“Sometimes our rules make us sound entertainingly fusty. In a 2005 article on rap music and murder we had cause to refer repeatedly to 50 Cent. Not for us “Fiddy”, as he is sometimes dubbed by middle-aged journalists looking to get down wid the homies: in the last two paragraphs we fitted in four mentions of “Mr Cent”.”—The Economist style guide makes no exceptions: not even for “Mr Cent”.
“So permissive when it comes to lethal weapons, the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the prohibition of drugs, in the face of all the evidence that this policy fails to curb their consumption while creating vast profits for organised crime.”—On November 2nd, California holds a referendum on the legalisation of marijuana. As our in-depth analysis of Mexico’s worsening conflict explains, it’s not just Americans who would benefit if the proposition were to be passed.
“In 2003 Bono, a rock star and poverty campaigner, proclaimed that “The world needs more Canada”. This week, the world decided it didn’t.”—On October 12th Canada lost its bid for a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council, for the first time since the organisation was founded in 1945. That Germany was preferred was acceptable; not so, being passed over in favour of Portugal.
Ever fall asleep with a light on? A team of researchers examined how nocturnal light affects weight, body fat and glucose intolerance in male mice. They found that persistent exposure to even a little night-time light leads to increases in all three. Expect some very odd diet plans to follow.
“The half-hearted attempt at the end to present all sides of the story was, well, half-hearted and lacked a grasp of the issue.”—Ouch. Tumblr user stranter takes issue with our cell-phone polling story. (And while we’re rewarding dissent, zigziggityzoo has a good pop at our piece on Mexican gun-running). You’re an argumentative lot.
“We will tell you the recommended price for your meal, but it is up to you if you want to pay that, a bit more, or less.”—A greeter at the door of Panera’s restaurant in St Louis explains the company’s unusual business model. The goal is to let customers who are feeling the strain of the weak economy dine with dignity among regular customers, with none of the stigma of the soup kitchen.
“Seventeen innocent people were killed in a road crash in Poland today. The culprit is the Polish parliament’s incompetence, stubbornness, irresponsibility, lack of vision and lack of resolve.”—An angry plea from our correspondent in Poland. The safest way to cross Poland is by tank, goes a grisly joke. It’s been going on for too long.
“In 1812 Governor Gerry of Massachusetts famously devised an electoral district shaped like a salamander. But modern times have produced far worse ones, such as Illinois’s 17th congressional district, known as the “rabbit on a skateboard”.”—Forget the battle for Congress: the important vote in November could be California’s on gerrymandering.
“Those opposed to METI argue that broadcasting signals into space announcing the location of Earth is tantamount to ringing a dinner gong for any carnivorous, colonising or anti-social aliens who might be listening. Although Earth would be a rather long way to go for lunch, some argue that the decision to take such a risk is not one for a handful of scientists.”—Should we be broadcasting messages to aliens? Astronomers are debating if some stones are better left unturned.
“Religion and royalty have had their chance to guide human society, and they have failed.”—This week our online debaters are discussing the proposition: ”This house believes that religion is a force for good.” It’s getting somewhat heated.
“Novelty names like these are the typographical equivalents of wearing a rotating bow-tie: they attract attention but subtract credibility.”—Our language blog berates Cisco for taking silly punctuation in brand names a step too far with “ūmi telepresence”
“Peter Gumbel argues that France’s harsh grading system is “a veritable wound” that has damaging results on morale, self-confidence and student performance.”—It is virtually impossible to get full marks in the French school-leaving exam - indeed, only 22% of students score more than 14/20. Some worry that “learning through failure” is leading to generations of over-anxious, under-confident young people.
“A report released this month found that 90% of the guns recovered from crime scenes in Mexico and traced led back to American dealers.”—And it’s not just Mexico that suffers - most guns found at American crime scenes come from ten lax states, predominantly in the south.
“Three new electric cars are enthralling the crowds at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai. They can be driven normally or operated autonomously. They can be summoned from their parking places using a mobile phone. What is most intriguing, however, is that they balance on just two wheels.”—Fresh from the 50s, the bubble car is back - this time loaded with Segway technology.
“There are good reasons why people refrain from doing things like comparing their opponents to Nazis, and one of them is that once the gloves come off, it’s hard to get them back on again.”—"It’s simply inaccurate and confusing to write about Glenn Beck without mentioning Nazis," writes our blogger in the US, "because Mr Beck talks about Nazis constantly." We wonder why.