"How long has the 'dumb blonde' meme been around?" Juliet Lapidos writes for Slate.com. "Probably since the late 19th century. In 1868, a British burlesque troupe began performing a spoof of the Ixion myth at the Wood's Museum theatre in New York City. Featuring four blondes prancing around in tights, Ixion became an absolute sensation and outraged moralists who felt the girls were talentless wretches celebrated only for their bodies. The Ixion actresses were commonly referred to as the 'British Blondes,' but at some point in the ensuing decade, the term 'dizzy blonde' started cropping up: slang for the sort of risqué stage performer that the Brits had helped make popular, and more generally for 'professional' beauties, with 'dizzy' meaning foolish or stupid. Hence in 1889 the Kansas Times and Star noted, 'Many of the local clergy last night warned the church members against a 'Dizzy Blonde' company coming to one of the theatres soon.'"
Plane's best seats
"Where is the best place, in general, to sit on a plane? You'll likely experience a quieter ride - and less turbulence - in the front, where the plane is more stable," says Associated Press. "So if you tend to get air sick, aim for the first few rows. Up front, you'll avoid the annoyance of being near the bathrooms, the galley or the engines. And for those who fear the worst, statistics show you have a better chance of surviving a plane crash in the front."
Tests? Not for her
"Sylvie Baldwin is trying to apply the idea of being a 'conscientious objector' to the world of admissions testing," Inside Higher Ed reports. The high-school senior in Seattle plans to refuse taking a standardized test ever again. Together with Lawrence University, she has gone public with her plan by posting a video on YouTube. Ms. Baldwin says in the video "I don't want" to be represented by an SAT score. "I'm more than a number."
Alcohol: 50 per cent
Why does champagne get you drunk faster than white wine? A 2007 study found that diluting spirits by 50 per cent significantly speeded up alcohol absorption; using a fizzy mixer increased the rate even further. This works because both water and bubbles make the drink leave the stomach faster and reach the small intestine, where it is actually absorbed, sooner.
BBC Focus magazine
Neanderthals: Nice people
Research published this week shows that early humans had a deep-seated sense of compassion. A team from Britain's University of York examined archeological evidence to deduce that our ancestors had a commitment to the welfare of others - routinely caring for the injured or infirm.
Pedagogy: Principal eats spider
Aydin Onac has been recognized as one of Britain's leading principals. His methods have achieved enviable results for schools, but his latest effort may prove difficult to stomach. Students at his new school were stunned when he ate a tarantula in front of a packed assembly. The spider was baked.
The Daily Telegraph
Thought du jour
"What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?"
Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), author and naturalist