Weekendish: The best of the week's reads
A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week.
"Save the lives of our men by sending them the anti-live barbed-wire glove." World War One provided great marketing opportunities for companies keen to sell everything from food and fashion to fountain pens. And they often resorted to making emotional appeals in their bid to get the British public to buy their products. Many appealed to a sense of patriotism. Sunlight Soap, for example, was described as "typically British". "Tommy welcomes it in Trenches" because he was "the cleanest fighter in the world" - "chivalrous" and "gallant" being part of the intended double-meaning. But how many of these items really were must-haves for the trenches, asks Simon Armstrong. Were the "Super-Men" really crying out for Waterman's "Super-Pen"?
What is torture? That depends on who you ask. The UN defines it as "deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering" for reasons such as obtaining information or punishment. But countries rarely accept that their own interrogation techniques, however harsh, cross that line. After 9/11, US officials argued that waterboarding, "rectal feeding", and sleep deprivation didn't amount to torture - but when the world found out about them, the country's reputation suffered. The UK experienced exactly the same when its infamous "five techniques" including hooding and sensory deprivation were revealed in the 1970s.
Do you get a tingly feeling in your scalp if you're intrigued or fascinated by something? Bit like goose bumps, but not quite. It seems there are lots of people who do - so many, in fact, that there are tens of thousands of videos dedicated to creating this, apparently pleasant, sensation. It has a name - Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) - and these are the types of activities that feature in the videos: polished fingernails tapping on a plastic surface, plastic packaging being scrunched, people being given massages, performers whispering to camera. Nick Higham tracked down some of the stars of these videos and learnt more about the condition that he's had since he was a child.
Here's a story that is truly cosmic. Wet (he was named after a hummingbird) is the artist for the Palikur tribe, who live in the Amazon. The tribal elder makes sculptures about the stars - helping to keep the myths that have been passed down the generations alive. "Every star has a story," says Wet in a short BBC film. Stories, he says, that were discovered by shaman. Wet says he didn't know he was an artist until the "white man" told him he was. Check out his sculptures - and his amazing feather head-dress.
Phevos the tiger began life in a travelling circus. He might have ended it in a zoo in a small town in central Greece if it wasn't for the intervention of David Barnes, a former RSPCA inspector. This is the second time Barnes has helped the tiger to a better life - the first was to rescue him from the circus. The latest victim of cuts, the Greek zoo no longer has money to care for Phevos properly. The 260kg animal with a bone-crushing bite and paws the size of dinner plates is about to start a new life in California. But how easy is to transport a tiger halfway around the world? Rubbing his head and whispering to him helps.
Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:
Sperm Donor, Life Partner - Atlantic
After 12/13/14, What Are the Next Fun Dates for Math Lovers? - Smithsonian Magazine
Weather Man - The New Yorker
From Africa to Kent: Following in the footsteps of migrants - New Statesman
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