Thinking Cap: Podcasts, Articles And Clips To Make You Smarter

Wear Headphones at Work Freely, Sound Smart Speaking in Public, and See the Hot Dogs of the World

Wear headphones in the office without getting scowls, hear about the northernmost land action in the civil war and learn how to sound smart when speaking in public in this, the inaugural edition of Lifehacker's Thinking Cap. Title gif by Nick Criscuolo.

Welcome to Lifehacker's Thinking Cap, a new series where we round up interesting, informative and thought-provoking podcasts. These interviews, articles and other media will teach you something new, inspire you and hopefully cap off your week nicely. Let's get started.

How to Make Wearing Headphones at Work More "Acceptable"

Wear Headphones at Work Freely, Sound Smart Speaking in Public, and See the Hot Dogs of the World

Photo by Vox Efx. This Quora thread is a bit old, but it's still packed with useful suggestions for people who may work somewhere (like I once did) where trying to get some work done while listening to your headphones is perceived as detachment or isolationism — where you're "not a team player" because you focus better listening to your own music (or nothing, for that matter) instead of the idle chatter of your inevitably annoying open-floorplan office. I'm sure you understand.

Still, some people do feel that way, and it's even worse when they're your boss. The thread offers up some useful suggestions like trying to address the issue ahead of time with your manager, mentioning to your colleagues that they're free to interrupt you if it's important while you're wearing them (and that they should be a sign that you're working, but not behind a closed door, as it were), and of course, switch from large headphones to earbuds that appear less imposing to someone who may need your attention. [via Quora]

How to Sound Smart in a TED Talk

Look, I love a good TED talk, but there's a certain cadence to TED speeches and other informative talks that just feels convincing and interesting, even if absolutely nothing of value is being said. You've probably sat in a session — paid for by your employer, perhaps — with a "motivational speaker" where you leave feeling energised, but damn if you could remember what was actually said should someone ask you about it later.

It all may sound silly, but give the video here a watch. Some of these mannerisms, styles and presentation techniques seem to ring hollow when they're held up as a farce, but they can be especially empowering when you actually do need to communicate something important. [via SwissMiss]

The Northernmost Land Action of the US Civil War

In 1864, a band of Confederate soldiers — more likely bandits, depending on who you ask — raided a very surprised town in northern Vermont called St. Albans. They surprised the townspeople, robbed the towns' three banks, took a ton of money, shot up the town, terrorised the residents and high tailed it for the Canadian border from whence they came. Suffice to say they didn't really get away with it, but the story of what they did get away with and what's otherwise an odd footnote in the history of the US Civil War is worth listening to. Check it out on last week's the Futility Closet podcast. [via Boing Boing]

Debatable: How One Unlikely Debate Student Made History

On last week's RadioLab, Ryan Wash, a queer, Black, first-generation university student from Kansas City, Missouri joined the debate team at Emporia State University, and in the process found himself in a world that felt familiar to him, but simultaneously excluded him fiercely. Instead of hitting a wall, however, he managed to thrive — and change the institution itself along the way by challenging its preconceived notions and its standards of who "belonged", and who didn't. It's a long one, but an incredible listen. [via RadioLab, thanks Henry!]

The Hot Dogs of the World

Wear Headphones at Work Freely, Sound Smart Speaking in Public, and See the Hot Dogs of the World

Illustration by Rob Engvall. Lucky Peach is always good reading if you're interested in not just food tricks and trends, but also the business of food and food culture, and I frequently stumble on interesting bits that aren't a perfect fit as "life hacks" that should get their own posts. Like this guide to Hot Dogs around the globe — it's not by any means complete (since it's excerpted from their upcoming magazine) but it includes some of the more interesting varieties, like the always-delicious Chicago dog to the near-insane-how-could-anyone-eat-that-OK-I'll-try-it Khao Pad American dog, served with sweet fried rice, ham, fried chicken a fried egg, and oh yeah there's a dog under there somewhere. Seriously, just check out the list. [via Lucky Peach]

Donald Trump's Business Record

The story behind Donald Trump's money isn't just one that revolves around a "small loan" from his father and some strategic bankruptcies — although those definitely factor in. Last week On Point took some time to actually figure out where Trump's money came from, exactly how successful a businessperson he really is (spoiler that you probably already assumed: not very), and what exactly his successes and failures have been. In this media circus that seems to follow him everywhere he goes, it's interesting to look back in time and hear a little about how his empire rose, fell and how this nonsense all got started. [via On Point]

A Year's Worth of Time-Lapse Sunrises

Finally, just a little something to push you on into the day — a man in Germany rigged a camera to take a photo 10 minutes after sunrise every day for a whole year, and the video above is the result. It's less "oh look, so inspirational", and more just a subtle reminder of how amazing the world really is. Phil Plait, AKA the Bad Astronomer, explains over at Slate what's happening:

The video starts at the vernal equinox in 2015, on March 21, and runs through to March 20, 2016. The Sun rises due east, then moves left (north) every morning at a rapid rate. You can then see it slow, stop at the June solstice, and then reverse direction, moving south (right). It slows and stops again at the December solstice (note the snow on the rooftops!), then reverses, moving north again. The weather gets pretty bad, but you can still see enough to get a sense that the Sun moves most rapidly at the equinoxes and most slowly at the solstices, just as I said.

Oh, and the video itself? Taken on a Raspberry Pi. [via Kottke]

That's all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts, eye-opening videos share it in the comments below!


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