On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 cargo jet ferrying electronics across the United States from Memphis, Tennessee to San Jose, California, experienced an attempted hijacking for the purpose of a suicide attack. Auburn Calloway, a FedEx employee facing possible dismissal for lying about his previous flying experience, boarded the scheduled flight as a deadheading passenger with a guitar case carrying several hammers and a speargun. He intended to disable the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder before take-off and, once airborne, kill the crew using the blunt force of the hammers so their injuries would appear consistent with an accident rather than a hijacking. The speargun would be a last resort. He would then crash the aircraft while just appearing to be an employee killed in an accident. This would make his family eligible for a $2.5 million life insurance policy paid by Federal Express. [Wikipedia]
Yahoo didn’t just buy a company, it validated, to the tune of a billion dollars, the notion that bad business is worth pursuing. The entire concept of what makes something a good idea continues to be inverted, warped, and thrown in a gully. This is the idea economy, remember—the industry of fantasy. It doesn’t have to “make sense.” Money isn’t valuable. Success isn’t lucrative. Profit is pointless. These are the industry’s norms. All you need to do to become a billion-dollar business is make people entertained and vaguely interested. David Karp did just that. Over 100 million entranced humans blog with Tumblr, and not a single one pays for the privilege. They’re free to swap reality show GIFs, aspirational shopping photos, and masturbate, with only the faintest whisper of marketing reaching their ears. [Valleywag]
Sturgeon‘s law is usually expressed thus: 90% of everything is crap. So 90% of experiments in molecular biology, 90% of poetry, 90% of philosophy books, 90% of peer-reviewed articles in mathematics – and so forth – is crap. […] A good moral to draw from this observation is that when you want to criticize a field, a genre, a discipline, an art form …don’t waste your time and ours hooting at the crap. […] In order not to waste your time and try our patience, make sure you concentrate on the best stuff you can find, the flagship examples extolled by the leaders of the field, the prize-winning entries, not the dregs. [via Improbable]
When we age, our brain gradually looses the ability to give birth to new neurons (neurogenesis). This sad decline is linked to impairments in cognitive functions such as learning and memory. The brain, like any other organ, feeds off of nutrients and chemicals in the blood to keep it going. This made researchers wonder: is something in the blood affecting neurogenesis as we age? To explore this, researchers hooked up the circulation of young and old mice (with young-young & old-old pairing as control) so that their blood intermixed.[…] Several weeks after the surgery, researchers examined the animals’ brains to look for changes in neurogenesis. Young mice, when linked with older mice, had significantly fewer newly born neurons and neural progenitor cells than young-young controls. [Neuroxia]
If you look back 120 years ago or so, Detroit looked like one of the most entrepreneurial places on the planet. It seemed as if there was an automotive genius on every street corner. If you look back 60 years ago, Detroit was among the most productive places on the planet, with the companies that were formed by those automotive geniuses coming to fruition and producing cars that were the technological wonder of the world. So, Detroit’s decline is of more recent heritage, of the past 50 years. […] And it tells us a great deal about the way that cities work and the way that local economies function. […] If we go back to those small-scale entrepreneurs of 120 years ago–it’s not just Henry Ford; it’s the Dodge brothers, the Fisher brothers, David Dunbar Buick, Billy Durant nearby Flint–all of these men were trying to figure out how to solve this technological problem, making the automobile cost effective, produce cheap, solid cars for ordinary people to run in the world. They managed to do that, Ford above all, by taking advantage of each other’s ideas, each other supplies, financing that was collaboratively arranged. And together they were able to achieve this remarkable technological feat. The problem was the big idea was a vast, vertically integrated factory. And that’s a great recipe for short run productivity, but a really bad recipe for long run reinvention. And a bad recipe for urban areas more generally, because once you’ve got a River Rouge plant, once you’ve got this mass vertically integrated factory, it doesn’t need the city; it doesn’t give to the city. It’s very, very productive but you could move it outside the city, as indeed Ford did when he moved his plant from the central city of Detroit to River Rouge. And then of course once you are at this stage of the technology of an industry, you can move those plants to wherever it is that cost minimization dictates you should go. And that’s of course exactly what happens. Jobs first suburbanized, then moved to lower cost areas. The work of Tom Holmes at the U. of Minnesota shows how remarkable the difference is in state policies towards unions, labor, how powerful those policies were in explaining industrial growth after 1947. And of course it globalizes. It leaves cities altogether. […] It was precisely because Detroit had these incredibly productive machines that they squeezed out all other sources of invention–rather than having lots of small entrepreneurs you had middle managers for General Motors (GM) and Ford. […] Are you suggesting then that Silicon Valley is prone to this kind of change at some point? [EconTalk]
Is your child constantly causing trouble? […] If you live in South Carolina’s Chester or Richland Counties, you can send your kids to jail before they wind up there themselves. Through a program called STORM, parents can shell out a mere $25 to have their little troublemakers cuffed and booked for a sleepover in the slammer. Parents in nearby counties have to pay $5 more. [TruTV]
A network of ex-gay groups that believes that LGBTQ people can be helped to become heterosexuals. [PDF]
Once I realized that thinking in patterns might be a third category, alongside thinking in pictures and thinking in words, I started seeing examples everywhere. How an Entirely New, Autistic Way of Thinking Powers Silicon Valley.
After years of investigations and rumors, prosecutors appear to be closing in on SAC Capital Advisors. SAC Could Face Criminal Charges; Cohen Subpoenaed. Read more: Steven Cohen is an American hedge fund manager, founder of SAC Capital Advisors. He has bought around $700 million worth of artwork, including Hirst’s shark and paintings by Pollock, Picasso, Warhol, de Kooning, Munch.
Jamaica Ginger extract, known in the United States by the slang name “Jake,” was a late 19th century patent medicine that provided a convenient way to bypass Prohibition laws, since it contained between 70-80% ethanol by weight.
Randy Miller. [Thanks Yvonne!]