The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Each week Josh and Chuck read a ton of stuff. Here is the best of the bunch for your enjoyment.

What's the deal with duckbill platypuses?

It is pretty much impossible to describe duckbill platypuses without using the word "hodgepodge" and for good reason. These mammals also share features with birds, reptiles and even sharks. Learn about the these weird and peculiar (and surprisingly tiny) little creatures that both creationists and evolutionists claim as a demonstration of their beliefs.

The Fraudulent Chicanery of the Professional Wildlife Photographer

A Norwegian wildlife photographer living and working in Sweden has had a rough few weeks, though deservedly. The photog, Terje Hellese, was cold busted using Photoshop to doctor his photos. Apparently, he would shoot an exotic locale to use as a backdrop and cut and pasted images of lynxes he grabbed from stock photo websites. Were Hellese just some photographer, this would be a big deal, tantamount to a writer from the Toledo Blade blatantly plagiarizing another reporter's work. But Hellese is not just some photographer.

Florida Did Not Accidentally Outlaw Sex; or, How Slow Weekend News Cycles Work

(Please excuse the subject matter; this post is on media criticism, not really on illegal and corrupt sex acts.) Infrequent, it is when the topic of zoophilia makes the news cycle. Which is what makes the news cycle during the second weekend in May 2011 remarkable. Zoophilia, the clinical term for the more vulgar term bestiality (vulgar being a less common term for common), was all over the place in the last news cycle.

A recent story in the Metro UK about a Polish goose named Buttons who has become a caretaker to a blind dog named Baks reminded me of all of those other similar stories of animals adopting other animals. Buttons has decided that Baks will live, live!, and leads Baks around their shared yard, either by using her long neck to guide the dog or by honking in the direction Baks should walk.

I've come to believe that there's some sort of connective tissue between events and living things that lies just beyond sensible perception. Sometimes a glimpse is afforded for only an astoundingly clear moment and our understanding of what's just been realized fades into gauze and then nothingness, despite how hard we may grasp at it to maintain our hold. At other times it remains in plain sight, but our understanding of what we're looking at simply falters. Kind of like how the first person to behold a dead fish must have puzzled over it. There it is, smelly and shiny and not moving, but what the heck is it? Eventually, we came up with a word for it -- fish -- and with a name, it became mundane. A dead fish, now, is a dead fish, nothing more.

Podcast Goodness: Lobotomies and Death Predicting Cats

Boy oh boy, SYSK Nation. You know who loved this week's podcasts? Me and the compass head, that's who. Sometimes topics come along that are just endlessly fascinating to us, and this week the lobotomy show hit the mark. There's something about archaic forms of medicine and psychiatry that's extremely enthralling to me. If you haven't listened to the show yet, just let me tease you with a description of the transorbital lobotomy...

People have long believed that animals had mysterious powers of prediction. Do animals have a sixth sense? Is there any proof to back this belief up? Explore the fascinating subject of clairoyant animals in this podcast from

This Just In: Humans Not So Different From Animals

A co-worker sent me this groovy little graphic that very simply points out some of the ways that humans and our animal friends are similar to each other. It's definitely worth taking a look at, but here are some highlights: