of forests raised temperatures in the Eastern U.S. and that climatic changes followed the pioneers as they spread west.
The causes for such changes, and the understanding that they could have global scope, came from eminent European scientists. Yet an amateur 19th-century American researcher, a woman named Eunice Foote, made a first crucial discovery about global climate change. Her story gives insight into early American science, women in science, and how the understanding of climate has changed. It also reveals how that understanding might have evolved differently to better deal with today’s climate problems.

Unfortunately, Foote’s discovery was lost over the course of time, but thankfully was recovered once again. In her time, there probably have been more women like her who had their legacies buried because of “gender, ethnicity, and race.”

Know more about her story over at Nautilus.

(Image Credit: cocoparisienne/ Pixabay)


Coming Soon: The Cartoon Network Hotel

Cartoon Network and its plethora of characters will get a themed-hotel in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although it isn't an amusement park, there's one right next to it called Dutch Wonderland.

There are rooms for fans of particular shows, including Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls, Steven Universe, and Ben 10. The company hopes to offer outdoor screenings at a custom theater and swimming opportunities at a pool with splash pad. You can read more about the hotel at Penn Live.

-via Dornob | Photos: Cartoon Network Hotel


How Dan the Zebra Stopped an Ill-Fated Government Breeding Program in Its Tracks

In the late 19th and early 20th century, several countries were busy colonizing as much of Africa as they could. They ran into problems raising familiar livestock on the continent, however. Horses and other beasts of burden were no match for tsetse flies and parasites that carried diseases. But native animals had developed resistance to the natural environmental hazards. What if the hardy zebra were to be domesticated and put to work? It was an intriguing idea, and a zebra named Dan was put to work to test a theory. Dan was a gift from the King of Abyssinia (now a part of Ethiopia) to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904.     

As Western interests in Africa and other challenging climates for livestock transport expanded, these traits raised questions about whether zebras might be domesticated. Arriving in the U.S., Dan quickly became the focus of a government program that sought to domesticate the zebra by cross-breeding the animals with domestic horses and donkeys.

It didn’t go well. Dan was unruly, known for attacking his caretakers, and uncooperative with efforts to cross-breed with other equids. A 1913 summary of the program, published in The American Breeder’s Magazine, describes how Dan refused the mares brought to him. Dan was said to have “a positive aversion” to his horse counterparts, and when one was let loose in his paddock, he “rushed at the mare, and would undoubtedly have killed her had he not been driven back into his stall.” He did, however, ultimately mate successfully with a number of jennies (female donkeys).

But zebras and donkeys are different species, and Dan's progeny were sterile. The zebra's wild animal behavior convinced researchers that crossbreeding zebras just wasn't worth the effort. Yet Dan, who lived until 1919, is still teaching us about the traits of zebras and other equines, including the history of how horses were domesticated, which you can read about at Smithsonian.


Small Town With Huge WiFi Capabilities

It’s probably your first time to hear of McKee, a small rural town in Jackson County, Kentucky, and one of the poorest counties in the U.S. But it hopefully won’t be the last. This Appalachian town is home to small business owners with big ambitions, like Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative CEO Keith Gabbard, who have made leaps and bounds to bring fiber-optic broadband to their humble hometown. Now, PRTC subscribers enjoy internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second!

There’s a sit-down restaurant, Opal’s, that serves the weekday breakfast-and-lunch crowd, one traffic light, a library, a few health clinics, eight churches, a Dairy Queen, a pair of dollar stores, and some of the fastest Internet in the United States. Subscribers to Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (P.R.T.C.), which covers all of Jackson County and the adjacent Owsley County, can get speeds of up to one gigabit per second, and the coöperative is planning to upgrade the system to ten gigabits.

But the process to get where they are at was definitely an uphill climb, and the rural town residents had to get creative. 

In the most rugged terrain around McKee, the crews relied on a mule named Old Bub to haul the cable two or three miles a day. “We’ve got mountains and rocks and not the greatest roads, and there were places we couldn’t get a vehicle to,” Gabbard told me. “Farmers here have been using mules for centuries. It just made sense that, if a place was hard to get to, you went with the mules.” Old Bub, he said, was able to do the work of eight to ten men.
The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile. “Someone has to build to the last mile,” he said. “The big telecom companies aren’t going to do it, because it’s not economical and they have shareholders to answer to. We’re a co-op. We’re owned by our members. We answer to each other.”

The introduction of high-speed internet to McKee has provided a ray of hope for those suffering from the harsh consequences of poverty and unemployment. For many, there are now opportunities to get easier access to online educational resources and to engage in work-from-home vocations.

On the other hand, Gabbard and McKee residents are conscious of the fact that broadband is not going to magically make their lives better nor poverty go away. But it can sure help with education, entertainment, the economy, and health care. And that’s more than enough. 

Gabbard says,

And I even think that people’s mind-set—how they feel about themselves—can be improved just by not always saying ‘We don’t have nothing here.’ In this case, we have something to be proud of. We have something everyone else wants.”

Read their incredible journey at The New Yorker.

Photos: P C / Pexels ; Sue Halpern / The New Yorker ; Mika Baumeister / Unsplash


100 Tweets from the Last Decade Hand-Picked to Make You Laugh (Somewhat)


Classic date trick.


Continue reading


Pachelbel on Train Horns

Pavel Jirásek has way too much time on his hands, and for that, I am thankful. This video gets really amazing around the two minute mark. It was edited from original footage by ACETrainsUK. -via Metafilter


The Depths of the Sea

What creatures live in the depths of the sea? Manatees go about 6 meters into the depths of the water. Polar bears will dive down as far as 24 meters. A thick-billed murre, which is a bird, will search for food as deep as 210 meters.

It's a long, long way down past that. Neal Agarwal, who previously brought us a scroll-able scale model of space, now offers the same for the ocean depths. Just click here and keep scrolling down.

Eventually, you'll find the hadal amphipod, which lives at over 10 km down. Then you'll find even deeper waters.

-via Flowing Data


Smash Mouth's "All Star" Performed on Melons

Toni Patanen--"Pupsi"--of Finland is a professional ocarina maker. His works are usually ceramic, but what's wrong with taking the back streets? He gets the same effect with melons which he has carved into practical instruments.

The first part of the video consists of the instrument construction. At 1:45, he begins playing. He plays so well that he can ignore that shape of an L on your forehead.

-via Geekologie


Reindeer Population Saved From Brink of Extinction

Hooray for wildlife conservation! The Svalbard Reindeer, which populate the Norwegian archipelago, are thriving contrary to the downward trend of endangered reindeer species across the northern hemisphere, says a study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management.

Since 1925, the Norwegian government and scientists have implemented crucial steps to preserve the Svalbard reindeer, the world’s smallest subspecies of caribou and the only living herbivore mammals residing in the northernmost parts of the earth. One successful measure was tighter restrictions on hunting, which almost led to their extinction. 

Mathilde Le Moullec (photo above) and her team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology were able to document over 22,000 reindeer on Svalbard, twice the original estimate a decade ago!

Still, the recovery process for this once over-hunted species is a slow one, and it would take sustained efforts to protect these animals from new anthropogenic and environmental pressures like industrialization, landscape fragmentation, climate change, predation, and disease. 

Svalbard’s reindeer are resilient, however. They populated the islands long before humans set foot there in the 16th century, the researchers say. And today, they can be found in the harshest corners of Svalbard, Le Moullec says.
Svalbard reindeer are survivors, but this study shows the real impact humans can have on their population. More action on climate change needs to be taken now to secure their future, Le Moullec says.

As the Jurassic Park tagline goes, “Life, uh, finds a way.” But let’s not forget our role, no matter how small, in ensuring the protection of these animal species. 

Claire Cameron gives the full scoop at Inverse

Photo: Nancy Bazilchuk / Norwegian SciTech News


Hors Piste

A mountain rescue team finds a skier who needs help. But this is the day that everything will go wrong. More so than you ever imagined, but you'll still laugh. The award-winning French short Hors Piste was directed by Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, and Oscar Malet, students at the Ecole des Nouvelles Images.


Police Jokingly Give Field Sobriety Test to Donkey

The perpetrator, a donkey in Waterford, Connecticut, was apprehended by police on Tuesday night. They joke on Facebook:

Could this be an attempt at field sobriety tests, “Sir, walk the line.”
Could it be a new donkey patrol that Chief Mahoney has instituted without us Facebook people knowing?
Maybe, just maybe it’s a large dog?

Officers were merciful to the donkey, a local resident, and escorted him back home.

-via Dave Barry


A Very Good Boy

George was a Jack Russell terrier who lived in Manaia, Taranaki, New Zealand. In 2007, a group of five children were walking home when they were attacked by two pit bulls. Nine-year-old George raced to defend the children, and was gravely injured in the fight. His owner, Alan Gay, reluctantly consented to euthanasia. George was posthumously awarded a medal for bravery by the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals awarded George the PDSA Gold Medal. Soon after the incident, this statue by artist Fridtjof Hanson went up in Manaia, where George will never be forgotten. That's a good dog. -via reddit 

(Image credit: Kaulano)   


Government Agency Improvises When Its Stock Photo Account Goes Down

The public health agency of Ottawa, Canada would like to remind you to get your monthly flu shot. I'm sure that the social media manager could find an appropriate photo in any stock photo collection. But when the agency lost access to its account, it had to improvise.

The result is amateurish, but effective. The artist might even have a second career open.

-via Marilyn Bellamy

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