Lifes Worth Knowing

The Weekender

In Fascinating, Interesting, Justin on December 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

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

You mean, it’s not my parents fault? To all of the genetic determinists out there, this study shows that our culture can have an impact on our genetics. Culture diversification promotes rapid evolution within a society – and even greater impact than the researchers had previously thought. The classic example they used is our ability to process lactose – there is no natural evolutionary reason for human adults to be able to process the sugar from cow’s milk, but we can because domesticated cattle are a part of our culture.

Flying Helicopters? Lions? That’s your job?!? Another article to make me rethink my career choice. A new feature from National Geographic gives you a live, behind the scenes look at the making of an article to be published in 2013 on lions. It features the new technologies being used (cameras mounted on toy helicopters) and a fascinating look at the email correspondence between the field photographer and his photo editor back home. Amazing how much work goes into a 2-10 page spread in the magazine.

Bibliophiles Rejoice! Have you ever thought of how much information is stored in our Library of Congress? Me neither. Until I read this open letter to President Obama asking him to digitize and release on the web all of the content stored in our federal institutions. Technically, the information does belong to the public, so why not make it more accessible?

I built a ramp in my driveway once. These guys are crazy. In a literal sense of the word. I thought riding a bike down a hill was fun, but these guys ride their bikes on the sides of cliffs.  (via kottke.org)

Wait, they TRIED to do that? The awesomely named New England Complex Systems Institute has found evidence that Wall Street intentionally and collectively tanked Citigroup in 2007. The machinations are a bit complex, so to break it down simply – short selling a stock is borrowing a stock at a price now, and then selling it back later, so that if the stock goes down in price, you make money. If a whole bunch of people short a stock at one time, the price will drop and all those people make a lot money.  This used to be illegal – but now it’s not, and a bunch of people did it to Citigroup between 11/1/07 and 11/7/07 and made out with over $640 million dollars just by conspiring to devalue Citigroup’s stock price. (via Boing Boing)

Korean Ostrich? I can’t let this week go by without noting the passing of Kim Jong Il – this post takes a look at some satellite images of his weirdest ideas. Ostrich farms and political prisons included.

First time for everything.  Two lovers sharing a kiss on the dock after being separated by a long deployment. Who cares that they both happen to be women? This scene made possible by the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and President Obama. You’re welcome.

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