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

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

In this first Thinking Cap of the new year, we’re busting myths and inspiring you to do your best. First, the truth about that infamous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit, and some facts about human overpopulation. Then watch some serious focus at work, and see an artist at craft.

Welcome to Lifehacker’s Thinking Cap, a 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.

The Sushi God of Tokyo

Every now and again you have the opportunity to watch someone who moves with such incredible focus, deliberate action and intent that it’s a joy to watch them work, let alone do anything at all, and this video was exactly that for me.

If you’re not familiar with Simon and Martina of Eat Your Sushi (formerly Eat Your Kimchi), they’re always fun and funny to watch, and their videos are joy, but this one — along with some of their others recently — was a special joy to watch. Partially because you get to watch them enjoy some absolutely incredible sushi that’s difficult to describe, but for me, mostly because of Saito, the owner of Sushi Saito, a three Michelin Star restaurant.

It’s not just his food that I find entrancing — it’s the way he works. It’s absolutely inspiring, and he makes me want to bring even a fraction of the deliberate, focused work that he does to my own craft every single day. Click play and enjoy — and perhaps most importantly, be inspired. [via Simon and Martina (YouTube)]

How Stamps Get Designed

You probably hear when a new, special postage stamp is released, or when a historic or other noteworthy figure gets their own stamp, but how does the process happen? Well, Antonio Alcalá, one of four art directors for the US Postal Service, explains everything in this video. He explains how difficult it can be working with such a small canvas, but also how those constraints can turn into some really beautiful work at the same time. Oh, and don’t worry, there are plenty of beautiful examples through the whole video. [via AARP (YouTube), thanks Kottke!]

Is Overpopulation Real?

I could share every single Kurzgesagt video in these and never get tired, but this one was especially good — mostly because as our science fiction and dystopian views of the world in the future look more and more bleak, it’s easy to say that overpopulation will be the cause of all of humanity’s ills, but the truth may be more complex.

After all, we have a lot of problems in front of us as a species on Earth, but as long as current trends continue (that is, the number of people living in absolute poverty around the globe has never been lower, more developing and developed nations are improving their quality of life for average citizens, and more and better medical care is available to more people around the globe), the population spike that we’ve seen over the past several decades will round off and flatten back out. It’s a bit more inspiring and data driven, and a breath of fresh air — at least in one regard. Just because we won’t absolutely crowd the planet doesn’t mean we don’t have other problems to face and fix. [via Kurzgesagt (YouTube)]

The Truth About the McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit

You know the old “coffee cups have to be labelled that the contents are hot because some lady burned herself” complaint? You know, the one that extends to “yeah companies have to label products for stupid people because someone somewhere tried to do something dumb with it?” That, on some level, may be true because most companies want nothing to do with the liability that comes with someone using a product in a way it wasn’t designed to function, but the infamous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit wasn’t that at all — even though it’s often referred to as the originator of the whole problem.

I’ve seen this conversation go around more often than I used to, and I’m actually a bit sad that this myth has persisted for so long. I ran into this as a case study in graduate school, one about how popular conception surrounding a trial can run wildly out of control and how constant reinforcement of a one side of a story and completely erase the truth. The video above may be from College Humour, but it’s spot on, and like some of the best satire, speaks truth in a humorous and entertaining way to a constant stream of disinformation. [via College Humour (YouTube), thanks Kottke!]

The Original Moonwalkers

Another tidbit from history — many people remember Michael Jackson for the Moonwalk, a dance move most popularly associated with him, but few people know the much older tap dancers and jazz dancers that inspired him to perform it. This video is a rundown of some of them, including the one and only Bill Bailey (whose Wikipedia article is painfully thin), who essentially invented the move on stage at the Apollo Theatre in 1955, although then he called it the “Backslide”. (Hit that link for a video of Bailey performing live.)

There’s this video and more over at this piece at Boing Boing, and they’re all worth watching. Hit play, be inspired, and have a great first weekend of the new year. [via broallen25 (YouTube), thanks Boing Boing!]

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

Title illustration by Nick Criscuolo.

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