Poop coming in handy

Yes poop. 💩

Here are two ways poop came in handy this year:

In Japan: “Professor Poo bestseller brings scatology-based study to Japan” (from the Guardian). This book is helping kids learn to write kanji characters, and the term うんこ漢字ドリル(Poop Kanji Drills is the name of the book) was one of this year’s Words of the Year in Japan. (“The Japanese words that perfectly sum up how the country felt this year” from Quartz)

Read more about the workbook at Spoon and Tamago.


In the US: turning cow poop into electricity

Read more about this “methane digester” at the Strauss Family Creamery in California.

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CMN and world heritage food culture

The other day I was half-watching a segment on CNN about the newly designated world heritage status of Neapolitan pizza. They had invited a chef to come on the show and demonstrate how to make a pizza. The hosts of the show kept pushing him to spin the dough in the air, repeating the “fact” that this is what made Neapolitan pizza so special and worthy of the world heritage status. But the chef kept saying, “We don’t do this in Naples.” He explained that they do “flip” the dough on the counter, but that the in-air spinning wasn’t a Neapolitan tradition. It was funny (depressing, really) to watch this lack of communication happen.

Anyway, it made me think about how annoying CNN is these days. Everything is “Breaking News” even if they’re repeating the same story for the 10th time. And they play the same commercials about a million times an hour. The latest is the Morgan Freeman one for Turkish airlines, which was replayed — I’m not joking — 6 times in the hour I had CNN on. I call it CMN (commercial network). I know certain world leaders criticize CNN and other media for being “fake news” and I don’t want to perpetuate that, but I do wish they’d make it easier to like  and support them.

As for world heritage food cultures, it was four years ago that washoku was given world heritage status. Time flies.

What have you learned this year?

Third year in a row (see 2015’s and  2016’s lists) of reflecting on things you’ve learned this year, inspired by this list: “52 things I learned in 2017”.

Some of the things I thought were interesting (go to the article to find links to the original sources):

#4: Laser Snake is a robotic arm that is used to help decommission nuclear plants.

#30: Some people begging for money in China are using QR codes and smart phones to get it.

#34: People who watch regular TV see up to 160 hours of advertisements a year. That’s one good thing about Netflix.

#38: In just 5 months in 2016, more than 250 people died as a result of drivers playing Pokemon Go.

#41: Men who travel first class are more likely to weigh a lot, but the reverse is true for women.

#45: There are twelve people whose job it is to check and remove abusive comments and spam from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.

#51: A research company in Korea is working on furniture that moves itself, making it easier to clean your room. (see video below)


Students, try making your own list of things you learned this year. It’s a good way to review the year and get ready for end-of-semester tests and assessments.