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Graphic Artist Carefully Assigns Ethnicities to Anthropomorphic Recyclables:

"For reasons of basic sensitivity, you don’t want to make the Chinese take-out container an Asian," Bellisle said, as she flipped past a crossed-out pencil sketch of an Inuit ice-cream carton. "But, if you make the same type of container represent two different races, people notice. It’s a delicate balancing act. I discovered that there were negative connotations attached to a surprising number of the things people throw out."

Although she said she is satisfied with her decision to incorporate Asiatic epicanthic folds into the eyes of an age-discolored stack of newspapers, Bellisle admitted that infusing everyday household garbage with easily recognizable racial traits—while avoiding demeaning stereotypes—is difficult.

"It took me forever to get this trash can to look like a black guy, especially around the nose," said Bellisle, who noted that she discarded close to 30 preliminary characters, among them a Native American milk carton, a Filipino cereal box, and a stack of East Indian wire-hangers. "I finally made the green recycling drum a woman, which was great, since a garbage can is kind of husky, and I could get around the sexy-garbage/body-image issue."

Added Bellisle: "That brings another problem to light: If you include one woman in the mix, no one cares what race she is. As if one female recycling drum can represent female recycling drums of all races, but male recyclables deserve further distinction."

(The Onion seems to have adopted a new page-naming convention, so I don’t expect the link to last more than a week.)

• Category: Science 
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No ‘safe’ time to avoid pregnancy:

For 50 years, doctors have believed that about a dozen follicles, or egg sacs, grow at one time during a woman’s menstrual cycle. From this group, only one follicle actually bursts and releases an egg, while the others shrivel and die.

But, in a finding that left even researchers “flabbergasted,” University of Saskatchewan scientists have found this pattern of follicular development actually occurs two to three separate times during a woman’s menstrual cycle. What’s more, 40 per cent of women have the biological potential to ovulate more than once during a cycle.

• Category: Science 
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According to a team of computer scientists, we give away our gender in our writing style.”

• Category: Science 
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Dear Laura,

I am writing to you from Los Angeles, because I think you should know more about Governor Howard Dean. Well, maybe.

See, Laura, I came to this event because I thought it would be a good way to meet chicks. “More trim than a barbershop floor,” that’s what I was thinking. But they crammed us into a small room at Zen Sushi (in retrospect I should have gone to the Knitting Factory event, even though it’s farther from my house) where I got charged $4 (!) for a bottle of Budweiser and had to sit in a little chair in the middle of the room.

After a speech about different Dean campaign events (did you know he had a fundraiser at the hotel Bel Age? I didn’t think so!), they decided to let us go around the room, introduce ourselves, and talk about why we liked Dean.

Well, Laura, these were people who clearly weren’t used to having a public forum, so they blathered on ad nauseum about their favorite topics: how ashamed they were to be Americans, how disgusted they were by the (other) Democrats, how frightened they were when they woke up every morning, and how much Bush reminded them of Hitler (“Yeah, I know he hasn’t done the whole … er … Jewish thing. But he’s doing it to Muslims, you know, in Guantanamo…”).

This took way too long. When it got to be my turn, I almost said, “I like Dean because he supports military intervention in Liberia,” but I chickened out and said, “I’m just here to learn.” (There were some cute girls I didn’t want to alienate quite yet.)

So here’s the kicker. They hand out all these sheets of paper, and explain to us that — just as the movie studios woo Oscar voters — we were going to woo Iowa caucus-ers. (It seems a little shady to me, but what do I know…). And so, even though I was there “to learn,” I ended up with your name and address, and with a sample form letter which I’ve completely ignored (except for the “Dear (First Name)” part).

To be honest, Laura, I don’t vote. And if I did, I’d probably vote for the libertarians. So I’m not really in a position to advocate Dean or anyone else to you. And since your one vote isn’t going to affect the outcome, it doesn’t really matter anyway.

We should get to know each other as Americans again and build our American community together. You can write me back or if you have email, save the postage and contact me at joelgrus-at-joelgrus-dot-com.

I’d also love to know what is happening in Iowa. Do you know my friend Kirsten? She’s from Ames.


PS I infer from your name that you are a woman-American. Will you send me a picture?

• Category: Science 
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution