If you use the internet to actively pursue knowledge rather than just to look at naked women, you can learn lots of interesting things. You can then whip them out as anecdotes at parties and thus impress people with your terminal geekiness. Here are some of the recent things that have piqued my interest, that fall under the vague umbrella of what I cover in this blog:
Gordon Brown, Robert Mugabe and Osama's playlists revealed
Ever wondered how musical tastes reflects what kind of person someone is? Well this article reveals the musical tastes of some of the worlds most powerful, and in some cases infamous men. Zimbabwean dictator Mugabe is a sucker for Cliff Richard apparently, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fancies a bit of Chris DeBurgh, while Kim Jong-Il is an Eric Clapton fan. But the kicker is Osama bin Laden's love of Whitney Houston; a passion so strong that he wanted to kill her then-husband Bobby Brown and take her back with him to live in Sudan.
(Hat tip: Bonoboboy)
Evolution in Moscow's Stray Dogs
It may not sound interesting unless you are really into dogs, but this is one of the most fascinating things I've read for a while. And I'm not even into dogs. The article, featured in the Financial Times, details how the 35,000 strays that live in Russia's capital are in a process of evolving back to a wild state. The domestic dog was obviously bred from the wolf many thousands of years ago, over a long process of evolution and social adaptation; here we can see that process being reversed. The strays have developed an amazing range of behaviours that allow them to survive in the urban environment; there are even around 20 that have learned to ride trains. Not just randomly getting on trains, but actually getting from place to place and back again!
European skeleton found in ancient Mongol tomb
DNA analysis has revealed a skeleton with distinctive Indo-European traits in a Xiongnu cemetery in northeast Mongolia dating back 2000 years. It illuminates the picture of ancient Central Asia as being quite ethnically diverse, since the expanse of steppe allowed considerable movement, especially when factoring in nomadic lifestyles based around the horse, and displacement through conquest. Migration went the other way too; the modern Magyars (Hungarians), Turks and Finns are all partly descended from Central Asian peoples.
Google suggestions about Japan
You can probably try this out yourself if you have nothing better to do. Type in "why are japanese" into google and the first suggestion that comes up is "so perverted", followed by "people so weird". There are a number of different suggestions depending on what permutation of the question you type. So try "why do Japanese" and the suggestions include "girls cry" and "have bad teeth" and "have slanted eyes." An interesting reflection of how the country is perceived in the English speaking world.
The Daily Show evaluates Barack Obama's first year in office
It turns out he's not a "magical negro" after all. Features the eternally awesome black correspondent Larry Wilmore.
A high school principal in the Indonesian town of Tangerang has denied raping one of his students, who then became pregnant. He instead blamed it on his pet djinn (genie). That's the worst excuse I've heard for a sexual crime since that guy who was busted with all that child porn and blamed it all on his cat walking on the keyboard. It would almost be funny, except of course that a teenage girl was violated.
Tangerang of course is the same place where a married woman was arrested and convicted of prostitution because she was waiting by the side of the road, and happened to be carrying lipstick in her purse.
Meanwhile in other news from certain parts of Indonesia still stuck in medieval times, a council of East Javanese clerics have decided to ban Muslims from straightening or colouring their hair. Basically, anything that makes you look better is haram. These are the same guys who recently issued a fatwa against Facebook (poking might lead to fornication, you see.)
Strangest Australian tourism questions
... as listed by Australian travel agents. Including "Can I catch a train from Fiji to New Zealand?'', and asking staff to compile a list of toilets they could visit while driving from Cairns to Brisbane. There's also some compiled by British travel agents here.