AotM #15: Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

Yes, everyone, that’s right, Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day is a thing. Enjoy some chocolate and almonds for breakfast, lunch, & dinner today, since they are an incredibly healthy and delicious snack.


  1. ‘O’ [Yawn!]
    …Did that work? Did you yawn through sheer peer pressure? Well hopefully so, since yawning is AWESOME! It oxygenates the brain, increases alertness, and moves you closer to a meditative state. So never be ashamed of yawning. I love articles like this that explore that fuzzy nexus of science and spirituality.
  2. Everyone should keep as many houseplants as you can handle. We spend more time indoors than ever before in human history, surrounded by more toxic chemicals than ever before, in more tightly sealed and insulated domiciles than ever before—those old drafty houses on the prairie were actually good for you. So do yourself a favor and invest in some all-natural, sunlight-powered, green air-filters. (Or spend more time outdoors…Either way).
  3. Books are great, and reading improves your language ability, but you can’t trust most books out there when it comes to grammar…Even that supposed “classic” Elements of Style by Strunk & White is full of horrendous and ill-informed advice. Grammar isn’t nearly as boring or stuffy as lots of codgy old books, misinformed teachers, and snobby editors would have you think. And incidentally, I absolutely love the Language Log blog, as it brings language and grammar to life.
  4. Your new car runs more lines of code than the Joint Strike Fighter (no wonder car costs haven’t gone down much over the decades). Might this cause some problems, maybe with brakes…? It’s unfortunate that it’s becoming more difficult to find and learn the pleasures of a no-frills manual transmission these days.

AotM #14: King Tut Day

Happy Tutankhamen Day! Go to a museum!


  1. But before some serious stuff, let’s start it off with BEARS!!! Despite what Stephen Colbert may say, Bears are OK in my book—after all, they’re part of the international coalition fighting the war on terror! But that’s not too surprising, since bears have been fighting for us since at least WWII. And who doesn’t want beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking, artillery-carrying, Nazi-fighting large clawed mammals on their side?
  2. Another area where new studies are only confirming folk wisdom and old knowledge—TV makes kids more aggressive. I mean, it’s been ignored by the media and politicians for a decade, but we’ve known for a long time that violent imagery does indeed condition and desensitize people to violence (I highly recommend reading On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society for some fascinating research and discussion on the topic). And yet, it’s still a social faux pas to condemn violence in media, even while we’re still vehemently puritanical about love & sex. Time to grow up, America.
  3. Parental control and restriction is psychologically damaging anywhere, but here’s an interesting study that shows the differences between Eastern & Western parenting.
  4. Not only are over-the-counter pain meds the most widely used pharmaceuticals in the world, but turns out they can degrade your flu shot and depress your immune system. Pain is a wonderful thing, since it tells us when something is out of whack, so embrace it and work on the core problem—there’s not much to be gained from masking it, at least for most minor things.
  5. Retrospectives, books, and movies about our men and women in the military all too often focus on standout cases of elite heroes. But the story of an average recruit who spends time in Iraq or Afghanistan is equally important to share, as it reveals more of the realities of military life and war. So enjoy this fascinating and wonderfully open photoessay that follows the life of a young Army enlistee, from recruitment, through training, to Iraq, and back. Bad decisions, warts, & all.

AotM #13: Mischief Night

I never knew this before, but it certainly makes perfect sense that it was those hooliganish Brits who invented Mischief Night.


  1. No matter how often studies like these that promote the benefits of exercise come along, I’ll never stop sharing them, since getting sweaty really does make everything better. Today, Tai Chi reduces depression and joint pain in the elderly, and moderate exercise can lessen or even prevent flu.
  2. Although it’s certainly nothing new, here’s yet more research showing that even just beginning to study and play music improves brain function and memory. Get out and play something now!
  3. Where does dust come from? Surprisingly, we didn’t quite know where until now.
  4. While it’s about 90% true that you always get what you pay for, Monster Cables are one solid example of the remaining 10% of utter scams. Never trust marketing or commissioned “experts” (cough cough RadioShack).
  5. Here is an excellent proposal describing why English should NOT ever be legally made our official language. The fact that this topic is even an issue really does only go to show how discombobulated and disconnected we have become as One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty & Justice for All (I have omitted the “Under God” since it’s a relatively recent addition to the Pledge). If we felt more unified as a nation, it wouldn’t matter what languages people spoke.
  6. Finally, here’s a fascinating study showing how our unconscious biases effect the “results” of torture. Combined with the uselessness of most lie detection methodologies, we as a nation should most definitely forbid torture for anything related to our national interests. It just doesn’t work, and only serves to reduce our standing in the world.