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  • 5. Albino. Magpie hero

    Red-Eyed Magpies, White-Speckled Ravens & Other Birds of Unusual Feathers

    “This here is my favorite cabinet,” Hein van Grouw tells me as we walk around the back rooms of the Natural History Museum at Tring, 30 miles northwest of London as the crow flies. He pulls the steel double-doors open, revealing a menagerie of stuffed birds. On the top shelves there are snipes, rails, and […]

  • phone operator

    Mumbling Isn’t a Sign of Laziness—It’s a Clever Data-Compression Trick

    Many of us have been taught that pronouncing vowels indistinctly and dropping consonants are symptoms of slovenly speech, if not outright disregard for the English language. The Irish playwright St. John Ervine viewed such habits as evidence that some speakers are “weaklings too languid and emasculated to speak their noble language with any vigor.” If […]