New words added to Scrabble dictionary

5,000 new words have been added to Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

This ain’t the English you learned in grammar school, but it’s Scrabble for the Internet age.

“These are words that have become part of the culture, part of the language and part of the dictionary,” says Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster.

Among the other new pop culture words added are “chillax” and “frenemy,” now recognized as common parts of our speech. Foreign words such as “qigong” — a Chinese exercise routine — and “qajaq,” which is the Inuit spelling for “kayak,” were also added to the updated version of book, available Aug. 11.

I hate “chillax” as a word, however, it’s 19 points and, if played right, it could be a big point getter.

Abolish tipping?

Brian Palmer at Slate makes a fairly convincing argument to abolish tipping in America.

Tipping does not incentivize hard work. The factors that correlate most strongly to tip size have virtually nothing to do with the quality of service. Credit card tips are larger than cash tips. Large parties with sizable bills leave disproportionately small tips. We tip servers more if they tell us their namestouch us on the arm, or draw smiley faces on our checks. Quality of service has a laughably small impact on tip size. According to a 2000 study, a customer’s assessment of the server’s work only accounts for between 1 and 5 percent of the variation in tips at a restaurant.

He makes several good points, however, most foreigners I’ve spoken with absolutely love the service they get while in American restaurants, and they believe that tipping is a huge part of that.

Items lost in New York’s transit system

Mona Chalabi at FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the items lost in New York’s transit system.

The MTA’s lost and found system is vast. It has to be — whether by bus, train or subway, millions of people travel on the network each day, and they leave a bunch of stuff behind. The MTA publishes its lost and found inventory (spotted by Tim Wallace), so we’re able to explore the items on its shelves. The data is updated hourly, so bear in mind that some of the stuffed animals mentioned in the chart below might be claimed, and some extra umbrellas might have been handed in. As of 3 p.m. Monday, there were 168,478 items in the system.

Who leaves behind an air conditioner? Twice.

Handshakes may be on the way out in hospitals

A recent study found that handshakes transfer more then double the amount of bacteria compared to a fist bump, and are ammunition for those who recommend that handshakes be banned in hospitals.

Whitworth and a student performed a study to see which type of greeting – the handshake, fist bump or “dap” greeting, or high-five – transmitted fewer bacteria. One wore a sterilized glove that was then dipped into bacteria, while the other also wore a sterilized glove. After each greeting – which varied in duration and intensity of contact – they measured how much bacteria had been transferred.

Upon analyzing the gloves in a solution, the researchers found that nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high-five. Even less bacteria were handed off with the fist-bump. With all three types of hand contact, the shorter and less vigorous the contact, the fewer bacteria transmitted.

In most cases, germs are good for us because they keep our immune systems working properly, however, in hospitals where patient’s immune systems may already be weakened, I can see the reasoning to switch to the fist bump.

How much sleep do we need?

The Wall Street Journal brings us news that seven hours may be the optimal amount of sleep for a healthy adult.

“The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours,” said Shawn Youngstedt, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University Phoenix. “Eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous,” says Dr. Youngstedt, who researches the effects of oversleeping.

However, the article cautions that sleep time and health may be associated but that oversleeping may not be a causation of ill health.

“I don’t think you can overdose on healthy sleep. When you get enough sleep your body will wake you up,” said Safwan Badr, chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

I tend to wake up after about 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep. That is unless my sunburned foot wakes me up first…ouch!

NBA “home” teams

Elite Daily asks what would NBA teams look like if every star played for his home team?

But reactionary fans and embarrassing letters aside, James’ return to Cleveland really does make the mind wonder. What if every team was full of hometown stars?

Imagine no more. Here’s what the NBA would look like if stars played for their local clubs:

Looks to me like the Washington Wizards would be the team to beat.

Messi is doing impossible things

Benjamin Morris at FiveThirtyEight crunched some numbers about Lionel Messi, and came to an odd conclusion:

And that’s just the stuff that made it into this article. I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.

It’s not possible to shoot more efficiently from outside the penalty area than many players shoot inside it. It’s not possible to lead the world in weak-kick goals and long-range goals. It’s not possible to score on unassisted plays as well as the best players in the world score on assisted ones. It’s not possible to lead the world’s forwards both in taking on defenders and in dishing the ball to others. And it’s certainly not possible to do most of these things by insanely wide margins.

But Messi does all of this and more.

Some of the graphs are amazing when you see just how far away he is from Ronaldo.

LEGO bus stop

To celebrate London’s “Year of the Bus”, Transport for London commissioned a bus stop made entirely out of LEGO.

Outside Hamley’s toy shop, the stop is constructed from 100,000 Lego bricks


it serves nine routes and is the alighting point for the famous toy shop and nearby Conduit Street.

That is amazing.

Shark vs. Soccer player

There’s some big soccer tournament going on and one of the players bit another one in the middle of the game. Apparently, this is not the first time he’s done that, which lead Ian Steadman to crunch some numbers and realize that you are more likely to be bitten by Luis Suarez than by a shark.

We can therefore conclude that Luis Suarez has roughly a one in 2,000 chance of biting any individual opposition player. For comparison, the following things are less likely than being bitten by Luis Suarez:

Many people pointed out that the numbers he was using were not exactly fair, so he recalculated using waters where sharks are more likely to be, leading him to this conclusion:

This means that Luis Suarez is almost exactly as likely to bite someone as a shark is in the very definition of “shark-infested” waters.

I just found out that “USMNT” stands for “U.S. Men’s National Team” and not “U.S. Mutant Ninja Turtles”.

Sausage pizza seems to be on the outs

The NY Post explains that sausage pizza isn’t very popular anymore.

“It’s fallen off over the past 10, 15 years,” says Pozzuoli. “Thirty years ago, I would order 30 to 40 pounds of sausage a week. Now, I order very little. Two or three pounds.”

When asked why he thinks the topping fell out of favor, even as its cousin, the pepperoni slice, remains popular, this old-school pizzaiolo can only shrug and guess.

“I wish I knew,” he says. “Sausage is more fat. Many people don’t eat fat [anymore].”

Arugula? That doesn’t even sound appetizing.