Conversation Piece, December 24, 2017

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Enjoy our Sunday series, Conversation Piece, a NUVO–curated digest of things on the Internet we think you’ll want to talk about.

Have yourself a psychedelic Christmas. Gather round and get cozy for a classic Christmas tale. No, it’s not A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker—rather, it’s the story of Santa and the magic mushrooms. They may seem like an unlikely pair but, as Matthew Salton writes for The New York Times, a number of scholars have noted an uncanny resemblance between Santa Claus and the hallucinogenic mushroom–eating shamans of northern Finland. Flying reindeer? Check. The giving of gifts? Check. An all-knowing man who defies space and time? Check. Read all about it, here.

Shaw-Frank Redemption. Comparing decor to be “like a prison” often means a sterile and unimaginative space—descriptions certainly not associated with the whimsical, wavy designs of Frank Gehry. The Canadian starchitect led a studio at the Yale School of Architecture wherein students’ final projects presented designs for a prison. Instead of cage-like facilities focused on retribution, Gehry encouraged his students to creates spaces where humanity is nurtured. Read more, here.

Passion for fruit. While some cultures treat fruit as a thoughtful gift—in Japan, gifting dried persimmons known as hoshigaki may bring the recipient to tears—in North America, we tend to see fruit as a mere commodity. One of the only exceptions may be Harry & David’s gold foil-wrapped pears. The Oregon-based company has been delivering their “Royal Riviera” pears to Americans’ doorsteps for more than 80 years. Considering they cost almost five times more than the average grocery store pear, one has to wonder—what’s so special about them? Find out, here.

Sperm thief. Here’s your word of the day: kleptogenesis. That’s how one would describe the strange reproductive behaviours of the female-only Ambystoma salamander populations. For millions of years, these unisexual lizards have survived by stealing sperm from unsuspecting males within their genus in order to essentially create clones of themselves. Get the details, here.

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December 24, 2017