Lifes Worth Knowing

The Weekender

In Fascinating, Interesting, Justin, Politics on December 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

The Weekender is a weekly column devoted to the ideas/articles/videos that I find fascinating and wish I had more time to explore.

That’s embarrassing on a whole new level. Sometimes, it is necessary to get a different perspective on current events, and a great way to do that is to read foreign newspapers (at least foreign headlines). This put form the Atlantic puts together some European headlines about the current Republican field that include, “Club of liars, demagogues, ignorant” (Germany) and “Newt Gingrich, finally a real villain” (France). The google translation on them aren’t pitch perfect…but you get the sense that Western Europe is looking on this process with the same fascination of a train wreck.

Escape from Alcatraz meets U-571. The incredible, finally verified, story about British submariner John Capes, who managed to escape a sinking submarine that had just been hit with a mine in the Mediterranean in WWII. His account of the ordeal was so incredible that nobody believed him for decades – until 1997 when a dive team found his submarine exactly as he described it – even down to the bottle of blitz that he took a swig of before opening the escape hatch 200 feet below the surface. BBC Radio’s feature of the story is here.

What does it look like when the Tea-Party philosophy is carried out to it’s logical conclusion? A great essay from economist Robert Reich asks the question, what do Republicans want our society to look like? He posits that the current crop of candidates can’t be called conservatives, because they don’t want to conserve what we have, they are regressive, trying to drag the country back to some perceived ideal from the past. If you look at their policy positions, it becomes clear that they are actually shooting for the Gilded Age, when free enterprise was booming, the railroads were creating fortunes and businesses were enjoying unprecedented success. Children also worked in factories (which is fine with Newt), the gap between rich and poor became astronomical, and Social Darwinism guided policy decisions.

Best. Travel. Advice. Ever. A really smart look at the best way to travel, which includes advice like “don’t eat at corner restaurants…because they get so much traffic they don’t have to be good” and “buy your own fruit” because the process of finding a farmer’s market or something similar will take you to places you wouldn’t have otherwise gone. Worth a read if you ever plan on going, well, anywhere. (via

Horses? Really? I’m not going to pass judgement on this…just an informative post. It is now legal to slaughter horses for meat in the US. Apparently, processing and packaging was legal, just not the actual killing, and we were sending horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, and then shipping them back into the states. I guess it is more efficient to do it in the states…but, horses, really?

It’s a Hard Knock Life.  Apparently, there are no rules which define what a “legal assistant” is in Florida, and lawyers for drug kingpins are bringing strippers into Miami’s federal prisons to “assist” the inmates. I think it’s safe to say that these woman probably don’t have much use for briefs.

Mind = Blown. This is an article about fairy wasps…which are no big deal. Literally. Because they are smaller then amoebas. Insects that are smaller than a single celled organism. I guess i didn’t pay attention in biology, but I always kind of thought that cells were all of a similar size, limited by their volume/surface are ratio. I had no idea this was possible.

Not So Fast, Bell Ringing Santa. This freakonomics post looks into GiveWell, a organization that rates the effectiveness of charities. It’s a great way to figure out which charities get your money to the people who need it the most. It was rather eye-opening to see the concerns raised with some of the more well known charities.

Two of my Favorite People. I had to pass this along – this is an interview that Stephen Colbert (out of character!) conducts with Neil deGrasse Tyson that touches on a whole host of subjects…it is really in the vein of your humble bloggers hot tub conversations. (via Boing Boing)

History’s Mysteries. Now available online, the full text of the Voynitch manuscript, which was written somewhere in Central Europe sometime in the 15th or 16th centuries. It has some crazy pictures of plants and females…but nobody has been able to decipher the text. The actual words are a complete mystery. The pages are beautiful, and mystery is fascinating.


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