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Paleolithic Nostalgia

Why do we long for a time when the average life span was 22 and everyone was wracked by tuberculosis?

This was the problem I had with Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens (and to a lesser extent with Rutger Bregman’s Humankind):

Paleolithic peoples, so the tale goes, spent most of Tuesday strolling under Baobab trees, running their hands through the long elephant grass, and breathing in the sweet dust of the open Savannah. On Wednesdays they carefully chipped away the edges of Levallois blades, swept dust out of the home cave, and snacked on freshly gathered almonds. On Thursdays they gathered into small bands – a hand-picked selection of the finest endurance runners this side of Nairobi – tracked down an elephant, and sprinted after it barefoot for nine hours until the creature – dehydrated, exhausted, and unable to sweat out the excess heat – crumpled into a violently sad face-plant in the hot, gritty sand. Our strapping, supple ancestors jogged to a halt beside it, barely out of breath, to carve up its flesh and bring home the elephant bacon. Later that evening they would break their 36 hour intermittent fast, retire to the lake, and engage in polyamorous affairs.

Project Orbital Ring

An Orbital Ring System as an alternative to a space elevator.

Representing nothing short of the most ambitious project in the history of space exploration and exploitation, the Orbital Ring System is more or less what you would imagine it to be, a gargantuan metal ring high above the Earth, spanning the length of its 40,000 kilometer-long diameter.

The Human World of the Upper Paleolithic

Perhaps the most permanent action that any human being has accomplished in the history of our species is when one of our ancestors placed this cave bear skull on a rock, where still it sits, tens of thousands of years later.

An astonishing dose of perspective delivered via a lovely bit of hypertext by Matt.

Thinking About Futurism | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine

A collection of articles on the tricksy art of Futurism from—amongst others—Bruce Sterling, Annalee Newitz, and Matt Novak, creator of the Paleofuture blog.

YouTube - paleofuture.tv [episode 00000: food]

The Paleofuture blog, that excellent trove of past visions of the future, has a corresponding video channel. The first episode is all about food.

paleofuture.tv [episode 00000: food]

Geology in Art: The Thagomizer

"...after the late Thag Simmons." No, really. It's a proper paleontological term now.

The Screens Issue - If You Liked This, Sure to Love That - Winning the Netflix Prize - NYTimes.com

The Napoleon Dynamite problem at Netflix: basement hackers and amateur mathematicians are competing to improve the program that Netflix uses to recommend DVDs — and to win $1 million in the process.

Safari Microformats plugin

Oh yes! A plugin for Safari that will detect, display and export hCard and hCalendar data. Caveat: it only works on Leopard so, because I haven't upgraded yet, I haven't had a chance to testdrive this yet myself.

HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 29 - Napoleon Dynamite, production

This is for real. The text of a bill being proposed in Idaho to commend Napoleon Dynamite "for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural culture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity."