Tough summer camp
In foreign countries, The Christian Science Monitor reports, summer camp tends to be more sternly disciplined, austere or outright "educational" than the North American variety. "In South Africa, for instance, school kids whose parents can afford it (which is to say white and black middle class) routinely go to overnight adventures camps that focus on survival training. … One young fourth-grader who found herself crawling under barbed wire at one camp says she reckons the purpose of the camp is 'to see how tough you are.' "
What next? Airbags?
"Linda and Bob Thayer of Wellington, Ohio, recently invested in a sporty new set of wheels," Gwendolyn Bounds writes for The Wall Street Journal. "It boasts a premium engine, high-backed ergonomic seating and all-wheel steering that can turn the vehicle on a dime. It also cuts the grass. They're part of a new trend fuelling green envy in America: the rise of the tricked-out lawn mower. Today, speedier cutting technology is practically de rigueur. Mower makers are now focused on mimicking the auto industry with cosmetic creature comforts. Sun shades, iPod compartments, cruise control, chrome hub caps and even alternative fuels are all part of the mower mania."
If someone sounds tough, he probably is tough, scientists claim. "Researchers have found that people can determine with uncanny accuracy the physical strength of a man by listening to a short clip of [his]voice," Richard Alleyne reports for The Daily Telegraph. "They believe the ability is a hangover from a time when it was a matter of life and death to make a quick assessment of someone's physical prowess. It is a much more complex skill than just how deep or loud the voice is and the way tough men talk varies considerably from individual to individual, the research showed. Those in the study were able to accurately assess strength from voices all over the world, including Romanian college students, Tsimane hunter-horticulturalists from Bolivia and Andean pastoralists in Argentina. Dr. Aaron Sell of the University of California, who led the research, said that ability only seemed to apply to the voices of men."
Latin for tough spots
"The grassroots interest in all things Latin is in no doubt," Bettany Hughes writes for The Guardian. "Hollywood follows the money, and has no fewer than eight classically themed movies in production. … In a recent survey of 1,000 [British]schools, 75 per cent of parents and teachers said they would welcome the reintroduction of Latin. The benefits are tangible. When, in 1989, I was roughed up by the Romanian secret police, I negotiated my way out in pidgin Latin. Thanks to the Latin base of all Romance languages, I'd have a similar chance in 36 other countries."
"Sir Richard's is a new Boulder[ Colo.]based condom company that plans to market toward a younger crowd, but also donate condoms worldwide to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases," the Boulder Daily Camera reports. "For every condom purchased, Sir Richard's will donate one condom to an organization that will distribute them to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Their new condoms will be marketed toward women, college students and the gay community … In addition, all of the company's condoms will be vegan-friendly. Made in Malaysia, they will be produced without casein, a dairy byproduct that is conventionally used in the manufacturing process."
Decibels in your life
"You can judge a person's clout - his or her social and political standing - by witnessing how much racket he or she must regularly endure," Dwight Garner writes for The New York Times. "Those who lack silence in their lives tend to be the politically weak, whether the poor (investment bankers don't live near runways) or labourers or soldiers or prisoners or children. In creating noise that others must live with, we display our contempt for those weaker than ourselves. Hear us roar; eat our exhaust."
Thought du jour
"To be a member of a crowd is an experience closely akin to alcoholic intoxication. Most human beings feel a craving to escape from the cramping limitations of their ego, to take periodical holidays from their all too familiar, all too squalid little selves."
- Aldous Huxley