September 21st, 2012

current teen-age dating practices

when: present day (any time in the last 10 years)

where: English-speaking North America (specifically, a middle-/
upper-middle-class suburb)

terms searched: none. No idea where to start, and too much local variation.

[I'm not a parent, and my experiences on the other side are *ahem* several decades out of date. Rather than rely on that impeccable observer of modern social mores - Hollywood - I thought I'd ask here and maybe find someone who's been there recently.]

Brad, 14, is in the same school and class year as Janet. He just asked her for a /de facto/ first date, and she said yes,

Given both have parents that are supportive, but intent on heading real trouble off at the pass, how do they spend time together in an aboveboard way? I assume studying together is good, though limited by both getting good grades and having few classes in common; they have no common extracirricular activities and few common friends. Are there activities permitted only in groups, or with a chaperone?
music, serious face

[ANON POST] Chinese Children's Song (Three Tigers)

I have a question about the Chinese children's song (三只老虎 or Three Tigers). I'm writing a fic for an exchange (hence the anon) which contains a character who was a peasant girl in Hebei Province, China in the 1950s-1960s. (Born 1957 and left in 1967) and want to know if she could be familiar with this song. (Or in other words, when did this song originate?)

Some background (feel free to ignore this part): I remember singing this song as a child, and had always been under the impression that it was a Chinese song. However, thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that it's actually set to the tune of Frere Jacques (I have no idea how I never realized this earlier). Now, I'm wondering if the song would have been around during that time period, or if it was actually a more recent creation. The Wikipedia article on Frere Jacques has this tantalizing line, "For example, Barbara Mittler in a conference abstract points out that the melody of Frère Jacques is so thoroughly assimilated into Chinese culture that it might be widely regarded as a Chinese folksong in China" and cites that conference, though when I search for the title of the paper the abstract was based on, I can't find anything helpful. (I also don't have a subscription to that journal to read the article directly.) The other wikipedia articles on Frere Jacques or the Three Tigers song itself had no information about its origin.

(I have searched google with the name of the song in Chinese and English, along with terms such as history and origin, but haven't found anything. I have also searched with 两只老虎 since it's sometimes called that too. I can't read Chinese though, so I can only say the English results were unhelpful. Also, when I search Frere Jacques, Chinese, and history (or other similar searches), I get hits for either the song about the Chinese dynasties or the Chinese song "Revolution of the Citizens," both of which are also set to Frere Jacques.)

Thank you in advance!

Francium as a plausible component of dystopian liquid metal rivers

Googled: metals that are liquid at low temperatures; francium; a few related chemistry terms

My problem here is that I don't understand chemistry lingo. The following is a quote from the Wikipedia article on Francium:

Because of the general appearance of the other elements in its periodic table column, it is assumed that francium would appear as a highly reflective metal, if enough could be collected together to be viewed as a bulk solid or liquid. However preparing such a sample is impossible, since the extreme heat of decay (its longest isotopic half life is only 22 minutes) would immediately vaporize any viewable quantity of the element.

I don't understand what an "isotopic half life" is and why it makes francium apparently impossible to view. Does that mean it explodes after 22 minutes? Or burns? Or... what? What if it existed in an environment that was inhospitable to human life -- say, on average between 100-130 degrees F (38-54 C) with an extremely low percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere? What if it existed as veins of material similar to oceanic currents surrounded by other metallic elements (gallium, mercury, rubidium, caesium)?

My story sets an admittedly less-than-realistic stage involving landscapes built more for the impact of visualizing such a place than any scientific foundation for liquid metal rivers actually existing for any reason, but I like the idea of including names of real materials that such a feature could be composed of and how it might make those rivers behave. Could it be at all plausible for there to be some source generating liquid francium into a stream of other liquid metals, or is the existence of any visible amount of francium simply impossible on the surface of planet Earth even under extreme post-apocalyptic conditions?