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Don't worry — your right to be wrong is protected.

By Rich_Maloof Dec 14, 2012 4:50PM

Quick pop quiz: What is the Bill of Rights? What do the rights outline? When did they become law?



Photo: Dieter Spears/Getty ImagesIf you don’t remember exactly what the Bill of Rights is or what it does, it’s probably also news to you that today is “Bill of Rights Day.” Saturday Dec. 15, 2012 marks the 221st anniversary of the Dec. 15, 1791 signing into law of what many historians consider the most dynamic and important document in our nation’s history. That’s saying something in the face of serious competition from The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.


Pagan and Christian traditions combine in the stories of these seasonal plants.

By Britt Olson MSN Living Editor Dec 13, 2012 10:06PM

During the holiday season, you will likely encounter (or dodge) a bushel of mistletoe and a pot of poinsettias. These festive plants feature in many Christmas displays, but why?

Photo: Burke/Triolo Productions/Getty ImagesA hemi-parasitic plant, mistletoe attaches to another botanic species, absorbing nutrients from its host. The mistletoe cluster that forms is called a haustorium. Europeans call these structures “witches’ brooms.” Navajo refer to them as “baskets on high.”

Pliny the Elder tells us that the Gallic Druids believed that the plant “falls from heaven upon the oak.” The critic and poet Robert Graves writes that cutting the mistletoe from the oak tree symbolized the “emasculation of the old king by his successor” in Druid culture, “the mistletoe being a prime phallic emblem.” The plant’s white berries may have been associated with semen. So how does that transfer to Christmas, you ask?  

Well, according to Pliny, the Druid word for mistletoe meant “all-heal in their language.” Indeed, they used the plant as a poison antidote (the plant itself is poisonous) and a fertility philter for animals. Because of its associations with fertility and vitality, mistletoe became an ornament during the winter solstice. It may have served as a charm to ensure the reemergence of fecundity following the dormant winter months. (Holly and ivy were also pagan fertility tokens.)


Women are paid less than men nationwide

By Rich_Maloof Dec 13, 2012 5:02PM

When it comes to pay equality between genders, America has come a long way but still has far to go.

Women’s annual earnings currently run at a national median of 77 percent of men’s earnings for full-time, year-round workers. That’s a nice bump up from the 60 percent gap of the early 1970s, when “women’s lib” was gaining steam, but progress has slowed in recent years. In fact, it’s barely budged in a decade.

Photo: Silvia Jansen/Getty Images


A not-quite-human face from 17,000 years ago.

By Rich_Maloof Dec 12, 2012 6:29PM

It’s probably unlikely that Elijah Woods, star of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, would ever win a “sexiest man of the year” award. Especially against, say, Clooney or Beckham or Gosling. But 17,000 years ago, Elijah might have had a fighting chance.

Photo: Courtesy of Dr Susan Hayes, University of WollongongThat’s because the voters might have been humanoids who were just barely removed from Hobbits, at least physically. So suggests the work of Dr. Susan Hayes, a facial anthropologist at Australia’s University of Wollongong. Hayes recently spent eight months reconstructing the face of a species known as Homo floresiensis working with nothing more than a skull. Her completed project shows that some of our distant forebears might have resembled Frodo and Bilbo Baggins more than they resembled you and me.


25-year-old Philadelphia man uses social media in hopes of becoming the new company spokesman.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Dec 12, 2012 3:50PM

In perhaps the world’s most straightforward solicitation for work, Kevin Matuszak of Philadelphia, Pa. posted “Hi, can I work for you?” on Applebee’s Facebook page on November 26, reports Philly.com. The simple question was a response to a sponsored post for one of his hometown’s specialties: the almighty pretzel.  

Photo: Kevin Matuszak, who would like to be the spokesman for Applebee's with Applebee's employee Jacque Brown. (Colin Kerrigan/Philly.com/MCT/LANDOV)


Twitter releases end-of-the-year highlights.

By Rich_Maloof Dec 11, 2012 6:23PM

You can have your Best Dressed/Worst Dressed, your Top Films, your Handsomest/Prettiest/Funniest. All of those year-end wrap-ups may sell a lot of magazines, but the lists are formulated behind office doors by a handful of self-appointed experts Thanks to online analytics, social media stats offer a quantifiable take on what the rest of us are talking about.

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty ImagesMore on MSN Living: Break the rules for a better romance

We’ve already shared the most frequently searched terms of 2012. Today, Twitter released its own year-end highlights based on its active user base of some 140 million active users. Here’s a selection of top tweets.


A marketing giant forecasts the near future.

By Rich_Maloof Dec 11, 2012 6:12PM

Everybody and their mother has a Top 10 list for the past year. But looking in the rearview mirror is too easy for the  researchers at advertising giant JWT, who’ve decided to do a Top 10 list of what’s going to be big next year. Their “10 Trends For 2013” forecasts how recent technology — and human response to it — will affect all of us in the coming year.Photo: Sam Edwards/Getty Images


What's so great about a Nobel, anyway?

By Rich_Maloof Dec 10, 2012 4:38PM

In a day and age when every kid on every team gets an award just for showing up, it’s nice to consider that there are still a few awards that recognize outstanding achievement, significant accomplishment, merit, and excellence  —  you know, doing something. 

Photo: REX FeaturesThe one award that rises high above all others for sheer prestige — the one that proves you’ve done something really extraordinary — is the Nobel Prize.

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