Lifes Worth Knowing

The Weekender

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2012 at 8:23 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.

Speeches that were never delivered. This great article over at the Atlantic looks at two doomsday speeches that never had to be given. Eisenhower had a very short, but eloquent remarks prepared had the D-Day invasion been pushed back into the English Channel – a probability that the General considered highly likely. The other speech is the one that Nixon had prepared if there was a malfunction during the moon landing that would’ve stranded the astronauts in space. Nixon’s never given speech was beautiful; “For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.” It kind of makes you wonder about other speeches that never had to be given…I wonder if Kennedy had one prepared for the Cuban Missile crisis, or if Obama had one prepared for the raid on Osama.

Should atheists build a church? I always love when two preeminent intellectuals end up on opposite sides of an issue. In this one Alain de Boton (a mind whose TED talk is a must see) and Richard Dawkins face off on the idea of whether or not it is a good idea for atheists to build a temple. De Boton believes that awe inspiring structures can help place your own life into a new context, regardless of religious intent. While Dawkins believes that atheists don’t need a church, and if you are going to spend money on atheism, it should be devoted to secular education. Good points all around.

I knew I had a good reason for being lazy. This is a new study confirming old results – that sleep is really important. But the science behind it is what is intriguing. The reason that our productivity begins to slip as we become tired is because the brain begins to shut down parts of itself that are extraneous to basic survival –  our cognitive and visual processes, and begins to focus on the thalamus, which is trying to keep you awake enough to find food/shelter/rest. It’s really interesting to note that the parts of the brain that shut down are responsible “for distinguishing between ideas, for social control, and to be able to tell the difference between good and bad.”

For Sale. Nuclear Bombs. Never Used. Ok, so they aren’t for sale, but where else can you see nuclear bombs? Do you even know what one looks like? Especially one that may have been involved in a training accident that dented the casing.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. So, I can’t go a week without something cool from the world of astronomy, and this weeks winner is a time lapse photo of the star “Sirius” that shows what twinkling looks like when it is caught on a long exposure. This is a five second exposure, where the camera was wiggled slightly to get the pattern…but the colors and brightness is real. Incredible.

Every wonder what those Occupy people were so upset about? This is why. This study from the aptly named Sunlight Foundation shows how the political influence of the financial, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) lobbies has grown exponentially over the past twenty years. In 1990, political donations from the FIRE industry was less than $50 million. Today, it is nearly $350 million – and it outpaces every other lobby by a HUGE margin. How can a government that is bought by the banks function for the people?

That Ron Paul, such a nice guy. Remember those racist newsletters that Ron Paul was affiliated with back in the 80s and 90s? The ones that we addressed back in December? Turns out that one of his former staffers came forward to say that letters weren’t sent out without his knowledge, as Rep. Paul claims, but that he proofread and approved every single one. Well then. I guess he won’t have any trouble explaining this, “We don’t think a child of 13 should be held as responsible as a man of 23. That’s true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets…should be treated as such.”

Michael Moore gets some competition. I just heard about this and now I am irrationally excited. A new documentary fronted by Woody Harrelson takes a look at our “democracy” and well…I will just let him explain it

“Ethos: A Time for Change’ explains how our country is controlled by some very wealthy families and not our chosen government. These families control the main pillars of our society which include; politics, corporations, banks and the media. The United States is framed as a democracy, suggesting that we the people govern our country and elect our officials, but the truth of that matter is that a democracy does not exist.”

It might be a little too over the top for me…but I am still really, really intrigued.

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