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SOCIAL STUDIES

Is alcohol ‘childhood in a bottle’? Add to ...

Childhood in a bottle

“I don’t drink. Don’t hold it against me,” writes Soraya Roberts at Slate.com. “I don’t drink alcohol the way other people don’t eat oysters, or don’t start the day with a cup of coffee. I don’t drink because I don’t like it, I never have. But the difference between me and people who don’t eat oysters is that I have to explain my choice – and I’ve had to for 20 years. Alcohol isn’t just a drink, it’s a rite of passage. Forget getting your period, or your voice finally breaking – being an adult in North America means being legal. The irony being that alcohol is essentially childhood in a bottle. For a few bucks, you get a trip back to the carefree days of slurred speech, impaired balance and nonexistent inhibitions. Who’d turn down a bargain like that?”

Whales adopt a pet

“A group of sperm whales in the eastern Atlantic Ocean appear to have temporarily adopted a dolphin with a spinal deformation,” The Huffington Post reports. “Scientists spotted the unlikely friends near the Azores Islands, an archipelago about 1,500 kilometres off the coast of Portugal. According to a recent report in Science Magazine, two behavioural ecologists from the German marine research firm Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries watched the adult bottlenose dolphin with an S-shaped spine ‘while it nuzzled and rubbed’ against a group of sperm whales that were travelling together. The magazine notes that the sperm whales even ‘reciprocated’ the contact.”

Protesting, Gangnam style

“They have occupied factories and taken to the streets,” says The Guardian. “But Chinese workers chose a more unusual form of protest when they highlighted their unpaid wages by dancing Gangnam style outside the nightclub they had built. The construction workers from Wuhan said they had concluded it was the only way to draw attention to their problems. Confrontations over unpaid wages are common in the run-up to the lunar new year, often the only time when migrant workers can return home. Many fear they may never be paid if they leave their cities without their wages. The leader of the dancers, who gave his name only as Mr. Lu, told the Wuhan Evening News that in total 40 workers were owed 233,000 yuan ($37,400).”

Harvesting a desert’s fog

“Cotton with a special coating that collects water from fog is a potential solution to providing water in desert regions, Dutch researchers say,” reports United Press International. “Scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology … have developed a special polymer treatment for cotton fabric that allows the cotton to absorb exceptional amounts of water from misty air, as much as 340 per cent of its own weight compared with only 18 per cent without the coating. The coated cotton then releases the collected water as it gets warmer, they said.” The water is pure and the cycle can be repeated many times.

Did scraps create dogs?

“Anyone who owns a dog knows that it will rummage around in the kitchen bin looking for food, given half a chance,” writes Jonathan Amos of BBC News. “But this annoying behaviour may have a more profound undercurrent than we realize, according to scientists. A new study of dog genetics reveals numerous genes involved in starch metabolism, compared with wolves. It backs an idea that some dogs emerged from wolves that were able to scavenge and digest the food waste of early farmers, the team tells Nature journal. No one knows precisely when or how our ancestors became so intimately connected with dogs, but the archeological evidence indicates it was many thousands of years ago.”

Thought du jour

“Our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us.”

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (A.D. 121-180)

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