Uplifting news nuggets to get the weekend off to a bright start.
Cheese and wine are good for the brain: Some of our lockdown 'bad habits' may not be so bad after all, as new research has found that wine and cheese could protect us against cognitive decline. While the research is (probably) not a good enough excuse to go wild on a cheeseboard and down a bottle of wine every night during the festive period, "we’re pleasantly surprised”, said Auriel Willette, professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, who was involved in the study.
Illiterate Indian farmer becomes rich after ploughing up a 14.98 carat diamond. So far he's used his good fortune to buy a bit more land, a motorcycle and a couple of buffaloes. And now can afford to educate his children so they can look after his money in retirement, and build a new home. Lovely!
Acts of kindness: In Minnesota more than 900 drivers decided to 'pay it forward', purchasing meals for others at the Dairy Queen restaurant drive-thru. It all started with one person (it always does) who decided to buy his meal, and one for the car behind. And then it just took off. The Dairy Queen's Facebook page tracked it all as it happened, and it went on for days. What a brilliant example of festive, and giving, spirit.
In the UK, supermarket chain Morrisons has also got involved with the festive spirit, announcing a major new initiative to help communities by promising to deliver more than 30,000 'acts of kindness'. These include anything from delivering mince pies to care homes, to presenting festive hampers to ‘Covid-19 heroes’.
It’s been a big year for turtles, with lockdowns allowing them to hatch on beaches around the world that are, for once, free from humans. This week, however, a remarkable hatching event took place on the Purus River in Brazil as a reported 90,000 giant South American river turtles were born. A turtle tsunami!
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is moving quickly to authorize a second Covid-19 vaccine after a key advisory panel endorsed the vaccine from Moderna, paving the way for it to be added to the nationwide campaign. The vaccination effort kicked off last week with the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.
If you've got time on your hands, then explore the world through other people's windows (it's with their permission, don't worry). It's a delightfully escapist way to spend some time, enjoying the view out of other people's windows.
Zoom is lifting limits on the free version of its video-conferencing software over the festive season to help families around the world socialise safely.
Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service has pledged to diversify its programming to better reflect audiences in the UK. Netflix’s vice president of original series said the platform was on a mission “to ensure we’re better reflecting the whole of the UK and what’s authentically modern British”.
Jupiter and Saturn will come together in the night’s sky later this month, forming what will appear to be a single bright star above the horizon - and some have likened the merging of the two gas giants to the Christmas Star.
National Theatre at Home: After the success of its weekly Thursday night streams during lockdown, the NT has launched a catalogue of past hits online. You can either become a subscriber, or pay per play. Titles include classics such as Phèdre with Helen Mirren, Amadeus with Lucian Msamati and the Donmar’s Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston as well as new writing including Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes and Shahid Hadeem’s Dara. New plays are added to the collection each month. The National’s 2020 panto, Dick Whittington, will be streamed on 23 December and available on demand until midnight on 27 December. It will then be made available on the National Theatre at Home platform from 11 January for six weeks.
Pixar is one of the world's great animation studios, famous for movies like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. And we love their short films too. Like For the Birds. It's only 3 minutes long and absolutely brilliant.