Sunday, 20 April 2008

Mousetrap - 145

As spoken in..
IDEA - The International Dialects Of English Archive
Two weeks ago, this column pointed to a site that served up a menu of common English words with their pronunciations in different parts of the world. This site, an archive that was started just over ten years ago, at the University Of Kansas in the USA, as ‘a repository of primary source recordings for actors and other artists in the performing arts.’ It is a sort of collaboration with the university’s Department of Theatre and Film and a global network of associate editors. It features recordings of one of two passages in English, with ‘both English language dialects and English spoken in the accents of other languages’ covered. You can download and play them for free.

Spare the rod
How Many Five Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?
Another wee diversion—we need a life, yes?—dedicated to friends who swear they will never, ever, ever have children. Your results ‘are based on physical prowess, training, swarm-combatting experience, and the flexibility of your moral compass.’ But not to worry. All you’ll need to do is answer the questionnaire. But you’ll still need to steel yourself. The reward: a banner to display on your own site, with the number of brats you could take on filled in. (No real five-year-olds were harmed in the writing of this column. Promise. We love kids.)

Human Body and Mind - Sleep
As the good folk who put this page together will testify, your columnist has weird sleep patterns. The poor wee things get their copy in the pre-dawn hours if they’re lucky; otherwise it slides under the door just as the page needs to go to press. And one of the ways we keep tabs on our state of sleep deprivation is a li’l game on this microsite on sleep (part of the Beeb’s excellent Science & Nature section) which lets us shoot tranquilliser darts into virtual sheep as they gambol across the screen. It’s a test of reaction time, one of many tools and tests featured here that are designed to help you improve your sleep and your understanding of it. You can also get a personalised sleep profile, figure out your circadian rhythm, find out what foods keep you awake, read articles and more. See ya next week. We have sheep to put to sleep.

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Published in the Times of India, 20th April, 2008.

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