More Things I learned this week, December 28, 2021

Outside the Mojo Lounge, New Orleans, Louisiana

How to know what you really want

From career choices to new purchases, use René Girard’s mimetic theory to resist the herd and forge your own path in life


(click to enlarge) Book With Wings Anselm Kiefer Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Burdened by Books

With the quickening cascade of political, social, and natural crises in our country, the faith in progress—the belief that good will and steady work leads to a better world—is a difficult faith to maintain. There have been times when the arc of history seemed to bend toward justice. But lately it’s snapped back the other way. It’s as if we’ve heaved a great boulder toward the mountain top, and we’re now watching it, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, as it careens back to the ground below. It feels that there is something absurd, in fact literally Sisyphean, to our predicament.  


Strains—not species—of gut microbes hold key to health and disease

Every day, the billions of bacteria that inhabit your digestive system change; the food you eat, medications you take, and germs you’re exposed to make some bacteria flourish more than others. Scientists know that this ever-shifting balance of gut microbes is linked to your health and disease, but have struggled to pin down what makes one microbial balance better than another.


Running of the bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

It Turns Out That Everything We Know About The Runner’s High Could Be Wrong

Many people have experienced reductions in stress, pain, and anxiety, and sometimes even euphoria after exercise. What’s behind this so-called ‘runner’s high’? New research on the neuroscience of exercise may surprise you.


Smoke, steam, and sulfur dioxide coming out of the volcano, Masaya, Nicaragua.

Why Does This Indonesian Volcano Burn Bright Blue?

Olivier Grunewald’s dramatic photos showcase blue flames—not blue lava—that result from burning sulfur


The Race to Find ‘Green’ Helium

Helium is a critical—and finite—resource. The future of our most indispensable technologies depends on a new supply.


The Problem with “Distemper”

Perhaps it is the word distemper that causes the most confusion. Few are aware that this is a generic term encompassing several different coatings. There really is only one type that is of relevance to historical buildings – or any building for that matter.

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