Why we spill coffee when we walk

I came across a paper that looked at the vexing question of why we so often spill coffee when walking with a cup of it, and what might be done to prevent it. Of course, coffee shops give us lids but quite often we use actual mugs that do not come with lids. The research was stimulated when a physicist at a conference watched his colleagues walk gingerly while holding cups of coffee and started wondering about it.
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Tom Wolfe, failed would-be giant slayer

In the August 2016 issue of Harper’s magazine (subscription required) there was a long article by Tom Wolfe titled The Origins of Speech that discussed the challenge raised to the currently dominant theories of linguistics that have been associated with Noam Chomsky. I read the article because I am interested in the subject and was aware of the challenge that Daniel Everett had purportedly made, based on his fieldwork among the Pirahã community who live in the Amazon rain forests.
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Curious views on astrology

Usually what we see in the news are stories about how local communities are riddled with superstitions and oppose efforts to combat popular form of it. Hence I was intrigued by this story about the opposition to a woman who wanted to teach a course on astrology in the town of Canyonville, Oregon. It turns out that there is a local ordinance dating back to 1982 that “prohibits fortunetelling, astrology, phrenology, palmistry, clairvoyance, mesmerism and spiritualism”.
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How dogs watch TV

This article says that what dogs see when they watch TV is different from humans.

This research indicates that dogs have a preference towards watching other canines – but our studies have also discovered that sound often initially attracts dogs towards television and other devices. Favoured sounds include dogs barking and whining, people giving dog-friendly commands and praise, and the noise of toys squeaking.

How dogs watch TV is very different to the way humans do, however. Instead of sitting still, dogs will often approach the screen to get a closer look, and walk repeatedly between their owner and the television. They are essentially fidgety, interactive viewers.
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Don’t be a slowpoke in the left lane

I have been doing a lot of long-distance driving recently and once again encountered an issue that I have ranted about in the past and that is those drivers who camp out in the left lane permanently. And the people doing this cross all ages and both genders. So I was glad to see NPR doing a story on it with the title Don’t Be A Slowpoke: Why Left Lane Driving Causes Traffic.
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The myths about hydration

I grew up in Sri Lanka, a tropical country where the days were hot and one perspired a lot. And yet, there was little fear of dehydration. We drank water with meals and the occasional cup of tea but no one carried around bottles of water. Even when my friends and I played cricket all day, we drank when we were thirsty but that was about it. The idea that dehydration was a danger lurking that had to be staved off constantly was foreign to us.
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