Six Endangered Words, a Real-Life Fortress of Solitude, and How Much Homework Kids Get Around the World


This week, we’re checking out some endangered English words, a real-life Fortress of Solitude-like crystal cave, how much homework kids get around the globe, and more.

Welcome to Lifehacker’s Monday Brain Buffet, a series where we round up interesting, informative, and thought-provoking podcasts, interviews, articles, and other media that will teach you something new, inspire you, and hopefully start your week off on the right foot. 


Six Endangered English Words, and Why They’re Going Extinct

We’ve all heard of endangered or extinct languages, but you don’t hear about words that are in danger of falling entirely out of use nearly as often—and we’re not just talking about faddish phrases that’ll wind up back in common parlance as nostalgia allows, like “rad” or “sike/psyche.” Grammarly outlines six such English words that are heading the way of the Dodo, and why they’re at risk, but here are the six words:

  • Ambrosial
  • Coxcomb
  • Dirty
  • Fishwives
  • Hark
  • Whom

You’ll have to check out the full post on the whys behind each, but some of them, like “dirty,” are surprising, considering how commonly they’re still used. However, the post notes that words in danger of extinction aren’t just words that people stop using slowly over time, they’re also words that have evolved over time to have different connotations and subsequent meanings—and “dirty” is a word that’s evolved rapidly, perhaps more quickly than any of the others on the list. Bright side though, they don’t expect it to go anywhere for a while—probably not for another 750 years.

As for some of the others? Well, you can predict why “whom” and “hark” are in declining use. With more people not knowing the difference between “who” and “whom,” they just default to “who.” Then, considering the only time most people use “hark” anymore is before “the herald angels sing,” well, you see why it’s not so popular either. [via Grammarly]


The Cave of Crystals

Atlas Obscura is almost always a font of amazing information about various places around the globe, and in Chihuahua Mexico, deep beneath the earth, lies a cave of crystals that’s immense, beautiful, and unlike anything previously discovered on Earth—unless you count Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. I’ll let the video here explain. It’s only about three minutes long—it’s worth a watch. [via Atlas Obscura]


Should You Tell Your Boss Which Company You’re Leaving To Join?

When you quit a job, it’s natural for your colleagues or your boss to ask you where you’re going. Everyone wants to know what’s next for you, and what great things you’re moving on to accomplish, or why you’re leaving. That’s all well and good, but over at Quora, one person asked whether it makes sense to tell your boss from a professional standpoint, not just a personal one.

Going off of stories where people were laid off immediately after they resigned, or people who got a bad rap when they left to go to a competitor, it’s a good question. Luckily, the thread has a great answer, from user John Miller, that I think we can all use in our career pursuits:

When you’re moving from one company to another and considering how to tell your boss, think of this:

  • Your boss works for a business. That business makes decisions which it believes are in its best interest.
  • If your boss knows where you are going and there are policies related to people moving to that company, your boss is ethically bound to adhere to those policies.

In Microsoft’s past, people who accepted a job at one of a few select companies (such as Amazon and Google) were immediately dismissed. The examples I knew of this involved the person being put on ‘garden leave.’ They were walked out, and had all access to the building and computers terminated. No time to clean up machines, and depending upon circumstances, at most a few minutes to box up their belongings (with security present). They still got paid for a respectable period (e.g. 2 weeks) but could not work.

This doesn’t always happen, but it can. Why put your boss in a position to enforce these policies if they don’t want to? Don’t volunteer where you’re going. At the same time, don’t refuse to answer if they ask and you’re on friendly terms. You can always ask them if it matters from the company’s perspective before answering.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t give notice without first being prepared to walk out immediately after giving notice, if required.

I think that’s good enough to keep in mind. As long as you don’t hand in your resignation without understanding it may lead to you immediately being walked out of the building for any number of reasons, you’ll be okay—and of course, withholding that information until you actually leave requires working two more weeks (or whatever notice you give) intentionally keeping people in the dark about where you’re going. Your choice in the end, but this is good advice to keep in mind. [via Quora]


How Homework, School Weeks, and Education Spending Stack Up Around the Globe

We often point to the school systems of other countries around the world as being vastly, far and away better than the ones here in the United States, but the truth is a little more complicated. Some school systems prepare students for different types of careers or socities, and it’s not always fair to compare the education system of a country smaller than the state of California to averages across the expansive and various school systems and states across the United States.

With that in mind, this graphic from Ozicare runs down big differences between educational standards across the board, with a little focus on the average amount of homework each country assigns its students. That’s probably the most interesting bit; to see how many hours of homework each student winds up having to do every week. [via Ozicare]


Four Minutes of Death-Defying Downhill Racing

In case you’re wondering if you’re brave enough to get up and take on the day, consider the bravery of mountain bike racer Dan Atherton, who tackles this incredible downhill track with a GoPro attached to his head. It’s impressive enough, and then you realize that Atherton broke is neck back in 2010 doing what he loves—this. Fortunately for the rest of us, we can watch him do it while we gather up the energy to stride into the office. Have a great week. [via Red Bull, thanks Boing Boing!]


If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts, eye-opening videos, or anything else you think would be perfect for Brain Buffet, share it with us! Email me, leave it as a comment below, or send it over any way you know how.

Title illustration by Nick Criscuolo. Additional image by Liz West.



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