Jean Nicot: one smokin' dude

I love it when reporters do our job here at the _floss. By that I mean, I like when they jam a whole bunch of interesting factoids into an article so I don't have to bother culling them from five different places (okay, maybe not five, but still"¦). Well, that was almost the case last week when an article published in The New York Times on a parliamentary committee in France that approved a proposal to ban smoking in public areas dropped the following fact:

  • France's history with tobacco goes back more than four centuries. Nicotine, after all, is named after Jean Nicot, a 16th century ambassador to Portugal who took tobacco leaves imported from America to Catherine de Medici as a cure for her migraines

Sadly, that's where the juicy factoids ended and the story on smoking in France continued. If you want to read about that, click on that link up there. But if you'd like to know more about old Jean Nicot, what I consider to be the more interesting story here, read on, read on...

  • Born in Nîmes, in the south of France, he was French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal from 1559 to 1561.
  • At the age of 29, he was sent from France to Portugal to negotiate the marriage of six-year-old Princess Marguerite de Valois to five-year-old King Sebastian of Portugal.
  • He introduced snuff to the French court.
  • The plant was also an instant success with the Father Superior of Malta, who shared tobacco with all of his monks.
  • More and more of the fashionable people of Paris began to use the plant, making Nicot a celebrity.
  • At first, the plant was called Nicotina. But nicotine later came to refer only to the active ingredient of the plant.
  • And my personal fav: Jean Nicot also compiled one of the first French dictionaries (published in 1606). If you read French, you can check that out here.

(Factoids courtesy of this site, this site, and, of course, Wiki)

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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