Right Now in Stuff You Should Know

Josh and Chuck as a comic strip?!?

A big thank you goes to podcast fan and super-talented comic strip artist Greg Williams of the Tampa Tribune for making our week with this. Greg was kind enough to render us as comic strip personalities using a segment from our "Junk Mail" podcast and we couldn't be more pleased. So very cool! The comic is currently running today in the online edition of the Tribune. Check out Greg's other work while you're there - it's all very creative and fun stuff. So without further ado...

Josh and I are always much tougher on ourselves than anyone else could be in regards to the show, but this week we were both pretty pleased with our podcasting efforts. Tuesday's "Microexpressions" and yesterday's "Can Anger be a Good Thing?" were both chock full of Stuff You Should Know goodness, if you ask me. My favorite shows are typically loaded with interesting facts and studies and plenty of personal anecdotes. We don't tell each other these stories beforehand and the usually occur on the fly, so when Josh spins a great yarn it's new to me as well as you all. Having said that -- microexpressions. These are very small, but significant gestures someone makes in conversation. They can either give you away as a liar or reinforce that you're telling the truth, as well as saying a host of things about your mood and temperament. Really fascinating stuff.

Lucy the Australopithecus, Just Another Victim of Market Fluctuations

Back in the day, about 3.2 million years ago, an upright hominid of the Australopithecus afarensis variety, wandered around Ethiopia. Who knows what she did -- pick berries and wrestle gazelles and the like is probably a pretty good bet. She was just trying to make her way in the big, wide, comparatively empty world...

Anger gets a bad rap, but this unpopular emotion can actually be beneficial to us. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to get Josh and Chuck's entertaining take on why we lose our cool.

I came an interesting little tidbit yesterday on CNN.com. A cafe owner in Kettering, Ohio has a new pricing policy -- pay what you feel like the meal is worth. It sounds crazy, but his business is actually thriving with the new policy and he's in a position where he may even have to hire more employees to help meet demand. His Bulgarian wife gave him the idea based on similar practices in some European cafes. If you think that folks might take advantage and pay a penny for a $10 meal, you'll be pleased to learn that it's not going down that way. Turns out customers have a hard time looking the owner in the eye and telling him his food isn't worth much. So far he figured he's breaking even with some people paying a little more and some a little less than he'd normally charge.

Thanks to the Obscure Store and Reading Room for posting a link to an article in the Danbury (Conn.) News-Times about a kindergarten teacher who had the cuffs slapped on her after she forced a five-year-old to eat the lunch he threw away in a garbage can. The 67-year-old teacher was arrested on a risking injury to a minor beef and will be arraigned on Monday. I'm of two minds on this. There's a significant part of me that is dying to begin a sentence with, "Back in my day..." Back in my day, we had nuns, and we survived them. The nun who taught my second grade class at Our Lady of Perpetual Help had a habit of going through our desks while we were outside reenacting Star Wars during recess. The kid with the messiest desk got a surprise when we all returned.

Time Magazine is running a great article at the moment called "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now." Items two through nine are pretty interesting, but what caught my eye was what stood tall in the number one position -- your job may be your biggest asset right now. The author of the piece, Barbara Kiviat, makes an excellent point about how things are now compared to just a couple of years ago. In 2007, it's doubtful that anyone would have listed their job as their number one asset. Your career was just a means to get other assets, even if it meant borrowing beyond your means to get them.

What are microexpressions?

Microexpressions are brief facial cues that reveal a person's true intentions. Listen in as Chuck and Josh discuss the subtle art of reading faces in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

Albinos in Africa -- Murder for Magic, A Human Rights Nightmare

Our friends over at Xenophilia posted an article from BBC about a recent spate of murders of albinos in Burundi and Tanzania. Between the two countries, at least 50 African albinos have been murdered in the last couple of months. The concentration of albino populations in some African nations is nearly 20 times that of the United States, and despite the political and social successes of some...

The blowback over American Insurance Group's recent payout of $165 million in bonuses for some of its employees while at once raking in more than $170 billion from U.S. taxpayers via the federal government is just too big an affront not to post about. It would be kind of pretentious, right? The New York Times reports that President Obama called the AIG bonuses an "outrage." Sure, but they also strike me as utterly unsurprising. Even better, they have the appearance of a contemporary relic just before it's placed in a time capsule and buried in the ground. This is not so much wishful thinking; my theory is based on what appears to be a capitalist historical cycle. There are uncanny similarities between our current recession (depression) and the Great Depression, aside from, you know, the frighteningly increasing unemployment and the loss of double digit percentages in the markets. (That reminds me, there really isn't a...

Yesterday on "60 Minutes" Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke went out on a limb and predicted that the economy here in America will edge out of the current recession by the end of 2009 and begin to rebuild itself over the course of 2010. This was a pretty monumental statement because reserve chairmen rarely give interviews at all. So much rides on every word they say, it's usually not a good idea to have a back-and-forth with a savvy interviewer. Bernanke was wisely measured in his words and didn't make any guarantees, but feels the plan is in place to right the ship and with the support of lawmakers and the American people, things will begin to shift toward a more "normal" state by the end of '09. He also offered a rare peak inside the headquarters of the Federal Reserve, an institution that's still largely a mystery to most people.

"If you're reading this, I've died." Sent via my Deathswitch

Did you know that there's a service called Deathswitch, a posthumous messenger service that sends out e-mails you've created while alive after you're dead? It's true. I read about it in an AP article on a woman named Melissa Spagenberg, who is on a quest to contact all of her father's online World of Warcraft cohorts after he died suddenly. The Deathswitch service lets a user create up to 30 e-mails addressed and ready to go upon exiting this mortal coil. Automated e-mails that require a response with a password within a predetermined time are sent to users to make sure they're still breathing. Should the user not reply, the e-mails are sent -- from beyond the grave. In the event of a premature launch, Deathswitch has a "Wait -- I'm still alive!" button that resets the service. Seems like that could make for an awkward follow-up conversation:

This week on Stuff You Should Know Josh and I talked about two pretty interesting topics. On Tuesday, we dived into the oceans (see what I did there) to determine who owns them. As it turns out we all own the ocean, in a way. The United Nations passed the Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1994, which leaves the oceans open for all to enjoy. It also established new rules for how far out a country's boundaries extend into the ocean. It made me feel better knowing that the highs seas are still open for business, but I worry about what might happen to those rights in the future as land oil runs out and we become more dependent on pulling petrol from the seas. Yesterday's show was all about aphrodisiacs. We discussed the strange history of aphrodisiacs, including such oddities as Montezuma downing 40 goblets of

Happy Friday the 13th everybody! Shalala! You know we're right smack dab in the middle of our second Friday the 13th in as many months. We're going to have three Friday the 13ths in total this year, the next coming in November, although I'm not sure what day. The last time we had three Friday the 13ths in one year was 1998. The next will be 2012, which is appropriate since that's the year the world will end. This, of course, has little to do with this post; I just thought it untoward to allow a Friday the 13th to pass unmarked. Seemed wrong. I suppose there's a slight correlation - - the two share the common thread of fear. Our friends at Live Science feature a report on a study out of Rice University that suggests we communicate fear through our sweat. The study used gauze pads to capture...

There will be one more appointment on the date book of the psychiatrist held on retainer by the Northhampton County, Penn., District Attorney's office. After he was caught allegedly driving drunk this week, the AP reports Scott Allan Witmer has been ordered by a judge to receive a once over to see if he's competent to stand trail. Not because he's pickled his brain with booze, but because Witmer claimed he's not under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts since he's his own sovereign nation. This isn't totally out of the realm of possibility. There are a few places in the United States that could be legally construed as sovereign nations. Near Dayton, Nev., sits the Republic of Molossia, lead by His Excellency, Kevin Baugh, the President of Molossia. The unrecognized micronation's economy is backed by chocolate chip cookies, celebrates Jack Day (in honor of the late First Dog)...

For thousands of years humankind has pursued the enhancement of sexual pleasure and performance through a plethora of medicines and practices -- but how many aphrodisiacs actually work? Listen and find out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

Smell that stank in the air? That porky smell means it's appropriation bill season, fiscal year '09! Yeah! The season came late this year. It didn't seem like it would come at all. Congress waited until George Bush went back to Texas to begin the task of figuring out how to fund the vast bureaucracy that is the United States government. The bill was supposed to have been passed last September, making the bill a full six months late. Why would Congress wait for Bush to leave Washington? Earmarks. George Bush became one of the first chief executives Congress believed might actually veto any spending bills with earmarks attached. And as a lame duck president when the 110th was deliberating the FY09 spending bill last September, he very well may have, as he had absolutely nothing to lose. So Congress left it for the next guy to deal with, and...

This just in -- an American man believed to be between 35 and 40 years old was rescued from the frigid waters below Niagara Falls at 2:15 pm today. And he was naked. The man allegedly took the plunge into Horseshoe Falls without any kind of protection, which makes him only the second person to do so and live. Josh and I did a podcast on this very topic about three weeks ago and got a lot of good listener mail regarding the topic. He remains unidentified for the time being, but I'll be updating the post as more details become available. It looks like he went over on his own accord and while he was pulled from the water without clothes on, he was allegedly wearing them when he went in.

There's an interesting article from yesterday's New York Times about a school in the Bronx that's experimenting with splitting up the girls and boys in its fifth grade class. The goal is basically to see what happens in relation to behavioral improvements, testing, etc. It turns out that there's even a national movement going on to split up boys and girls in public schools. There are more than 400 such classes around the country, thanks to a federal regulation passed in 2004 that gave schools the right to do so. There isn't enough test data yet to suggest that the move has academic benefits, but teachers and students alike have good things to say so far. Both male and female teachers feel that it's bonding them to their students more and that the students are bonding to each other.

Thanks to the fMRI (the wonder machine), neurology is beginning to get a handle on what regions of the brain control what processes. Show a PTSD sufferer photos of mutilated bodies and the amygdala lights up. Boo-ya! (Two neurologists high five in a dark lab somewhere.) But the wonder machine only provides a map of what brain regions receive blood during a specific function. MRIs say dig here. Still, the technology represents a huge leap in brain research. What really keeps neurologists, philosophers and all manner of other thinkers up all night is what's called the mind-brain problem. As NPR reporter Jon Hamilton recently put it, "How could a bunch of cells produce such complicated mental processes as consciousness or subjective experiences?" It's not like our brain cells rub together really, really fast and produce what we consider our minds like two sticks rubbed together produce fire.