OkCupid, the online dating site, disclosed Monday that they sometimes manipulate their users' profiles for experiments. Christian Rudder, co-founder and president of OkCupid, tells Audie Cornish that these experiments help the site improve how it works.
Government scientists can speak Southern after all.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has announced that in response to complaints from staff, it's cancelling plans to hold a six-week "Southern Accent Reduction" course, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
Officials at the scientific complex in East Tennessee said they had only been responding to an employee request. They've now responded to the anger of offended workers.
"Given the way that it came across, they decided to cancel it," lab spokesman David Keim told the News Sentinel. "It probably wasn't presented in the right way and made it look like ORNL had some problem with having a Southern accent, which of course we don't. That was not the intent at all."
Oak Ridge had distributed a notice announcing instruction would be available from "a nationally certified speech pathologist and accent reduction trainer."
"Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neutral American accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it," the notice promised.
The lab is not the first entity to suggest that a Southern drawl sounds ignorant to some listeners. "Studies have shown that whether you are from the North or South, a Southern twang pegs the speaker as comparatively dimwitted, but also likely to be a nicer person than folks who speak like a Yankee," Scientific American noted in 2012.
But bear in mind, a survey last fall by a dating site found that Southern accents are widely considered the nation's sexiest.
The late musician Jack Clement's nickname, "Cowboy," came from a radio show he was part of in the early 1960s. It had nothing to do with horses or boots, but it happened to fit his maverick approach to work.
Clement did what he wanted: songwriting, producing, running his own recording studios, even making movies. He was a visionary and a catalyst who always knew how to match artists with the right material. He famously arranged the distinctive mariachi horn section in Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," and when he gave "Just a Girl I Used to Know" to George Jones in 1962, it was a hit.
In a career that spanned six decades, the Tennessee native and one-time Marine worked with everyone from Charley Pride to U2. Yet in all that time, Clement only recorded three albums of his own. He'd just completed his final project, For Once and for All, when he died last year at age 82.
Clement was humbly philosophical and deeply funny. He embraced traditional country themes like trains and love gone wrong, but also wrote songs like "Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart," "Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog," and one ostensibly about a home appliance, but really about the magic you might find in the world if you let go of a modern convenience for a while: "The Air Conditioner Song."
He wrote hundreds of songs, and they've been recorded by hundreds of artists who worked with Clement or were inspired by him. So it's fitting that on For Once and for All, he revisits material he wrote decades ago and calls in a host of friends to play along. In "Got Leaving on Her Mind," country singer Dierks Bentley and The Secret Sisters harmonize, Duane Eddy plays guitar and Leon Russell adds piano. It's a beautiful convergence of the generations touched by Clement's work.
The space left behind by an intrepid spirit like "Cowboy" Jack Clement can never be filled. For Once and for All evokes a wistful feeling about his loss, but like the trains he loved and chronicled, Clement's place in history is secured in song.
A doctor trained in Fort Worth, Texas, is now a victim of the Ebola outbreak he was battling.
Kent Brantly, 33, had been caring for Ebola patients in Liberia's capital of Monrovia for several months when he noticed he had symptoms of the deadly virus last Wednesday.
He immediately put himself into an isolation ward.
"He is still conversing and is in isolation. But he is seriously ill with a very grave prognosis," says Dr. David Mccray, of John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, who spoke to Brantly by phone on Monday.
"Kent is a calm, confident, focused individual, with a deep calling for the work that he's doing," Mccray says.
After Brantly completed his residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in 2013, he traveled to West Africa with his wife and two children to work with the Christian aid group Samaritan's Purse.
Then the Ebola outbreak started in March. And Samaritan's Purse asked Brantly to direct the group's Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia.
Since then, about 1,200 people have fallen ill with Ebola, and more than 670 have died across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There's no treatment for the disease, which spreads when people come into direct contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva, blood, diarrhea and vomit.
Brantly knew providing health care in Liberia would be challenging — and that was even before the Ebola epidemic. But caring for people in need, his friends say, was always what he wanted to do.
Even now, Brantly wants people to focus on the larger epidemic, not just his illness, Mccray says. "Many people are infected with Ebola in Africa, and many people are not surviving," he says. "And Kent does not see his situation as unique in any way."
Two other members of Brantly's medical team in Liberia also contracted Ebola. One died. The other, American Nancy Writebol, is still sick.
Brantly says he isn't sure how he got infected. He's certain he didn't violate any safety guidelines.
Samaritan's Purse is working with the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to identify the source of contamination at the ward, says the group's spokesperson, Melissa Strickland.
Brantly was working with nearly two dozen Ebola patients, but Strickland says, he followed strict protocols. He covered every inch of his body before entering the Ebola ward in a protective suit. "It would take at least 30 minutes to get that suit on properly," she says.
Although the mortality rate has been about 60 percent in this Ebola outbreak, doctors on the ground say good supportive care early does help. And ideally, Brantly would be evacuated to a hospital in Europe or the U.S., Strickland says. So far that hasn't been possible.
"There are organizations that will not transport Ebola patients," Strickland says, "either because they don't have the isolation protocols in place that would be necessary or because of the fear of transporting an Ebola patient."
Brantly's family returned to the U.S. last week for a visit, before Brantly began showing symptoms. It's highly unlikely that his family caught the virus from him, the CDC says.