Weekend reads: Unsung heroes, why dogs are friendly, advice columns of the 1690s

Kristin Tyndall's reads

A Georgetown University grad is on a mission to celebrate the "unsung heroes" of college campuses. In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Febin Bellamy explains that his idea started after he struck up a friendship with Oneil Batchelor, a janitor on campus. "After I met Oneil, I realized that people have cool stories. I knew his story, but what about everyone else?" says Bellamy. So he started Unsung Heroes, which shares stories and crowdfunds gifts for campus workers. The group has spread quickly: they now have five chapters, with 30 more in beta, Bellamy says. "Oneil told me he felt invisible," Bellamy tells the Chronicle. "No one should feel invisible."

"What's love?" asked one writer to a 1703 advice column, proving that people 300 years ago had many of the same questions and anxieties that we do. I recently came across this Atlantic article that shares questions and answers from editions of The Athenian Mercury Oracle, a British advice column, from the 1690s and early 1700s. As today, people asked about love, science, and the human experience. As today, the sage advisor answered with a combination of poetry, pragmatism, and cheekiness. My favorite: "Is there, do you think, a large part of the world still left to discover?" asked one advice-seeker. The oracle replied only: "Yes."

Seren Snow's reads

A team of scientists have made an interesting discovery about why dogs might be so friendly. They found two genes in an area associated with "hypfriendliness" during a study of 16 dogs and eight wolves. The research came about because a scientist wanted to study the relationship between dogs and humans with Williams-Beuren syndrome, the symptoms of which include "excessively friendly behavior," according to the report. However, they say additional research is necessary before they can fully confirm that the genes in the dogs do indeed translate to hypersociability.

As a lover of the Muppet characters, I was saddened this week to find out that Steve Whitmire was fired after playing the role of Kermit the Frog for almost 30 years. While the details are still scant, it’s probably safe to assume that Whitmire had several warnings, given how long he’s been around. Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, attended my alma mater, the University of Maryland, which gives me a great deal of pride. Despite this change, I’ll continue to follow the Muppets and all of their shenanigans!

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