Authorities say avoid wrestling armadillos due to leprosy risk

From The Economist: “Hansen’s disease, better known as leprosy, is a tropical malady that is rare in America. In 2020, just 159 cases were reported. Only 5% of people seem to be susceptible to infection. Because it is so rare, Americans seldom think about leprosy, and many clinicians have never seen it outside a textbook. This is starting to change. Nearly 17% of leprosy cases were in Florida in 2020, and over 80% of those were in central Florida, and this year the state has 16 cases. In the past, Americans with leprosy usually caught it while travelling to countries where it is more common, such as Brazil or India, or had been in close contact with people from such places. Armadillo wrestlers are also at risk—the nine-banded armadillo can carry the disease. This latest outbreak is unusual in that the patients are neither travelers nor armadillo wrestlers.”

Letters describe what life was like for a twenty-something in 18th century London


From The Smithsonian: “When Ben Browne was 27, he traded his small English town for the bustling streets of London to work as a law clerk. There, he led the typical life of a 20-something in a big city: His social life flourished, he fell in love and he was constantly stressed about money. The year was 1719. Some 65 letters that Browne sent to his father during this period are the focus of a new display at the historic Browne family home in Cumbria, England. In his letters, Browne described his new job training as a clerk to a lawyer, and complained about working long hours, copying legal documents from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In one letter, he expressed frustration with his father’s decision to apprentice him to his employer for five years, rather than a shorter training period. Browne wrote that he needed money to pay rent—and to purchase stockings, breeches, wigs and other items he deemed necessary for his life in London.”

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The Black ad executive who wrote Coke’s famous jingle

From Medium: “Songwriter, producer, and McCann Erickson executive Roquel “Billy” Davis, conceived and co-wrote “I’d Like To Buy the World A Coke” for that famous 1971 campaign. Davis’s biography is every inch as remarkable as the fictional Don Draper or any other character from Mad Men. Born in Detroit in 1932, he wrote songs in the 1950s for Jackie Wilson with his partner, Berry Gordy. Early in his career, Davis also worked with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and other blues and rock pioneers on the Chess label. Later, Davis and Gordy started the Detroit R&B label Anna Records and recruited a teenaged Aretha Franklin, along with Mary Wilson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and what became the Four Tops. As Gordy took more control over the growing company, Davis’s work was increasingly marginalized. He began to look elsewhere.”

If sound could travel through space, the sun would be as loud as a jet airplane

How the Sun Works | HowStuffWorks

From Reddit: “The Sun is immensely loud. The surface generates thousands to tens of thousands of watts of sound power for every square meter. That’s something like 10x to 100x the power flux through the speakers at a rock concert, or out the front of a police siren. Except the “speaker surface” in this case is the entire surface of the Sun, some 10,000 times larger than the surface area of Earth. Most of that sound energy just gets reflected right back down into the Sun, but some of it gets out into the solar chromosphere and corona. None of us (professional solar physicists) can be sure, yet, just how much of that sound energy gets out, but it’s most likely between about 30 and about 300 watts per square meter of surface, on average.”

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The plot to kidnap the Pope and take him to Liechtenstein

From the Swiss National Museum: “In the middle of the First World War, diplomats in Switzerland, Austria and the Vatican were trying to resolve the Roman question. The issue, as the representative of the Holy See in Bern wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Austria in 1916, was “one of the most complicated seen in world politics for a considerable time”. After Italy conquered the Papal States in 1870 and incorporated the Vatican into the nation state of Italy, efforts were made to resolve the situation. The Principality of Liechtenstein came up among the proposals put forward: Rome and Vienna developed a particular interest in a secret plan, whereby the Principality would be offered to the pontiff. The rationale behind the idea was that the Pope would acquire ‘global sovereignty,’ facilitating negotiations with the Italian government.”

American hockey players start to develop a Canadian accent the longer they play

hockey player in yellow jersey front and center, surrounded by players in red jerseys, all on the ice

From Ars Technica: “University of Rochester linguist Andrew Bray started out studying the evolution of the trademark sports jargon used in hockey for his master’s thesis. For instance, a hockey arena is a “barn,” while the puck is a “biscuit.” When he would tell people about the project, however, they kept asking if he was trying to determine why American hockey players sound like “fake Canadians.” Intrigued, Bray decided to shift his research focus to find out if hockey players did indeed have distinctively Canadian speech patterns and, if so, why this might be the case. He discovered that US hockey players borrow certain aspects of the Canadian English accent. But they don’t follow the typical rules of pronunciation. “American hockey players are not trying to shift their speech to sound more Canadian,” Bray said. “They’re trying to sound more like a hockey player. That’s why it’s most evident in hockey-specific terms.”

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Google Maps shares a feature with this ancient video game

From Interconnected: “Thirty years ago, a company called Etak released the first commercially available computerized navigation system for automobiles. Spearheaded by an engineer named Stan Honey and bankrolled by Nolan Bushnell, the cofounder of Atari, the company’s Navigator was ahead of its time. Benj Edwards, a technology historian, discovered that the dart-shaped arrow that Etak used for location is the same arrow that Google Maps uses to show your current location. But Edwards’ research went even further back: He discovered that an engineer who worked in a nearby office had shown the team a vector-based video game called Asteroids, and Etak’s on-screen representation of the car in its naviation system wound up using a vector triangle almost identical to the ship from Asteroids. Google then adopted something very similar for the car in its next-generation car navigation system product.”

Why hearing “The Stars and Stripes Forever” sometimes made people run for the exits

Circus | Definition, History, Acts, & Facts | Britannica

From Now I Know: “Circuses, historically, haven’t been the safest form of entertainment. Wild animals, random pyrotechnics, people on tightropes, etc. A loose animal or a fire can not only put guests in harm’s way, but once customers begin to react, others may panic — and that’s a recipe for disaster. To combat this, circuses had to find a way to let everyone know that something was urgently wrong, without alerting the audience. Music became an easy solution. Circuses back then often had bands that regaled patrons with all sorts of tunes, and everyone could hear the band. At some point, the management of one of the circuses decided to use the band as an alert system — if the band played a previously specified tune, that was a signal to the circus personnel that something bad was happening. And the song they chose? “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” The idea of using “The Stars and Stripes Forever” as the so-called “Disaster March” spread throughout the circus industry.” 

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