Profile: The Conversation - Lifestyle

Academic rigor, journalistic flair

The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.
We aim to help rebuild trust in journalism. All authors and editors sign up to our Editorial Charter. All contributors must abide by our Community Standards policy. We only allow authors to write on a subject on which they have proven expertise, which they must disclose alongside their article. Authors’ funding and potential conflicts of interest must also be disclosed. Failure to do so carries a risk of being banned from contributing to the site.

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NoteStreams By The Conversation - Lifestyle

How Old is My Pet in Dog Years or Cat Years?

“Just how old do you think my dog is in dog years?” is a question I hear on a regular basis. People love to anthropomorphize pets, attributing human characteristics to them. And most of us want to extend our animal friends’ healthy lives for as long as possible.
Post by Jesse Grady: Clinical Instructor of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University
The Conversation

Category: Lifestyle

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Should I Kill Spiders in my Home? An Entomologist Explains Why Not To

I know it may be hard to convince you, but let me try: Don’t kill the next spider you see in your home.
Why? Because spiders are an important part of nature and our indoor ecosystem – as well as being fellow organisms in their own right.
Post by Matt Bertone; Extension Associate in Entomology, North Carolina State University
Cover image: He comes in peace. Matt Bertone, CC BY-ND
The Conversation
CC BY-ND

Category: Nature

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How one ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Poster Won Out Over all the Others &

...Became a Symbol of Female Empowerment
Seventy-five years ago, Norman Rockwell’s painting of Rosie the Riveter (above right) appeared on the cover of a May 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
Yet today, when people hear “Rosie the Riveter,” Rockwell’s painting isn’t the one that comes to mind.
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: Social Awareness

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The Science of the Plot Twist: How Writers Exploit Our Brains

A major part of the pleasure of plot twists, comes not from the shock of surprise, but from looking back at the early bits of the narrative in light of the twist.
Post by Vera Tobin; Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: Book Club

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What Can One of the World’s Greatest Novels Teach us About Marriage?

You can tell a lot about our culture by the way we talk about marriage. Take the upcoming exchange of vows between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Press coverage will focus on aspects like the cost of the festivities, the size of the crowds and the fashion choices of the wedding party - but marriage deserves deeper reflection.
Fortunately, one of the greatest novels ever published – Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” which I teach regularly to my ethics students at Indiana University – provides deep insights on why some marriages thrive and others don’t.
Post by Richard Gunderman, Chancellor's Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University
The Conversation
CC BY

Category: Book Club

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The History of the Hollywood Sign, From Public Nuisance to Stardom

Ask someone today what the sign symbolizes, and the same words will likely crop up: Movies. Stardom. Glamour.
But the sign didn’t always represent fame and fortune. As the city changed, so did the meaning of the sign, which, at one point, was even considered a public nuisance.
Post by Leo Braudy
Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Cover image by Ahmet Yalçınkaya on UnsplashThe ConversationCC BY-ND 4.0

Category: History

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Protect Your Privacy During Turbulent Times: A Hacker’s Guide to Being Cyber-Safe

Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. It is understood that everyone has something to hide, because human dignity and intimacy don’t exist if we can’t keep our thoughts and actions private. As citizens in the digital age, that is much more difficult.
Post by Timothy Summers, Director of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Engagement, University of Maryland
The Conversation

Category: Social Awareness

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Why Bystanders Rarely Speak Up When They Witness Sexual Harassment

The uproar over allegations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually abused and harassed dozens of the women he worked with is inspiring countless women (and some men) to share their own personal sexual harassment and assault stories. My research on how people often fail to speak out when they witness these incidents might help explain why Weinstein could reportedly keep his despicable behavior an open secret for decades.
Post by George B. Cunningham, Professor of Sport Management, Faculty Affiliate of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, and Director, Laboratory for Diversity in Sport, Texas A&M University
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: Social Awareness

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Just Drink It: Why Wine Investing Usually Isn’t Worth It

Industry insiders have argued that wine generates above-average returns, helps to diversify an investor’s portfolio (thus lowering its risk) and – if all fails – the owner can still drink it. The drinking part is certainly true, but does it really perform?
Karl Storchmann is a Clinical Professor of Economics at New York University. He is an applied micro-economist and his research focuses on issues related to agriculture, transportation, energy and the environment. He is a founding member of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) and the managing editor of its journal, the Journal of Wine Economics.
The ConversationCC BY-ND 4.0December 31, 2014

Category: Wine

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What’s Lost When We Photograph Life Instead of Experiencing It?

Journalist Mary Pilon described how, when visiting a temple in Cambodia, a sea of tourists became so preoccupied with capturing the perfect, shareable picture that, ironically, “no one was really present.”
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Social Awareness

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To Publish an Subversive Novel, Have a Main Character Who’s Fat

Rather than try to ban books, a better approach is to instead teach media literacy so young people are better able to contextualize what they’re exposed to.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Arts

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What is Behind the Turkey Pardoning Ritual?

Whether you smile or roll your eyes, it happens every year. And while it may seem a bit of a silly tradition, perhaps there is value in rituals.

Category: Lifestyle

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How Was French Cuisine Toppled As the King of Fine Dining?

In my recently published book, “Ten Restaurants that Changed America,” I show how one restaurant, Le Pavillon, came to epitomize the rise and fall of French cuisine.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Food

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Are Pop Stars Destined To Die Young?

Does a quest for fame lead to an early demise?
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Social Awareness

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Snowden: A Picture of the Cybersecurity State

Maybe you've heard - there's a movie about Edward Snowden.
The movie doesn’t take a nuanced view of why intelligence agencies do what they do.
Nor does it provide sufficient context about the NSA’s practices in relation to those of agencies in other countries.
Its portrayal of the technology involved (and of U.S. government efforts to apprehend and prosecute whistleblowers) is, however, mostly accurate.

The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Social Awareness

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What Would Lincoln Say to Donald Trump?

As the Republican nominee, Donald Trump could learn a lot from his party’s first president, Abraham Lincoln.
Cover Image by Jonathan Ernst
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Social Awareness

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Aid to Dying: What Jainism Teaches Us

In one of India’s religious traditions, Jainism, those at the end of life can choose to embrace a final fast transition from one body to another. However, a recent court case has challenged the constitutionality of this practice.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Social Awareness

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Does The First Amendment Protect People Who Film The Police?

The debate started after several citizens started capturing police misconduct with their smartphones and presented these videos as evidence in court trials.

Category: Social Awareness

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How Digital Technology Spawned Retro’s Revival

Remember those big black disks with holes in the middle that used to be played on “turntables?”
They’re not actually ancient history. This past year, worshipers at what novelist Michael Chabon calls “the Church of Vinyl” bought 9.2 million records. And though vinyl sales make up only two percent of record industry revenues, they’re up by more than 250 percent since 2009.

Category: Lifestyle

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Addiction On Campus: Problematic Internet Use

Problematic Internet Use is now considered to be a behavioral addiction with characteristics that are similar to substance use disorders.

Category: For Teachers

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A Beginner’s Guide to Sex Differences in the Brain

Asking whether there are sex differences in the human brain is a bit like asking whether coffee is good for you – scientists can’t seem to make up their minds about the answer. In 2013, for example, news stories proclaimed differences in the brain so dramatic that men and women “might almost be separate species.” Then in 2015, headlines announced that there are in fact no sex differences in the brain at all. Even as I write this, more findings of differences are coming out.

Category: Science

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Exorcising The Ghosts Of Romantic Pasts

Few things in life are as traumatic as the end of a long-term, romantic relationship. Nonetheless, many people are able to eventually recover and move on relatively unscathed.

Category: Self Discovery

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Gossip Is a Social Skill – Not a Character Flaw

Let’s face it: gossips get a bad rap.
Indeed, in its rawest form, gossip is a strategy used by individuals to further their own reputations and interests at the expense of others. Studies that I have conducted confirm that gossip can be used in cruel ways for selfish purposes.

Category: Social Awareness

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Pantone’s Colors Of 2016

Pantone, the global authority on color standards for the design industries, recently announced its colors of the year for 2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity, which are muted shades of pink and blue, respectively.
It’s the first time Pantone has chosen the blending of two shades instead of one (past choices include Marsala, Radiant Orchid and Emerald). According to the company, by breaking from tradition, it hopes to “transcend cultural and gender norms.”

Category: Lifestyle

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Explainer: The Oscars

The first thing to understand about the Oscars is that, as a measure of the aesthetic value of films, they are completely unreliable. To understand why this is the case, we need to know what exactly “The Academy” is and how it operates.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, established in 1927, is an invitation-only honorary society made up of people who work in the film industry, mainly in Hollywood. The Academy has several branches: one for actors, one for editors, one for executives, and so on. Memberships, once gained, do not expire.

Category: Arts

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Why Fashion Models Don’t Smile

It’s almost fashion week season, with events in London, New York and Paris all coming up, and I have one pretty sure prediction: the models won’t be smiling. In spite of some hasty claims that happy faces are now de rigeur, a blank expression is a perennial trait of model behaviour.

Category: Fashion

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Why so Many Find Meaning in Star Wars

After witnessing the overwhelming popularity of Star Wars, director Francis Ford Coppola told George Lucas he should start his own religion.
Lucas laughed him off, but Coppola may have been onto something.

Category: Arts

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The Hidden Harms of the US Foster-Care System

Firestorms regarding child-protective systems have become sadly commonplace, occurring recently in Massachusetts, Colorado and Florida. Elected officials and the general public often don’t pay much attention to child protection systems until a child dies in a family known to the state agency charged with protecting children at risk.

Category: Social Awareness

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Four Key Takeaways From The Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa caucuses have a long history of upending the conventional wisdom and Monday night was no exception.

Category: Social Awareness

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How French Children Acquire A Taste For Life

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to lose weight by dieting. The idea is that restricting the pleasures of tasty foods will lead to greater fitness and a finer physique. But if these rewards are so valuable, why is it so hard for us to stick to our resolution? Maybe the problem is that when we try to lose weight, we also lose the pleasure of eating.

Category: Lifestyle

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Why More Grandparents Are Raising Grandchildren

An Average Day
Sunday, September 13 was Grandparents Day. Many grandparents will have received loving cards, calls and emails from their grandchildren. However, a significant number of grandparents – approximately 2.7 million, as reported by the US Census – will have done exactly what they do every day, which is make their grandchildren breakfast, organize their activities and help with homework in the evening.

Category: Social Awareness

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What Book Thieves Say About A Country’s Culture

The catalogue of the Johannesburg Public Library in South Africa contains a poignant entry – “Biko, Steve. Long 0verdue”.
The entry refers to I Write What I Like, a volume of collected writings by Steve Biko, the Black Consciousness leader tortured to death in police custody in 1977. The library used to have six copies of the volume but they have all been borrowed and never returned.

Category: For Teachers

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How Ad Research Explains Donald Trumps Appeal

Politics and advertising are closely intertwined. Like a good advertisement, a good politician needs to present a compelling case for why the voter should check his or her box on the ballot over all the other options. Many good ads or politicians will make a direct appeal to viewers' emotions – and of all the candidates in recent memory, Donald Trump may be the best at doing this.

Category: Social Awareness

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The Fate of Metalheads

Adults often worry about adolescents who identify with fringe-style cultures, whether it’s emo, hip-hop or juggalos. But every generation has its own set of musical cliques that draw millions of teenage fans. In the 1980s, heavy metal – a style of music characterized by blistering guitar solos and soaring vocals – was, by some measures, the most popular musical genre.

Category: Music

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Who Says Libraries are Dying?

With the expansion of digital media, the rise of e-books and massive budget cuts, the end of libraries has been predicted many times over. And while it is true that library budgets have been slashed, causing cuts in operating hours and branch closures, libraries are not exactly dying. In fact, libraries are evolving.

Category: Social Awareness

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Who Exactly is Government Helping?

Almost everyone believes that government is an essential institution, necessary to protect us from those threats we cannot counter on our own. But even if we accept that justification, it rarely describes what American government actually does, whether at the local, state, or federal level. What exactly is the government protecting — and from whom?

Category: Social Awareness

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Forget The Super Bowl: It’s About Fantasy

As the NFL’s regular season kicks off with a full slate of games, I did something that reflects the state of American sports fandom. I picked a daily fantasy football team. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are a lot of others like me. The trade group says that, as of August, 56.8 million people in the United States and Canada had played fantasy sports in 2015. That’s already more than twice the number of players there were in 2009 and a significant jump from the 41 million who played last year.

Category: Sports

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How US Gun Control Compares to the Rest of the World

The Charleston murders have renewed the sporadic debates over whether gun control might have prevented this latest of tragedies. So far, however, the US has not done “something about it.” The National Rifle Association (NRA), it seems, has so much power over politicians that even when 90% of Americans (including a majority of NRA members) wanted universal background checks to be adopted following the Newtown killings of 2012, no federal action ensued.

Category: Social Awarenessxxx

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Libraries on the Front Lines of Homelessness Crisis in the United States

On any given night in 2014, over half a million people in the United States found themselves without a home. While the majority of these people (69%) secured shelter for the night, many shelters do not provide daytime accommodations for their patrons. This leaves many in search of daytime activity and protection from the elements. Unfortunately, many homeless are also living with debilitating mental illnesses. The intimate relationship between homelessness and mental illness is well-established. Almost all psychiatric conditions are overrepresented in homeless populations.

Category: Social Awareness

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Why Fart Jokes Never Get Old

Farting is a universal human experience, as routine as eating, breathing and sleeping. And it seems to be a cross-cultural and trans-historical fact that passing gas, at least in most social contexts, is rude and offensive. There’s also the fundamental truth pertaining to the topic: farts are funny. But why is this the case? They’re often a source of discomfort and embarrassment, so why do they double as an inspiration for humor, even literary beauty?

Category: History

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Social Justice in Dr. Seuss’ Children’s Books

On February 18, Random House announced the discovery of What Pet Should I Get?, an unpublished – and heretofore unseen – picture book by Dr. Seuss. The announcement came 10 days after the same publisher revealed that it would publish Harper Lee’s “discovered” manuscript for Go Set a Watchman in the summer of 2015. In What Pet Should I Get? – released this week – the very same siblings who first appeared in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish now struggle with the question of what pet they should choose. While the siblings in What Pet Should I Get? may not be as familiar as Scout and Jem Finch, Dr. Seuss' new book is the latest addition to a body of work that remains just as committed to social justice as Harper Lee’s famous novels.

Category: Social Awareness

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Wine Drinking in America Today

What beverage has grown continuously in consumption for the past 20 years in America? Wine. According to the Wine Institute, in 1993 Americans only drank 1.74 gallons of wine per capita. In 2013 that figure had risen to 2.82 gallons. This makes the US the largest wine consuming nation in the world at over 329 million cases of wine sold in 2013, according to Impact Databank. Wine is now becoming part and parcel of America’s culture with over 7,700 wineries across the country, in all of the fifty states. The increase in popularity is attributed to several factors, including the fact that Americans dine out more and enjoy matching wine to cuisine.

Category: Wine

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Exploring How Black & White Artists Depict Race

In 2013, when Graham C Boettcher, chief curator at the Birmingham Museum of Art, first conceptualized a small exhibit examining the visual representation of race in American art, he couldn’t have anticipated the present political moment. From events in Ferguson and Baltimore to the senseless murder of nine innocent people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, America finds itself at another crossroads in race relations because of the harrowing effects of systemic racism. When I was asked to co-curate this exhibition last year, I emphasized that race – specifically, “blackness” – has been constructed and visually represented from the perspectives of both blacks and whites.

Category: Arts

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Beer-Making Can Teach Students About Business

Next time you are in your local grocery store, step in to look a little more closely at the beer cooler. Amid the brightly colored, creative packaging lies the final battle for the ultimate goal – your purchases. But, what battles were fought to get the beer to that particular cooler? More importantly, what might those battles say about larger trends in business today? At Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, we designed an experiential class to go in depth with these issues, leveraging the lessons of the beer industries as a way to better understand larger trends in business strategy and supply chains.

Category: Craft Beer

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Small Brands, Big Impact: Craft Beer is Top of the Hops

The brewing industries in many countries are undergoing dramatic changes, with increasing numbers of craft breweries challenging the traditional volume-based business model of major corporations.
In the US for example, more than 400 breweries opened in 2012, an increase of 17% from the year before. Craft beer continues to grow even when beer consumption overall is declining in many markets around the world. This certainly seems to be the trend in countries like the US, Canada, New Zealand and indeed Australia.

Category: Craft Beer

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Patriot Act Meltdown: Politics and Rand Paul

On June 7 at midnight, three key provisions of the Patriot Act, including section 215 (the law the government uses to collect phone and other business records in bulk) expired. The man at the center of the political drama on Capitol Hill was Kentucky Republican Senator – and presidential candidate – Rand Paul. But just how instrumental was Paul in the demise of the Patriot Act? And what will be the impact of the expiry of the infamous section 215? As we wait to see what the Senate does next, we asked a panel of scholars to look at these questions and more.

Category: Social Awareness

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Wine Corks & Aging: Natural vs. Synthetic

Most foods are best as fresh as possible. I remember picking peaches at my grandfather’s ranch in Northern California and eating them on the spot. What a taste! But the exceptions to this rule are the many wines that actually need some aging to taste their best. Winemakers know this, and work to control the aging process including decisions they make about how to bottle up their product.

Category: Wine

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Scarves Can Mean Many Things - Prestige Above All

When International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde goes to the G8 summit in June, she may well be wearing a scarf – a fashion accessory that she’s become known for, and one that’s been drawing more and more attention. In fact, the BBC recently identified scarves as a “new power symbol” for women. True, just as some men choose amusing neckties to enliven monochrome suits, many women who work in an atmosphere that requires conservative business apparel will wear scarves to add a fillip of color and distinction.

Category: Lifestyle

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