Small Talk Ammo: A Caffeinated Supreme Court, Vanilla is Worth More Than Silver, and Gluten-Free Hot Dog Water

Small Talk Ammo: A Caffeinated Supreme Court, Vanilla is Worth More Than Silver, and Gluten-Free Hot Dog Water
Everything you need to start or participate in this weekend's conversations.

Twice a month, we'll provide a bevy of ideas behind compelling headlines, stories, facts, tips, and tricks to help you nail the many various social interactions you'll encounter. Equipped with this information, you should be able to deftly navigate any conversation, no matter the subject or company.

  1. The first trailer for Creed II has dropped and if you were a fan of the first film (and who wasn’t — it’s magnificent), you’ll be thrilled to know that the sequel looks every bit as terrific, teasing us with imagery of iconic Muhammad Ali training sessions and the descendant of a classic 80s villain.
  2. Here’s two excellent pieces of trivia that can help win you some money in a bar bet:
    a. 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown on one island
    b. one kilogram of plain vanilla is now more valuable than one kilogram of silver
    The why and how behind these two astounding facts can be found in this TIME article about Madagascar.
  3. The world lost a remarkable animal when it lost Koko the gorilla at age 46. Though she was most famous for learning sign language, did you know Koko already knew a few hand signals before any human taught them to her? And that she understood symbolic events like holidays? And that TV commercials could affect how she viewed some of her toys? This 2015 article from The Atlantic reveals all of that and more about the late great ape.
  4. In a wild day for underdogs at the World Cup, South Korea shocked Germany, eliminating the defending champions. Soon after, the South Korean team learned that their newfound chances of advancing to the next round had been immediately nullified because Mexico (one of the tournament’s most impressive teams thus far) was surprisingly squashed by Sweden, a team that barely qualified for the tournament in the first place.
  5. It might be time to roll out that planned road trip through America’s neighbor to the north because Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana (the first country to do so? Uruguay).
  6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? turns 30 years old this summer and as this analysis from The Guardian explains, this oft-overlooked, innovative film not only boasts terrific animation and bold storytelling but its greatest legacy may lie in how its impact is still felt on the family-friendly animated films made today.
  7. Social Skill: Everyone knows that active listening is crucial for studying, for business, and for connecting with people (especially new people) but learning how to listen can be a difficult skill to master. How do you become the kind of listener that you’d like to talk to? With these tips from The Samurai Listener!
  8. Philadelphia sports fans have long had a reprehensible reputation for being extremely tough on everybody, from their own rookie quarterbacks to Santa Claus. But in a rather insidious twist of fate, it now seems like those same fans may need to tread lightly while at games, as one woman recently learned when a hot dog was launched into her face.
  9. When you’re making Bloody Mary’s this summer (and you will be making Bloody Mary’s this summer), shake up the standard list of ingredients to create the freshest version of the classic cocktail for you and your guests.
  10. Those goodies your coworkers regularly bring into the break room at work are delicious! And free! But according to a recent study, snacks made available at the office can easily add 1300 empty calories to a person’s weekly diet. So maybe plan ahead and bring something a little healthier, to cut your mid-afternoon cravings off at the pass.
  11. This week proved to be a busy and major one for the US Supreme Court. The court ruled on: warrants for collecting location data from cell phone companies, California union fees, state taxes on online purchases, and the presidency's ability to limit travel into the country (and in doing so, formally repudiated the 1944 case regarding internment of Japanese citizens — the first time the court has denounced a previous Court’s decision). On top of all that, Justice Kennedy, originally appointed by Ronald Reagan, and a conservative voice who often represented a swing vote in recent years, announced his retirement Wednesday.
  12. You would think that unearthing the ancient tomb of a Chinese emperor would be remarkable enough on its own but when combing through artifacts from that site, archaeologists learned that the tomb also contained evidence of a long thought extinct ape. I wonder if this double dip of science will be incorporated into the next Indiana Jones film.
  13. Your feel-good video of the week: join Paul McCartney as he gives a tour of some historic locations in his hometown of Liverpool (including the actual Penny Lane) that berthed a generation of Beatles hits. Plus he surprises an entire pub with a live concert, taking requests the whole way.
  14. Following a volcanic eruption, lava has been flowing on the big island of Hawaii for nearly two full months. And though we all have a pretty good grasp on how humans help their cities recover from such a natural disaster — how do forests rebound from being covered in lava?
  15. The next time you’re about to make fun of simpletons from centuries past who fell for snake oil and other pseudo-medical scams, please remember that in 2018, multiple people paid 38 Canadian dollars for a bottle of clearly labeled unfiltered hot dog water, believing the gluten-free concoction could help with things like “electrolyte imbalance” and “metabolic demand”.

Justin Brown is an artist and writer living in Virginia. He channels most of his enthusiasm into making things for his online art shop, Artness! by Justin Brown. You can keep up to date with him, his worldly adventures, and his dogs by following him on Instagram and on Facebook

  • Adam Johnson

    Just want to say I love this new segment and hope it continues every week!