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The Dunce

Morgan Meis | Slant Books | 27th May 2021 | U

To be a "dunce" was once an intellectual pursuit. The term described and then denigrated followers of 13C philosopher Duns Scotus as his "once admired feats of logical daring" fell from favour. The haecceity or "thisness" that the Dunses prized prefers detailed focus to grand philosophical systems. Thinkers must pay attention to "the strange, unaccountable, irreducible quality of all things" (1,460 words)

How To Speak Cicada

Nala Rogers | Inside Science | 28th May 2021 | U

The eastern US is experiencing the culmination of a 17-year cicada life cycle. Three species are emerging from their underground nymph state and individuals use song to find mating partners in "this giant pile of bugs". One sounds like "a UFO landing or a strange musical note in the woods" while others have shifted structures and pitches to avoid the acoustic competition (1,344 words)

America’s Forgotten Filling Stations

Nick Mancall-Bitel | Eater | 26th May 2021 | U

Tea rooms sprouted all over the US in the first half of the 20C as highways were paved, although few of them served tea. In motoring's early days, gender roles were still being established — would women drive cars, and if so, where would they stop? Bars and saloons were male preserves, but the tea room offered a "homey disguise" which signalled that white women, at least, were welcome (2,516 words)

Ramallah's Thriving Artistic Life

Maya Abu Al-Hayat | LitHub | 28th May 2021 | U

Introduction to the historic city of Ramallah and how it came to exist as a "mirage, this glimmer of hope that isn’t real" to some Palestinians. "To many writers, Ramallah is an ideal, a dream, a promise. Many expatriates returned to the city in the 1990s, in the wave of optimism generated by Oslo, having spent decades in exile, longing to return to at least part of their homeland" (1,954 words)

Is The Second-Cheapest Wine A Rip-Off?

David de Meza and Vikram Pathania | 1st March 2021 | American Association Of Wine Economists | PDF

Urban legend suggests that diners gravitate towards the second cheapest wine on the menu, too ashamed to just order the cheapest bottle, and restaurants mark it up accordingly to exploit this effect. In this paper, two economists use survey data to disprove this theory, discovering that it's actually the middle of the winelist, on average, where the worst value for money is to be found (7,035 words)

Audio: Past Imperfect

Episode: "Presque Vu And Jamais Vu" | Podcast: Getting Emotional | 8m 12s

Brisk and enthusiastic explainer of two lesser known emotional sensations, related to but distinct from déjà vu. Presque vu is the feeling of being on the edge of an epiphany, also known as "tip of the tongue" phenomenon and similar to being constantly on the brink of a sneeze. To experience jamais vu is to fail to recognise something that should be familiar — a guilt-laden experience (8m 12s)

Video: Why Do We, Like, Hesitate When We, Um, Speak? | TED-Ed. Filler words are associated with slower thinking, but they play a vital role in communication and provide wordless context for listeners (5m 33s)

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else"
Emily Dickinson

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