Forget about getting a little alone time. As Michael Pollan writes in the NYT Magazine, we share our bodies with a significant crew of microbial species. “These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found … forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map.” What has the Western diet done to this interior wilderness? How does taking antibiotics affect the balance of your inner bacteria? Should we expose our kids to more dirt and germs? The research that will go into answering these kinds of questions will enable scientists to get to know you (and your 100 trillion fellow travelers) a whole lot better. I strongly suggest that you convince a few million of the microbes on your fingertip to click through and read about the secret lives of germs.
+ Discovery News on why you should skip the anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer and just wash your hands with good ol’ soap and water.
Using The Wrong Protection?
Last week, the guy in charge of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office was charged with sexual battery. This week at Fort Hood, an Army coordinator working on the same issue was accused of “abusive sexual contact,” and may have been running a prostitution ring.
I’d Tap That
As the government moves to expand its power to wiretap the Internet, most of us (even fans of The Wire) have an understandably negative reaction. But does that reaction depend on why the tapping is being done? Do you agree with Tim Wu’s assertion in The New Yorker that “the case for tapping becomes extremely strong when facing the actual investigation of a serious crime, like a murder, a planned terrorist attack, or a powerful criminal organization.”
+ Just this week we learned that the government was tapping the media and a media organization was tapping its customers. As David Carr writes, “The hunted and the hunter, the hacked and the hacker, all of it seemed up for grabs.”
+ Wired’s Nicholas Weaver explains what it takes to safely leak something to the press in an era when “even the head of the CIA can’t email his mistress without being identified by the FBI.”
Floating an Idea
“How did I end up naked in a stranger’s apartment — floating in a saltwater tub, surrounded by darkness and silence — realizing that for the first time in my life I had achieved total mindfulness?” Slate’s Seth Stevenson details the fantastic experience of floating in a sensory deprivation tank. If this sounds like a bit much, you can start out by shotgunning a can of malt liquor and taking a bubble bath.
Just Don’t Eat the Brownies
One usually associates smoking marijuana with getting the munchies. But a new study performed by several institutions found that marijuana smokers have a significantly smaller waist circumference, higher levels of good cholesterol, and lower insulin levels. (And those findings made them giggle for a few seconds…)
The Stream Draws a Crowd
At its annual developer conference, Google announced a new subscription music streaming service to compete with Spotify, Rdio, and the offering everyone expects Apple to announce in the near future. The name of the service — Google Play Music All Access — might be harder to learn and remember than the lyrics to Gangnam Style, but the price is right and you can bet the search functionality will be good.
+ Here are more updates and announcements from the conference.
Am I Beaming?
Apparently there are dating sites devoted to matching up Star Trek fans looking to get their beam up. According to the owner of one of these sites: “Star Trek fans are nerds. They know what they’re looking for.” (Anything they can get?)
+ Slate’s Matthew Yglesias watched all of Star Trek (eleven movies and 693 television episodes) and is now prepared to tell you exactly why the franchise is great.
+ The ten most underrated episodes of the original Star Trek series.
Not Forgetting About Dre
Andre Young (you might know him better as Dr. Dre) and Jimmy Iovine have used some of their windfall from the Beats headphones business to donate $70 million to USC to support a new academy for the arts. Now USC should give Dre an honorary Ph.D. and he really will be a doctor.
Animals Don’t Sell
It’s “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.” That was part of a rejection letter sent in response to George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Mental Floss has a great collection of rejection letters received by bestselling authors.
The Bottom of the News
Merida, the animated, arrow-shooting star of Brave has been given a Disney makeover. She’s thinner, more fashionable, and she’s dropped the bow for a flowing sash. A lot of people are mad — including the movie’s Oscar-winning writer and co-director.
+ These kids today! Here’s a look at 9 heroic teens and their incredible acts of bravery.
+ InFocus shares a photo collection from the Harley Davidson National Rally in China.
+ Buzzfeed: 43 things that will make you feel old.