7 LANGUAGE MAPS: Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India. English comes next with 527 million native speakers. Arabic is used by nearly 100 million more native speakers than Spanish.
If you randomly select two people in Cameroon, there is a 97% likelihood that they will have different mother tongues. In the United States, there is only a 33 percent likelihood that this is going to happen.
Most languages are spoken only by a handful of people. That’s why about half of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the century. About 3% of the world’s population accounts for 96% of all languages spoken today. Out of all languages in the world, 2,000 have fewer than 1,000 native speakers.
VERTICAL VIDEOS: We live in a horizontal world, and most action happens from left to right. Vertical videos feel claustrophobic, because often they feature one or two people occupying the full frame, and not much of the landscape to show what lies beyond. Our eyes are horizontal: the human field of vision is wider than it is tall, so it is only natural that our videos match that shape.
Our eyes may be horizontal, but our hands are best suited to holding objects vertically, which is why phones, tablets and, in the predigital age, our books and other documents were usually oriented in portrait mode. Watching horizontal video on a phone’s vertical screen is a minor annoyance. With a horizontal video, you have to awkwardly flip your phone sideways so the entire image fills the screen, or you can keep your phone vertical and tolerate the huge black bars displayed above and below the picture.
Many people didn’t reorient their phones to watch horizontal videos in full-screen mode. They found it so uncomfortable to hold the phone the other way, and they didn’t want to keep switching their phones back and forth.
We live in the era of personal video. Shouldn’t we celebrate videos that match the shape of our bodies?
AREA CODE STATUS: San Francisco, a city with no shortage of status symbols, has just gained another: the 415 area code. As with all status symbols in San Francisco and elsewhere, a 415 number can be yours, for a price. 415 was a “sizable market” even before the appearance of 628.
But it’s not the most in-demand area code. “310” — Los Angeles — “right off the bat, are the hardest numbers to secure. People can’t get a 310, even a random 310 anymore.” Instead, they’re stuck with LA’s version of 628, 424. Nobody wants a 424, especially if they’re in business.
Other popular area codes: 214 (Dallas), 312 (Chicago), 305 (Miami), 404 (Atlanta), 818 (Hollywood), and 626 (Pasadena). These are “original area codes.
Most expensive number: 702 FORTUNE for $99,999. Most expensive ending digits -XXXX for $31,250.
The most popular area codes (PhoneNumberGuy.com)
AVERAGE MIDLIFE CRISIS AT 42: Spotify found that there’s a specific point when middle-aged listeners drop their sophisticated singer-songwriters, their “best of the 80s, 90s and today,” and spontaneously start listening to teeny-bopper pop again. That age is — drumroll, please — 42.
Listeners become less interested in popular music over time — until that little dip, circa age 42. (Spotify)
NAME YOUR EMOTIONS: It’s also true that we can’t change what we don’t notice. Denying or avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away, nor does it lessen their impact on us, even if it’s unconscious. Noticing and naming emotions gives us the chance to take a step back and make choices about what to do with them.
Emotions are just a form of energy, forever seeking expression. Paradoxically, sharing what we’re feeling in simple terms helps us to better contain and manage even the most difficult emotions. By naming them out loud, we are effectively taking responsibility for them, making it less likely that they will spill out at the expense of others over the course of a day.
FAKE LAUGHING: A fake laugh is an imitation of a real laugh, but produced with a slightly different set of vocal muscles controlled by a different part of our brain. The result is that there are subtle features of the laughs that sound like speech
If you slow down a “real” laugh 2.5 times, the result is strangely animal-like. It sounds like an ape of some kind, and while it’s hard to identify, it definitely sounds like an animal. But when you slow down human speech, or a “fake” laugh, it doesn’t sound like a nonhuman animal at all—it sounds like human speech slowed down.
When we asked people whether a slowed laugh recording was a human or nonhuman animal, they couldn’t tell with the real/spontaneous laughs, but they could tell that the recordings of fake/volitional laughs were of people.
FAVORITE BEERS AROUND THE WORLD: Americans love Bud Light. in Canada, the beer of choice is Bud Light’s heavier cousin Budweiser. Down in Mexico, people choose Corona most often. In China, beer drinkers down a lager beer called Snow; in India, people like a pale lager called Kingfisher best; in Brazil, the most popular brew is a Pilsner called Skol; and across the ocean, in Australia, it’s a beer called Victoria Bitter.
How to drink beer like a local (WAPO)
LUXURY TOILET PAPER: Americans have a new favorite way to flush money down the drain: luxury toilet paper. Sales in the United States of what the industry calls “luxury” rolls — anything quilted, lotioned, perfumed or ultra-soft, from two- to four-ply — climbed to $1.4 billion last year, outpacing all other kinds of toilet paper for the first time in nearly a decade.
A roll of luxury toilet paper is stamped with gold in Germany. American luxury toilet paper is softer, thicker and gold-free. (Michael Dalder, Reuters)
AMERICAN RELIGION AND OPTIMISM: Americans’ emphasis on individualism and work ethic stands out in surveys of people around the world. 57% of Americans disagreed with: “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control” – far above the global median of 38%.
Wealthier nations tend to be less religious, but USA is a prominent exception. More than half (54%) of Americans said religion was very important in their lives, much higher than Canada (24%), Australia (21%) and Germany (21%), the next three wealthiest economies surveyed. 53% say belief in God is a prerequisite for being moral and having good values, much higher than the 23% in Australia and 15% in France.
U.S. more likely to say “today is a good day” than other rich countries (Pew Research Center)
The first influx of Irish occurred during the potato famine in 1845.
Russians in the first decade of the 20th Century was driven by anti-Semitic violence of the Russian pogroms (riots).
In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, army conscription and the forced assimilation of minority groups drove people to the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Since WWII, Central and South America and Asia have replaced Europe as the largest source of immigrants to the U.S. Immigration shrunk to almost nothing as restrictions tightened during WWII, and then gradually expanded to reach its largest extent ever in the first decade of the 21st Century.
200 Years of Immigration in the USA (Insightful Interaction)