The Best of the Economist – August 2013

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Language in Canada: Polly wants un craquelin. Earlier this month Canadians were shocked to learn that Bouton, an English-speaking parrot at the Montreal Biodome in the French-speaking province of Quebec, was being deported to Toronto following a surprise visit to the zoo by a representative of the Office québecoise de la langue française (OQLF), the body charged with ensuring the primacy of French in Quebec. The story, published by the Beaverton, a satirical magazine, turned out to be a spoof. But Quebec’s linguistic intolerance is all too real.

Lexington: Smart ALECHow left-wing protesters helped a conservative club that ghost-writes state laws. Protesters lay on the pavement, playing dead. They were furious about “Stand Your Ground” laws, which in dozens of states have expanded the legal rights of armed citizens to shoot those whom they deem a threat, and which some blame for the death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager. The protesters’ target was the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in a hotel in Chicago.

The perils of sitting down: Standing ordersReal science lies behind the fad for standing up at work. Winston Churchill knew it. Ernest Hemingway knew it. Leonardo da Vinci knew it. Every trendy office from Silicon Valley to Scandinavia now knows it too: there is virtue in working standing up. And not merely standing. The trendiest offices of all have treadmill desks, which encourage people to walk while working. It sounds like a fad. But it does have a basis in science.


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