IQ-tips timewarp trip: Ice Breakers

If you missed yesterday's installment, we're on an IQ-tips timewarp trip this week, dipping into Amy Vanderbilt's classic book from the 1950s, The Complete Book of Etiquette, looking at her chapter on Home Entertaining.

Nowadays, if you're stuck for what to say at a party, it's always easy to pull something out of our savvy new book, Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets. But the poor folk stuck back in Amy Vanderbilt's day weren't so lucky. Check it out:

Occasionally, even the most astute hostess will find gathered under her roof—perhaps at a birthday party where relatives and friends are of varying ages—a group of people it is difficult to entertain. In this circumstance games are often very helpful as ice breakers. "The Game" is very popular even among intellectuals. "Ghosts" is also entertaining. I remember playing it when our electric power went off for four days and we wearied of trying to read by candle, lamp, and flashlight. Even a spelling bee can be fun in a large crowd of young and old. A book of games is probably an excellent addition to everyone's home library.

[ed. note: I guess I'm no son of an intellectual, because my parents have no idea what "The Game" refers to. Any readers care to enlighten us? And while you're at it, how about "Ghosts"???]

Bone Broth 101

Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).


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