Lunch with Mike: from snakes to hedgehogs

Lunched with Mike today, and as always, we had a wonderful, curious and enlightening conversation about a variety of topics:

  • Unicode support in Python (version 3 supports by default)
  • History of the Middle East, how it is still tribal in nature and how some small event making its way accidentally into Koran still causes major stir by fanatics misinterpreting it (â??Come on, have some sense of humor about it!â? – Mike)
  • How Russia got christened by Vladimir – exerpt from the book Iâ??ve just finished reading today, 2 steps from Heaven (will be a good topic for another post)
  • How Afghan war bit the US in the ass (also inspired by the book) and attributed to the whole mess that is Middle East right now
  • Curious question: why the domes of Russian churches look like Muslim minaret tops?

    Answer from Wikipedia:

    Some scholars postulate that onion domes were borrowed by Russians from Muslim countries – probably from the Khanate of Kazan, whose conquest Ivan the Terrible commemorated by erecting St. Basil’s Cathedral. Some believe that onion domes first appeared in Russian wooden architecture above tent-like churches. According to this theory, onion domes were strictly utilitarian, as they prevented snow from piling on the roof.


    *Photo of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – do not confuse it with Kremlin

  • Natural selection: are humans still evolving? The answer is yes. But maybe not all good, since our eyesight is getting worse :( And I guess humans are getting fatter too. Watch Idiocracy – a fictional interpretation of where that could take the human race
  • Also along the same line: since poor, less educated countries and social groups have high birth rates (and on the other end, smarter people have less kids), will the population in general become less smart?
  • European royal families have terrible teeth because they are so inbred, so fresh blood is good! Bring it on, Kate Middleton!
  • Any conquerors attribute to the mix of races – take Mongols invading Asia and Russia. In my home country, Kazakhs used to have light eyes. Right now everyone looks mongolish-asian, black hair, dark eyes. Once I saw a girl on a bus, and she was a green-eyed, reddish-haired super unique Kazakh (or Uzbek perhaps), which really surprised me
  • And then Mike sent me todayâ??s post from Seth Godin about fast hedgehogs in UK that was a good end point to our conversation: even hedgehogs are still evolving and becoming faster!


    * Image from joystiq.com

TIL: Researching history of Kazakhs, I found out that they were traditionally exogamous = marrying outside of their social group, opposite of inbreeding. Go Kazakhs, no wonder youâ??re so strong! :)

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