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Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter: Are You Ready for Some Parkour?

My first thought, so stereotypically Jewish it's guilt-inducing, is a practical one: that cannot be good for the joints. The resulting arthritis is going to be monumental. And yet, what I'm watching is something I'd never imagined a human body to be capable of. It is exhilarating.

It's the first long action sequence of the new Bond film, Casino Royale, and the burnt-faced bad guy is trying to escape 007 in a conveniently located construction site. He's climbing walls, jumping from metal beam to metal beam, executing truly expert flips and rolls. This isn't the standard stunt man preening; it hardly looks human. But it is. And apparently what he's doing has a name: Parkour.

Apologies if you've already grown hip to Parkour (French for "course"). It's been around for some years now, and two of its original practitioners, or, as they call themselves, traceurs--David Belle and the Bond bad guy, Sebastien Foucan--are legitimate stars in Europe and, increasingly, here. (The Wikipedia entry is quite comprehensive if you're interested in the history.) My friends and I have been trying to describe it for the last couple days, and despite our best efforts, words can't do Parkour--or its flashier cousin, free running--proper justice.

One writer from The Independent said it uses "the idea of the city as a playground." A co-worker said it looked "like an X-Games event where you can only use your body." I think it most closely resembles dance and will cause monumental arthritis. And Sebastien Foucan says this on his website: "Parkour isn't a fashion phenomenon, it's an evolution of the mind," which doesn't rise above the level of well-intentioned pabulum.

So, clearly, we have to go to the YouTubes. And none to soon, since they're excellent. Let's start with a "Best of" compilation for our boy Foucan:

And here are two from David Belle. The first is from his movie District B13, and the second is another "greatest hits" deal:

Only watch the first two minutes of this clip, soundtracked by a YouTube Hunter favorite, the Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc.:"

Lastly, in case the above clips have moved you to try Parkour at your nearest industrial complex, a gentle reminder that maybe you should breathe deeply, count to ten, and play some ping pong instead:

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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