Learning a lot about a subject over the course of an assignment can leave me loving or hating it. A couple of years ago, I started a gig doing research for a documentary on the Beatles’ touring years. I had a passing knowledge of the group’s music and the various cultural spokes that radiated from it—Beatlemania, the films, the break-up—but possessed a benign ignorance of the details and never really understood it as a whole (as I suspect many people my age simply take for granted a number of Boomer-boosted icons of the 20th century). It turns out, I think the band is great. And the stories and anecdotes are often very good, sometimes great, ranging from the gothic to the ridiculous.

In any case, the fruits of that research (my part of which was just a fraction of the collective effort) can be found in the Ron Howard-directed doc The Beatles: Eight Days A Week—The Touring Years (and streamed on Hulu).

Witness, fellow pre-Millenial/post Gen-Xers, your antecedents’ enthusiasm!

Seeing leaf-cutter ants in the wild is the sort of thing that makes you want to spend all day crawling on the ground following them around. These are charismatic microfauna

Here, a few seconds of footage I took while playing around with a GoPro near Jaco, Costa Rica, last December.

They don’t eat the leaves, petals, and other bits of foliage they bring back to the colony, but use them to cultivate gardens of fungus that act as a food source. 

After stumbling across a circle of white-rumped shama enthusiasts while writing an earlier piece, one of my favorite reads from their ranks is Alan Pang’s post explaining why he lost interest in traditional shama competitions. The standard Singaporean competition, he writes, last as much as two hours:

Personally, i only enjoy active, swift n nice display and long melodies song type of shama. I prefer them to go around the cage flicking and flashing their tails plus some wings display at the same time. Not the stand singing type. What i meant by stand singer is flick tail once or twice sing two three notes and stay in one position all the time. This is no fun to watch for many of us but don’t forget this are the the birds that is able to last for hours! Haha…! So for those birds that showed us wonderful display, swift cage play, stretching all muscle to give us the best posture and bursting at the top of their voice with beautiful songs would be drain out by then. Then how? How about the next one hour? Frankly, i do not think Shama is by nature create to show that kind of aggression in the wild for such prolonged hours. Did we extend the competition time for human satisfaction? Haha…

Sing it, brother.

And in the video above, you can see one of Mr Pang’s shamas “singing like crazy till sorethroat,” which has accumulated a whopping 276,133 views on YouTube.

Wow! (Or, as the driver initially says, according to a translation in the New Yorker, “What the fuck is that?”)

Surely one of the most interesting things to be seen on the planet these last twenty-four hours is this meteor streaking across the Russian sky, brightening up the Chelyabinsk dawn.

But not everyone is so taken with this astronomical display:

No way, Jose. I want to believe.