101-year-old tree warden loses half-century fight to keep a 235-year-old tree alive
Dutch elm disease has killed a tree that's probably stood since before American independence. The incredible longevity of some trees suggests that we need to figure out how some living organisms get to live many times our own normal human life expectancies. Considering that the average person in the Western world spends at least 20 years just getting some basic education about the world, we as a species would benefit from keeping people around gaining wisdom and experience (and then applying that to the world's problems) for far more than the normal 40- or 45-year working life. Norman Borlaug was working right up until his death at age 95, trying to solve problems of world hunger. He should have gotten another 95 years of health and opportunity.
Nebraska has a divisible Electoral College vote, but a state senator wants to change that
He wants the state's five electoral votes all go to the same victor. But, realistically, splitting the vote according to Congressional districts and committing the two leftover electoral votes to the statewide winner is a sensible approach. It's certainly a thousand times better than a national popular vote, as some people have proposed. As it is, we have 51 separate Presidential elections (counting DC), which helps contain fraud and ensure that low-population states still get a fair chance to influence the outcome.
Natalie Portman knows the value of early training in over-exposure
The actress learned about watching her reputation and level of exposure after getting "weird" letters about a movie role she performed at age 12. Subsequently, she's been careful about how she's seen and how much of herself goes on display. A good lesson for a young celebrity to learn -- but in the age of Facebook and YouTube, it's a lesson that just about everyone ought to learn. It doesn't take a lot for regrettable photos, videos, or just plain comments to find their way to a worldwide audience. Just ask the Star Wars Kid.
Very big and very, very fast
A planet has been discovered well outside our Solar System that is about 15% larger than Jupiter. But it revolves around its star once every .79 Earth days. The kinds of bizarre gravitational and centrifugal forces at play under those circumstances have to be pretty mind-blowing.
Google does well to stand up to China, but what about other rights-infringing nations?
Podcast: Observations on the late-night TV reshuffle at NBC
Podcast: Christmas gifts with comedian Willie Farrell
The great snowmelt of 2010