Sounds like fun

“Over at the Oxford English Dictionary, the life of a new word starts out in the Reading Program department, where about 50 people spend their 9 to 5 lives gobbling up all the printed material they can get their hands on: Novels, television transcripts, song lyrics, newspapers, magazines…anything. They’re on the lookout for new words (or innovative uses of old, mundane words). New discoveries are forwarded to a searchable electronic database of quotes, which Oxford calls ‘Incomings.’” mental_floss

Direction

“Then something strange happened… In the First World War, the average American soldier was still two inches taller than the average German. But sometime around 1955 the situation began to reverse. The Germans and other Europeans went on to grow an extra two centimetres a decade, and some Asian populations several times more, yet Americans haven’t grown taller in fifty years. By now, even the Japanese—once the shortest industrialized people on earth—have nearly caught up with us, and Northern Europeans are three inches taller and rising.” Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker

Anonymity and freedom

“Remote computing freed criminals from the historic requirement of proximity to their crimes. Anonymity and freedom from personal victim confrontation increased the emotional ease of crime, i.e., the victim was only an inanimate computer, not a real person or enterprise. Timid people could become criminals.” Donn Parker, on the behavioral aspects of computer security

Fake smiles

“Although fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles, they are actually slightly different, because they are brought about by different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain. Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract… Genuine smiles, on the other hand, are generated by the unconscious brain, so are automatic. When people feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion. As well as making the mouth muscles move, the muscles that raise the cheeks – the orbicularis oculi and the pars orbitalis – also contract, making the eyes crease up, and the eyebrows dip slightly. Lines around the eyes do sometimes appear in intense fake smiles, and the cheeks may bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting and the smile is genuine. But there are a few key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones. For example, when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.” BBC, Spot The Fake Smile

So fresh and so clean

“In fact, what little clinical evidence there is suggests that dirty soap isn’t so bad. A study from 1965 and another from 1988 used similar methodologies: Researchers coated bars of soap in the lab with E. coli and other nasty bacteria, and then gave them to test subjects for a vigorous hand-wash. Both teams found no transfer of contamination from the dirty soap. However, both studies were tainted by potential conflicts of interest: The first was conducted by Procter & Gamble, and the second came from the Dial Corp. Still, there’s no good evidence to contradict these studies, and it’s likely that the bacteria on a dirty bar would just wash off when you rinsed your hands. In other words, you’d be cleaning the soap as you cleaned your hands.” Daniel Engber, Slate Magazine

They don’t build them like they use to

“Also something people seem to forget is that the examples of old things around today that we see are the good ones by definition. Sure that XT that still works today is reliable, but what about the ones that failed? Well you don’t see them because they are on the trash heap. Just because there’s a few examples of old items that have survived doesn’t mean they were all well made, may have just been some that were particularly lucky.”

Human comforts

“Let me tell you something about hew-mans, nephew. They’re a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time… And those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people, will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don’t believe me? Look at those faces, look at their eyes…” Quark to his nephew Nog, Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Quark and Nog

American citizens

“And slowly, over many years, the people realized they were not citizens. They were not members of a community. They were clocking in and punching out and killing time. They were employees.” DC Comic’s Uncle Sam, by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross, on the American capitalism

German engineering

“By 1941-42, the allies knew that US and even British tanks had been technically superior to German Panzer tanks in combat, but they were worried about the capabilities of the new marks IV and V. More troubling, they had really very little idea of how many tanks the enemy was capable of producing in a year… Both the British and the Americans… asked statistical intelligence to see whether the accuracy of the estimates could be improved. The statisticians had one key piece of information, which was the serial numbers on captured mark V tanks. The statisticians believed that the Germans, being Germans, had logically numbered their tanks in the order in which they were produced. And this deduction turned out to be right. It was enough to enable them to make an estimate of the total number of tanks that had been produced up to any given moment.” The Guardian

The new strategy

“In a world where strategy is a commodity, creativity becomes the vital factor from which value flows. When everyone can think strategically about everything, the locus of value creation shifts from out-thinking everyone to out-creating them… Now, we see the hints of the revolution everywhere—from the death of mass culture/blockbusters, to the rise of free culture, to the exploding investment in innovation and design, to the flight of capital away from the US. I think it is going to create enormous challenges for firms—challenges which can’t be answered by thinking strategically; but can only be faced by thinking creatively.” Bubblegeneration