Lifes Worth Knowing

The Weekender

In Current events, Economics, Government, Health Insurance, Interesting, Justin, Maps, Politics on March 30, 2012 at 9:56 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.

This week’s edition is going to be a little bit different. The usual links are still going to be here, but keeping in the spirit of this blog – the passion to never stop exploring – I wanted to ask the readers for suggestions/topics/websites that aren’t usually covered here. I tend to cull my links from the same stable of sources, and while i do find them fascinating, I want to broaden to scope and explore some new territory. Hit the comments at the bottom of the page or email me at to send me your ideas and sources for interesting material. Thanks in advance.

It’s a beautiful world. This video is able to visualize something that we rarely get to see, but constantly experience. Ocean currents are one of the most influential aspects of weather patterns. We have all heard of El Nino, and the effects of that current…well this video is able to demonstrate what those currents look like across the entire globe. It’s oddly beautiful. (via Kottke)

I’ve dealt with sand fleas before…they were not this cool. An amazing video from the people at Boston Dynamics that shows off one of their latest creations, a robot called “sand flea.” This little guy looks like your typical remote controlled car, until he rears up on his hind wheels and jumps 30 feet in the are. Yes. THIRTY FEET up in the air. He literally jumps onto rooftops from the sidewalk.  (via Boing Boing)

When the market gives you lemons… One of my favorite economics blogs is “Economists View” which is mostly a running commentary on current events through the eyes of an economist. This article explains the need for the individual mandate in health insurance better than any politician. His essential argument is that due to the problem of adverse selection, we can either deny care to people who can’t afford it or we require everyone to carry insurance. Don’t let my elementary description stop you from clicking over, it is a quick read that really gets to the bottom of the issue.

Same argument, but this time with ideals. The internet was abuzz all week with the healthcare case being heard by the Supreme Court, and there was ALOT of reporting done. Millions of keystrokes were devoted to breaking down the Justice’s comments and trying to tease a prediction out of the judicial tea leaves. This post by Esquire’s politics writer Charles Long is a masterpiece in illustrating the reason why the Affordable Care Act should stand…and it is not heavy on policy or politics, it is just an appeal to our most fundamental ideals as Americans:

“We owe each other a debt. We owe each other an obligation. That is the thing to which we truly commit ourselves if we follow our Constitution. It is a charter that enumerates individual liberties, but it is not a license for unbridled greed or reckless political solipsism. We owe each other a debt and we owe each other an obligation, and because of these fundamental American imperatives, there are things that we own in common with each other, and that we are obliged to protect for our posterity”

Definitely worth your time.

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS? Everybody knows that the United States won the space race by being the first country to place a man on the moon. But did you know that Russia beat us there with unmanned craft? The USSR has it’s Luna missions, which attempted to get a sample of lunar soil back to Earth. They actually landed the Luna 2 on the moon in 1959, a full decade before Neil Armstrong got there. this article takes a look at the Luna missions, and (get ready for awesome) explains how recent footage from NASA cameras trained on the moon actually found the Russian landers 40 years later.

On a related note…those Russians were serious about their symbolism.  You know that Luna 2 lander that I just told you about? Well, it turns out that it carried a metal sphere made up of dozens of medallions that was designed to impact the lunar surface and scatter the medallions, thus…well, I’m not sure what the point was, but there is a replica in a museum in Kansas (somehow) and it is a pretty stunning piece of propaganda.

The last moon related post, I promise. Another story that I would file under “something that I’ve never thought about.” In preparation for the Apollo 11 moon landing, NASA used the Apollo 10 mission to test the lunar  module without actually taking it to the moon. The two astronauts got into the lunar module, made a couple spins around the moon testing all of it’s systems, and then docked back up with the orbiter, climbed back inside and jettisoned the lunar module into space. The lunar module was nicknamed “Snoopy” and is believed to be in orbit around the sun somewhere. Well, British astronomer Nick Howes has made it his goal to find it. He is using some new technology to try to track Snoopy down in deep space. It would be quite an incredible feat if he were able to pull it off, considering the module is the size of a small car and that is a *big* sky. Godspeed, Mr. Howes.

Tired of reading about health insurance and the moon? Well, send me your suggestions for stories that can inform and inspire and lets uncover some more incredible facts about this world.

  1. I really enjoyed reading about the undercover slaughter house worker. Would love to see more of that. No particular area in mind. The Weekender is my favorite blog to read Monday mornings!

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