A tribute to humanity's first interstellar spacecraft, what happened before recorded history, how being bullied as a child changes you as an adult, and the worst employees ever hired all await you in this week's Thinking Cap.
Welcome to Lifehacker's Thinking Cap, a new series where we round up interesting, informative and thought-provoking podcasts, interviews, articles and other media that will teach you something new, inspire you and hopefully cap off your week nicely. Let's get started.
What Happened Before Recorded History?
YouTube channel Kurzgesagt is great all around if you're interested in informative, educational videos about science, technology, medicine, and more, but this particular video about human history before people actually recorded history is illuminating and really interesting. Maybe you didn't know that there were actually as many as six separate species of hominid on Earth before Homo Sapiens Sapiens managed to establish dominance. Maybe you're curious how far back in time you could go, find a human baby, and then pass that baby off as a modern human.
This video sheds light on both topics in a short 10 minutes, and once you're finished, you'll think a little differently about our current world of supercomputers, satellites, and smartphones. [via YouTube]
Who's The Worst Employee You Ever Hired?
You don't have to be a manager to answer this question, as the responses over in this Quora thread reveal. Sure, there are plenty of stories about people who overestimated their skills, were just plain awful at their jobs, but this story stood out for me as an example of how sometimes it's just a matter of making sure you always get someone good for a job, and not just someone you know, from Cherie Wilkerson:
I hired my friend as a house keeper. My friend was needing money and I was able to hire help. Her home was very neat and tidy and I thought this would be a good thing for both of us. I was wrong. NEVER HIRE FRIENDS OR FAMILY. My friend was alot lazier than I realised.she thought that because we are friends I would pay her just for coming over but not necessarily for work. I tried to leave lists and work out a schedule and tried to be accommodating as possible. She either made it seem the tasks I asked were impossible (basic vacuum and dust with an occasional task more labour intensive. She charged extra for the bigger things like tub scrubbing so I paid her more than I'd pay most. 15 USD an hour) She did less and less work and asked for more than what we agreed on for less work. Eventually I had to fire her. She stole some of my kids toys. Refused to give them back arguing they were for "services rendered" Destroyed my vacuum cleaner that was really expensive. Ruined my microwave and dishwasher and tried to get family to be mad at me for firing her and to hire her back again. Even told a few mutual friends I owed her money when I paid her on time every time. (The friends didn't listen, thank god.) Worst employee ever.
It's definitely a horror story, and most of the other responses in the same thread are basically managers telling all about awful employees, or employees telling all about horrible coworkers that their bosses either hired or were too inept to fire when they should have, but it's an entertaining read at least. [via Quora]
Jad Abumrad on the Function of Music
Jad Abumrad, one of the hosts of the always-fantastic RadioLab, sat down with Mac Premo to discuss sound, the nature of sound, our human relationship with music, and what the "function" of music may truly be. I don't want to give away too much, so I'll let the video speak for itself. [via Swissmiss]
How Being Bullied as a Child Affects Your Life as an Adult
Were you bullied as a child? Do you think it's changed the way you view the world today? What do you remember from the experience, and how does it inform your actions today? I certainly was - for a variety of reasons (race, nerdy habits and tastes, clothes, you name it) and if anything, I think it's made me even more determined to be compassionate and kind in as many of my interactions as possible — while simultaneously refusing to shy away from my convictions and tastes.
That's just me though — this thread at Quora got me thinking about the question, and some of the answers are eye-opening. For example, a story I think a number of us can resonate with, by Scott Sakurai:
Being bullied as a child, and being told by my parents to fight back (and that I would be forgiven if disciplined formally for doing so), I did. It stopped happening as much to me, although it still happened to the other kids I hung out with. I would sometimes take up their fights when they could not.
One of the odd things I didn't notice until much later is that while I didn't get picked on much by the big bullies, I got more abuse from the people who weren't ordinarily perceived as bullies — as if I had made it out of the omega status in the pecking order, and they then felt they could do so themselves by taking me back down a peg.
The unfortunate effect of this was to always be prepared for someone to turn on me, to act friendly and backstab me, because they knew better than to come straight at me. I still am suspicious of anyone acting too friendly when I don't feel I've done anything to deserve it, and this often comes across as me not liking them. I have never gotten out of this habit, not even decades later, in large part because although it doesn't hold true most of the time, there are still adult bullies I have had to deal with, and being prepared for them has served me well. Unfortunately, the cost is rather high in terms of social anxiety and general stress levels.
In essence, adapting to a world of bullies has made me maladapted for a world where they are a small minority.
As always, the whole thread is definitely worth a read. [via Quora]
48 Names for Things You Didn't Know Had Names
Mental Floss appears somewhat regularly around here, but for good reason. This video, packed with the actual names for things like the area between your eyebrows (the Glabella) and the German word for "excess weight gained from emotional overeating," or Kummerspeck (literally "grief bacon.") The whole video is packed with these, and many of them are names for parts of your body you had no idea had actual names. [via YouTube]
This short film pays tribute to the Voyager spacecraft, and their journey over the decades from launch here on Earth to becoming humanity's first — and currently only — interstellar spacecraft, still calling home periodically, and still, although ever-more-quietly, collecting data and sending it back to us. It's beautiful, and in honour of Juno's amazing trip to Jupiter last week, I can't think of a better way to end this week's Brain Buffet. [thanks Christopher!]
That's all for this week! If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts, eye-opening videos, or anything else you think would be perfect for Brain Buffet, share it with us! Email me, leave it as a comment below, or send it over any way you know how.
Title GIF by Nick Criscuolo.