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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

The Uncommon Life

Dad Jokes & Dancing Spiders: An Uncommon Knowledge Roundup

February 22, 2017

Uncommon Knowledge Roundup

Common knowledge. You know, the sort of stuff you’re supposed to learn in the school of life—like don’t put your tongue on the flagpole in December. Uncommon knowledge, on the other hand, is a more elusive matter. It’s the kind of facts that might make you lose a little sleep wondering why, how, or even what the heck? Our designs often inspire such tantalizing trivia and these Uncommon Knowledge highlights illustrate those quirky connections. And to keep things extra-uncommon, we’ve added a fresh batch of bonus facts. With this uncommon knowledge in mind, any of these goods are conversation-starters.

 

How Romantic is the Animal Kingdom?

Snoozing sea otters holding hands, penguins proposing with pebbles, and puppies that believe in chivalry—the animal kingdom is full of aww-worthy stories. For humans, romantic inspiration can be as simple as a walk through snowy woods. Read more >

Extra-uncommon knowledge: Male peacock spiders really know how to bust a move in their efforts to woo females. Their courtship dances include fancy footwork, rapid vibrations, and a rainbow abdomen flap that they raise like a flag.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: How Does Cupid Get the Lead Out?

February 6, 2017

Christmas has its jolly old elf, Easter has its hopping bunny, and Valentine’s Day has Cupid—a chubby, winged toddler wielding a bow and arrow. When you stop to think, this mischievous child taking aim at one of our major organs (sometimes blindfolded) is a formidable, even frightening ambassador for an otherwise lovely holiday. Nonetheless, a heart pierced by one of Cupid’s arrows has become shorthand for being in love, gracing many a middle school desk and lovers’ favorite tree. But is that arrow always friendly fire? Turns out that love’s archer has two types of ammunition: the familiar gold arrows that make people fall head over heels, and lesser-known lead arrows that put people permanently in the “friend zone.” In the story of Apollo and Daphne, Cupid used one of each, making Apollo forever hot for Daphne, and the nymph forever giving him the cold shoulder. Hit by Cupid’s lead arrow, Daphne even had her father (Peneus, the river god) turn her into a tree to make herself permanently unavailable. Talk about barking up the wrong tree.

Faux Bois Mug Set | $72

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