Blog

Extreme Language Learning: a hyperglot in overdrive

  There are certain endeavours that would seem to be unattackable in anything but a million little duck bites — they’re just too big and complicated. And anyone who claims to have mastered such tasks in a single day immediately sets off the charlatan alarm. Scott Adams comes to mind. The creator of the cartoon…

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24 Hours with the Stanley Cup

With hockey season finally about to resume – it was a looong summer for those of us whose teams were mathematically eliminated in April – it seems apt to do a post on one of the coolest traditions in sports. Remember how in school some lucky kid got to take the hamster home overnight? The…

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Maarten van der Weijden’s Big Swim Day

On March 1, Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden climbed into a swimming pool in Oosterhout, wearing special swim goggles fitted with lights to combat drowsiness, and when he climbed out the next day, he’d put 102.8km (63.87 miles) behind him. That’s the farthest anyone has ever swum in 24 hours. It beats a mark that…

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How Many Micro-Decisions Do You Make in a Day?

Making decisions all day long — as judges and referees and bond traders and chess players will tell you — is exhausting. “Decision fatigue” is a real thing. Decision-making depletes the limited resources in our executive brains, reducing us to cataleptic meat sacks by the cocktail hour.  But what many people don’t realize is that…

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The 5 Best Things Ever Written in an All-Nighter

Your big, for-all-the-marbles essay is due tomorrow. You haven’t even started it. Cue the woe, the surrender, the Carole King. It’s too late, baby. Even an all-nighter isn’t going to save you now. But here’s the thing: it might. Sometimes that impossible deadline is just what you need. Sometimes you can pull a rabbit out…

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The Day That Changed Baseball*

If the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 2017 World Series — they’re deadlocked 1-1- with the Houston Astros as I write this — you can chalk up the victory, at least in part, to the very strange thing that happened on May 29, 2009. On that day, a comet appeared out of nowhere. Clayton Kershaw,…

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Our Big Flag Day

The government of Canada is giving us a flag. Not just a flag — the flag. The one that flies atop the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The one on the twenty-dollar bill. That flag. Giving it to us. Just for being us. Turns out — we learned yesterday from a tour guide…

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In a world run by Hedgehogs, the case for the Fox

Consider the journalist with a narrowly defined “beat.” He covers baseball, or film, or federal politics. He gets to know that little patch of turf very well. He cultivates a pool of sources and develops a set of firm ideas. Eventually he becomes as expert as the people he’s writing about. That expertise is his…

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Have a Storyworthy Day

One day last year, a man from Bangalore, India — a place of both high-tech riches and grinding poverty — was overtaken by a nagging question: How do the beggars in this city of eight million spend their nights? What must it be like? He decided to find out. The next morning he took a bed…

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Alex Honnold’s Moonshot

Six days ago, the American climber Alex Honnold pulled off the unimaginable. Among physical tests a human could rise to in a single day, this must — in terms of the sheer brute jeopardy of it — be considered the Big Day to beat all Big Days. The 31-year-old “free soloed” the granite face of…

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