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1. Rivers in distress

A river is a natural, living, organic whole, a hydrological and ecological system. It flows; that is its defining characteristic. As it flows, it performs many functions. It supports aquatic life and vegetation; provides drinking water to human beings, their livestock and wildlife; influences the micro-climate; recharges groundwater; dilutes pollutants and purifies itself; sustains a wide range of livelihoods; transports silt and enriches the soil; maintains the estuary in a good state; provides the necessary freshwater to the sea to keep its salinity at the right level; prevents the incursion of salinity from the sea; provides nutrients to marine life; and so on. It is also an integral part of human settlements, their lives, landscape, society, culture, history, and religion.

The post Rivers in distress appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Daniel Radcliffe Joins the Cast of Upcoming FBI Thriller ‘Imperium’

Deadline reports that Daniel Radcliffe has been signed to play the lead role in a new FBI thriller, Imperium, from Atomic Features and Tycor International Film Company. According to Deadline:

“Radcliffe will star as a young FBI agent who goes undercover to find and stop white supremacists trying to make a dirty bomb. It’s based on the experiences of Michael German, an FBI undercover agent who spent years inside United States neo-Nazi and militia groups.”

The film, which is based on real events, is set to start filming in the fall. Imperium will be the feature film directorial debut of short film director, Daniel Ragussis. The script is co-written by Michael German and Ragussis. Imperium will be produced by Ty Walker, Dennis Lee and Simon Taufique.

With Imperium added to Radcliffe’s schedule, he is sure keeping busy. Later this year, Radcliffe can be seen in Fox’s Frankenstein retelling, Victor Frankenstein. In addition to that, Radcliffe is currently filming Swiss Army Man, an indie comedy with Paul Dano. In 2016, Radcliffe will make an appearance on television in an upcoming BBC2 TV film Game Changer as the co-founder of the Rockstar Games company Sam Houser.

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3. Philosopher of the month: Lao Tzu

Lao (Laozi) Tzu is credited as the founder of Taoism, a Chinese philosophy and religion. An elusive figure, he was allegedly a learned yet reclusive official at the Zhōu court (1045–256 BC) – a lesser aristocrat of literary competence who worked as a copyist and archivist. Scholars have variously dated his life to between the third and sixth centuries BC, but he is best known as the author of the classic Tao Te Ching (‘The Book of the Way and its Power’).

The post Philosopher of the month: Lao Tzu appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Wind/Pinball reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of Murakami Haruki's two earliest novels, now published together in one volume, in a new translation by Ted Goossen, as Wind/Pinball:

       This is yet another example of US/UK publishers opting to publish multiple works by an author in one volume -- several works by Patrick Modiano, whose works tend to come in at around a hundred pages, are getting the treatment now. It's more justifiable here than in most cases (even as the title, Wind/Pinball, really isn't) but I reviewed them separately -- among other reasons: because there are already so many separate reviews of one or the other title to link to.
       However, it's been annoying to see so much coverage which has dismissed the previous translations (by Alfred Birnbaum, published by Kodansha International) as if no one had ever seen them. The Knopf jacket-copy has it about right -- "Widely available in English for the first time, newly translated" -- but much of the review coverage does not (as I have also repeatedly noted on Twitter (e.g.)).

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5. August Words without Borders

       The August issue of Words without Borders, Myth and History: Writing from Indonesia, is now available online; it also includes the usual reviews, as well as 'Three Tibetan Short Stories'.
       Great to see more Indonesian attention as we come up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where it will be this year's Guest of Honour.

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6. ADVANCE REVIEW: The Wonderful Fever Dream of Hellboy in Hell #7

England is gone, replaced by a new World Tree, promising to end this world and replace it with something new. Hellboy speaks with a spirit that may be his friend Alice, but who also appears to be something more. She delivers a prophecy of doom and beauty to Hellboy, who awakens, and finds himself in Hell once more. And then things start to get weird.

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7. Our latest crisis is over, Channing Tatum will be Gambit after all

Just like Alexander posited a few days ago, it turns out that Channing Tatum was indeed undergoing a bit of public negotiating regarding his upcoming role in the X-Men spin-off, Gambit. Today, THR reports that the Magic Mike star has signed on the dotted line to play the kinetic card-wielding Cajun mutant. According to their […]

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8. Does homeownership strengthen or loosen the marriage knot?

Picture a snapshot of the American Dream. Chances are, this calls to mind a house and a family. Perhaps the most enduring institutions in American society, homeownership and marriage have shaped the economic fortunes of families in the United States since the country’s origin. So what is the relationship between the two?

The post Does homeownership strengthen or loosen the marriage knot? appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. What kids should read ?

       In the UK the 'TES and the National Association for the Teaching of English ran a survey to find teachers' top 100 fiction books all children should read' -- before leaving primary school and before leaving secondary school. (There is some overlap.)
       I am a bit shocked by how few books in translation feature, especially on the secondary school list (fewer than on the primary school list) -- all of three, as best I can tell: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (53), I am David by Anne Holm (71) (and this one is also 29 on the primary school list), and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (89). But it's a very mixed (up ?) list, in any case.

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10. Crowdwatch: Steve Hamaker’s PLOX Volume One

  Well, since it’s Friday let’s go all out with the Kickstarter newsw. Her’s a newsish one from Steve Hamaker, a collection of his graphic novel PLOX Volume One which he’s been serializing online. The story follows three online gamers and their experiences: Kim; the guild leader at the end of her rope, Chad; the […]

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11. Overfishing: a bigger problem than we think

Many of us probably tend to take fish for granted, as it's a fairly sustainable resource—at least, that's what we'd like believe. It's difficult to imagine that we could even come close to depleting what seems to be limitless; after all, the earth is mostly covered in water. But as Ray and Ulrike Hilborn discuss in an excerpt from their book, Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know, there is reason for concern in our flippancy towards our complex ecosystem.

The post Overfishing: a bigger problem than we think appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Digital dating dynamics: age differences in online dating profiles

Online dating is becoming an increasingly prevalent context to begin a romantic relationship. Nearly 40% of single adults have used online dating websites or apps. Furthermore, the world of online dating is no longer confined to young adults; reports suggest adults aged 60 and older are the largest growing segment of online daters. Obviously, adults using these websites are motivated to find a partner, but we know little about why they want to date or how adults of different ages present themselves to potential partners.

The post Digital dating dynamics: age differences in online dating profiles appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Who’s in charge anyway?

Influenced by the discoveries of cognitive science, many of us will now accept that much of our mental life is unconscious. There are subliminal perceptions, implicit attitudes and beliefs, inferences that take place tacitly outside of our awareness, and much more.

The post Who’s in charge anyway? appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Toilet paradigms and the sanitation crisis in India

Sanitation has evinced considerable interest from policy-makers, lawmakers, researchers and even politicians in recent years. Its transformation from a social taboo into a topic of general conversation is evident from the fact that one of the central themes of a recent mainstream Bollywood production (Piku, 2015) was the inability of the protagonist’s father to relieve himself.

The post Toilet paradigms and the sanitation crisis in India appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Jack Thorne talks of working on “Cursed Child”

Playwright Jack Thorne has found himself thrust into the Harry Potter universe. Not only is he new to the insider world of of Harry Potter, but Thorne landed one of it’s most important roles, second to J.K. Rowling.

Jack Thorne wrote the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in collaboration with J.K. Rowling and director, John Tiffany. He described his job to the Times as having “to crawl inside J.K. Rowling’s head,” something all serious Potter-heads dream of doing. The article talks of Thorne’s process in creating the story and working with Jo Rowling. If you have a subscription to the Times, the whole article will make a good read. Luckily, MuggleNet was able to access the article and offers a good preview:

When asked if he was ready for his life to change, pretty much a guarantee for any artist involved in bringing a Harry Potter project to the world, Thorne responded that he hasn’t experienced much of that – yet.

Everyone said that [it’s going to make me famous]. Everyone said: ‘Wait for the announcement. It’s going to change everything.’ Then I sent out a tweet on the morning, just going: ‘I can’t talk about it, but I’m so proud to be part of it,’ sort of thing and phoned up Rach [his wife] about an hour and a half later because I was in town, and I couldn’t see my computer, and I was like: ‘How many retweets has it got?’ Sort of: ‘Am I now famous?’ And she went: ‘It’s got six.’ So OK, fame hasn’t visited me yet.

A bit later on, the article reveals how Thorne came to be involved with the project.

The Harry Potter play’s producer, Sonia Friedman, saw Let the Right One In, about a boy befriended by a vampire, which Thorne had adapted for the stage from the hit Swedish movie. She approached its director, John Tiffany, who recommended Thorne. He worked with JK Rowling on the story and wrote the script, now safely encrypted in his computer. All anyone will say is that it is not a prequel. Thorne was fully conversant with the Potter universe having read all the novels and sneaked into the films wearing his Ghostbusters T[-]­shirt to show the families he was ‘here for the genre’.

And finally, although Thorne doesn’t divulge any plot elements of Cursed Child, he does reveal a bit about his process of working on the play and what collaborating with J.K. Rowling is really like:

I’ve now had to read every book again and work out what spells do what. The detail that she produced is absolutely sensational. Looking back at The Fades I kind of go: ‘I wish I’d sketched the world even larger, the way that she did with Harry Potter.’ I just didn’t want to challenge the audience too much with too much stuff, so I was: ‘Always keep it simple.’ And actually, Jo doesn’t, and that’s what makes her so special. That’s the great thing about doing adaptations: you just learn so much. My job is to crawl inside her head.

Pottermore retweeted Harry Potter Play’s ticket announcement yesterday. It has bee confirmed that tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will go on sale this fall. Those who have signed up for the Cursed Child email alerts are considered “priority members.” Tickets will be available to “priority members” before being released to the general public. Registration for priority booking is available on the play’s website.

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16. Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation works best when the adrenaline kicks in

While my familiarity with the television series is admittedly meager, the consistently Tom Cruise-led Mission: Impossible film entries have played like minor American efforts at aping the formula that made James Bond a success. Generally, they lack the iconic imagery of 007’s finest efforts, while never really being able to hit the same critical appeal […]

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17. What can we expect at Japan’s 70th war commemoration?

As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan's War, Japan’s “history problem” – a mix of politics, identity, and nationalism in East Asia, brewing actively since the late 1990s – is at center stage. Nationalists in Japan, China, and the Koreas have found a toxic formula: turning war memory into a contest of national interests and identity, and a stew of national resentments.

The post What can we expect at Japan’s 70th war commemoration? appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Summer issue of list

       It's well-hidden at the official site -- certainly not to be found under 'Current Issue' (that would be much too easy ...) -- but the Volume 28, Summer 2015 issue of list Books from Korea -- "a quarterly literary magazine [that] introduces Korean literature and authors to overseas reader" -- is now available online.

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19. Happy 50th Birthday J.K. Rowling, Happy 35th Harry!

Today marks a mile stone of great celebration for our most beloved author. As Jo Rowling turns 50 today, we all feel like the entire world should be celebrating just wizards celebrated Harry’s victory over Voldemort (twice)! Celebrations that spill out into the streets, and make ignorant muggle folk ask “why?”.

J.K. Rowling told the Today Show last spring that she would indeed be celebrating her 50th birthday with family and friends. She did not cringe, as so many do, when asked about her age, but said it was a time of celebration, for the alternative to aging is “checking out,” and she had so much more like left to live. She updated her Twitter this morning, thanking everyone for the birthday messages; she is enjoying the sun (beach?) with her dog, family and friends…and some fans!

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We wish we were there to celebrate with her, too!

Today, many honor all of the great deeds Rowling has accomplished in her life thus far. We also celebrate all of the greatness yet to come. Entertainment Weekly posted a list of the 50 reasons they love Jo, and we quite agree. (Digital Spy supplemented 9 also very valid reasons to love our Harry Potter author.)

For item #20, EW included a 60 Minutes video of Jo from many, many years ago, posted by Leaky (with the old leakynews.com address stamped in the corner). Here are a few of our favorites out of their list of 50 amazing Jo moments:

1. She does not suffer bullies.

2) She’s funny. Her Twitter feed is rife with sly humor, whether she’slaughing at herself for typos, rolling along with followers’ jokes orgetting exasperated by Harry Potter rumors.

3) She’s filling in the Potter story on Pottermore.

4) She gives huge donations to charity (so much that it knocked her off Forbes’ billionaires list).

In 2012, Jo donated an estimated $160 million, and paid all of her hefty taxes (supporting the economy and government of her home country, rather than hiding money in off shore bank accounts). How can you not love her for that?

5) She touts great social causes on social media. As just one example, she recently tweeted support for imprisoned Saudi Arabian blogger Reif Badawi and Ireland’s legalization of gay marriage.

7) She’s kind to her fans, and always seems ready to answer their questions, no matter how random or specific.

8) She admits she made mistakes in the books!

13) She cares about children in need. In 2004, she founded the organization Lumos, to help children who have been unfairly institutionalized get better care.

15) She did her research when coming up with the names of spells (she looked at alchemy, the history of languages, etc.)

She did the same for wands, names of characters, and book titles!

17) She supports Hufflepuffs and has written on Pottermore that she thinks they’re the best.

20) She’s a great artist. Although all the editions of Harry Potter have used other illustrators, Rowling’s not bad at sketching her own characters. Recently, an annotated version of Sorcerer’s Stone with Rowling’s sketches was auctioned for charity.

24) She’s invited die-hard fans to her house.

26) She never talks down to her readers.

27) She proved anyone can take control of their life. At one time, Rowling has said, she was “literally as poor as you can get in Britain without being homeless.” Thanks to work ethic and imagination, she went on to become a celebrated author.

30) She’s completely mastered Twitter, and for someone who very rarely makes public appearances, she makes herself accessible to her followers.

34) She hasn’t read50 Shades of Grey

36) She once gave the best commencement speech we’ve ever heard.

38) She says that she’d want to be sorted into Gryffindor (and specifically answered Pottermore questions so she’d be sorted that way).

46) She owns a “Horcruxes Got Soul” t-shirt

49) She’s fighting to save the BBC.

50) She made Hogwarts tuition-free and subsidized by the Ministry of Magic so all witches and wizards could attend. Imagine if the Weasleys hadn’t been able to afford it!

Please read and enjoy the entire list on EW. Time magazine also decided to do something special for J.K. Rowling’s birthday. In honor of the 17 years it took her to complete one of the best (if not THE best) books series in the world, Time contacted 17 Harry Potter actors, and asked them to write brief birthday messages to Jo.

Many of them are absolutely hilarious, Matt Lewis and Natalia Tena’s messages are rather long and touching. Evanna’s was by far the longest, and she shared her experience of meeting Jo for the first time. These and many more can be read on the Time’s website. We have shared a few, short funny ones; take a look below:

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As it is well known, it is also Harry Potter’s birthday today. Harry turns 35. Working as head Auror (and the youngest to ever attain the position, at age 26) for Kingsley Shakelbolt’s Ministry of Magic, Harry continues to make defeating evil apart of his daily work. Harry is happily married, and a family man. He and Ginny will be sending their youngest, Albus Severus off to Hogwarts in a couple years.

Harry is forever the heart of the wizarding community and the wizarding world as we know it. His story will forever be a part of our lives–in our imaginations and in real life. We honor Harry today for his bravery, loyalty, and goodness. Just like his creator (Jo), his large heart shows goodness in small ways, as well as large.

Today, we not only honor the character who saved the wizarding world, but who also ensured Severus Snape’s portrait hung in the Headmaster’s office, made peace and acquaintanceship with Draco Malfoy, and occasionally has mini-family reunions with Dudley.

A Harry Potter fan on staff at the Telegraph wrote her own personal anecdote as to how Harry would be celebrating his birthday today. Not unlike his creator, he is happily surrounded by family and friends. Alice Vincent writes for the Telegraph:

It’s the summer holidays now, so James, Albus and Lily are all back home. Before he’s even able to put on his wire-framed, round glasses, Harry is woken up by them. Specifically, he’s woken up by a floating cake – a fun charm by Ginny, who has inherited her mother’s impressive domestic skills. Unfortunately, it brings back unpleasant memories for Harry, who at 15 risked expulsion from Hogwarts, after Dobby the House Elf dropped a cake on a family friend (an illegal use of underage magic for which he must take responsibility).

Thankfully, he is swiftly distracted by a flurry of owls, descendents of his beloved Hedwig, who died during his final year. They are delivering parcels from his friends, Hermione and Ron, now a married couple with two children, Hagrid, and his in-laws, Molly and Arthur Weasley.

Later, after Harry’s spent the day dealing with dark magical forces – and admin – they’ll all meet up at 12 Grimmauld Place for a bit of a party.

The Scamanders, [Rolf] and Luna (née Lovegood) and their twins Lorcan and Lysander, will be in attendance, along with Neville and Hannah Longbottom and some friends from the Ministry of Magic. As deputy head of Department of Magical Law Enforcement, it can be difficult for Hermione to get away from work. But she’s made an exception this evening, as Ron is bringing along the newest stock from the family joke shop, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, and the newest generation of Weasleys, Hugo and Rose, want to see their cousins.

Perhaps surprisingly, Harry keeps contact with his own cousin, Dudley. A birthday card arrived by Muggle post just this morning, with a rather perfunctory message.

When the celebrations are over, Harry will get back to what he usually does in his free time: flying around with his children.

In a less sentimental, in true standup-comedy fashion, Jimmy Fallon acknowledged Harry’s birthday with a “Drunk Ron Weasley” segment. The video can be seen on the Tonight Show’s Facebook page. Pottermore also tweeted a list of Harry’s best and worst birthday gifts over the years.

It is a day for cakes, Butterbeer, and Weasley Wizard Weazes. A collaboration of food artists have come together to bake a collection of sweets for the occasion. The group calls themselves “Birthday Mischief Managed.” Newswire reported:

The group, founded in July 2014, proudly honors some of the world’s most esteemed personalities and award winning artists in the food industry. Audiences may recognize work styles and faces of the participants from hit television series and competitions Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Sugar Dome, Cake Wars, Ultimate Cake Off, Outrageous Chocolate, Halloween Wars, and more. Each member was asked to join based on their fanatic for the project and to “dress” for the occasion!

To celebrate J.K. Rowling’s birthday on July 31st, which coincidentally is Harry Potter’s birthday, the members of the group chose locations inspired by the books, movies, and Pottermore. Members were given artistic freedom to create original edible fan art celebrating or jinxing the birthdays of J.K. and Harry. An added challenge included incorporating 1-3, twists, “Easter Eggs” for J.K. and fans to find. Some of the sentiments include J.K.’s birthstone, birth month and favorite flowers (the Larkspur and Lily), and an orange support ribbon in memory of her mother.

Birthday creations by food artists and young fans can be see on their website. Maybe some of their Harry Potter themed desserts will inspire you to create your own!

We hope many of you will be throwing your own Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling birthday parties. All those celebrating with Melissa Anelli at GeekyCon have officially made July 31 “Geek Day” in Orange County, FL. Please share with us how you are celebrating today, and please join us in wishing J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter a very happy birthday!

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20. William Lawrence Bragg and Crystallography

The history of modern Crystallography is intertwined with the great discoveries’ of William Lawrence Bragg (WLB), still renowned to be the youngest Nobel Prize in Physics. Bragg received news of his Nobel Prize on the 14th November 1915 in the midst of the carnage of the Great War. This was to be shared with his father William Henry Bragg (WHB), and WHB and WLB are to date the only father and son team to be jointly awarded the Nobel Prize.

The post William Lawrence Bragg and Crystallography appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. Another translation of The Story of The Stone

       As longtime readers know, I hold Cao Xueqin's The Story of The Stone, in David Hawkes and John Minford's translation, to be one of the peaks of literature. Interesting to learn now that, as Tang Yue reports in China Daily, in Lost in translation for more than 40 years, that the manuscript of an unpublished translation into English by Lin Yutang has been found in Japan.
       Lin published widely in both Chinese and English, and was a widely-read popularizer of Chinese literature in English -- it would be interesting to know what kind of impact his translation of this towering work might have had.

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22. Dangerous minds: ‘Public’ political science or ‘punk’ political science?

The end of another academic year and my mind is tired. But tired minds are often dangerous minds. Just as alcohol can loosen the tongue (in vino veritas) for the non-drinkers of this world fatigue can have a similar effect (lassitudine veritas liberabit). Professional pretensions are far harder to sustain when one is work weary but I can’t help wondering if the study of politics has lost its way.

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23. Reading in ... Russia

       In The Moscow Times Anastasia Bazenkova reports that Russia's Book Industry Shrinks as Russians Stop Reading.
       It's not that they've stopped reading entirely, but apparently there has been quite a decline (with the ever-popular explanations as supplied by experts, such as: "Young people see books as pure entertainment, and in that category they cannot compete with modern gadgets"). A real problem is certainly the decline in bookstores -- and, astonishing if true, Moscow apparently only has six used book stores.
       Among the consequences: "The effect of bookstore closures has been to reduce the quantity of printed words"
       And while there's no data to back up the claim, it's still an eye-catching one:

There are currently 10-12 people in the whole country that can earn their living only by writing books, and there will be even fewer of them in the future, Filimonov said

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24. Monitoring the literary judges in China ?

       In Xinhua they report that Chinese literature prize guards against corrupt judging, as

The organizers of one of China's top literary awards have set up a team to supervise the judging process and make sure it is fair and free of corruption.
       I'm very curious as to how exactly they will do their monitoring -- corruption would seem hard to detect unless it's truly blatant (like a judge handing out money during deliberations to literally buy other judges' votes). Still, I kind of like the idea of uniformed guards watching over the deliberating judges, billy clubs at the ready to thwack any argument or voicing of support they deem improper.

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25. Why do we prefer eating sweet things?

Is the "sweet tooth" real? The answer may surprise you. Humans vary in their preference towards sweet things; some of us dislike them while others may as well be addicted. But for those of us who have a tendency towards sweetness, why do we like what we like? We are hardly limited by type; our preference spans across both food and drinks, including candy, desserts, fruits, sodas, and even alcoholic beverages.

The post Why do we prefer eating sweet things? appeared first on OUPblog.

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