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When the Streets Had No Name

Hollywood and Sunset                  Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
There's something so compelling about way-back-when pictures of familiar places. Is that beautiful old building still there? That child on the corner, the couple in the car ~ whatever happened to them? How many levels of change did that block undergo before it became what it is now? Here's a collection of photographs of well-known Los Angeles-area streets when many of them were still just cow paths and dirt roads, plus links to more historical photos:

The Smell of Nail Polish in the Morning

You knew these things had to happen sooner or later, didn't you? Sure you did.
The sign on the photo far left reads "NAIL POLISH. Good for dogs, cats, and humans."
The sign on the photo near left reads "Scented Nail Enamel. Intoxicating Color, Irresistible Scent. Fragrance revealed when dry."

And Next, Watching Paint Dry

First it was the show about firewood that got the Norwegians all hot and bothered (, and now it's chess matches, a seven-hour train ride, cross-country skiing, and knitting. Slow TV is sweeping the nation. "It’s very satisfying that you see everything that happens in a steady manner,” one fan explains:

Walk On, Water

the Leidenfrost maze, with droplets                                               screen shot
What happens when a bunch of physicists realize they can control water droplets with heat and ridges? Exactly what you'd think! (video):

Giving Facts

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A few Thanksgiving facts (OK, some are not particularly revelatory, but what the heck) for you to share at the dinner table, either on your own (memorize and pretend you knew all along ~ who's gonna call you on it?) or by showing this entertaining little video from the always clever John Green and my favorite folks at mental floss:

Bye, Cars; Buy Bikes

Wow! from

Bicycles in Europe are so popular that in 2012, they outsold cars in every European country except Belgium and Luxembourg. In Spain, 2012 was the first year that bicycles outsold cars, while in Italy, it was the first time since World War II. The popularity of bicycles in Europe during the early 21st century is thought to be because of economic struggles in European countries, which helped cause automobile sales to reach a 20-year low. European governments have also encouraged bicycle use. For example, in the

Book Barn

inside Mad Dog and the Pilgrim                          Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times
If you happen to be on Wyoming's Highway 287 and you follow the arrow on the sign announcing "OLD BOOKS—FRESH EGGS—FOR SALE," you'll wind up at Mad Dog and the Pilgrim, a bookstore in an old two-story, climate-controlled barn. In it, you'll find 70,000 used and antiquarian books, pith helmets, fertility statues, and the occasional gamboling lamb. And, yes, its proprietors are just as unique as you'd expect them to be (story, slideshow):,0,4938241.story#axzz2lnCbgoC1

Perchance To Remember Dreams

Soik and his app                                                                            screen shot
New Yorker Hunter Soik has big dreams ~ and so do we all. The challenge is capturing them before they evanesce as we wake. Soik's app awakens one slowly and then allows one to record recollections of a dream before it disappears. It also shares them, if the dreamer wants, and Soik hopes that the resulting collection will eventually lead to new discoveries about the dream process (video):

'A Very Full-on Life'

Isabella Blow was 48 when she died in May 2007. Fashion connoisseur, talent spotter, trend setter, editor, stylist, she was a woman who lived a huge life on the edge of her inner contradictions, both dynamic and depressed, fearless and troubled. She was a social focal point in London and New York and is said to have discovered Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Sophie Dahl, and Stella Tenant, among others:
   Earlier this month, an exhibit honoring Blow, her fashion, and her life opened at London's Somerset House:

Boom. Boom. Boom-Boom-Boom-Boom-Boom.

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A time-lapse map of all the nuclear explosions that have been detonated on Earth since the first one, which as you may remember, was courtesy of the United States, in New Mexico on July 16, 1945:
   Memo to Secretary of War Henry Stimson from Gen. Leslie Groves, an eyewitness to the first nuclear test. Groves describes it as "successful beyond the most optimistic expectations of anyone":

On the Road to Thanksgivukkah

AAA estimates that of the approximately 43.4 million of us who will be traveling this Thanksgiving/Hanukkah, 90%, or about 39 million, will be driving ~ and given the East Coast weather forecasts, it may be more, as flights are delayed or canceled.
   The good news is that gas is at its lowest price since 2010. In some states, it's less than $3 per gallon. You already know the bad news: overused restrooms, long lines at Starbucks, traffic, and car accidents. There's not much that can be done about the first few (except making your own coffee ahead of time), but there are some tips to keep in mind that could save you from ending up in an accident:
   Some statistics about cars and driving (in the U.S., at least 1,500 people are killed each year in drowsy-driving accidents and exhaust fumes account for 53,000 premature deaths every year), including useful suggestions (the best driving posture):

All Eyes on ISON

A rather singular comet, ISON, has been visible to astronomers for some time as it hurtles ever closer to the sun, and the question now is, What will happen when it gets its closest, on Nov. 28? Will the sun's gravity make it explode, as it did with another comet that passed by? Or will it, like yet another, be pulled into the sun's orbit? If not, it will emerge from the glare and be visible to us throughout December:
   Here are charts, videos, photographs, and viewing information:

Feeling So Much

Are some of us born more sensitive than others, or do we all start out that way only to have it quashed by life and/or those around us, including well-meaning parents? At what point do one's sensitivities become a liability ~ or do they ever? And if we manage to make it to adulthood with them intact, how can we channel them into fulfilling pursuits and lifestyles?:

A New Pyramid

There's a new food pyramid out. This one's for vegans and vegetarians (story, chart, link to downloadable brochure):

Humans: The Book

                                                                                                                                                                       Brandon Stanton
"I got out of prison a month ago."
   "What were you in for?"
   "Selling drugs."
   "So what are you doing now that you're out?"
   "Trying to be an average Joe. But it's tough. I used to have all this money, now I can't buy a thing. Nobody wants to hire me. I've got tattoos. I've got a rap sheet. I feel like I'm in this giant hole and I don't know how to climb out."
Back in April, I shared a link to a really lovely website called Humans of New York (, in which one Brandon Stanton posts pictures of the people he meets on the street and adds some information about them, usually short transcripts of their conversation. Admittedly, his punctuation is a bit idiosyncratic and it takes a while to get used to it (especially for a grammar fiend like me, and in the excerpt above, I took the liberty of using the more traditional approach), but it's totally worth it.
      Good news ~ well, not "news," really, as it came out in October: Stanton, a Georgia native and former bond trader with no formal training in photography, has published a book version of his site:

Bikes in the Basement

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More people riding bikes. That's good. Hundreds of parked bikes taking up sidewalk space, that's not so good. Japan's way of dealing with the issue is, not surprisingly, both high-tech and creative. One can only hope our cities follow suit (video):

Legacy of the Libertines

Gore Vidal is one of my favorite writers. In fact, I've been thinking about posting a "Just Because" about one of his fascinating books (which I still will do). Well, today, I came upon this article suggesting that he may have had some rather unfortunate ~ OK, nasty ~ predilections. This comes as no big surprise, and it's certainly not the first time we've learned something unsavory about an accomplished individual, but it does raise an interesting question: Should such posthumous revelations negate the value of a person's achievements?:

Li'l Nippers Napping

Theo and his boy, Beau                                                      Momma's Gone City
Is anything more heartwarming and sweet than a sleeping toddler? Well, yeah ... like this little guy and his new puppy, who apparently nap together all the time. Mom posted a number of pictures, each one cuter than the one before it:

Painting Gitmo

Steve Mumford/Harper's magazine
How artist Steve Mumford found beauty in the buildings of Camp X-Ray and opportunity in the restrictions at Guantanamo Bay:
   Mumford talks about his trip (video):
   A slideshow of Mumford's watercolors:

Just Because: 'The Memoirs of a Survivor'

Doris Lessing, 1962
Author Doris Lessing died on Nov. 17 (story, videos):
   Lessing was born in Iran (then called Persia) in 1919. She is perhaps best known for her work The Golden Notebook and not so much for another book, The Memoirs of a Survivor, which she once called "an attempt at an autobiography."

Part One

We all remember that time. It was no different for me than for others. Yet we do tell each other over and over again the particularities of the events we shared, and the repetition, the listening, is as if we are saying: 'It was like that for you, too? Then that confirms it, yes, it was so, it must have been, I wasn't imagining things.' We match or dispute like people who have seen remarkable creatures on a journey: 'Did you see that big blue fish? Oh, the one you saw was yellow?' But the sea we travelled over was the same, the protracted period of unease and tension before the end was the same for everybody, everywhere; in the smaller units of our cities—streets, a cluster of tall blocks of flats, a hotel, as in cities, nations, a continent ... yes, I agree that this is pretty highflown imagery considering the nature of the events in question: bizarre fish, oceans, and so forth. But perhaps it wouldn't be out of place here to comment on the way we—everyone—will look back over a period in life, over a

Keep on Truckin'

What happens when a very limber Jean-Claude Van Damme helps a car company show off its special steering? Hard to believe this is for real, but apparently it is (story and video):

Just Because: 'Summer Lightning'

Wrong season, I know. But this little book is by one of my ~ no, scratch that ~ my favorite go-to author when I want a chuckle, the great P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), creator of the dexterous and proficient Jeeves and, of course, the perpetually bemused Bertie Wooster. It is British humor at its very best, IMHO. Not the Benny Hill, Monty Python's Flying Circus kind, but the  ... well, the P.G. Wodehouse, To the Manor Born kind. It's very particular and charmingly self-deprecating and perfectly illustrated by the man himself in the first paragraph of his preface to this tome, in which he unabashedly states the following:
   "A certain critic—for such men, I regret to say, do exist—made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained 'all the old Wodehouse characters under different names.' He has probably by now been eaten
by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy." ... See what I mean?

Trouble Brewing at Blandings
Blandings Castle slept in the sunshine. Dancing little ripples of heat-mist played across its smooth lawns and stone-flagged terraces. The air was full of the lulling drone of insects. It was that gracious hour of a summer afternoon, midway between luncheon and tea, when Nature seems to unbutton its waistcoat and put its feet up.
   In the shade of a laurel bush outside the back premises of this stately home of England, Beach, butler to Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth, its proprietor, sat sipping the contents of a long glass and reading a weekly paper devoted to the doings of Society and the Stage. His attention had just been arrested by a photograph in an oval border on one of the inner pages: and for perhaps a minute he scrutinized this in a slow, thorough, pop-eyed way, absorbing its every detail. Then, with a fruity chuckle, he took

Archive Update: A Model Model Train

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Waaay back in December 2011, I shared a link to a video about the largest model train set in the world, Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany ( Although the set is thrillingly wonderful and oh-so-impressive, the video was sub-par and looked like something shot in the 1950s. So here is a more recent, higher quality video about this amazing miniature world in which a day lasts 15 minutes and where 900 trains with 12,000 wagons roll through Scandinavia, Europe, Africa, and the United States, past ships, trucks, cars, and planes that also go about their appointed rounds:
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And if that's not enough for you, how about an insider's view via cameras mounted atop some of the miniature vehicles? (video):

'Tonight We Will Succeed'

returning to Jakarta after a failed attempt                               Joel Van Houdt
How desperate and yet hopeful must someone feel before he/she is willing to risk the unknown and even death? And what makes some take that risk of becoming a refugee while others remain and suffer in silence and still others choose to become part of the system? Journalist Luke Mogelson and photographer Joel Van Houdt accompany a group of Middle Eastern and Central Asian asylum seekers who managed to make it to Jakarta on their dangerous 200-mile crossing to Christmas Island. If you read one article all year, make it this one (story, photos, video):

Feasting on Facts

Think you know everything there is to know about Thanksgiving? Bet you don't! (a very enlightening quiz):

Boom and Bust

a shale-gas drilling and fracking operation, Pennsylvania      Jacques del Conte
So this is interesting. The United States just may be the world's largest oil producer by 2017, according to the International Energy Agency. Larger than Saudi Arabia? How can this be? You might well ask. The answer is, it has to do with all those alternative ways we're now using to get at it, like fracking, for example. That boom will last about 10 years, the agency goes on to say, and then the Middle East will again dominate:

Otterly Practical

Michael Jay
Who knew? I sure didn't. from those wise geeks at

Otters have skin pockets located under their forearms near the armpit area that are used as storage for rocks or for prey that they have already caught. These pockets allow the otters to keep their hands free. These sea mammals are one of the few animals to use tools. The rocks stored in otters' skin pockets are used to crack open the hard shells of prey such as mollusks or clams. An otter will float on its back with the rock on its belly, and then crack the shellfish against the rock to get to the shellfish's insides.

From the Archives: Air Head

It's funny how news goes around and comes around. Readers of this blog might remember that, back in August 2012 (so well over a year ago), I posted a link to a story about a new kind of bike helmet, one that is worn around the neck something like a scarf but that inflates to protect the head before impact. Well, the major news outlets seem to have discovered it now:

The .01%

As CNN has started to ask, Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Scientists have found a chemical that will wipe out any (non-drug-resistant) bacteria remaining after antibiotics, which usually kill 99.99%, have done their job:

The Well-Read Bard

How many songs can you think of that contain literary allusions? Here, seven are listed, but the readers keep it going in the Comments section:

Viva El Cone Head

Garry F McHarg FOCAL Scotland
The noble Duke of York may have had 10,000 men, but the Duke of Wellington has 10,000 Glaswegians behind him. It seems that a statue of the gentleman, erected in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square in 1844, struck many as lacking a certain gravitas. And so a tradition was born: topping the head with a traffic cone. What to do? Recently, the City Council decided to raise the statue beyond the reach of vandals, and what happened? More than 10,000 Glaswegians signed a petition to keep it as is:

Remember To Sing

and vice versa. Really. Who among us is not inspired by music? Especially, for most of us, "the music of our youth" (jeez, it makes me feel old just to write that phrase, but I couldn't come up with a more fitting one!). It moves us and makes us move, it lifts our spirits or calms us down ~ and the words: It's amazing how we remember all the words to songs we last heard decades ago. Well, big surprise (not), studies are finding that after singing songs from musicals for a few months, patients with moderate to severe dementia improved their scores on cognitive and drawing tests and ~ maybe more importantly ~ on a satisfaction survey:

Thank Nature

These lovely ideas for making the most of this colorful season just arrived in my inbox, courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation:

 Decorate for Thanksgiving, Naturally Decorate for Thanksgiving, Naturally
Turn a nature scavenger hunt into something to
 remember. Use materials kids find in your backyard or
 nearby park to decorate a table or room for the season!
 Bring the outdoors in this Thanksgiving.

Fun Crafts Made with Autumn LeavesLove seeing the leaves change color this time of year? Try one of these festive crafts from FamilyFun magazine and get the whole family out to enjoy the scenery! 

Make a Fairy House
If you want to spark kids’ vivid imaginations, look no further! Create a magical environment and get everyone outdoors with this awesome activity.

Giving Thanks for Humane Treatment

"If you are planning a Thanksgiving meal that includes turkey and want a Certified Humane turkey," says Humane Farm Animal Care CEO Adele Douglass, "be aware that only a few turkeys on the market are genuinely Certified Humane. A Certified Humane turkey is one that can flap its wings and move around, can perch above the ground at night, eat nutritious food that doesn’t contain antibiotics or other chemicals, and express other natural behaviors.
   “Unfortunately, in the past," she notes, "unscrupulous producers have put the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® logo on turkeys that were not raised under HFAC standards and not certified by us. Even though that is illegal and we contacted them telling them to remove the label, it was too late for consumers who already purchased them believing they were Certified Humane."
   Among the few producers that raise turkeys this way, according to Douglass, are Ayrshire Farm in Virginia, Koch's Turkey Farm in Pennsylvania, and White Oak Pastures in Georgia.
   To find a Certified Humane turkey (or other meat) near you, go to

Flash and Fraud

A study finds that the likelihood that a company led by a CEO with flashy toys will commit fraud goes up by 6% every year that person is in charge. It goes down by 61% every year that a more moderate person is in that position:

Float Couture

Getty Images for Benjamin Rollins Caldwell
They're calling it a flying dress, but really, it's not so much a dress as it is a kind of minimalist, sleek, white flying machine. Still, wouldn't you love to try it on for size? (story, video):

'Dude, You Need To Write a Book About This'

Whether or not you've ever heard of Tommy Wiseau and/or his most (in)famous film, The Room, you'll want to read this interview with the man who co-wrote a book about it all, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made:
   Here's the roof scene ("... oh, hi, Mark") from The Room (video; from there, you can access lots of other clips):

The Name Game

New parents, WAIT! Don't name that child until you read this! from

A person’s name might affect his or her happiness, because people who have rare names report higher levels of happiness than those with more common names, research shows. Researchers believe this could be the result of humans’ subconscious desire to be considered unique from others. Research also reveals that people who have common names are likely to rate their names as being more rare than they actually are, a psychology term referred to as the false uniqueness effect.

More about the impact of names:
  • About 20% of parents reported regretting their children’s names, according to one 2013 British study. Common reasons were the difficulty other people

Hominids Rising

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"This just doesn't happen." Except that it is, and Lee Berger, the man who uttered that sentence, is the one who made it happen ~ with a little help from his friends. Everyone had thought a certain area of South Africa was tapped out, that we had found all the hominid remains we were going to find. Using Google Maps, he pinpointed a few promising areas and enlisted the help of local cavers, and that's how it happened:
   Berger and the team are using 3D scanning technology to record what they're finding in the Rising Star cave (video):

Getting Under the Skin

You know all those horror stories in which some parasitic creature that's been growing in a wound or tumor on an animal or human suddenly bursts out? Well, nature invented that scenario. Meet the botfly, which at this time of year is just about finished laying its eggs in host beings:

The View From Above

the Pleiades over Reunion and Mauritius Karen Nyberg
Orion, the Big Dipper, Taurus ~ what do the constellations look like from up in space, unfiltered by Earth's atmosphere? The astronauts aboard the International Space Station share their perspective (photographs):

Slumdog Photographer

Roy, in a portrait taken by friend and fellow photographer   Haran
A child of the streets who got lucky ~ he was rescued by the NGO Salaam Baalak Trust ~ Vicky Roy somehow ended up with a camera. His photographs of others like him are mostly in black and white and have, since his first exhibit in 2007, been shown in several countries (slideshow):
   Roy was one of four photographers chosen by the Maybach Foundation to document the reconstruction of the World Trade Center. Here is the full story of Vicky Roy so far:

Islands in a Storm

Tacloban city on Nov. 11                                                                             AP Photo/Aaron Favila
As if Typhoon Haiyan didn't do enough destruction and bring enough misery to the Philippines, it was followed on Nov. 12 by an earthquake reported to be a magnitude 4.8. The quake is said to be an aftershock of the magnitude 7.2 that hit there on Oct. 15:
   As with most such disasters, we are being told that the best way to help is by donating money, not clothing or food. Here is a list of some of the agencies that are working there now. And here's a thought: a donation in someone's name could make a very meaningful holiday gift:
   Another list of charities:
   A humanitarian aid worker explains why money helps more than boxes of shoes:

Women at War

from (one note ~ I do have a problem with Russians being considered as working for the Allies, but the stories of those particular women is interesting nonetheless):

11 Women Warriors of World War II
Over 100 million military personnel participated in World War II, including many women. Here are the stories of eleven of these brave women from many countries who all did their part -- and more -- for the Allied effort.

Lieutenant Elsie S. Ott was the first woman to receive the U.S. Air Medal. Already a trained nurse, she joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 and was sent to Karachi, India. The Army Air Corps was considering using airplanes to evacuate injured military as they delivered fresh troops. Ott was assigned to the first evacuation flight with only 24 hours notice—and she had never flown before.

The plane left India on January 17, 1943, and made several stops, picking up more patients, on its 6-day flight to Washington, D.C. The previous route for such a mission was by ship, and took three months. Ott wrote up a report on that flight, recommending important changes for further evacuation flights. She returned to India a few months later with a new unit, the 803rd Military Air Evacuation Squad, and was promoted to captain in 1946.

Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, Nancy Wake was a journalist in New York and London. She was married to a wealthy Frenchman and was living in Marseille when Germany invaded. Wake immediately went to work for the French resistance, hiding

We Are Stardust

... and a whole lot of other things that have been cycling 'round the universe, including our ~ and nature's ~ waste products:

The Good-Mood Exercise

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have come up with an exercise regimen they contend could be just as effective as medication in treating Major Depressive Disorder:

The Pleasure Is Mine

Machinist Warren Jack and daughter U.S. Navy/MC Specialist First Class Todd A. Schaffer/via Flickr
A lovely collection of photos of servicemen meeting their babies:

On the Endangered List

awá youth                                                                           Sebastião Salgado
There are about 800,000 Indians in Brazil, making up at least 239 cultures speaking about 190 languages. The 100 or so "uncontacted" Awá Indians of the ethno-environmental protection post of Juriti in the Brazilian Amazon are trying to hang onto their traditional way of life despite the encroachment of illegal loggers and other invasores:

Gettysburg Address ~ Nov. 19

Kazuhiro Tsuji sculpture of Lincoln                               KW
One hundred fifty years ago, on Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln ~ suffering from a severe headache and fever (it turned out that he likely had a mild case of smallpox) ~ delivered a speech so short it left its audience silent for a moment. He thought it was a failure, but today, we remember it as one of the best, most important speeches ever (story, links to related videos):
   Several versions of the Gettysburg Address were copied out at the time, and not all agree in every word and punctuation mark. Here is one version (from

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come

The Birth of Cynicism

A Brit visits the Texas site of President Kennedy's assassination and speculates that this may have been the moment when we all first learned to question everything:

Cute Lil Tamaytah

"The official Florida guidebook for commercial tomato growers documents 110 different chemicals that growers can spray on tomato fields." "Recent studies show that many native bees know the trick to extracting tomato pollen, and the plants they pollinate produce larger and more numerous fruit." UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources traces tomato facts worth knowing from seed to table:

Dancing in the Flaw

Today's selection from Poem-A-Day is by Spanish-born American philosopher, critic, dramatist, essayist, novelist, educator, and poet George Santayana (1863-1952). He taught philosophy at Harvard University for 23 years, where Gertrude Stein, Robert Frost, Walter Lippman, and T.S. Eliot were among his students. A proponent of critical realism, Santayana is considered one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.

There May Be Chaos Still Around the World
by George Santayana

There may be chaos still around the world, 
This little world that in my thinking lies; 
For mine own bosom is the paradise 
Where all my life's fair visions are unfurled. 
Within my nature's shell I slumber curled, 
Unmindful of the changing outer skies, 
Where now, perchance, some new-born Eros flies, 
Or some old Cronos from his throne is hurled. 
I heed them not; or if the subtle night 
Haunt me with deities I never saw, 
I soon mine eyelid's drowsy curtain draw 
To hide their myriad faces from my sight. 
They threat in vain; the whirlwind cannot awe 
A happy snow-flake dancing in the flaw.

The Lucky Communicator

From, an excerpt about the power of social cues and how it may have played a major role in Ronald Reagan's reelection ~ and continues to influence our decisions today:

In today's selection—from Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect by Matthew Lieberman. Our reactions to things are highly influenced by the reactions of those around us:

"On October 21, 1984, President Ronald Reagan and his challenger, former Vice President Walter Mondale, held the second of two na­tionally televised presidential debates in the run-up to the presiden­tial election. President Reagan remained popular, but his support was softening in light of growing concerns about his age. His poor performance in the previous debate, three weeks earlier, had opened the door to questions about his mental fitness. If reelected, Reagan would become the oldest sitting president in U.S. history (he was seventy-three at the time of the debate). Reagan's performance at this final debate is frequently cited as a turning point in the election, when Reagan's popular support

Permeable Polish Polish

A lesson in perhaps unintended but nevertheless happy consequences and the sometimes unkind vagaries of fate. In answer to many women's concerns about the safety of nail polish, Polish chemist Wojciech Inglot invented a permeable polish that allows moisture and air to pass through to the nail. The unintended but happy consequences come into play for religious Muslim women, many of whom felt they couldn't wear polish as it didn't allow water from their traditional before-prayer washings to reach the nails. And the vagaries of fate? This was one of Inglot's last accomplishments, as he died suddenly earlier this year, fortunately for him not before he witnessed the unintended consequences in action:

Can You Hear Me Now?

From billboard screens to personalized pop-ups, advertisers have always tried everything they can think of to get our attention. The latest innovation is the interactive voice advertisement, created by the company that may have been (they're not allowed to say) behind Apple's Siri:

Minding Their Manors

The Gorzanow palace is being restored.      Maciek Nabrdalik/VII Photo for the Wall Street Journal
For decades after World War II (until the fall of the USSR, I'm guessing), Poles ~ and probably the citizens of all the satellite states ~ were forbidden from going within a certain number of miles of where they had lived before the war. Under the Soviet-installed Communist government, some of the country's most beautiful homes and castles were turned into public buildings and/or allowed to fall into disrepair. Now, Poland is hoping to find new owners for these properties who will restore them ~ not an easy or inexpensive proposition in most cases (story, slideshow):

Oh, Boy! Toys!

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CBS Sunday Morning correspondent (among other things) Mo Rocca gets a tour of Mattel. Kind of cool ~ I wouldn't mind working there! This is a preview of his report that'll air Nov. 10 (video):

On the Road

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Back in January and again in April, I wrote about Paul Salopek, a journalist who has undertaken a seven-year journey by foot, following the path of our first ancestors from southern Africa to South America ( and
   Every hundred miles, Salopek is stopping to record what he sees, hears, and learns in that place. One of his most interesting posts was on Day 256, north of Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. He writes:
   "1,200 miles of Milestones. There are no portraits of women. This is an artifact of chance. Of geography. Of culture.
   "We walk through remote Bedouin country. Miles of blank desert. Then—in the vast burning distance—a black dot. The goat-hair tent of a nomad. One day we approach an encampment. Little girls scatter, slink behind thorn scrub. A grown woman, caught in