1. Which Girl Scout Cookies Score the Most Brownie Points?

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2. Does Religion Influence Epidemics?

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3. The Waffle House Index to Natural Disasters

When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the “Waffle House Index.”

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.



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4. Question of the Week: If your limb gets trapped, how long should you wait before cutting it off?

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5. The Story of the Most Misused Social Security Number of All Time

The most misused SSN of all time was (078-05-1120). In 1938, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in Lockport, New York decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets. A sample card, used for display purposes, was inserted in each wallet. Company Vice President and Treasurer Douglas Patterson thought it would be a clever idea to use the actual SSN of his secretary, Mrs. Hilda Schrader Whitcher.

The wallet was sold by Woolworth stores and other department stores all over the country. Even though the card was only half the size of a real card, was printed all in red, and had the word “specimen” written across the face, many purchasers of the wallet adopted the SSN as their own. In the peak year of 1943, 5,755 people were using Hilda’s number. SSA acted to eliminate the problem by voiding the number and publicizing that it was incorrect to use it. (Mrs. Whitcher was given a new number.) However, the number continued to be used for many years. In all, over 40,000 people reported this as their SSN. As late as 1977, 12 people were found to still be using the SSN “issued by Woolworth.”



(Via: The Presurfer )

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6. John Updike’s Six Rules for Reviewing Books

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7. Weird News of the Week: 61-year-old Vietnam vet makes the cut as a small-college kicker

At an age when many start thinking about retirement, Alan Moore is restarting his football career.

Moore, a 61 year-old Vietnam veteran, will kick this fall for Faulkner University, a small Christian school in Montgomery, Ala., 43 years after his initial college career was cut short by Vietnam. When he takes the field against Ave Maria on Sept. 10, Moore will be the oldest player ever to take the field for a four-year university.


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8. Top 10 Ancient Religious Sites

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9. Astronomers discover planet made of diamond

Astronomers have spotted an exotic planet that seems to be made of diamond racing around a tiny star in our galactic backyard.

The new planet is far denser than any other known so far and consists largely of carbon. Because it is so dense, scientists calculate the carbon must be crystalline, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be diamond.


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10. Top 10 Failing Nations

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11. Young Brains Lack the Wisdom of Their Elders, Clinical Study Shows


The brains of older people are not slower but rather wiser than young brains, which allows older adults to achieve an equivalent level of performance, according research undertaken at the University Geriatrics Institute of Montreal by Dr. Oury Monchi and Dr. Ruben Martins of the University of Montreal.

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12. Image of the Week: Dew-covered Dragonfly



(Via: Neatorama )

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13. Black Death study lets rats off the hook

Rats weren’t the carriers of the plague after all. A study by an archaeologist looking at the ravages of the Black Death in London, in late 1348 and 1349, has exonerated the most famous animal villains in history.

“The evidence just isn’t there to support it,” said Barney Sloane, author of The Black Death in London. “We ought to be finding great heaps of dead rats in all the waterfront sites but they just aren’t there. And all the evidence I’ve looked at suggests the plague spread too fast for the traditional explanation of transmission by rats and fleas. It has to be person to person – there just isn’t time for the rats to be spreading it.”

He added: “It was certainly the Black Death but it is by no means certain what that disease was, whether in fact it was bubonic plague.”


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14. Top 10 Mental Illnesses And Their Myths

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15. How The Beatles Revolutionized Animation in 1968

Animated music videos are about as common today as photos of cats on the internet and, tragically often, not that much more original. But there was a time when they were a pinnacle of creative innovation, breaking entirely new ground. Earlier this year, we looked at the work of 5 early animation pioneers who changed the course of animated storytelling, and today we turn to the intersection of film and music with Mod Odyssey, a fascinating featurette on the making of The Beatles’ groundbreaking 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine. More than a decade before Pixar, the film was not only a technical feat of animation execution but also a seminal work in bringing more attention to animation as a serious art form, both for audiences and for creators.

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16. Infographic of the Week: Flowchart: What football team should I root for?

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17. A brief history of the ancient science of sword making

The sword is the perennial symbol of empires, knighthood, chivalry and fantasy. But it’s also one of the world’s most ancient technologies, connected with breakthroughs in metallurgy that would change the world. There are even some types of ancient swords so strong that modern science still can’t determine how they were made.

How is a sword born? Here is a brief introduction to the history and science of swordcraft.



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18. How to Protect Yourself Online

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19. The high and low ends of rehab tourism in Thailand

Thailand is known for its medical tourism industry, with travelers coming here for everything from dental surgery to sex changes. But an increasing number of visitors are coming to the kingdom in search of a solution to addiction-related issues, a niche that has been dubbed “rehab tourism.”

The rehabilitation industry is growing steadily and many former addicts cite a trip to a centre in Thailand as being a major factor behind getting clean and, more importantly, staying clean.

Thailand is a country of enormous disparity, where the wealthy enjoy opulent luxury while the poor subside on a handful of baht a day; nowhere is this more apparent than in the detox and treatment options available for addicts.


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20. 13 Coolest Houses in America

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21. How did Prohibition affect homicide rates?

The violent nature of illegal markets is one rationale for legalizing the sale of narcotics. High U.S. crime rates during the 1920s are regularly presented as evidence of the strong positive relationship between market illegality and violence. The author tests this theory by exploiting state-level variation in homicides and in the passage and repeal of temperance laws before and after Federal Prohibition. Support for the “wet” cause was positively associated with homicides in dry states. However, on average, murder rates did not increase when alcohol markets were criminalized. Observed crime trends during the early 20th century are primarily explained by demographic changes.

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22. HistoricalLOL of the Week

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23. Popular TV Shows Teach Children Fame Is Most Important Value, Psychologists Report; Being Kind to Others Fell Dramatically in Importance Over 10 Years

Fame is the No. 1 value emphasized by television shows popular with 9- to 11-year-olds, a dramatic change over the past 10 years, UCLA psychologists report in a new study.

On a list of 16 values, fame jumped from the 15th spot, where it was in both 1987 and 1997, to the first spot in 2007. From 1997 to 2007, benevolence (being kind and helping others) fell from second to 13th, and tradition dropped from fourth to 15th.


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24. Cramped Efficiency: Inside a Submarine

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25. Advice to Drink Eight Glasses of Water a Day ‘Nonsense,’ Argues Doctor

The recommendation to drink six to eight glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration “is not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense,” argues GP, Margaret McCartney in this week’s online British Medical Journal (BMJ).

There is currently no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water, she says, yet the “we-don’t-drink-enough-water” myth has endless advocates, including the NHS.



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26. Top 10 Dinosaurs That Aren’t What They Were

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27. Better Book Titles of the Week - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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28. How-To of the Week: Learn a Foreign Language Without Spending a Cent

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29. How to Launch a Ship

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30. Top 10 Nefarious American Mobsters

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31. China’s Strategic Pork Reserve

China is a porcine superpower as well as a human one. The Middle Kingdom boasts more than 446 million pigs — one for every three Chinese people and more than the next 43 countries combined. So when there’s a major disruption in the pork supply it hits the economy hard; the “blue-ear pig” disease that forced Chinese farmers to slaughter millions of pigs in 2008, for example, drove the country’s inflation rate to its highest level in a decade.

To prevent further disruptions, the Chinese government established a strategic pork reserve shortly afterward, keeping icy warehouses around the country stocked with frozen pork that can be released during times of shortage. The government was forced to add to the reserve — taking pigs off the market — in the spring of 2010 when a glut led to prices collapsing.

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32. If you live on the equator, when does summer vacation end?

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33. How toilet paper is made

Articles by Joe Carter

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