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Weird Archive

The Moon Like You Have Never Seen It Before

All your life you have been watching the moon track through its phases. Even if you have not been paying much attention, it’s been there. But because the moon is tidally locked to Earth — meaning it spins on its axis once every orbit around Earth — you have only seen one face of its globe. Every month, it’s the same “man in the moon” dark and light patches. Until the space age began, no one had ever, ever seen the moon’s other face.

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Why memes succeed

What causes a particular meme to take the Internet by storm, dominating image boards and inspiring hundreds of variations, while another one languishes?

It’s a tantalizing question in the nascent field of meme theory, and not just because the answer could shed light on our collective online subconscious. It’s also possible that research into it could eventually explain broader aspects of cultural consumption—why an entire work, perhaps even a novel or a painting, might gain a following, flop, or eventually fade into obscurity.

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The Age of Never-Ending Internet Chats

Louis C.K.’s monologue about the downside of smartphones gets at the crux of the issue. “You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something,” he told Conan O’Brien in 2013. “That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person.” In an effort to preserve the lost art of solitary thinking, it’s now de rigueur for people to go on a digital detox by quitting social media or imposing a no-screens rule after 6 p.m.

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Students used to take drugs to get high. Now they take them to get higher grades.

It’s still more than three months until finals, but there’s a whiff of panic in the air of the Edinburgh student flat where I’m having dinner. “Everybody’s feeling it,” says Suzy. Feeling what? “The pressure. There’s just so much pressure.” About what? Your exams? Or what to do next?

“Everything. I shouldn’t even be here. I didn’t even want to go to university but everyone said I should. And the work! It’s just… there’s so much of it! I feel like I wouldn’t even have a chance if it wasn’t for modafinil.”

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