Food for thought

old stadiumIn our car the other day, we wanted to know the price difference between the US dollar and the Australian dollar ten years ago. A quick internet inquiry on our smart phone gave us the answer. It would’ve been a pain in the ass tracking down that obscure tidbit of info a few years ago.

There’s so much food for thought sloshing around the internet. I realized this past week I’d collected some interesting snippets of information. They’re unrelated to each other except that they’re weird ideas gleaned from cyberspace. Here are some of them.

When the system is evil people will do evil things. A recently published book called “The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry” points out a disturbing commodification of humans when they’re bought and sold: “The price of a slave peaked in his or her late teens. There was another price spike upwards at about age eight, when child mortality declined.”

Okay, maybe an argument can be made that this falls under a similar category – when the system is bad people will do bad things. In an article about how rapidly marriage is changing the author made an interesting point, “If monogamy were natural we probably wouldn’t need to have so many rules about it.”

A happiness study looked at two factors characterizing basic differences between ancestral and modern life, population density and frequency of socialization with friends. Population density is negatively associated, and frequency of socialization with friends is positively associated with life satisfaction – except that “More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.”

Sometimes making a change can be upsetting, consider this snippet about education, “The access to teacher training in Finland is highly competitive; there’re ten applicants for every training place to become a primary schoolteacher. It doesn’t seem  to dawn upon those in Britain and the US who want to implement the Finnish system that it’d mean firing something like three-quarters of the current teachers.”

Then there was this bridge between prehistoric and current times, “Tusks from dead mammoths, found in the frozen Siberian tundra, have risen to account for as much as 20 percent of all ivory production. Crunching the numbers, the researchers concluded, ‘Mammoth ivory trade may be saving elephants from extinction.'”