Rare Ornithology Book Sells Online for $191,000, Abebooks, February 17, 2015
Online book shopping has entered the six-figure era after AbeBooks sold a rare ornithology book from 1765 for $191,000, smashing the record for the most expensive item to sell on the Internet marketplace in its 19-year history. [All figures in US $.] The book’s lengthy Italian title can be translated and shortened to A Natural History of Birds. Published in Florence in Italian in five volumes, it contains 600 beautiful hand-colored engraved plates of birds. Commissioned by Maria Luisa, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, the book took 10 years to complete. This copy’s fine condition enhanced its value along with the fact that it is a scarce book – only 10 complete copies have been offered at auction in the past 40 years. The previous most expensive items to sell through the AbeBooks marketplace were a 1937 first edition of The Hobbit and a 1644 copy of Areopagitica, John Milton’s defense of press freedom, which sold for $65,000 each in 2003, and a first edition of Casino Royale, the first James Bond book, inscribed by author Ian Fleming, for $46,453.

From Lycos to Ask Jeeves to Facebook: Tracking the 20 most popular web sites every year since 1996, by Philip Bump, Washington Post, December 15, 2014

Entire West Village Apartment Building, Yours for $600K, by Paul Beshouri, Curbed, November 7, 2014

Baby sign language convert the naysayers, by Kelly Steele, Windsor Star, Oct 23, 2014
There is no age limit, but St. Louis recommends they start around five months old. Other benefits to signing are that it accelerates communication and results in earlier verbal language, reduces frustration, enhances receptive and expressive vocabulary, makes learning to read easier, enhances creative ability and promotes a closer child/parent bond.

No doubt aboot it: Canada is better than America in at least 7 ways, by Sarah Kliff, Vox, October 13, 2014
1. The world thinks Canada is awesome
Canada has a great reputation internationally — the best reputation, in fact, if you look at an international survey last year that asked 27,000 people across the globe what they thought about the safety, public policy, efficacy of government and other attributes of 50 different countries. Canada came out at the very top of those reputation rankings, edging out Sweden.

The Mysterious Case of the 113-Year-Old Light Bulb, by Zachary Crockett, Priceonomics, September 22, 2014
But dangling from the ceiling of a California firehouse is a bulb that’s burned for 989,000 hours — nearly 114 years. Since its first installation in 1901, it has rarely been turned off, has outlived every firefighter from the era, and has been proclaimed the “Eternal Light” by General Electric experts and physicists around the world.

But by the mid-1920s, business attitudes began to shift, and a new rhetoric prevailed: “A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business.” This line of thought, termed “planned obsolescence,” endorsed intentionally shortening a product’s lifespan to entice swifter replacement.

In 1924, Osram, Philips, General Electric, and other major electric companies met and formed the Phoebus Cartel under the public guise that they were cooperating to standardize light bulbs. Instead, they purportedly began to engage in planned obsolescence. To achieve this the companies agreed to limit the life expectancy of light bulbs at 1,000 hours — less than Edison’s bulbs had achieved (1,200 hours) decades before; any company that produced a bulb exceeding 1,000 hours in life would be fined.

38 maps that explain Europe, by Matthew Yglesias, Vox, September 8, 2014

Everything We Know About Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment: It was probably legal. But was it ethical? by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, June 28, 2014
In other words, when researchers reduced the appearance of either positive or negative sentiments in people’s News Feeds—when the feeds just got generally less emotional—those people stopped writing so many words on Facebook.

10 Ways You Didn’t Know To Cook An Egg

Snake discovery derails city’s fire hall plan, by Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star, April 29, 2014

“Regardless of whether they creep me out or not, we have to respect the process,” Sonego replied when similarly asked whether snakes give him the creeps.

26 futuristic urban farms and green spaces, by Abigail Fox, Matador Network, April 2, 2014
With cities taking up more space on the planet than ever, communities are struggling to solve problems of food security, climate control, and how to make our concrete jungles look a little more…well, jungle-like.

An Antique is Anything Made Before 1980, by Harry Rinker, Worthpoint, November 27, 2013

As 2013 nears its end, a viable working definition for an antique is anything made before 1980. This is not a statement I make lightly. I have been thinking about and testing the concept for several years. I am convinced the argument is valid.

15 of the most haunted places in the world, by Sarah Park, Matador Network, October 29, 2013

Huge Erections: What’s Driving The Rise Of Super Towers? by Zachary Edelson, Architizer, May 24, 2013

Between worries about China’s real estate market and safety concerns, not to mention the environmental cost of producing the 270,000 tons of steel needed to erect the structure (that’s about 4.5 Nimitz class aircraft carriers), we’re a bit skeptical of the project’s prospects at being the tallest and greenest tower around.

Raise the Woof: Doghouses Delight at Barkitecture 2012, Designs at an annual Austin fundraiser are whimsical, practical and downright luxurious — no bones about it, by Kara Mosher, Houzz, November 2012

Doghouses Worth a Wag: Report From Barkitecture 2011: Annual fundraiser sniffs out the best — and quirkiest — in Austin doghouse design, by Killy Scheer, Houzz, October 2011

8 Backyard Ideas to Delight Your Dog

December 01: goat of wonder, goat of night. goat of vandals setting you alight, ArchHistDaily, December 1, 2012
On this day in 1966 the first Gävle goat was inaugurated…Straw goats appear all over Sweden at Christmastime (related to their stories of Santa riding on a goat through fields of lingonberries to deliver IKEA all-purpose wrench-screw tools to children).  Some people, in particular two groups in this particular village, like to build really big ones.  Sometime in the 1960s townsfolk of Gävle decided to erect the biggest one, something like forty feet tall (that’s about 100 ABBA CDs tall, in Swede measure).

Looking for Someone: Sex, love, and loneliness on the Internet, by Nick Paumgarten, New Yorker, July 4, 2011 [FYI: computer dating was invented in 1964]

Marriage over? Divorce lawyer says Facebook is used in 90 percent of cases, by Nina Mandell, New York Daily News, May 2, 2011

10 Charts About Sex, by Christian Rudder, OkTrends (Dating Research from OkCupid), April 19, 2011

Gracious Living: Frank Gehry’s swirling apartment tower, by Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker, March 7, 2011

That’s what makes Frank Gehry’s new tower for developer Bruce Ratner so important. Gehry has crafted one of the most beautiful towers downtown, and the first big apartment house worth talking about in more than a generation.

Stats Appeal; Data turns out to be a sexy draw for a dating site, by Rob Walker, New York Times Magazine, November 5, 2010

Cell Bound: Why It Is Hard to Ignore Public Mobile Phone Conversations, Scientific American, September 22, 2010

Recapture your wild side, by Jim Thornton, Men’s Health [Stress-Relief Tips—Go Outside], July/August, 2010

Close your eyes and visualize the perfect place to live. It’s possible (you can open your eyes now) that you’re picturing an urban apartment ringed by traffic-filled streets. More likely is a home set on high ground, in a field of grass, shaded by trees, overlooking a stream, lake, or sea.

Nature—or its absence—affects our bodies as well as our brains. For decades, researchers have documented nature’s impact on everything from surgical recovery to social bonding.

Exposure to the outdoors also sharpens our focus and lets us think. In one 2003 study, in which 200 office workers took cognitive tests, the most consistent predictor of better performance was having an unobstructed window view on nature.

Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost,” touts a study in the journal Psychological Science. “Such a therapy has been known to philosophers, writers, and laypeople alike: interacting with nature.

In a 2009 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Norwegian public-health officials examined how separation from nature affects our bodies. This evolutionary discord, they wrote, may help explain the prevalence of mental disorders in Western societies.

In a landmark study, Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D., a fellow at the Texas A&M center for health systems and design, analyzed 10 years of records of patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. He was able to show that patients who were randomly assigned to rooms with views of trees recovered faster, had fewer complications, and required less pain medication than those in rooms with views of a brick wall.

In studies of residents at Chicago’s Robert Taylor and Ida B. Wells housing projects, people whose apartments overlooked trees had lower levels of aggression and violence and higher levels of attention and social interaction than those with a view of barren ground.