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The big burp, the Best party, and your tacit knowledge Add to ...

The big burp

A huge carbon "burp" from the sea may have ended the last ice age 18,000 years ago, scientists believe. "The carbon dioxide," writes Richard Alleyne in The Daily Telegraph, "was locked away in the deep ocean 'repository' and as the Earth warmed it was released into the atmosphere causing global warming, it was said. It is believed that carbon dioxide was dissolved in the waters of the deep ocean during ice ages, and that pulses or 'burps' of carbon dioxide from the deep Southern Ocean helped trigger a global thaw every 100,000 years or so. The size of these pulses was roughly equivalent to the change in carbon dioxide experienced since the start of the industrial revolution." The findings are published in the journal Science.

Spit, spit, spit

"[T]ere is no doubt that broad behavioural and social change is possible," writes Adam Hanft in The Christian Science Monitor.

"It has happened before. Consider, for example, Westerners

who come back from travelling in Asia often report, with horror, that people there routinely spit on the street. But what they forget, or don't know, is that in America (and in hypercivilized England), people used to spit on the street all the time, up through the beginning of the 20th century. All those spittoons bought in antique shops and now used for clever contemporary purposes once had a far more mucousy


A slapp

"After a towing company hauled Justin Kurtz's care from his apartment complex parking lot, despite his permit to part there, Mr. Kurtz, 21, a college student in Kalamazoo, Mich., went to the Internet for revenge," The New York Times reports. "Outraged at having to pay $118 (U.S.) to get his car back, Mr. Kurtz created a Facebook page called Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing. … T&J filed a defamation suit against Mr. Kurtz, claiming the site was hurting business and seeking $750,000 in damages." The towing company's lawyers said the page had unfairly damaged its reputation. "Some first-amendment lawyers see the case differently. They consider the lawsuit an example of the latest incarnation of a decades-old legal manoeuvre known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or Slapp."

What's this worth?

Recently graduated, in debt and without a steady job, Purdue University alum Nick Enlow decided to sell his diploma on eBay, listing it for $36,000 (U.S.) plus $3.50 shipping and handling. The (Lexington, Ky.) Journal Courier reports: "The eBay sale is part stunt and part hopeful act of desperation that an 'eccentric millionaire' will pick up the tab. Either way, the Indianapolis native is serious about kick-starting a conversation on the worth of a college education and how it can be paid off."

The Best party

"A party that calls itself 'the Best' has won local elections in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik," BBC News reports. "The Best Party, founded by comedian Jon Gnarr, secured 34.7 per cent of the vote, ahead of the Independence Party's 33.6 per cent. … Key pledges included 'sustainable transparency,' free towels at all swimming pools and a new polar bear for the city zoo. The party also called for a Disneyland at the airport and a 'drug-free parliament' by 2020." Its victory means it will hold six seats on the 15-member city council.

No sexy Einsteins?

"A General Motors Co. marketing effort may have been just a little too smart," Tim Higgins reports for McClatchy/Tribune news.

"The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the property rights to Albert Einstein's name and likeness, has sued the automaker over an advertisement touting the GMC Terrain. The ad includes a large picture of an underwear model with Einstein's likeness. The four-page advertisement ran in People Magazine in November with a picture of the popular SUV and headlines that said: 'Ideas are sexy, too. … That's why we gave it more ideas per square inch.' The university is anxious to protect its rights to Einstein's image. Forbes magazine ranked Einstein in 2008 as the fourth-highest-earning deceased celebrity, pulling in $18-million (U.S.) annually."

Your tacit knowledge

"Take a long look at the Mona Lisa. How do you see her? As blobs of paint or as a woman with an enigmatic smile?" writes Harry Collins in the New Scientist. "Now explain how you came to see those blobs of paint as a smile. For your second mission, think back to learning to form sentences. Your parents never told you 'verb in the middle' (if you're English) or 'verb at the end' (if you're German) but still you picked it up. And, more remarkable, once you did, have you any idea how come this sentence breaks the rules but read it you still can? These abilities demonstrate what's known as 'tacit knowledge' - something as big and taken for granted as 'air,' 'thought' or 'language.' Take away tacit knowledge and the human world disappears. Without it, what we think of as knowledge, the 'stuff' contained in our books and intellectual artifacts, would be no more than noise."

Thought du jour

"Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children."

- Ian Anderson

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