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Lowell Silverman via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.5
Lowell Silverman via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.5

Fukushima Has Been Taken Over by Radioactive Boars

Lowell Silverman via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.5
Lowell Silverman via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.5

It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel or perhaps a tabloid, but the situation is real: Wild boars contaminated with radioactive particles have occupied neighborhoods in the prefecture of Fukushima, Japan, making it even harder for former residents to return to their homes, The New York Times reports.

The 2011 meltdown of Fukushima’s nuclear power plant required around 300,000 people to evacuate their homes, according to NBC. As humans moved out, local wildlife moved in, oblivious to the invisible threat. Rats, dogs, foxes, and boars have claimed the ghost-town supermarkets and irradiated, overgrown farmland for their own.

Radiation has significantly dissipated over the last six years, and officials intend to lift evacuation orders on four towns later this month. Scientists say contamination levels are low enough in some areas for people to safely return to their homes.

But direct contamination is not the only obstacle. The boars now squatting in houses and storefronts are both territorial and intensely radioactive, making them unfriendly and dangerous neighbors.

To clear out the cities, local authorities are turning to Japan’s long history of game hunting. They’ve recruited hunters to cull the animals and put out a guidebook full of boar-elimination tips, including setting traps and even using drones.

One official quoted in The New York Times said, “It’s important to set up an environment that will make it tough for the boars to live in.”

Since 2014, hunters have killed 13,000 boars; the carcasses have been buried en masse or incinerated in specially designed furnaces that filter out radioactive particles. Nevertheless, concerns over residual radiation and the plant itself may keep many people from going home.

“If the national officials think it is so safe, then they should come and live here,” former dairy farmer and evacuee organizer Kenichi Hasegawa told the Times in 2015.

[h/t The New York Times]

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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iStock

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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