1. Days of Auld Lang What?

You know exactly when you’ll hear it, and you probably won’t hear it again for a year. The big clock will hit 11:59:50, the countdown will begin—10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4—and the sounds will rise: the party horns, fireworks and shouts of “Happy New Year!”

And then they’ll play that song: “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?”

[ . . . ]

“Auld Lang Syne”—the phrase can be translated as “long, long ago,” or “old long since,” but I like “old times past”—is a song that asks a question, a tender little question that has to do with the nature of being alive, of being a person on a journey in the world. It not only asks, it gives an answer.

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2. The New York Times Year in Pictures 2010

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3. Can Tolstoy Save Your Marriage?

We should look to culture as a storehouse of useful ideas about how to face our most pressing personal and professional issues. Novels and historical narratives can impart moral instruction and edification. Great paintings can suggest the requirements for happiness. Philosophy can probe our anxieties and offer consolation. It should be the job of a university education to tease out the therapeutic and illuminative aspects of culture, so that we emerge from a period of study as slightly less disturbed, selfish and blinkered human beings. Such a transformation benefits not only the economy but also our friends, children and spouses.

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4. The top 12 Civil War books ever written

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5. Very Religious Americans Lead Healthier Lives

Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious. The most religious Americans score a 66.3 on the Gallup-Healthways Healthy Behavior Index compared with 60.6 among those who are moderately religious and 58.3 for the nonreligious. This relationship, based on an analysis of more than 550,000 interviews, is statistically significant after controlling for major demographic and regional variables.

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6. Weird News of the Week: Drunk Man Kills Shark By Jumping On Head

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7. Beauty sleep concept is not a myth

The idea of people needing “beauty sleep” has acquired some scientific backing, according to a Swedish study.

People deprived of sleep for long periods appear less attractive and more unhealthy than those who are well rested, say researchers.

Volunteers were photographed after eight hours sleep and again after being kept awake for 31 hours.

Observers scored the sleep-deprived participants as less healthy and less attractive, the BMJ reports.

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8. 10 Unforgettable Stories History Forgot

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9. Did Abraham Lincoln’s assassin get away? DNA could end questions

Inside a grave in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is DNA that could finally put to rest debate about whether Abraham Lincoln’s killer escaped capture and lived for years before committing suicide.

What’s that you say? Wasn’t this all solved 145 years ago? That depends on who you ask.

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10. Tom Selleck’s scary accurate tech predictions from ’90s AT&T ads

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11. Newborns need their mother’s voice to really fire their brains up

Newborn babies have an instinctual need to hear their mother’s voice . . . and nobody else’s. For the first time ever, electrodes were placed on babies hours after their birth to probe the connection between the mother’s voice and their newborn brains.

The electrodes monitored which parts of the infants’ brains were activated when they came into contact with certain voices. While any woman’s voice could fire up the voice recognition parts of the brain, the University of Montreal researchers discovered the mother’s voice was needed to activate the brain’s language centers.

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12. Image of the Week: 3D Art made from Book Covers

Thomas Allen creates unique three-dimensional art by cutting out characters from old pulp fiction book covers and positioning them into action scenes.

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13. Kosher Nation

“If they want to sell their product in the United States and they are not kosher, no one will buy it,” points out Menachem Lubinsky. “Coca-Cola won’t buy it, Kellogg’s won’t buy it. They’ll be cut out of the market. If you’re in China or Thailand and you want to export, you have absolutely no choice but to seek out kosher certification.” Some companies get certification to fill one order from a U.S.-based manufacturer and then drop it when the order is complete, only to reapply when the next order comes in.

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14. Economics Books for Young Children

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15. The curious case of the planet Uranus and its connection to the price of tea in China

William Herschel was a polymath in an age of polymaths. A self-taught astronomer - who made his own telescopes, including the monster 40 foot one shown here - he is best known for his discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781. He is (fortunately) not known for the name he gave it: Georgium Sidus (George’s Star) after King George III. We can thank the French, who would have none of that sort of shameless sucking up (to a British Sovereign), and so we’re left with Uranus, the source of amusement to Middle School boys ever since.

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16. Just What Does Your State Do Best?

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17. Medieval warfare was just as terrifying as you might imagine

By looking at the different ways that bone fractures when it has fluids in it and when it has dried out, Ms Novak found that 27 of the 28 skulls she examined had suffered blows at the time of death. Not just one, either. Both Towton 16 and 25 were struck eight times and Towton 10 six times. Towton 32 suffered no fewer than 13 different blows to the head.

According to Graeme Rimer of the Royal Armouries, Britain’s arms museum, medieval weapons had the capacity to decapitate or amputate at a single stroke. “Given how much damage you can do with one blow, why land another 12?” he asks. There were signs of mutilation, too: marks on the left side of Towton 32’s head suggest that his ear had been sliced off.

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18. Top Ten Discoveries of 201

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19. Anesthesia puts you to ‘sleep’? Not really, a new study finds

nesthesia doesn’t put patients to “sleep,” as they’re often told. Rather, anesthesia puts the brain into a state of unconsciousness that’s more like being in a reversible coma than being asleep, a new study says.

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20. The Top 7 Space Stories of 2010

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21. How to pour that drink, scientifically

If you want to make the most of your glass of bubbly, you should pour the wine down the side of the glass, French researchers reported in a paper published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry this summer.

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22. HistoricalLOL of the Week

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23. The long-overdue movement to abandon Caps Lock

Caps Lock originated with typewriters. The first typewriter to include both upper- and lowercase letters was the Remington No. 2, introduced in 1878. (Before that, typewriters printed only in uppercase. Stop shouting at me, writers of the 19th century!) Uppercase letters were typed by holding down a “shift” key that would literally shift the carriage so that a different part of the type bar—the part on which a reverse uppercase letter was printed—would hit the ribbon. The problem was, it was hard to hold down the shift key for more than a few letters. So typewriter manufacturers added a “Shift Lock” button that would keep the carriage elevated until the button was released. It was a useful innovation: Typewriters didn’t have options for italics or bold or underlining, so capitalization was the only way to emphasize words.

The first computers didn’t have “Shift” keys at all since all text was uppercase anyway. But when mass-market personal computers like the Commodore 64 and the Atari 800 were introduced in the late 1970s and early ’80s, manufacturers tried to make them as similar to typewriters as possible. Consumers were wary of the new machines, so familiarity was important. That meant including a “Shift Lock” or a “Caps Lock” for old time’s sake. (There is a difference: Shift Lock prints the secondary symbols on all keys, like the % and # signs, whereas Caps Lock only capitalizes letters.)

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24. The Best Viral Videos Of 2010: A Retrospective

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25. US college students value self-esteem boosts more than bodily pleasures

‘Because you’re worth it!’ L’Oreal’s catchphrase taps into the narcissistic zeitgeist. But it also begs the question: Are we at risk of becoming obsessed with feeling good about ourselves? According to new research by Brad Bushman and his co-workers, not only do US college students have higher self-esteem than previous generations, they now value self-esteem boosts more than sex, food, receiving a salary payment, seeing a friend or having an alcoholic drink.

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26. The Best Viral Videos Of 2010: A Retrospective

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27. Better Book Titles of the Week

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28. How-To of the Week: Turn a Projector into an Interactive Whiteboard with a Wiimote

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29. Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why.

It’s not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late ’90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s.

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30. The Words of the Year

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31. One of the World’s Biggest Telescopes Is Buried Beneath the South Pole

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are putting the finishing touches on a giant underground telescope buried beneath the South Pole to help understand said phenomena. Accordingly called the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, completion is expected to occur at 8 p.m. CST, once the last of more than 5,000 optical sensors is buried as much as two miles below the permanent ice cap covering Antarctica.

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32. 28 odd facts about the human body

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33. Population 7 Billion


Articles by Joe Carter

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