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It's Official: Talking Pictures Will Be A Book!

Some of you might be wondering why it's been a few weeks since there's been an installment of Talking Pictures. It's not, as a few have speculated, because I ran out of material -- but because we've been talking to publishers! Now that it's official, I'm thrilled to announce that HarperCollins has picked up the rights to the book, and it'll be coming out sometime in the latter half of 2011! (I'd like to take this opportunity to say WOOHOO!) I'd also like to give a big THANK YOU to all of our readers, because I sincerely believe that a giant part of getting publishers on board was the tireless enthusiasm you guys showed for the column. I can't help but think that all those positive comments made an impact, and I'm grateful that you guys were as taken with the photos I found as I was. Go mental_floss!

So what does this mean for future Talking Pictures columns? Well, for a while it's going to go on hiatus, because A) I'll working on the book and B) we want to make sure it includes a whole bunch of great never-seen-on-the-internet stuff. But as the publication date gets closer I'll most likely do a few more. Until then, follow me on Twitter for updates about the book -- and also about my upcoming dark urban fantasy novel, called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which comes out in June and is FULL of super-creepy old found photos (which, if you've read this far, I'm pretty sure you're into).

Speaking never-seen-on-the-internet, here's a talking picture which has always been a total mystery to me (but seemed somehow appropriate this morning). What do you guys think is going on here? Is that a tiara on his head, or is that supposed to be, I don't know -- blood? I can't help but think this is deeply sarcastic.

In the meantime, you can revisit some of my favorite Talking Pictures columns:
Hide This Please
Times of Trouble
Love and Marriage

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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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