History of chairs

“During the Middle Ages, chairs were not common in the Western world at all. After the Visigoths sacked Rome, their habits of squatting and sitting on the ground became the predominant ways for commoners to sit and until the Renaissance even wealthy feudal households had very little furniture because they had to keep moving around to avoid getting sacked themselves. The richest families would have had a single massive chair for the exclusive use of the master of the house; this chair was typically too heavy to move (to keep it from getting stolen when the house got sacked).”

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U.S. productivity

“We’re the second-largest manufacturer in the world even though manufacturing jobs have shrunk to less than 10 percent of our economy. We’re the world’s third-largest agricultural nation even though only 2 percent of us farm.”

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Profanity

From an article on profanity:

You know those nice respectable Midwesterners who say “sugar” when they mean “shit”? Nice respectable Chileans sit down at the breakfast table, look at the sugar bowl, and say, “Pass me that shit.”

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The long-term unemployed

A quick, fascinating article on an unexpected way in which long-term unemployment is self-reinforcing.

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Tennis

This George Carlin quote is for Taylor:

Then you have tennis. Tennis is very trendy and very fruity, but it’s not a sport. It’s just a way to meet other trendy fruits. Technically, tennis is an advanced form a Ping-Pong. In fact, tennis is Ping-Pong played while standing on the table.

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Jell-O

“The psychiatric department at the Rochester Medical Center was partially funded by a gift from Helen Woodward Rivas, heir to the Jell-O fortune and resident of Le Roy. (The department, its chairman liked to say, ‘rests firmly on a foundation of Jell-O.’)”

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Paper Tigers

I found a fascinating article on the plight(?) of the Asian-American.

There’s this:

If it is true that they are collectively dominating in elite high schools and universities, is it also true that Asian-Americans are dominating in the real world? My strong suspicion was that this was not so, and that the reasons would not be hard to find. If we are a collective juggernaut that inspires such awe and fear, why does it seem that so many Asians are so readily perceived to be, as I myself have felt most of my life, the products of a timid culture, easily pushed around by more assertive people, and thus basically invisible?

And this:

Now he understands better what he ought to have done back when he was a Stuyvesant freshman: “Worked half as hard and been twenty times more successful.”….”If you looked at the pinnacle, the girls and the guys are not only good-looking and socially affable, they also get the best grades and star in the school plays and win election to student government. It all converges at the top. It’s like training for high society. It was jarring for us Chinese kids. You got the sense that you had to study hard, but it wasn’t enough.”

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