Vol. 2.42 | 11.08.19

Read time: 3 minutes
Finding Eve and Her Eden
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No, not the EVE that captured Wall-E’s anthropomorphic heart-servos … nor necessarily the “Eve” of the Bible’s Genesis/creation story. Rather, this is about the search for what geneticists are calling Mitchondrial Eve. Through the use of sophisticated genetic detective work, math, and some special DNA that is unchanged through reproduction and is passed down maternally. This peculiar genetic material, known as the “mitogenome,” is located in cellular mitochondria and not within the cell’s nucleus. By using this genetic trial, scientists believe they can trace all of homo sapiens back to a single maternal female. Furthermore, by comparing this data with migration patterns established archaeological data/DNA and climate/astronomical models that chart back in time, they believe they know where this Eve’s “Eden” was: a salt-plain in northern Botswana known as Makgadikgadi. 


Lessons from Our Interstellar Voyage
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By 1977, not a lot was happening with the American space program. The final Apollo moon landing was 5 years in the past. The last Apollo-era mission of any sort — the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project with the Soviet Union — was in 1975, and the first flight of the new Space Shuttle was still 4 years away. But, in the late summer of ’77, NASA launched a pair of deep space probes: Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. It took the probes nearly 40 years to travel beyond the outermost boundary of our solar system (which is a lot bigger than I thought!). Here are 5 things we’ve learned as a result of their journey.

IMAGE: NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

Behind the WeWork Dumpster Fire

You wanna know how socialism has made a public comeback no less surprising than the return of tight-rolled jeans. (Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true: “pinrolling” your jean cuffs is trendy and acceptable in polite company once again.) Just take a moment to read this tale of just how detached from reality and good sense the players all are in this sordid tale of VC billions being thrown at questionable business ideas being spun by even more questionable people like Adam Neumann. All the expected stories of startup bro excess culture are there, of course — “Mr. Neumann would convince employees to take shots of pricey Don Julio tequila, work 20-hour days, attend 2 a.m. meetings.” This nugget caught my eye the most: 

“You’ve got a guy [SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son] who meets Adam for 10 minutes and cuts him a check for $4.4 billion, and it’s just insane.” …  “And he’s not told, ‘I need you to be the most careful steward of this capital.’ It’s like, ‘I need you to go crazier, faster, bigger and more.’”

How it all came crashing down so hard makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? All except this hairball of a final fact: SoftBank gave Neumann a severance package of over $1 billion (YES, B-B-B-BILLION) just to get him to quit and go away for good. Failures / borderline con-men never had it so good. (PS: disgraced former Uber founder/CEO Travis Kalanick is back with a new startup and $400 million in fresh VC cash to blow on it. Yay late-stage capitalism!!)


Is “Fingerprinting” Your Browser Really a Big Deal

The tl;dr version, if you want my opinion: No. This reads like classical scare journalism, with the main expert quoted also being a guy with a product to sell. But, as the blogging kids used to say way back in 2010: YMMV, so go read the whole thing.


Ants, Cannibalism, and a Reunification Story
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Strange headline, right? My effort is mere fingerpaint child’s play compared to the actual headline of this news story. This is literally the most click-worthy click-bait headline I’ve ever seen, because the story absolutely lives up to the headline WTF? hype: “A million cannibal ants have been unleashed from a nuclear bunker in Poland.”

Yes, you read that right. Enjoy.