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Social Studies

Football in the past, why call it soccer?, catch of the day Add to ...

Slow, but social

Researchers believe that years of domestication have robbed pet dogs of the problem-solving skills they once had in the wild, The Daily Telegraph reports. Pet dogs failed basic intelligence tests that wolves and wild dogs passed with ease, but proved more adept at social interaction, according to Australian research.

Football in the past

"In 1801, Joseph Strutt decided that the sport of football was on its last legs," Julian Norridge writes in Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please? How the British Invented Sport. " 'It was formerly much in vogue among the common people of England,' he writes, 'though of late years it seems to have fallen into disrepute, and is but little practised.' He makes it clear he has no regrets. 'When the exercise becomes exceeding violent, the players kick each other's shins without the least ceremony, and some of them are overthrown at the hazard of their limbs.' "

Why call it soccer?

"Why do we call it soccer?" Brian Phillips writes for Slate.com online magazine. "It's an abbreviation of 'association football.' Both soccer and American football come from the same set of precursor sports, which became popular in upper-class English schools in the early 19th century and spread across the Atlantic. … Ultimately, the version adopted as standard in the United Kingdom came to be known as 'association football,' while another set of rules won out in the United States. Thus the Americans took to calling their gridiron variety 'football,' and referred to the British sport by the slang term 'soccer,' derived from the 'soc' in 'association.' "

Undersea senses

Research findings:

- "A new discovery helps explain why sharks - one of nature's most dangerous predators - are so good at catching their prey," LiveScience.com reports. "They smell in stereo to help them home in on dinner. A shark notes the precise time the scent of a potential meal reaches each of its two nostrils. If there is a small lag between the two, the shark knows to turn toward the side that caught the first whiff."

- "Harbour seals may be able to detect fish up to 100 metres away using only their whiskers, say scientists," BBC News reports. "[German]researchers used an artificial fish in their experiment to create a 'trail' in the water that a seal could detect. They described how a trained seal, named Henry, was able to indicate, with a twitch of its head, whether the fish moved to the right or to the left."

Catch of the day

"For decades, the [American]military used the waters off the United States as a dumping ground for surplus or outdated weapons," Peter Schworm and Beth Daley report for The Boston Globe. "With the ocean seemingly bottomless and far from people, it was considered a prudent way to get rid of old bombs and other weapons. But today, as fishermen chase catches in deeper waters, encounters with the remnants of past wars have become more common, some fishermen say. Clamming boats are particularly prone to hauling up munitions because their gear stirs up the seabed. Last month, for example, workers sorting clams at a New Bedford plant discovered nearly 200 hand grenades."

Higher education

In England, five women between the ages of 16 and 50 took a six-week course in how to walk in high heels at South Thames College in London. Critics called it the most trivial course in the country. It was defended by a college spokeswoman as part of a range of "enrichment" activities it offers. Emine Saner writes in The Guardian: "Chyna Whyne, the high-heels guru leading the course, started giving lessons after she developed chronic back pain from years of standing on stage in heels while working as a backing singer for the likes of Peter Gabriel and Eric Clapton. Someone suggested she try the Alexander Technique, a way of learning how to move more naturally and develop better posture, and she found it so helpful she trained to teach it." Taking her course can also build self-esteem, she adds.

Not-so-high education

"Since graduating from high school a few years ago, Emily, a 21-year-old from South Carolina, has studied at the College of Charleston, the University of South Carolina and a few community colleges," Insidehighered.com reports. "At each college, her story was the same. 'I kept messing up,' she says. 'I was caught up in the party lifestyle and got involved in drugs. Everywhere I went, it ended terribly.' But after Emily hit bottom and went to detox, her family helped her enroll at a different kind of institution, where long-term recovery and academic success are both priorities. Since January, when she arrived at Sober College - an inpatient rehab centre for young adults in Woodland Hills, Calif. - Emily, who asked that her last name not be used, has finished two college-credit courses [and]is now taking two more. 'I proved that I can do it and actually pass,' she says. 'I just needed to get my life straight first.' "

Thought du jour

"Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a whole lump of it to his nose, it is a stink and strikes you down."

- Alexander Pope

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