Vol 2 | #15 | 04.12.19

Read time: 3 minutes


Ryan Leaf’s Comeback

Often cited atop the annual “biggest draft bust in NFL history” lists that usually run around this time of year, Ryan Leaf’s NFL career proved to be the exact opposite of the quarterback his name is forever linked with: Peyton Manning. In the week’s leading up to the 1998 NFL Draft, the debate was pretty evenly split over which QB should be selected #1 overall by the Colts. When the Colts selected Manning, the Chargers snapped up Leaf at #2. Manning went on to a Hall of Fame career, with multiple championships and records and commercial sponsorship millions. Leaf’s career, on the other hand, was, in the words Thomas Hobbes, “nasty, brutish, and short.”

Things for Leaf only got worse from there: depression, drugs, attempted suicide, and ultimately prison.

This video documenting all of that, and Leaf’s inspiring path back — not to football, but to a meaningful life — is from a couple years ago. But, as is the serendipity of the internet, I just stumbled across it this week. Enjoy.

2Projecting Naval Power at Minifig Scale

Minifigs — short for Lego Minifigures — come in at a rough average of 1:40 scale. So, keep that ratio in mind when you take a look at the USS Intrepid, custom designed and built completely with Legos by British Lego artist Ed Diment. At minifig scale, Diment’s Intrepid is over 22′ long, 4.5′ high and wide, and weighs in at over 1/4 ton. If you’re in NYC and pay a visit to the real US Navy’s version of the USS Intrepid — which now sits permanently moored in the Hudson River as a museum — you’ll also get to see Diment’s artwork.

Did I mention this Lego masterpiece’s fully functional flight deck elevator, also entirely out of Lego parts??

3Testing Away the Ability to Think

For going on almost 20 years now, we have been using a rigorous system of standardized tests to see if our teachers and schools are doing their jobs by measuring whether the students are learning. This educator raises the important question: in a world where we need thinking more than mere knowing, why do we continue to use tests that are structured to measure a skill utterly different than analysis and thought: that of deciphering what the questioner wants to hear.

4The Rise and Fall of Homo Sapiens

Over the past week or so, I’ve been making my way through Yuval Harari’s thought-provoking book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s a fascinating look at the history of not just mankind (our specific species, homo sapiens), but of all of the different species who once called the genus homohome.

In this 30-minute lecture given for Penguin Books, Harari lays out the 3 most significant achievements of homo sapiens, and how they also now represent our 3 greatest challenges.

In a similar vein, sort of … British street artist Banksy’s “Devolved Parliament” is back on display …


5NASA’s Twins Study

Ever since 1996, NASA has had among its astronaut corps a pair of identical twins in Captains Mark and Scott Kelly. For the longest time, this fact didn’t merit any special study, because with a sample size of a single pair of twins, it’s impossibly small for any statistical validity. But sometimes, an opportunity so unique comes along that it’s worth doing, all the statistical caveats be damned. So it was when Scott Kelly got assigned to spend a record breaking year in the zero-g, weightless environment of space aboard the ISS. With his brother Mark spending the same time at 1g down here on Earth, the possibility came for measuring the differences of long-duration space flight with an almost identical control sample.

The long awaited final report is now out, and it represents a variety of biological findings that will have to be factored in to the future plans of NASA, SpaceX, or anyone else of going to Mars and beyond. Let’s just say, they’re no so identical anymore.