Marc Silver

If you want to be a pessimist about the shape the world's in, just turn on the news. It seems as if we're living in an age of terrorism, war, refugees, hostages and natural disasters.

The Google doodle for Kenya today shows a white-haired man at a table in a primary school, earnestly writing a classroom exercise. The kids behind him grin as if to say, "He is kind of old to be a first-grader."

Well, yes, he is! In 2004, Kimani Maruge went to school for the first time at age 84. Monday marks the 11th anniversary of his first day at school. The Guinness Book of Records says he's the oldest person to enroll in primary school. And who am I to argue?

Our blog was born in 2014, and I'll let you in on a little secret: We had a really hard time coming up with our name. (See: "Why Goats? Why Soda?")

But that naming struggle was nothing compared with figuring out what to call the parts of the world we cover. Third World? Developing world? Global south? Low- and middle-income countries?

If a guy wearing pajama pants and a necktie and sunglasses rang your doorbell and asked to make a video of your home, you'd probably slam the door so fast you'd shatter his lenses.

That's not what happened when Wilbur Sargunaraj went calling on various homeowners in his father's home village in the Tirunelveli district in southern India.

So perhaps you noticed a post I wrote last weekend about how you know if your goat is happy. Yes, scientists do study that.

The story had a cute picture of a goat at the top, taken by a photographer in Dakar, Senegal. The farmer told the photographer that the animal was his "goatie." And to our untutored eyes, it looked like a goat.

We're living longer.

And cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases aren't taking quite as much of a toll as they did a couple of decades ago.

But that doesn't mean we're immortal.

Road accidents, suicide, chronic kidney disease, alcohol-related diseases ... these are a few of the topics to discuss after looking at a new country-by-country analysis of causes of death by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Goats are having a moment, and we're not just saying that because our blog is called Goats and Soda.

There are nearly 900 million goats in the world today, up from 600 million in 1990. The reason for this goat spurt is the growing popularity of goat cheese, goat milk and goat meat.

The friends and colleagues of Michel du Cille are in shock. They simply can't believe that the photographer with the deep voice and the gentle soul is gone. He died on Dec. 11 of an apparent heart attack while covering the Ebola crisis in Liberia for the Washington Post.

Last week, Wilbur Sargunaraj took NPR by storm with not one, but two video premieres. The YouTube star was taking pump baths, drinking Goli soda and — to the dismay of some readers — dunking a chicken in water.

If you missed that wild ride, no worries. Wilbur is back!

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