When popcorn was unwelcome
“Today, concession sales often account for as much as 40 per cent of a movie theatre’s profits. But popcorn wasn’t always welcome at the movies,” says Pacific Standard magazine. “Popcorn vendors of the late 19th century weren’t the most respectable folk. They simply went to where the people were, whether on the city street or a noisy outdoor gathering like a county fair. When movie houses started opening up across the country in the early 1900s, opportunistic popcorn vendors would often park outside – to the chagrin of theatre owners left sweeping up the messy leftovers that always wound up on the theatre floor.”
The need for a rest
“For almost 2,000 years, Western culture stopped – primarily on Sunday – for about 24 hours,” Dr. Matthew Sleeth, a former emergency room physician, told CNN.com. “Even when I was a child you couldn’t buy gasoline, you couldn’t buy milk. The drugstores weren’t open. The only thing that was open was a hospital. Even in dairy farming country we would milk cows, but we wouldn’t bring in hay. And so society just had a day where they put it in park. (That) was Sunday … until the last 30 years or so.” By contrast, “We go 24/7 now, and I think it’s having health consequences. I think more and more there’s a consensus that it leads to depression and anxiety.” Sleeth is the author of 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life.
Astronauts don’t cry
Technically, astronauts can’t cry, reports Megan Garber in the Atlantic. “Astronauts can, certainly, tear up – they’re human, after all. But in zero gravity the tears themselves can’t flow downward the way they do on Earth. The moisture generated has nowhere to go. Tears, [astronaut Andrew] Feustel put it, ‘don’t fall off your eye … they kind of stay there.’ NASA spacewalk officer Allison Bollinger, who oversaw Feustel’s EVA, confirmed this assessment. ‘They actually kind of conglomerate around your eyeball,’ she said. In other words, yep: There’s no crying in space.”
Geomancy for MBA students
“In a classroom at Peking University School of Economics,” reports The Shanghai Daily, “the students pored over their calculations. … But the people in this class were not regular scholars – instead, they represented China’s business elite, including chief executive officers of major companies, entrepreneurs and financiers. All were busy divining their destinies at a feng shui class. They hoped to gain insight into the ancient Chinese method of geomancy, which has become an important part of the school’s Executive Master of Business Administration program. Using a set formula in conjunction with their dates of birth, the students were attempting to discern their ming, or fate, including career and marriage prospects, and also attempting to attract greater fortune by learning how to decorate their offices and align furniture in accordance with the basic tenets of feng shui.”
Cotton, the great civilizer?
From a Daily Telegraph review of Sorry! The English and their Manners by Henry Hitchings: “He quotes the 19th-century social reformer Francis Place, who noted in 1829 that people ‘are better dressed, better fed, cleanlier, better educated’ than at any time previously and consequently had better manners. The reason was the relative cheapness of cotton. Unlike with leather or wool garments, which simply had been worn until they stank and fell to bits, people could tell when cotton clothes were dirty. And efforts to keep them clean raised standards in other areas of social interaction.”
Thought du jour
“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”
Albert Schweitzer, German-French medical missionary (1875-1965)