Human knowledge is constructive and additive
Take a look at the 1887 newspaper coverage of the construction of a railroad bridge across the Missouri River at Sioux City, Iowa. The pictures alone should cause one to step back and think, "Would I even volunteer to try to build a bridge across a river today, using modern tools and all of the safety equipment available?" No? Then imagine what kind of guts it took to build things like that before most cities had electric streetlights. What's perhaps more remarkable is that some bridges from that era are still in use today. ■ It just goes to show that human knowledge is additive -- that is, we build upon what the knowledge of the people who came before us (as long as they have the courtesy to write it down and pass it along). The awful counter-examples -- like the destruction of the Library of Alexandria -- are the kinds of human failures we should fear and avoid most of all. Pity us for going through a Great Recession, perhaps, but it's not as though we as a species forgot everything we learned before 2007. As long as we continue to add to the knowledge base -- and document it! -- life will continue to get better for our descendants. And maybe for us, if we find ways to live longer.
David Mitchell colorfully explains investment banking failures
An elaborate tour of San Francisco
(Video) It's a mystery what kind of brain-wiring it takes to inspire one to create a toothpick sculpture with multiple "marble runs" embedded within it -- but the result is certainly bewildering and amusing at the same time.
Some things you should know about heavy rainfall