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The Chilling Effect: Why San Francisco Gets So Foggy in the Summer

Includes video and interactives

Note: This post was originally published on May 20, 2014

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Mark Twain may never have actually said it himself, but that doesn’t make the statement any less true.  Continue reading

What is Inflation and Why Does it Happen? [An Animated Explainer]

Includes videos

Inflation. We hear about it an awful lot. But what’s it actually mean? What causes it? And why is grandpa always complaining about stuff getting more expensive? Stop motion guru Josh Kurz explains it all in this two-part video (you can also watch the whole thing as a single video here).

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World Cup Basics Explained Really Fast (Including the Slack Rules of Stoppage Time)

Includes video and interactive map

Correction: Several readers astutely pointed out that the map below of qualifying teams in the 2014 World Cup had inaccurately labeled Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the English national team. Big faux pas! While part of Great Britain, these three are undoubtedly distinct from England — which has already been ousted from the tournament. Each have their own national teams (none qualified for the Cup this year), and for reasons of historic and cultural rivalry, often support England’s opponents. The map’s boundaries have been updated accordingly. And to all you Scots, Welsh and residents of Northern Ireland (and their die-hard fans): mea culpa.

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How Chinese Memes Circumvented Censorship on Tiananmen Square Anniversary

Includes photo and video

UPDATE: The rubber duck meme was NOT censored this year (only in 2013). Even the most subversive memes, it turns out, have limited shelf life.

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Tanks are replaced by giant ducks in this photoshopped version of the iconic Tienanmen Square image that was posted on a popular Chinese microblog last year before being removed by censors.

It’s safe to say it was the first time the term “Big Yellow Duck” had ever been censored.

But had you searched for it (in Chinese) on June 4 last year on Sina Weibo, China’s biggest microblog site, a message would tell you it couldn’t be shown “according to relevant laws, statutes and policies.”

So what gives?

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Old Enough to Drive, Too Young to Vote: Rethinking America’s Voting Age Limits

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Flickr/Liz the Librarian

They all pay sales tax. They have to abide by the same laws as everyone else. And many are old enough to work and get behind the wheel. But for teenagers under 18, the right to vote remains elusive.

And that’s not fair say many student rights groups across the country who for years have pushed to lower America’s voting age to 16. In a nation with notoriously low levels of voter turnout, advocates argue, allowing more young people to vote would boost civic participation and give students a much needed voice.

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“Schoolhouse Rock” Revised: What it Really Takes to Pass A Bill in Congress

Includes videos and interactive chart

Remember that catchy “I’m Just a Bill” cartoon from the 1970s? For many of us, it was our first civics lesson (and introduction to bell-bottoms). But given the intense gridlock in today’s Congress — which will go down as one of the least productive in history — it’s fair to say that the lovable cartoon may have missed a few steps in explaining how laws are made. To fill in the gaps, the news explainer site Vox created a revised version for this era of congressional dysfunction. It’s modeled on the steps leading to the passage of the DATA Act, a recent bill that actually survived the gauntlet of Capital Hill.

[Article continues below videos]

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Why All the Hype about Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”?

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It’s nearly 700 pages. It covers dense economic theory. And it’s written by a French guy you’ve probably never heard of.

So why is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Thomas Piketty’s far-reaching economic analysis of global inequality, flying off the shelves faster than a new Beyoncé album?

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A Brief History of May Day and the Battle for the 8-Hour Work Day

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The Haymarket affair, as depicted in a Harper’s Magazine engraving (Wikimedia Commons)


For some, May Day is a time to prance like a wood nymph around a flower-wreathed pole. But that’s probably not what thousands of workers around the world have in mind when they take to the streets today. Continue reading

A Brief History of Earth Day

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earth_day

Donning a gas mask, a demonstrator participates in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. (AP)


Quick quiz:

1. Which labor organization helped fund and organize the first Earth Day celebration?

2. Who said this:

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions … It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will wreak the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”

Keep reading for answers. Continue reading

How Big Is the Wage Gap Between Women and Men?

Includes maps, videos, interactive charts
Courtesy of PBS

Courtesy of PBS

The wage gap between men and women has gradually narrowed in recent decades, but it remains significant.

According to the Obama Administration, full-time working woman in the US. make, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar that men make. At that rate, it’d take more than 60 additional days for a woman to earn what a man had made at the end of the previous year. Continue reading