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Worldwide popularity of beer has hit new high

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Beer's rising tide

"A new report says the world's appetite for beer hit a new high last year, with China leading the way," Associated Press reports. "The report released Wednesday by the research arm of a major Japanese brewery said it was the 27th consecutive year that beer production marked an increase. … China was the world's largest beer producer – accounting for about 25 per cent – for the 10th straight year. The United States saw a slight decrease in production from the year before but still ranked second at 11.7 per cent, followed by Brazil and Russia."

The worst word, actually

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There is a very important question being tackled again by certain smart people of the Internet," writes Jen Doll of, "and that question is this: What, exactly, is the worst word on the entire planet? … On Thursday, Sarah Miller made a strong argument on The Awl ( for 'literally' as our English-speaking community's worst word. This is not a bad word to choose as the very worst. Flagrant misuses abound. … But actually I think there's a word that's worse. 'Actually,' did you see what I did there? While 'literally' and 'actually' can be used interchangeably, 'actually' has a bad attitude. 'Literally' can be mocked and laughed at, because literally almost no one uses it correctly. 'Actually' is more sneaky, a wolf in sheep's clothing. 'Actually' is the word that you use when you're actually saying, 'You are wrong, and I am right, and you are at least a little bit of an idiot.'"

The home advantage?

"Elite athletes who travel across more than five time zones to compete more than double their risk of illness, a BMJ study has suggested," reports BBC News. "The researchers argue the different germs and allergens of a new environment affect the athletes. Air travel does not seem to play a part [since] on returning home the competitors' health does not differ from normal. They suggest this could contribute to a home advantage for Team GB in the Olympic Games. Professor Martin Schwellnus, one of the paper's authors, said: 'It is a common perception that international travel increases illness – due to organisms in airplanes.' However, this study suggests that increased illness from travel is more likely due to the fact that the person is out of their normal environment."

Modesty glasses

"It's the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don't have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed," reports Associated Press from Jerusalem. "The ultra-Orthodox community's unofficial 'modesty patrols' are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision for up to a few metres so as not to impede movement, but anything beyond that gets blurry – including women. It's not known how many have been sold."

Back in 1917? OMG

"When Gossip Girl fans … are all 'OMG' over the latest plot twist, they probably have no idea that they're quoting a British First World War admiral," says The Huffington Post. "But it's true. As the folks at the Oxford English Dictionary discovered last year, the first known appearance of the acronym was in 1917. … In a letter signed on Sept. 9, 1917, at the height of the First World War, Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher wrote: 'I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis – O.M.G. (Oh! My! God!) – Shower it on the Admiralty!' [Admiral] Fisher was writing to Winston Churchill."

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Nobody expects the flamenco

"Since last spring," says Pacific Standard magazine, "a Seville-based performance group calling itself Flo6x8 has been sending trained dancers into the lobbies of bank branches across crisis-wracked Spain and disrupting business. The group first gained attention last May when it staged a pretty decent flamenco in a branch of Bankia, one of Spain's largest banks and the current target of corruption investigations."

Thought de jour

"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time."

Mark Twain

American author, (1835-1910)

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