Lifes Worth Knowing

The Weekender

In Fascinating, General, Government, Interesting, Justin, Science, Ted Talk, Thoughtful on May 4, 2012 at 8:14 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.

Thinking outside the box – and inside the vein. I was tuned into this story by one of our readers a couple of months ago. This is an interview with a worker at Vancouver’s Insite center, which is a place where addicts can come use their drug of choice in a safe environment. The shock is that not only is it government sanctioned, it’s government funded. This is incredibly eye opening.  One of the most clarifying statements about the mission of the center:

“It’s place where staff members and nurses supervise people’s injections. The participants come in with their own drugs. In case a participant overdoses or has a heart attack, someone is there to help. If we can intervene timely and quick, there’s no reason anyone should ever die.”

The implications for a larger conversation on the role of government are clear. Should government throw billions of dollars ($15 billion a year in the US) to reduce access to drugs that people are going to use anyway? What if the government provided a haven for users to feed their habit while reducing the harm done to themselves and to others? Food for thought.

Robinson Crusoe has nothing on this guy. In 1962, Brendan Grimshaw bought an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean and set about making it habitable. He brought in over 16,000 trees and hundreds of tortoises. The tortoises were native to the island, but had been wiped out. He set about reintroducing them to the wild and built himself a place to live along the way. He recently ran into an unintended consequence of his devotion to nature: his island has been declared the world’s smallest national park and harbors more species per square foot than any other location in the world. It’s a remarkable story.

Consider my mind blown. This one speaks for itself. This was an animation created for TedEd which helps you visualize how small atoms actually are. The craziest takeaway for me was learning that in order for a 1 Sq ft box to have the same density as the nucleus of an atom, that box would need to contain over 6 billion cars. *mind blown*

That just seems like a lot of effort. In eastern Mexico, the utterly flat landscape lies atop an incredibly intricate maze of caverns that cover hundreds of miles and lie mostly underwater. I would know, my wife and I went snorkeling in one of theses “cenotes” on our honeymoon (sidebar: they are really, really cool). Some of these cenotes were found to have many skeletons lying around inside of them. The crazy thing is that skeletons are found in places that are only accessible with scuba equipment, which means either the Mayans were even crazier than we thought, or sea level was much lower at some point. Either way, some unscrupulous divers managed to get to one of these archaeological sites and stole a skeleton. Why? No one knows, but Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology would like it back, thank you.

Apparently, suburbia wasn’t the only affected by the rise of the car. In this interesting article from the Atlantic, Sarah Goodyear (yeah, I know) takes a look at how our expectations of how roads are to be used has changed over time. In the 1920s and 30s, the New York Times was littered with people being charged for “technical manslaughter” from striking a pedestrian, and today unless you are drunk – an auto accident usually isn’t cause for an arrest. Cars were originally seen as a menace that threatened the people who were supposed to be on the street – pedestrians. My, how things change.

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