Marketplace - American Public Media

Dinosaur departure prompts protests in the UK

Fri, 2015-02-13 10:19

Museums don’t often provoke strong emotions, but among the schoolkids and their teachers recently filing in to the Natural History Museum in London, there was shock, horror and dismay.

"Personally I feel really astonished. I just can’t believe it," said one.

"If you do this to the Natural History Museum, you take away its soul!" said another.

They were talking about the museum’s decision to ditch its most iconic exhibit: Dippy the Dinosaur. The 85-foot-long skeletal diplodocus has towered over the museum’s entrance hall for more than three decades.

“This space is due for a refresh,” says Sir Michael Dixon, the museum’s director. “ We want to do things differently. We want to tell a story as to why the museum is special. And it is special because we have this wonderful collection of real objects from the natural world.”

Notice he says “real” objects. Here’s the second bombshell. And it is worse than debunking Father Christmas: Dippy is fake.

“Dippy is a cast. It’s a replica of several different skeletons,” says the museum’s Richard Saybin. “Dippy is a life-size model of a diplodocus donated to Britain by the U.S. steel magnate Andrew Carnegie at the beginning of the 20th century. ”

The museum wants to replace Dippy with a genuine skeleton of a blue whale, the largest, existing animal on earth. The plan is to suspend whale from the ceiling of the entrance hall.

“The blue whale is a species that humans have taken to the edge of extinction through overexploitation. But then through careful management we’ve managed to pull that back. So it really does demonstrate what we  – as a museum – are trying to achieve through our research,” Sabin says.

Cynics suggest that the museum’s decision to eject Dippy has more to do with money. Like most public museums and art galleries in Britain, the Natural History Museum doesn’t charge an entrance fee. It survives on government funding and on the revenue it can raise, including by hosting corporate events. Getting rid of Dippy, and suspending his successor from the ceiling, will free up valuable floor space. Sabin concedes that could be a benefit but insists that was not the main reason for the move.

Dippy isn’t headed for extinction. After he leaves the museum, he is going on the road as part of a traveling exhibition.

Game theory may come into play in Greek negotiations

Fri, 2015-02-13 09:23

It was mostly calm Friday in Brussels, Belgium, where Greek debt negotiations are continuing.

Those talks have many layers to them, as the new Greek government doesn’t just want another bailout, but also to reverse some of the reforms Athens agreed to during its original bailout. The Greek finance minister is also a professor of game theory, which has prompted all kinds of game metaphors for the negotiations – from chess to poker to chicken, where neither side wants to change course.

“It’s this very fundamental, simple game theory here,” says Adam Lerrick, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. But he says Greece only has one card to play – threatening to leave the euro, which it believes would lead to disruption throughout the entire eurozone.

Nick Spiro of Spiro Sovereign Strategy says that card is a lot less valuable than it once was because Greece’s European partners are less worried about its problems spreading to other countries than they used to be.

While European leaders may not be using formal game theories in these negotiations, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a New York University politics professor who specializes in game theory, says they’re likely doing a more seat-of-the-pants version of it. He says we all do that, every day. 

Your Wallet: Tell us your dirty little (work) secrets

Fri, 2015-02-13 08:57

The secrets you keep at work: a lie you got away with, shortcuts you take — maybe even backs you dream of stabbing.

Do you have a story about your hidden workplace self? Tell us! (We won't tell anyone else, we swear!)

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter @MarketplaceWKND to give us the scoop.

Your Wallet: Secrets

Fri, 2015-02-13 08:57

The secrets you keep at work... a lie you got away with, shortcuts you take, backs you dream of stabbing...

Do you have a story about your hidden workplace self ? Tell us! We won't tell anyone else!

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter, @MarketplaceWKND

Opening economic doors with early childhood education

Fri, 2015-02-13 08:56

When it comes to economic mobility, the traditional path to betterment is often education.

Education has, for many people, been the key to higher earnings and higher social status. These days, it seems quality education can't start early enough: parents jockey for spots for their toddlers in top schools and politicians debate the merits of universal pre-K.

But for all of the talk about early childhood education, not all that many kids are getting it.

Earlier this year, Education Week released its annual report card on the state of American education. When it comes to our youngest students, the country earned a D+. Less than half of 3- and 4-year-olds are currently enrolled in preschool.

Marketplace's education correspondent Amy Scott spoke with Marketplace Weekend about how early childhood education impacts future economic mobility. 

Listen to the full interview in the media player above.

Six Routes: How to make it in Germany

Fri, 2015-02-13 08:44

In this series, we're going around the world in 40 days, stopping at six countries in the middle of the new global economy: Nigeria, Brazil, China, India, Germany, and the U.S. We'll meet the people who've made it, those who are trying to make it, and the people making the big decisions in the world economy.

The first stop on this tour is Germany: The country boasts the world's fourth-largest economy and is the beating heart of the eurozone, the guardian of financial discipline. When it comes to money, what makes Germans tick?

DEBT AND GUILT

The election of Greece's left-wing government on a promise to reduce the country’s mountain of debt has created a standoff with Europe's economic powerhouse — and has thrown Germany's ultraconservative attitude to debt into sharp relief.

Marcel Fratzscher, who heads the prestigious German Economic Research Institute, says debt-aversion is even rooted in the German language.

The German word for debt, "schuld," is the same as the German word for "guilt." "To get into debt, you have done something bad and that describes the German people's attitude quite well," Fratzscher says.

The German way is to "save now, have later," rather than 'have now, pay later,' and it's not just older Germans. On the streets of Berlin, young Germans told us what they would do if they won 1 million euro. A new car, a holiday, a new outfit? "I would save it for when I need it" was the typical reply. That savings habit is the key to understanding another characteristic of Germans: fear of inflation.

Common wisdom says this is due to scars left by hyperinflation in the 1920s that saw the exchange rate go from 4 marks to the dollar to 4 trillion. There may be some residual echoes of that period, but Germans have moved on. The real reason is found in the German love of saving, and inflation is the enemy of savers.

For a nation full of them, the idea of lowering interest rates and printing money holds a double threat: It reduces the rate you get on savings and potentially causes inflation in the future, which means savings buy less. The good news for Germany is that inflation hasn't arrived and although interest rates are low, the related weakness of the euro has kept German exports like cars and machinery competitively priced.

That engineering and exporting success is the source of considerable German pride. They even have a name for it, “Wirtschaftswunder,” which translates to “economic miracle,” and refers to the decades after World War II in which the German economy rose from the rubble to become one of the strongest in the world.

But it wasn’t really a miracle that led to this resurgence. Economists attribute the "Wirtschaftswunder" to a set of basic interlocking economic principals — principals that you can see at work in the Menzel Electric Motor factory in Berlin.

INVEST IN YOUR WORKFORCE

Thomas Dobratz, a supervisor at the Menzel factory, has worked there for more than 30 years – since the company’s current owner, Mathis Menzel, was a young boy. Dobratz started as an apprentice at the factory, following in his family’s footsteps.

“My father was here, and my uncle was here, and my brother was here,” he says.

This kind of long family relationship between factory and worker is still common in German industry, Menzel says.

"It’s usual that people are working all their life in the same company,” Menzel say. “There's lots of skills developed and loyalty."

And the loyalty goes both ways. Good wages keep Menzel’s workers loyal to his company, and those workers' skills and experience keep Menzel loyal to them. Even though he could hire workers for less money in other countries, he's not tempted to outsource because it could compromise the quality of his products, he says. The kind of quality that helps explain why exports make up a whopping 50 percent of German gross domestic product.

LONG-TERM THINKING

Menzel’s decision not to outsource — as tempting as it might sound in the short-run but wouldn't pay off in the long run — is the kind of thinking that brings us to another reason that has helped Menzel's factory and the wider German economy. Menzel says because his company is relatively small and family-owned, a kind of company known as a “Mittelstand” company in Germany, he is not beholden to shareholder's short-term quarterly demands. He can think in terms of decades, not quarters. 

But it is not all roses for German workers. After reunification in 1989, Germany agreed to an exchange rate that swapped one East German Ostmark for one West German Deutsche.

Politically, it may have been the right thing to do, but almost overnight workers in East Germany's unproductive state-run factories became too expensive to employ. Their productivity lagged western peers, and plants lost contracts and were closed. This hampered growth, until German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder introduced huge cuts to wages, benefits and social services 10 years ago.

This saw the rise of the working poor whose pay doesn't cover their cost of living. This also helps explain German impatience with other European countries, most notably at the moment, Greece. Many feel they had to make painful economic sacrifices to meet their political goals, so why can't others?

Stefan Schneider, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, says: “We had to shoulder the cost of reunification, which was a big stress for the economy and we did it on our own, and I think this might explain why Germans have limited patience when they say other countries [are] dragging their feet on reform.”

But others would say German memories are short when it comes to debt forgiveness. The German postwar "miracle" might never have happened if Germany hadn't been let off half its postwar debts in 1953. This is not lost on Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister who recently said "no one understands the Greece position better than the Germans."

Quiz: Closing achievement gaps

Fri, 2015-02-13 08:22

In a study by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, researchers look at how improving educational achievement of lower classes would boost the economy.

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My Money Story: The economics of life in a wheelchair

Fri, 2015-02-13 08:16

Jay Cramer was rock climbing with friends in Malibu Creek State Park. He had just been chosen as a semi-finalist to appear on "Survivor," and he wanted to train. He had never been bouldering — free climbing with no ropes — but his friends were experienced. 

A 30-minute hike lead Cramer to a section of the park that was all water and rock. He took a few harmless falls into the water and got right back up. Then, clinging to the rock, he knew he was going down again. His friend told him to "just let go," but Cramer pushed off the rock instead. 

His head hit rock, he plummeted into the water below. And he couldn't move, couldn't flip over. Eyes open, conscious, he looked down into the water. His friends thought he was joking, but when they saw blood, they came to pull him out, and called for an airlift. 

After a long surgery, Cramer woke up in the hospital, paralyzed from the chest down. He shattered his C5 vertebrae, an incomplete injury that left him with feeling, but limited his movement. Fourteen of his friends spent the night in the hospital, and Cramer says when he saw them, he "knew everything was going to be okay."

"My finances changed when my mobility changed," Cramer says. "Because there are certain parameters that you have to live by when you need the things that I need."

Cramer is confined to a power wheelchair. He can drive, and says he's about 90 percent self-suffiencient, and leads a very normal life. He does need a caregiver in the mornings, to help him out, "and that can get quite expensive."

Government funded programs like In Home Supportive Services give people like Cramer money for a caregiver.

"In order to get that, in order to get Medi-Cal, and anything else that you need, there's only a certain amount of money you can have in your bank account, and there's only a certain amount of money that you can make, per month, in order to receive benefits," Cramer says. 

"It's a very, very fine line that you have to walk, so to speak, to make sure that you've got the money that you need to live and survive," he says. Balancing his own income with state support is tricky, but Cramer says there's a huge leap to get to total financial independence. 

Cramer says that in order to make enough money, "so that you don't receive any more benefits and you can be self-sufficient, it's quite a big jump, because there's a lot of things that you need to take care of now, medically."

"I am a very mobile person ... because it's not a when life hands you lemons you made lemonade kind of situation, it's you just want to live your life. It doesn't matter what kind of curve balls are thrown at you," Cramer said. "The best you can do is learn to adjust and adapt, which oddly enough are two of the important traits that it takes to get you through a game show like survivor." 

His life has changed a lot since his accident. He's found success as an actor and a comedian — the stand-up comedy community rallied around him after he was injured, helping to raise money that he eventually used to buy a car. He also started supervising the Know Barriers peer mentoring program at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center. 

Cramer also found love. He was single at the time of his accident, but is now married to Katy Sullivan, an athlete who completed in the 2012 London Paralympic Games and a fellow actor. 

"You figure it out, you move and you shake, and you make your way through it," said Cramer, "I honestly see the sky as the only limit, and maybe not even that."

Calculate how much water you use

Fri, 2015-02-13 06:05
The average American family of five uses 500 gallons a day, but that depends on many factors. Curious about your own water footprint? Check out our water calculator here:

PODCAST: The film industry heads south

Fri, 2015-02-13 03:00

A very interesting report to watch is consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan. This early February reading will be especially helpful after the oddly anemic retail sales report yesterday, given new jobs being created and low gas prices. We get to the bottom of this emerging economic conundrum. Plus, When it comes to North American film production, Hollywood, New York, and Vancouver, Canada are obvious hot spots. But they are not alone. Among regions that have been using incentives to lure production is Georgia.

CEOs skip cybersecurity summit

Fri, 2015-02-13 03:00

President Barack Obama is in Silicon Valley Friday for a summit on cybersecurity.

He's trying to get more cooperation from tech companies in responding to massive data breaches. But some key players aren’t showing up.  

The CEOs of Google, Yahoo and Facebook are skipping the summit. They’re sending their information security executives to the summit instead. Only Apple’s Tim Cook will be there. 

Some analysts say the big tech dogs are staying away because of tensions between the White House and Silicon Valley.

“Most of it comes from the fact that the government wants to have their hands into everything," says tech analyst Jeff Kagan. "They want to control everything.”

He says specifically, the feds wants backdoor keys to software. The government says it needs the keys to, say, prevent a terrorist attack. 

But some Silicon Valley giants have protested. Kagan says more government control would hamper innovation.

“I think the government wants to have a hands on approach, and that’s something that  would be a death knell to the growth curve that we’ve seen over the last few decades. And that’s the struggle,” he says.

Kagan says it’s a matter of balance. President Obama is proposing a framework companies could use to share information during a major data breach, like we just saw at the insurer, Anthem. He thinks that could help.

The CEOs of American Express, Master Card, Visa and Walgreens are expected at Friday’s summit.

 

 

 

 

Georgia's film industry sees a boom

Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

The Hunger Games. Selma. The Walking Dead. Georgia's film industry has seen rapid growth in the past decade, anchored by some of the biggest movies and television shows.

Chris Carr, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, says film has grown from a $250 million-a-year industry in 2007 to more than $5 billion in 2014. The state offers incentives, including a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend at least $500,000 in state, and an additional 10 percent for producers willing to insert the state's peach logo into the credits.

Ed Richardson and Brian Livesay, CEOs of 404 Studio Partners, at the site of what will become Atlanta Metro Studios. 

Noel King

Brian Livesay is the CEO of 404 Studio Partners. His company will handle sales and marketing for the Atlanta Metro Studios, a new space currently under construction. He says he never considered Atlanta to be a movie-making hub, until a project he was working on was lured from Los Angeles to Atlanta. Now, he's in Georgia for good. And that state hopes to make stories like his the norm. 

Consumers are confident. So why aren't they spending?

Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Consumer sentiment is now at the same level as in 2004, well before the Great Recession hit. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey for February (preliminary) will be reported Friday, and the consensus among leading economists is that the measure will move modestly higher — to a reading of 98.5, compared to 98.1 in January.

“The American consumer is doing better, maybe paying down some debt, spending more,” says economist Chris Christopher at IHS Global Insight.

But consumers still aren’t on a spending spree. Retail sales in January were up only 0.2 percent after excluding volatile cars and gasoline (the figure was -0.8 percent including cars and gasoline). In December, spending (excluding cars and gasoline) didn’t rise at all.

“Median household income, adjusted for inflation, is still approximately 7 to 8 percent lower than it was in 2008,” says Christopher. “There are a lot of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. Lower pump prices are helping them spend on higher food prices, which have been relatively elevated over the past year.”

Economists don’t expect consumer spending to rise strongly until wages across the income spectrum begin increasing at a faster pace than inflation, month after month.

The market doesn't charge for Florida's climate risk

Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Twenty-year government bonds and thirty-year mortgages are bumping into the horizons for serious damage to South Florida from rising seas. So far, those enormous risks haven’t sent home prices tumbling, or sent borrowing costs skyrocketing. The trillion-dollar question is: When and how will the market start charging for those risks? 

Financially, the most important piece of information about rising seas clobbering Miami and South Florida is the one nobody knows: When, exactly?

"Geologic time doesn’t give us that answer," says John Englander, author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis.”

"It doesn’t get us down to human time scale of, 'What decade will it happen?'" he says. "Or, 'What year will it happen?'"

As a Fort Lauderdale home-owner, Englander thinks that uncertainty works to his advantage, for now. He thinks he might sell in five or ten years — to get out while the getting is good — and he thinks his case isn’t unusual. Even though the typical mortgage is 30 years, many home-owners think about their investment in five-year increments.

That’s the same horizon bond-rating agencies use when they evaluate public-works plans. That's as far as they can look, says Geoff Buswick, who runs the public-finance infrastructure group at Standard and Poors.

"Once you get past that, the financial forecasts are softer," he says. "Fifteen years from now, it could be a completely different management team, and a completely different environment."

There’s a reason big investors are OK with a five-year evaluations of what may be, on paper, a bond with a 20, or 30 or 100-year payoff.

"They’re not planning on holding that for 30 or a hundred years," says Sharlene Leurig, who runs the sustainable water infrastructure program for the non-profit Ceres. "They’re planning on flipping it, maybe in eight." 

So, from all sides, the risks don’t get priced into the market.

"Everyone thinks they’re going to be the first to realize where the risk is, the first to liquidate," says Leurig. "And that there will be an opportunity to roll that capital into the next thing, which will be less risky."

Keith London seems like someone who should be especially concerned about the risks of South Florida real estate. He’s a city commissioner and longtime homeowner in the Miami suburb of Hallandale Beach. Rising seas have already required some big spending there, just to protect the city’s drinking water supply.  

But he doesn’t think his town has it worse. Just first.

"We are the canary in the coal mine," he says. "We have all the issues and all the problems. But this is a bigger problem than just South Florida. There’s going to be global disruptions, everywhere."

He hopes that means global mobilization to address the challenges.

Meanwhile, he thinks South Florida is a fine place to live.

Everybody's a television producer

Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Move over, Amazon Prime and Netflix. BitTorrent is getting into the original content business. 

The company, known for its peer-to-peer file sharing platform, is teaming up with Rapid Eye Studios to create what they’re calling BitTorrent Originals. The first will be a sci-fi video series aimed at the coveted 14- to 25-year old-set, launching later this year.

“There’s really been an explosion of investment in originals, and a lot of this is borne out by what appears to be an insatiable appetite from consumers,” says S&P Capital IQ analyst Tuna Amobi.

BitTorrent has made efforts to shed its image as an enabler of illegal downloads by making deals to sell content from the likes of Radiohead and director David Cross. Still, in attracting advertisers for its new original shows, Rapid Eye Studio head Marco Weber says “the young and rebellious image of the brand” is a selling point.

Chocolate is more expensive. Everything is terrible.

Fri, 2015-02-13 01:30
100 lots

That's how many lots the city of Newark, New Jersey is selling for $1,000 a piece to couples of any sexual orientation as part of a special Valentine's day sale. As reported by NJ.com, the loving land owners must agree to build a home and live on their new plottage. 

54 percent

While only 20 percent of Fifty Shades of Grey readers were male, 54 percent of buyers of a Shades themed Teddy Bear are men. Some say merchandising from the film subjects that were once taboo into marketable commodities. And pre-ticket sales are doing well, also. See our grey-shaded chart below:

20 percent

Speaking of Fifty Shades of Grey, back when details of the film were being disrobed, some were titillated by reports that a fifth of the film would be sex scenes. That may be unusual for the film industry, but as Quartz points out, its kind of old news for television.

$700 million

That's how much Americans are likely to spend on Valentine's day ... for Fido. We really do love our pets. Check out more not-so-sunny Valentine's day facts over at Time, including the quantifiable amount that love dies over time.

$2,921.05

That's last month's price-per-ton for cocoa. As reported by the NY Times, that's higher than last year, partly due to greater global demand for dark chocolate, especially in Asia. So be prepared to spend more on sweets for your sweet.

Silicon Tally: Fly the friendly (and cheap) skies

Fri, 2015-02-13 01:30

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news.

This week, we're joined by Brian Kelly, otherwise known as "The Points Guy." Kelly prides himself on being "able to book exciting and extravagant trips for next to nothing through his hard-earned loyalty points and airline miles, flying first class."

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Port lockouts and the sea's importance in supply chain

Thu, 2015-02-12 14:37

Lawmakers from both parties are urging President Barack Obama to get involved in the labor dispute that has snarled ports on the West Coast for months. Container ships are stacked up from Los Angeles to Seattle. And now: Port operators locked out  workers Thursday, and they'll do it again over the upcoming Presidents Day weekend.  

An estimated $1 trillion dollars in goods moves through those ports annually – and when those goods stop moving, supply chains nationwide get broken. "There are an awful lot of people ... on the spectrum from concerned to panicked," says Allan Rutter, a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

For instance, most manufacturing now runs on a “just-in-time” system.  When parts don't arrive, assembly lines can stop.

"What manufacturers are extremely good at is problem-solving, and coming up with work-arounds," says Robyn Boerstling, director of transportation and infrastructure policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

But work-arounds are expensive. For instance, Fuji Heavy Industries says it’s paying $60 million a month to fly Subaru parts to U.S. plants to keep things running.

Some businesses are unable to ship things out of the country. California citrus growers say they’ve lost half a billion dollars in foreign business. Retailers are becoming unglued as they wait for imported products.

Dan Boaz, founder of airfreight.com, is looking at what happens once the ports start moving again. "It’s going be a whole 'nother secondary-effect nightmare. Everyone’s going to want to be at the front of the line, and everybody’s going to want to get their freight." And, he says, it’s going to be a great opportunity, for him.

 

Brazil is facing its worst drought in a century

Thu, 2015-02-12 14:08

If you wash your hands today in Sao Paulo, Brazil, you might be encouraged to do it with hand sanitizer instead of water. That's because Sao Paulo is in the middle of its worst drought in a century.

Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O'Leary, on assignment in Brazil, tells Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal: "There's one stat that will probably blow your mind a little bit: 68 percent of the people here, in Sao Paulo, have had problems with the water supply in the past month. So that means the water pressure's lower, and there has been some talk of outright rationing."

For now, the government is offering price incentives to encourage residents to use less water. High-end restaurants are using plastic utensils, and students are told not to brush their teeth while in school. And an economy of private water trucks has sprung up, delivering water to the wealthy during the early-morning hours.

12 crazy facts about chickens, and then some

Thu, 2015-02-12 13:49

In his book "Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?" author Andrew Lawler trace's poultry's path from a few small forests to nearly every dinner table in America. 

Here's some stuff from the book that blew our minds:

1. At any given time, 20 billion chickens are alive and squawking on our planet. That's three for every human, and more than all the cats, dogs, pigs, cows and rats combined.

2. The only country without live chickens is Vatican City. The only continent without them is Antarctica.

3. Under federal law, chickens are not considered livestock, or even classified as animals, if they are raised for food. 

4. Though it can barely fly, the chicken has become the world's most migratory bird, in food form. One bird can be parceled out to half a dozen countries or more. For example: The feet go to China, the legs to Russia, wings to Spain, intestines to Turkey, bones to Amsterdam for soup and breasts to America.

5. In Ancient Greece, sacrificing a cock to Asclepius (the god of medicine) was a common practice of a sick person who wanted to get well. Today when we’re sick we eat chicken soup. Chicken does indeed have healing properties: The meat contains cysteine, an amino acid that is related to the active ingredient in a drug used to treat bronchitis. A 2011 study by an Iowa physician determined that people with viral illnesses who ate chicken soup recovered faster than those who didn’t.

6. Chicken bones found in western South America indicate that Polynesians reached the New World at least 100 years before Columbus, and that they were raising chickens first too. Pre-Columbian chickens means that Old World and New World humans met sometime after the end of the Ice Age and before Columbus.

7. Roosters have no penises. Instead, a male chicken fertilizes the female’s eggs by inverting its cloacae (the single-lane end of the urinary and digestive tracts) and pressing it against hers. “Biology can’t explain why our favored slang word for the male organ refers to a bird that lacks one,” Lawler writes.

8. Roosters are randy, maybe that’s why: “Male chickens prefer new partners to familiar ones. Scientists call this salacious behavior the 'Coolidge effect,'" Lawler writes. “During separate tours of a chicken farm by President Calvin Coolidge and his wife in the 1920s, Mrs. Coolidge remarked on a rooster that was busy mating. She was told that this behavior took place dozens of times daily. ‘Tell that to the president when he comes by,’  she said cooly. When the message was relayed, the president asked if the rooster mated with the same hen. He was told no, that the male preferred a variety of partners. ‘Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge,’ he responded.”

9. In 2007, a scientific team extracted a protein from a 68 million-year-old tyrannosaurus rex and found it to be identical to one that exists in the chicken. Let’s see if “Jurassic World” updates its dino-DNA video.

10. Chickens called "bilateral gynandromorphs" that contain distinctively male and female parts on separate sides of their bodies. This has occasionally led to chickens that look like roosters but can lay eggs. They inspired the mythological creature known as the basilisk, a rooster said to lay an egg that would hatch into a chicken with a lizard or dragon body.

11. Thank Charles Vantress next time you sit down to a chicken dinner. He won the “Chicken of Tomorrow” contest in 1951, sort of an X-prize for bigger-breasted poultry. To compete with pork and beef, A&P supermarkets helped organize the contest that challenged farmers, scientists and breeders to come up with “breast meat so thick you can carve it into steaks.” Nearly every chicken we eat today is a descendant of the Vantress.

12. Today the average American eats around 70 pounds of chicken a year, five times the 1950 amount. The chickens have also gotten much bigger. Before the “Chicken of Tomorrow” took hold, a broiler required an average of 70 days to reach the average weight of 3.1 pounds, with 3 pounds of feed needed per pound of bird. In 2010, only 47 days were needed to make a 5.7-pound bird that required less than 2 pounds of feed.

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