Short Takes: News From All Over

Solved: The Perfect Way to Cut a Cake
By Amarendra Swarup,
Everyone vying for their fair share is a matter that generates everything from squabbles over the biggest piece of cake, to wars over the most desirable piece of land. The ‘Surplus Procedure’ and ‘Equability Procedure’ are two new methods for cake sharing that take into account how each party values the disputed slice to satisfy everyone equally. The method relies on a simple metaphor, but the mathematicians behind the approach say it could help sort more complex applications such as land and water divisions. — Evelyn Hampton

20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Lab Accidents
By Sean Markey, Discover
Try this experiment at home: Grab a beaker, fill it with a few chemicals, toss in some hypotheses, add a handful of scientists who are a little ‘off,’ and voila!: You just might add to Discover‘s list of venerable laboratory forays gone awry — to great success. Botched experiments resulted in gunpowder, superglue, Teflon, Post-it notes, and LSD. Even phosphorus emerged from a hopeful attempt to turn buckets of urine into gold. For more happy accidents, and laughs, check out the rest of the list. — Elizabeth Ryan

Sampling History
By Jesse Kriss, jklabs
The funky bass lines and primal screams of James Brown’s album ‘In the Jungle Groove’ are among the most sampled sounds in music. They provide the aural, historical backdrop to the fierce lyrics of ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ by Public Enemy — among the biggest samplers in the biz. Who else reigns supreme as sampler and samplee? Find out using this nifty interactive timeline that connects albums, artists, and songs in their original context to their re-appropriated forms. (Thanks, Cabinet.) — Elizabeth Oliver

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud
By Chirag Mehta,
Are the words ‘terrorist,’ ‘tyranny,’ and ‘freedom’ starting to make you cringe? You might find some solace in history. At the US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud, you can scroll through a visual representation of presidential rhetoric dating from George Washington to George W.  Watch the hot-button words morph from ‘education’ and ‘constitution’ to ‘corporation’ and ‘labor’ and onward to ‘economic’ and ‘unemployment.’ The site shows how the nation’s rhetoric, values, and issues have changed through time, and how they haven’t. — Elizabeth Oliver

New Online Library Documents LGBT Human Rights Violations World Wide
By The Advocate
People fleeing abuse in their native countries don’t usually have time put together a file documenting their need for asylum. To help connect the paper trail, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and have launched the Asylum Documentation Program. The online database specifically addresses the needs of those persecuted because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status by providing human rights profiles on 144 countries and three ‘thematic packets’ on the Islamic world, lesbian issues, and transgender issues. — Jenna Fisher

Lost In Translation
By Brian Palmer, Mother Jones
Think of it as etiquette school for the military. Tucked away in the California desert, some troops about to be deployed to Iraq are training at Mojave Viper in a month-long combat-and-culture workshop aimed at reducing civilian casualties and improving relations between Iraqis and the occupying US military. In an attempt to introduce safer and more respectable ways of interacting, hired Iraqis are standing in for locals in simulations of home raids and other situations in which soldiers might embarrass, scare, or even kill residents. — Rachel Anderson

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