Things I Learned in 2019

This year may have been a time of action rather than reflection but I still managed to hit my Reading Challenge for the first time and listen to thousands of hours of podcasts. What did I learn from them and other sources? This.

Thomas Edison funded the first electric chair and ensured it was built on alternating current, the rival to his direct current, because he wanted AC to forever be connected with death in the minds of consumers.

Business partners need to understand interpersonal equity to understand fairness. They should each start with four lists: What you contribute to the partnership and business, what you want out of being a partner in this business, what you think your partner contributes, and what you think your partner wants from the partnership.

The flag planted by Neil Armstrong on the Moon? Plastic.

The death penalty is legal in 31 of 50 US states.

“We want to make it a little bit easier for the next generation of punks of color … as long as we can make it easier for the next generation, like Spooner did for us, that’s all that matters.”

Feminist punk collective founder Daisy Salinas pays it forward in We still need to be seen’: behind the rise of black punk culture

By the 1960s, meat was being handled 19 times before shoppers picked it up in store: Five touches at the packing house, eight middlemen, and six at the store. And each handling increased the cost. These days, there are generally only two or three touches.

Driver is the most common job in 49 of our 50 states.

Nearly 60 percent of black male dropouts born in the late 1960s wound up in prison, compared with 11 percent of similarly situated whites.

Scientists studying healthy lungs found 174 virus species present, and only one in ten were related to viruses familiar to science.

“The reason white women are the way they are is because the system is working for them and because they’re comfortable in their Lululemon and comfortable putting aside their law degrees. So they want us to shut the fuck up because the system is working for them.”

Writer and Congressional candidate Saira Rao on the feminist schism in Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad

Single Black women in the prime working ages of thirty-six to forty-nine have a median net wealth of $5.

Keep America Beautiful was founded by large manufacturers with the goal of shifting the responsibility of waste from industry to the individual. The concept of littering was born and the solution was not less single-use items but simply “put it in a bin.”

Snowflakes almost always form around individual bacterium, which use snow to spread further.

Jasper Johns answered invitations with a big custom-made “Regrets” stamp.

“We hear this a lot. History is in the past, bad things happened but it is time to move on. But history is not past for us.”

Stan Grant explains Indigenous memory in Taking to My Country

The pressure cooker led directly to the invention of the steam engine.

Blushing helps people trust you.

Most historic clothing is tiny because of a thing called conservator’s bias. Regular and large clothes would be handed down and reused until they became rags. Only items that were too small for others to wear around up preserved in an attic long enough to be of interest to museums.

In England, the people who determine what constitutes treasure are the coroners.

“It seems improbable that a country can continue to hide from the actuality of its history in order to validate the fact that having said sorry, we refuse to say thanks.”

Bruce Pascoe on colonial blindness in his history of Aboriginal industry Dark Emu

The opposite of an electronic signature is called a wet signature.

The farmer who accidentally grew the hybrid apple red delicious twice tried to cut the young tree down before it fruited.

A stargazy pie is a Cornish specialty made with pilchards in which the fish heads stick out of the crust.

Prior to 45RPM, albums could only contain so much detail because rich sound requires deep grooves, increasing the risk of skipping.

“It is wasteful to make any component more durable than the weakest link, and ideally a product should fall apart all at once.”

A Fairchild manufacturing (now Sherman Mills) representative explains built-in obsolescence without irony, quoted in Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers