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Route 66 Makes It Onto a Dubious List

It's one of 11 historic US sites considered 'endangered'

(Newser) - Hundreds of historic sites have found their way over the past three decades onto the annual "endangered sites" list put out by the National Trust for Historic Preservation , and this year's lineup includes one of America's most famous thoroughfares. Route 66 joins 10 other cultural or architectural... More »

Can You Name 'Light Blue' Using Just One Word?

The Japanese call light blue "mizu," or water

(Newser) - In Japan, there are a dozen basic colors that almost everyone in a recent survey was able to name using one word. And 11 of them—black, white, gray, blue, green, yellow, red, purple, brown, pink, and orange—all overlap with the basic colors Americans can describe in one word.... More »

Japan's Antidote to Overwork: 'Inemuri' Naps

But there are rules to follow

(Newser) - People who can nod off in any situation may consider a move to Japan, where public napping, so long as one follows certain rules of etiquette, is basically seen as virtuous. So reports the New York Times , which calls such napping a "subtle sign of diligence." The word... More »

5 Best Cities in the World for Culture

Kyoto tops the list

(Newser) - Looking for some culture in the new year? Travel + Leisure lists the 10 best world cities offering just that. The top five:
  1. Kyoto, Japan
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. Jerusalem
  4. Florence, Italy
  5. Paris, France
Click for the complete list , which does include two US cities. More »

Bumble Bees Learn Trick, Surprise Researchers

Most figured out how to pull string for reward after seeing how it's done

(Newser) - Ever wondered how tiny a bumble bee's brain is? Imagine a sesame seed clinging to a burger bun, reports the Washington Post —in other words, it's about 0.0002% the volume of a human brain, as calculated by Science . But that doesn't mean you can't... More »

Italy to Give All 18-Year-Olds Money to Spend on Art, Books

'Beauty is more tenacious than barbarism'

(Newser) - Italy thinks "cultural consumption" is important, and it's putting its money where its mouth is, to the tune of $330 million. The country is moving forward with its pledge to give every kid turning 18 this year in Italy €500 (roughly $560) to spend on "cultural... More »

Word of the Year: Culture

Merriam-Webster unveils its choice for 2014

(Newser) - A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year: culture. The word joins Oxford Dictionaries' "vape," a darling of the e-cigarette movement, and "exposure,... More »

Top 10 US Cities for Culture

Seattle is No. 1, at least on a per-capita basis

(Newser) - How would Columbus, Ohio, outrank New York City in a list of the top cities for culture and recreation in the US? When the words "per capita" are involved. New York may have 2,693 places dedicated to those pursuits, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Central Park,... More »

Quit Calling Things 'Guilty Pleasures'

Jennifer Szalai: Drop the artifice; you're not impressing anyone

(Newser) - If you want to feel guilty, fine. If you want to feel pleasure, more power to you. But if you want to toss around the phrase "guilty pleasure," then Jennifer Szalai requests that you resist the urge. In a New Yorker essay about how much she hates the... More »

Word Choices Show We're Me-Centric, Less Moral

And those long-term trends should worry left and right: David Brooks

(Newser) - Lexicologists poring over a Google database of books and word usage suggest three general traits of the past half-century, writes David Brooks in the New York Times . Society has become more individualistic (with words and phrases such as "self" and "I come first" on the rise), less moral... More »

Introducing the 'World's Dullest Culture'

The Baining of Papua New Guinea ban kids from playing

(Newser) - A Papua New Guinea group known to anthropologists as "the dullest people on Earth" do everything they can to discourage children from playing, writes Peter Gray at Psychology Today . The Baining—who have caused at least one frustrated anthropologist to give up studying them—are small-scale farmers almost entirely... More »

Author: Romney Utterly Misread My Book

Jared Diamond says candidate misquoted Guns, Germs, and Steel

(Newser) - In making his recent controversial comments about Israel's cultural superiority , Mitt Romney cited Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, which he said argued that "physical characteristics of the land" like iron ore deposits determined nations' economic success. "That is so different from what my book actually... More »

Binging on TV Is Highbrow, Not Pandemic

Meaghan Daum on why it's OK, and why we care

(Newser) - When Slate intern Jim Pagels wrote last week that "TV binge-watching is a pandemic" that ruins "the integrity of the art form," condemnation rained down from some of the mightiest media outlets in the land. How dare he! We are, after all "in an oft-noted '... More »

'Long' Countries Protect Languages Better: Study

Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' inspires quirky study

(Newser) - Speaking an indigenous language in Chile or Italy? You're in luck. In Turkey or Russia? Not so much. So say researchers at Stanford University, who studied 147 countries and concluded that those with a wide west-east axis (as opposed to a long north-south one) tend to eliminate smaller languages... More »

We Don't Hate the Rich, We Hate the 'New Upper Class'

Charles Murray says this powerful group calls the shots in the US

(Newser) - Americans see tensions over income inequality growing, but Charles Murray thinks they've got it all wrong. "Income inequality isn't really the problem," the libertarian author writes in Time . "A new upper class is the problem," a group denoted not by its wealth, but by... More »

Christmas Bombings Spark Unrest in Nigeria

Some fear escalating violence ahead of elections

(Newser) - State police are swarming into central Nigeria following a series of Christmas church bombings that killed 38, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Following Saturday's explosions, angry youths barricaded roads and attacked people passing by yesterday, and houses and a truck also were set ablaze. UN chief Ban Ki-moon blasted the... More »

When Did Halloween Turn Sexy?

It all started in Greenwich Village in the '70s

(Newser) - Ever wondered when Halloween shifted from spooky to sexy? Somewhere in the 1970s, explains Juliet Lapidos for Slate. New York’s Greenwich Village launched its annual Halloween parade in 1973, an event that quickly became popular among the local gay community, who largely attended in drag and other sexy outfits.... More »

'Cupcakists' Find Happiness in a Simple Pastry

Cultural movement extols the virtues of butter and frosting

(Newser) - Johnny Cupcakes operates stores that sell cupcake-themed merchandise—shirts and stickers bearing a skull-and-crossbones logo with a cupcake instead of a skull—but not cupcakes. Johnny Cupcakes sells the idea of cupcakes, a symbol of an uncomplicated, untouchable childhood pleasure, safe from the stresses of adult life, writes Jennie Yabroff.... More »

We Need More Armstrongs, Fewer Jackos

Apollo astronauts exemplify what US celebs should be

(Newser) - It’s unfortunate that American celebrity typically comes in the form of “uninteresting, detestable, loud, or unaccomplished people” like Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton, writes Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal. What society needs is more heroes like the Apollo astronauts—celebrities with “the right stuff,”... More »

Kindles, iPods Spell Tragic End to Snobbery

How can we show off taste when it's onscreen?

(Newser) - On the subway or in a cafe, taking a peek at what others are reading has long provided a convenient way to judge them on the spot: a mindless crime-novel fan? A Joyce-toting member of the intellectual elite? But with the Kindle, we’re left guessing, observes James Wolcott in ... More »

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