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Social Studies

Why you may not want to back-seat drive in a cab Add to ...

Going my way, cabbie?

“When I first started driving a cab, I drove the shortest route – always, I’m ethical – but people would accuse me of taking the long way because it wasn’t the way they drove,” blogs Tyler Cowen for Marginal Revolution. “So, I learned to go their way, ending up with a lot less grief and a lot more money. If you’ve ever wondered why a seemingly professional cab driver will ask you how to get to your destination, this is why. Going your way means they’ll make more money and they won’t be accused of ripping you off.”

Free Valentine’s chocolate

“Two vending machines at the Marunouchi Line’s subway stop in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station are passing out free chocolate, attracting swarms of customers ahead of Valentine’s Day,” reports The Japan Times. “Distributing only Yuraku Confectionery Co.’s canned Black Thunder chocolate bars, which normally cost 30¥ (32 cents), they have been dubbed giri choco machines after the inexpensive chocolates Japanese women present their male counterparts Feb. 14 out of a sense of social obligation. … In addition to gifting their loved ones chocolate on Valentine’s Day, many women at schools and offices feel obliged to give small inexpensive chocolates to their male colleagues, bosses or friends.”

Wordplay in parliament

“A sidelight scandale flared in France [last] week after a deputy in the French National Assembly was shown playing Scrabble on his iPad during the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage,” says U.S. National Public Radio. “Among the words that could be deciphered in photographs were gache, which is French for wasted, and mufle, which is cad or oaf. The Scrabble player, Deputy Thomas Thevenoud, was as unapologetic as a French politician caught with a mistress, telling Le Parisien newspaper that he was part of a group of legislators who played the word game as debate rumbled on. … Another deputy, Jerome Guedj, tweeted from the Assembly floor that he sometimes plays Scrabble, reads a newspaper and phones his plumber because drawn-out debates drift and drone into what he called ‘endless amendments’ and ‘pointless discussions.’”

The worrying generation

“With decades ahead of them in the job market, more than half of millennials stay awake at night chewing over all manner of worries,” says a study reported in the Los Angeles Times. “Those 18- to 33-year-olds actually stress out more than older generations, the American Psychological Association concluded in its new study. Slightly more than 50 per cent said that overwhelming worries disrupted their sleep in the past month.”

A pig for police

“Baffled police in China have been given a giant pig as a bizarre thank you for help they gave a grieving widow 15 years ago,” says Orange Co. U.K. “Farmer Lin Ruirong was devastated when her husband died in 1998, leaving her to run the family spread by herself. But big-hearted local police in Nanning helped her get in the harvest until she was back on her feet. Now Lin, 57, has finally paid them back with a giant porker raised on the farm they helped save. ‘I never forgot their kindness because I would have been finished without it. I am quite wealthy now and this is the least I could do for them,’ she explained.”

Facebook’s oldest user

A 105-year-old California woman is believed to be Facebook’s oldest user, says United Press International. Edythe Kirchmaier is also California’s oldest licensed driver and the oldest living former student of the University of Chicago.

Thought du jour

Even if language is a living, evolving organism, we don’t have to embrace all the changes that occur during our lifetimes. If language is so alive, it can get sick.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, American journalist (1934- )

 

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