Le Linkage #14: The Humans in Technology Edition

Alright, folks: time for another edition of Le Linkage, the incidental series chronicling some of the more interesting pages I find in my stumbles through the Web. Today’s episode features stories about Nigerian scammers, anthropology, human enhancement, science fiction, some humor, and of course, another simple online game. Enjoy.

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Business School Podcast for Free: America’s leading business schools — Wharton, Duke’s Fuqua School, Harvard — are all making courses available for download via iTunes. (If you expect me to tell you why this is good, you’re wasting your time. Go check it out now.)

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The Perfect Mark: Ever wonder if anyone actually ever falls for those emails we all get promising to make you rich if you help out some Nigerian widow stash US$45-million in your bank account? Wonder no more: the answer is yes, and who they ensnare might surprise you. This New Yorker piece is an actual story about a guy who, in his greed and pride, fell victim to these scammers and ended up in jail for it. [Source: Black Marks on Wood Pulp. Also, reminds me of this previous Gnorb.NET piece on avoiding CraigsList scammers.]

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Becoming Human: So, how did we get from where we were 4,000,000 years ago as simple, knuckle-dragging Australopithecines to the current state of Homo Sapiens? This very interesting Flash video shows you where we came from and how we got here.

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Washington’s Farewell Address Translated into Modern English: In the course of human history, not many have had quite as strong an impact as General George Washington, the first President of the United States. His farewell address is agreed upon by historians to be one of the finest in all American politics, since it deals with issues we struggle with even unto this day. The problem is that since it is written in 1790’s English, most people today can’t really understand it, which is why xkcd undertook the task of translating the piece into modern English. One his commenters upped the ante, reposting a modern day translation of the American Declaration of Independence.

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The Height of Hubris? Ever seen the movie Gattaca? In it, the main protagonist is a lowly, genetically inferior human trying to get to space. In the process, he begins transforming his body, one of the ways being limb-lengthening surgery. In this BetterHumans piece, Simon asks whether his personal desire for such a surgery (available from a reputable source for as low as US$20,000 in China) is hubris, or whether he really is justified in wanting to make himself taller. After all, “The majority of CEOs are over six foot, the taller US presidential candidate tends to win the election, and people earn more money, on average, with each extra inch of height.” Here, he outlines reasons for and against the surgery. A very interesting read, especially for those interested in Transhumanist topics and cosmetic surgery.

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The Last Question: So, we’ve seen where humans came from and where we are. Now, where are we going? Sci-Fi legend Isaac Asimov tells a short, trillion-year tale of how this whole human experience might end, and maybe how it began. “The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five-dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way…”

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Multi-Touch Monitors: This is seriously cool. In this video, Jeff Han and Phil Davidson demonstrate how a multi-touch driven computer screen will change the way we work and play.

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Holy Crap! Is This Real?! And now, for something totally different.

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Online Game: Dodge: Simple and Addictive: Does it get any better than that? It’s the kind of game that keeps you as entertained as a stoner watching a side-loaded washing machine. Whoooa…. hey, nachos!

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Well, that does it for this week. You can check out the previous episodes in the Le Linkage category of Gnorb.NET.

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