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Gift Lab: How Well Does the Bard Dispense Profanity?

August 10, 2017

Our copywriter, Eric, checks out some Shakespeare silliness.

There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy

Having played a certain infamous, misanthropic card game a few times, I was curious about whether our Shakespearean version—Bards Dispense Profanity (BDP)—would provide a similar level of smutty, giggle-inducing fun. Or would it be a tedious, highbrow take on a very lowbrow phenomenon? Only one way to find out.

This report is inspired by our long-running Gift Lab series, but I took some poetic license with the scientific method. After all, Will would want it that way.

Now, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! Continue Reading…

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What Planet Is Too Hot to Handle?

July 10, 2017

Just in time for summer, the search for exoplanets—worlds beyond our solar system—is heating up. Literally. Astronomers have discovered a planet that’s beyond blistering. It’s almost as hot as the surface of our sun and even hotter than many other stars. More than twice the size of Jupiter, gas giant KELT-9b boasts a daytime temperature of 4,300 °C. For comparison’s sake, the hottest planet in our solar system—Venus—averages only 460 °C and the hottest spot on earth is Death Valley at a pitiful 58 °C. “You call that hot?” say imagined retirees living on KELT-9b.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon…Um…Like…Knowledge

June 26, 2017

Even the most polished orators do it sometimes. Some people seem to do it constantly. Mostly, we don’t even notice it: interrupting ourselves with an “uh” or “um.” The basic function of these words is obvious: to give the speaker a moment to collect his or her thoughts before continuing. This verbal spam can also signal to the listener that the speaker has more to say, so wait for it. “Uh,” “um,” and the like have no inherent meaning or definition, but ironically, there’s actually an official linguistic term for the phenomena: speech disfluencies.

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Design

A-Side Design: Jeff Davis’ Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth Speaker

June 16, 2017

*Editor’s note: Jeff Davis’ Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth® Speaker is coming soon to our assortment. You can be among the first to get this design by pre-ordering here.

Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth® Speaker | UncommonGoods

Side A

Fresh from its triumphant world tour on Kickstarter, Jeff Davis’ Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth® Speaker puts a new spin on old LPs, letting reclaimed vinyl play music in an innovative way: as the speaker itself. With a bemused smile, Jeff points out that you can’t drop the needle on these reshaped records, but they will play your entire digital music collection in analog-inspired style. It’s a cool way to give your smartphone an audiophile upgrade.

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Gift Guides

Personal Picks: A Dad’s Guide to Father’s Day Gifts

May 30, 2017

Around the time I first got excited about craft beer, vinyl, and beard cultivation, my son started teasing me that I was the “hipster dad starter kit.” I guess I had it coming. But this was a term of endearment coming from him, so I couldn’t complain. As a copywriter here at UncommonGoods who’s also a father, I tend to get tapped for the “dad’s-eye view” of things, especially around Father’s Day. You might know me from my work as the Most Interesting Dad in the World. Basic hipster dad or not, I offer this personal perspective on our wide array of gifts for family guys. Any of these items would make me smile on Father’s Day. Simon—take note.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Is Your Dad a Monkey’s Uncle?

May 30, 2017

Your dad may have given you a lot of things: a love of Bond movies, his old jazz LPs, male pattern baldness. But whatever your inheritance, all dads pass one thing along to their sons—their Y chromosomes. Smaller and stumpier than the X chromosomes shared by men and women, the Y has been passed along through generations of male mammals for millions of years. But because it has only a few hundred genes versus the X’s thousands, geneticists long thought that the Y was wasting away, becoming the wisdom teeth of the genome. More recent research suggests that the Y chromosome is actually a hotbed of evolution. We know that we share 98% of our DNA with our closest primate cousins, chimpanzees, but researchers have found a 30% difference in Y chromosome genetic material between chimp and human dudes. This surprising finding suggests that Y chromosomes hold more mysteries for geneticists. Who knows—they might even hold the key to dads’ groan-worthy sense of humor.

Monkey Bar Tool Set | $129.99

The Uncommon Life

Material Matters: The Beauty of Brass

May 2, 2017

From prized carousel rings to shiny Sousaphones, brass is a storied substance with many contributions to material culture. This alloy of copper and zinc combined in 60 official formulas has a long history. The Chinese may have made it by accident in the 5th century BCE. They melted down zinc-rich copper ores and—presto—brass. More deliberately, the Greeks and Romans combined the two elements to form brass through a process that remained the industry standard through the late 19th century. Continue Reading…

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s the Top Trend?

April 17, 2017

From powdered wigs to Beanie Babies, trends come and go. And when they go, they tend to go in one of two directions. Trends that stick (e.g. blue denim pants) become classics, while trends that don’t (e.g. hunkerin’) are relegated to the quirky realm of fads. Either way, who can keep up? It’s almost like the cycle of trends is constantly spinning. At this point, an etymologist might exclaim, “exactly!”

Since the late 18th century, trend has described popular but fleeting phenomena and, apropos to it’s cyclical nature, the word hails from the Old English trendan—to rotate or spin. Trendan, in turn, is a cognate with the Middle High German word trendel, which came to mean a spinning disk or top. If trendel sounds vaguely familiar, that may be thanks to a classic Hannukah toy: the dreidel, possibly related to trendel through the linguistic mash-up of Yiddish. Both trendels and dreidels may trace their ancestry to the teetotum, a top-like gambling toy introduced to Europe through the Roman Empire. So the term trend itself might be based on a popular diversion that was once all the rage.

Desktop Helicone | $65

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