I always feel like everyone else I know has some great story about going to a corporate retreat--sweat lodges, pontoon boats, severely rustic weekends (a la "Colonial House"). CNNMoney went looking for employee ambivalence to these "offsites" and found it:
A dozen workers at a small international marketing company recently found themselves at a retreat run by experts from an "experiential learning" firm. "They came in talking about the seven cornerstones of teamwork," says one attendee, so each employee... READ ON
Today's John Tierney-authored Findings column discusses the evolution and significance of the upturned palm and its variants--the shrug, the downturned palm, etc:
That simple gesture, the upturned palm, is one of the oldest and most widely understood signals in the world. It's activated by neural circuits inherited from ancient reptiles that abased themselves before larger animals. Chimps and other apes, notably humans, adapted it to ask not just for food, but also for more abstract forms of help,... READ ON
Thank you, Forbes, for your annual reports on the state of the "singles" nation; the 2007 edition is here! If you want to skip the methodology until you're ready to write a defense or indictment of your city, here are the top ten "Best Cities For Singles" (many more cited in the full report):
1. San Francisco-Oakland
2. New York
3. Los Angeles
7. San Diego
9. Dallas-Fort Worth
I have to say: I buy that the top two are... READ ON
In case you're feeling overwhelmed by the unnameable lately, you're in good company. Scientists just discovered a swath of universe in which there's really, well, nothing:
The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not even mysterious dark matter. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing. That's an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness, a University of Minnesota team announced Thursday.
"This is 1,000 times the volume of what we sort of... READ ON
Thank you, Shanghaiist for letting us know what's going on in certain Chinese education circles.
The principal of the 150-student Henan Child Prodigy School (æ²³å—ç¥žç«¥å¦æ ¡), Zhang Xuexin (å¼ å¦æ–°) says he has devised a revolutionary method of training the right brain of children to make them child prodigies. His students can not only memorise their textbooks and ancient poetry, they can actually recite them backwards. Throughout the school and around classrooms, one... READ ON
There's really nothing like a humiliating incident that has oxidized into a funny story. I learned this early on from my father, whose timing and delivery is largely influenced by mid-80s John Candy. During car trips or any other kind of captive audience scenario, we'd beg him to burst into a rendition of "the King Midget story."
The short version is that his father had a brief infatuation with this very special kind of vehicle (the King Midget!), and mortified his children by insisting on driving them... READ ON
In Jonathan Franzen's essay, "Why Bother?" (Harper's, '96), he talks about linguist and MacArthur Fellow Shirley Brice Heath and her research on the reading habits of Americans. Her conclusions led her to believe there are are two kinds of readers:
"modeled-habit" readers: parents instilled this as exercise and necessary badge of class/entitlement; parents read, too.
"social-isolate" readers: surprise--socially isolated (but this, as opposed to antisocial); sublimated this pain into investing in... READ ON
Ira Glass raised this question recently; or, perhaps, not so much raised it as lamented the way in which people retroactively confer "nerd" status upon themselves. As in, "I was such a big nerd in high school." His basic argument was: no you weren't, or: prove it.
He surmised that most people filter their actual popularity, if not their seeded positions on Homecoming Court, through a sentimental lens of nerddom. "Nerds" experience pain, certainly, but just because one experienced pain in adolescence,... READ ON
I'm always happy when novelists can use something other than beverage preference in order to set their characters apart. For instance, when I read that a certain character just love espresso, fine, they love espresso. If they love beer, fine. But what would be more revealing? For me, I like to know what kind of writing utensils a person prefers--mini-pencils, 12-to-a-pack Bics, Bakelites, or what? I usually keep pens in bulk, as they're constantly migrating away from me. Pens and hair ties I would never be... READ ON
I keep running into people talking about the "20% chance we're living in The Matrix thing." The New York Times Science section published something on the Oxford University philosopher touting the theory that it's plausible we're just a function of someone else's simulations:
"This kind of posthuman might have other ways of having fun, like stimulating their pleasure centers directly," Dr. Bostrom says. "Maybe they wouldn't need to do simulations for scientific reasons because... READ ON
The duffel bag is named for Duffel, Belgium, where the cloth used in the bags was originally sold.