Facebook has diluted true meaning of friends

Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and psychologist at the University of Oxford, has long argued that humans can only really have 150 friends at a time (aka people you'd invite to a big party, not people you'd introduce to your mother.) Within that 150, there are various levels of intimacy: about 50 medium-close friends, 15 friends you can rely on for emotional support, and five intensely intimate friends - or four, if you have a romantic partner. (A romantic partner takes up the bandwidth of two close friends.)

Yet our Facebook friends number tends to be higher. Dunbar argues those "friendships" lack substance. You might like all your friends' selfies from time to time, but you don't stay in touch with them in a meaningful way. They're really acquaintances, if that. They're "friends" only in the sense that that's what Facebook connections are called. (Via Curiosity.com)

More embarrassingly simple lessons learned late in life

1. While driving a hire van on a recent school trip I asked my friend next to me which side the fuel went in. He shrugged and started hanging out the window. From the back of the van, a Year 9 kid yells: "Hey mister, just look at the triangle on the fuel gauge." After 35 years of driving, neither I nor my friend had noticed it.

2. I was around 10 or 11 when I found that a "human bean" was actually "human being", not a human version of the long, skinny, green vegetable.


Handle problem

"The landlord decided to fix the bathroom handle himself. This is how he 'handled' the problem."

Colourful names from ye olde days

"No doubt some fellow clothing history geek will have already told you this, but 'goose turd' is a very old name for that shade of green, dating from at least Elizabethan times," writes Lucy. "They also had other great colour names, like 'dead Spaniard' (a pale grey), 'puke' (a dirty brown), 'horseflesh' (reddish brown), 'lusty gallant' (coral pink) and 'devil in the head'(probably a shade of green)."

When your wet toupee just keeps shuffling along

A reader writes: "Just reading in your column that someone at age 43 discovered 'slow as a wet week' did not refer to a "drab little creature snuffling its way laboriously along the bush floor'. "OMG! I have literally this minute just learned it is not "slow as a wet wig" (I always wondered what that was, but assumed dampness prevented it being a speedy wig.)"

Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz