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  3. Megan McArdle has been pushing the importance of failure, and bemoaning cultural shifts away from taking failure-prone risks. In her estimation, children are being drilled into total conformity from a young age, steered by overly concerned parents toward high-success paths that leave little room for creative deviations from the norm. In the long run, McArdle suggests, this is bad for society because it will reduce innovation and the social benefits that flow from it.

    But while McCardle somewhat glibly celebrates failure, the reality of deep failure in America is stark. Unlike elsewhere in the developed world, being at or near the bottom of American society entails extraordinary misery. Poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, instability, and a general lack of a livable social floor means that the consequences of truly failing in the U.S. are rather horrific.

    — Matt Bruenig, in If you want kids to fail, stop making failure so horrible

     

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  5. Kermit the frog can be a real jerk.

    Watch all of the Sesame Street clips mentioned in the podcast.

    Subscribe and listen to all of The Week’s mini-podcasts here.

     


  6. In our weekly podcast series “This Week I Learned”: Science helps you guard against the Polar Vortex; seeing sound onscreen; every kid gets amnesia; and Richard Pryor’s gorgeous hidden talent.

    Listen to all of our “This Week I Learned” podcasts (and many more) here.

     

  7. Harvard scientists have figured out how to give adults the learning power and information retention of children “7 years old or younger”:

    Anti-seizure medication.

     

  8. Food face plates:

    For the beauty enthusiast in your life who also likes to play with her food, Ms. Food Face plates are the perfect gift. The dishes feature a bald lady’s face, perfect for dressing up with a salmon wig, a broccoli rabe necklace, and teriyaki sauce eyeliner.

    7 holiday gifts for the kid inside

     


  9. Kabul, Afghanistan

    Jenin, West Bank

    Crested Butte, Colorado

    The pure joy of swings

     

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  11. It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.
     

  12. In 1927, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade introduced its first balloon: Felix the Cat. Macy’s had no contingency plan for deflating the helium-filled balloon once the parade was over. So organizers decided to just let the balloon float away, expecting it to safely come down to earth after a few days. Instead, it exploded before clearing the city, injuring several New Yorkers.

     

  13. According to a new study, U.S. males are starting puberty two years younger than the previous national average age. 

    "This should perhaps set a standard going forward for being very attentive to puberty in boys and being mindful that they’re developing earlier," says Dolores J. Lamb, a molecular endocrinologist at Baylor College of Medicine and president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the study. On the contrary, says lead author Marcia Herman-Giddens, a researcher at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The results shouldn’t be interpreted to establish a “new normal,” says Herman-Giddens. "Just because this is happening doesn’t mean this is normal or healthy."

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