Anxiety belongs to the broader complex relationship between creativity and mental illness, and although the causal direction of that relationship might forever evade us, it is strangely assuring to know that other minds — especially minds of above-average intelligence and creative ability — have been savaged by this blunt-toothed beast.
Reflecting on her lifelong on-again, off-again relationship with this cyclical companion, Lepage distills the common pattern and extracts from it the four habits most certain to set the Rube Goldberg machine of anxiety into action.
Laced with the meta-stressors familiar to anyone afflicted with anxiety — shame for being gripped by anxiety in the first place, self-blame for putting oneself in situations known to trigger it, exasperation upon realizing that its predictable trajectory of anguish is underway yet being unable to stop it — the book radiates a wistful yet warm assurance that these overwhelming emotional states, as all-consuming and singular as they seem, mark our membership in a larger fellowship of tribulation in which we are never as alone as we may feel.
Under the self-conscious heading “Cheesy Quotes to Remember” — for, lest we forget, self-consciousness is one of anxiety’s most persistent symptoms — Lepage offers a number of truths so helpful and true that we tend to dismiss them as truisms, bounced off the maladaptive psychological shield of our cynicism.
The avocado is potentially both the most loved and the most hated fruit of our time. (Yes, fruit—for those who may be late to the avo-craze. Technically, it’s a big berry with one large seed inside that’s known as a pit or stone. Bottom line, it’s not a vegetable.)
We love it on our toast, and we love it smashed with onions and cilantro on our tacos. But we sure hate it when we’ve had 18 conversations about avocados this week and it’s only Monday.
The average consumption of avocados in the US is projected to reach up to 22.7 million kilograms (50 million lb) per week by 2019. With that many avocados moving around us, there is a lot of talk about what they can do. Read on to discover more crazy and fascinating facts about this popular fruit.
The avocado contains a fungicidal toxin called persin that is completely harmless to humans. However, it is poisonous for many other animals. So, as much as we enjoy guacamole, we should not share it with our animal friends.
Persin—and therefore, avocado—is poisonous to birds, rabbits, cows, goats, horses, pigs, sheep, and fish. Avocado pits were even mixed with cheese to kill rodents according to a South American folk recipe for rat poison.
Rumors that avocados are poisonous for dogs have led to various studies of the effects on our furry pals. Unfortunately, the evidence has been inconclusive and conflicting.
Some reports claim that dogs and cats have upset stomachs after consuming persin, and others see no serious illnesses that result from eating it. Although modern research suggests that dogs can eat avocados and that their toxicity is a myth, the pits could be a choking hazard for your pet.
9They Belong In The Bathroom
It sounds a little gross, but lathering your hair in a mash of avocado can actually help your hair grow. As this superfood contains a lot of fatty amino acids, it can coat strands of your hair and really lock in moisture. Moisture retention will help smooth and soften your dry hair, which is good for keeping your hair strong and able to grow fast and healthy.
A variety of vitamins and minerals—such as copper, iron, and vitamins A, D, and E—are found in avocados and assist with hair growth. A healthy scalp is also important for hair growth. Avocados can soothe and stimulate dry scalps, keeping them nice and hydrated.
If you want to prevent hair loss or help your hair to grow long, shiny, and soft, keep avocados in your kitchen . . . and your bathroom.
8They Have A Long History
Although it seems logical that the avocado’s popularity occurred because it’s photogenic (thank you, Instagram), a long history led to our obsession with the green fruit. We all have to thank Rudolph Hass and his children, who created a new variety of avocado, the Hass avocado, in the early 1900s.
Mr. Hass grew the new avocado in his own backyard. Before this, it was enjoyed by many in Central and South America but not so much in the United States. It was referred to as ahuacate, which was too hard for Americans to pronounce and did not market well to them.
The Hass variety of the avocado—one of over 400—is smaller and has thicker skin than other types, is easier for farmers to cultivate, and has a good, nutty flavor. Mr. Hass’s high-quality avocado trees became more accepted throughout the decades. This allowed prices to decrease, which increased demand for the fruit.
Also contributing to its popularity was the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which brought more Latin Americans and their love for avocados to the United States. Now, thanks to marketing efforts and low prices, Mr. Hass’s avocado is in such high demand that our entire continent is experiencing shortages.
7They Are An Aphrodisiac Legend
Long ago, the avocado was enjoyed by many in Central and South America. They called it ahuacate, which means “testicle” in Aztec. If you’ve never thought of it before, you now realize that the shape of the avocado is somewhat phallic. As a result, the avocado was a legendary aphrodisiac.
Obviously, this was bad for the fruit’s marketing efforts in the early 20th century. Back then, most Americans were not inclined to purchase a fruit that had become so associated with being an aphrodisiac, legend or not. The current name was devised by California farmers and significantly improved the fruit’s appeal over the following years.
The Michoacan region of Mexico has the perfect conditions for growing avocados. The hot, rich soil produces more than half of the avocados served throughout the world. The large sales of this fruit make up 90 percent of the area’s revenue.
Over the last few years, many stories of the cartel kidnapping farmers and extorting landowners have gone beyond the cocaine trade to include the avocado business. Avocado farmers who have refused to give up part of their profits have found their lives threatened and their crops burned down. A report in 2014 even stated that an infamous gang made $152 million a year from frightened farmers in this area.
5It’s Actually An Alligator Pear, See It?
The avocado has an awesome nickname which is almost never used. According to legend, an early English word for the avocado was “avogado pear.” This most likely was a translation mishap or came from someone who didn’t know what to call it.
This name led to “alligator pear.” Although an accident, the nickname suits the fruit very well. Shaped like a pear, the avocado has skin that resembles that of a reptile, specifically an alligator.
If you really need your avocado ripe and ready to eat, there is a way to speed up the process. Some fruits—such as apples, bananas, apricots, nectarines, and plums—produce ethylene gas, which is a ripening agent.
Put your avocados inside a paper bag with any of these fruits, and the gaswill cause the avocado (and the other fruits involved) to ripen much faster. It is important to keep an eye on the fruit because it could be ready for consumption the next day.
Furthermore, the paper-bag-and-fruit methods can potentially alter the taste of the avocado. Depending on how you are using it, this could be either good or bad.
3A Multimillionaire Told Us To Stop Eating Them
Why did a multimillionaire tell us that we had to stop eating avocados? Because if we spend our money on them, we won’t be able to afford a house.
According to a study by HSBC, only 35 percent of millennials in the United States in 2017 were homeowners, with most of the others saying that they hadn’t saved enough to put down a deposit. During a 60 Minutes interview, property tycoon Tim Gurner, then 35, said that unnecessary spending on avocados is a big reason why people can’t afford a house.
Although lifestyle expectations are continuously changing and prices of homes seem to keep rising, this may be something we need to think about!
Healthy bakers have discovered that avocados can be used as a butterreplacement in almost all muffin and cake recipes. While it may require a little bit of math to measure out the perfect amount, the benefits could be worth the trouble.
Butter has a lot of calories and unhealthy fat. Avocados slice the number of calories from butter by more than half when used in baked goods. There are only about 109 calories in half an avocado.
Even though it may change the taste a little, the trade-off adds protein and lowers cholesterol and saturated fat levels.
1Avocados May Have Antiaging Benefits
The avocado is considered a superfood because it contains numerous vitamins. It also has “good fats,” some protein, and antioxidants. Vitamins A and E, both found in avocados, help to keep skin nourished and moisturized and may assist with keeping cells healthy and young.
When we add avocados to our diet, we may be delaying the natural aging process of our cells. Eating avocados or using them as a face mask by mixing them with honey, yogurt, or oatmeal can give your skin a youthful glow.
Launching the new policy and guidelines, Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, announced, “These regulations will enable the safe, commercial usage of drones starting December 1, 2018. It is intended to enable visual line-of-sight, daytime-only operations to a maximum altitude of 400 feet.”
Emerge ITP was aimed at startups and promised to enable companies to list and showcase their performance to lenders and potential investors — with or without an initial public offer (IPO) — but it never really took off. At present, Emerge ITP is on life support, which is to say that it is barely functioning, with no listings taking place after 2016.
Pranav, who’s an engineer by profession, started venture capital firm 3one4 Capital in 2016 along with his younger brother Siddarth Pai. Inc42 caught up with Pranav Pai and Siddarth Pai to know more about investment thesis, minimum investment size etc in this week’s Moneyball.
In the 22nd episode of Inc42 Ask Me Anything (AMA), we hosted Vishal Gondal, the founder-CEO of GOQii, who spoke to us about gaming, fitness, how GOQii is gamifying fitness, and a lot more. Gondal said 99% people fail at their goals while using fitness and weight loss apps because they lack human motivation.
The founders realised that the diminutive digital solutions available in the market to tackle counterfeiting are economically not viable for most manufacturers. This is what gave birth to NeuroTags. Read more to know how they are taking the counterfeit burden off manufacturers.
NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 17: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 17, 2008 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 449 points today despite American International Group, Inc. (AIG) $85 billion government ba
60 private-sector economists were recently surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, and their prediction is somewhat dire. 59% of them say the economic expansion that began in 2009 after the Great Recession of 2008 took the wind out of the world’s economic sails will end in 2020. Another 22% pegged the year 2021. What lies beyond that is probably another recession, the depths of which will likely become apparent as things progress — or, rather, regress.
“The current economic expansion is getting long in the tooth by historical standards, and more late-cycle signs are emerging,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, who was among those economists predicting a 2020 recession.
62% of the survey respondents indicated an overheating economy tied with the tightening of the Federal Reserve interest rates as reasons things will get worse.
It’s worth noting that these kinds of things are very hard to predict, so a grain of salt is warranted. However, with a total of 81% of economists surveyed by the WSJ predicting that things will hit the fan by 2021, it seems likely that it’s coming.
The current “boom” is second only to the 1990 information technology economic bubble that lasted nearly 10 years and coincided almost exactly with the years Bill Clinton was President.
Interestingly, the same survey revealed that those same economists do not think the “tax breaks passed by Congress have anything to do with the current economic expansion.
That same expansion has left many people underemployed and earning less than before the Great Recession of 2008, as well as losing health insurance and retirement savings, which could mean when the next bust happens, poor and working-class people will be in much worse shape than ever. And that, coupled with the elimination of some social safety nets across many states in the U. S., means the future might be pretty bleak, indeed.
At least, for those without a pile of money to rely on.
History is a fickle thing. Sometimes, the simplest events are immortalized while major events are forgotten. But the beauty of the Internet is that we can bring forgotten accomplishments out of the shadows and shine a light on them again.
The achievements of these women are something that should not go uncredited or unknown. These women were trailblazers, renegades, geniuses, and just plain awesome.
Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to venture into space in June 1963. Her training in parachuting made her an ideal candidate to become a Russian cosmonaut. She applied soon after women became eligible.
The USSR’s decision to put women into space was fueled by a desire to beat the USA to a “first” in the space race. Along with four other women, Tereshkova was put through the same rigorous training as her male counterparts. She spent a total of 70 hours and 50 minutes in space.
When she returned home, she received some of the most prestigious awards offered by the Soviet Union. This included the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, the highest award in the USSR. The United States would not send a female astronaut into space until 20 years later.
If not for Margaret Hamilton, the famous lines uttered by Neil Armstrong upon stepping onto the surface of the Moon would never have been said. She led the 400,000-strong team of software engineers that made Apollo 11 both possible and successful.
Hamilton had a rigorous approach to many tests. This attitude helped to preserve the mission when the guidance computer began to prioritize the Moon landing on its own. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US, by President Barack Obama.
Caroline Herschel laid the groundwork for Western women in science. Having been given an education by her father, she was well ahead of her time. An accomplished astronomer, she was the first woman in recorded history to discover a comet—and found eight overall.
Her more famous brother, William Herschel, was given a job as King George III’s personal astronomer. She followed as his assistant. By also receiving wages, she was the first woman to be recognized for scientific work.
After her brother’s death, Caroline Herschel mapped out the exact placement of their discoveries. The Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Irish Academy made her the first female honorary member. Years later, she received the King of Prussia’s Gold Medal of Science.
Andree de Jongh was the head of a resistance group called the Comet Line. Her organization helped abandoned Allied soldiers escape Nazi-occupied countries and return to the safety of Allied lines. She also led many of these crusades from safe houses in Belgium through occupied France and finally to a neutral Spain.
De Jongh is estimated to have helped over 100 airmen to escape. She was eventually caught, and her father was executed. The disbelief that a person of her gender could lead this group kept her from torture and death. She was sent to prison, a women’s concentration camp, and a criminal labor camp.
Bertha von Suttner was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She wrote Lay Down Your Arms (1889), one of the most influential books of the 1800s.
Von Suttner was a close friend of Alfred Nobel. They spoke for years on the subject of peace. She also became one of the leaders of the international peace movement and, in 1891, established the Austrian Peace Society. Von Suttner stood out as a radical and forceful leader among the group. She was referred to as the “generalissimo of the peace movement.”
When Truus Oversteegen was 16 and her sister, Freddie, was just 14, a resistance fighter asked their mother if the girls could join the Dutch resistance against the Nazis. Their mother allowed it.
The girls would flirt with Nazi officers and collaborators. Then, these young women would lead the men to the woods under the pretense of intimacy. Unknown to the men, another resistance fighter was lying in wait. The officer would be shot and the murder covered up while the sisters acted as lookouts.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was a nurse and surgeon during the Civil War as well as a women’s rights activist. When the Civil War started, she joined the Union effort as a nurse in DC and briefly as a surgeon in Ohio. For her work during the war, she was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
When her eligibility for the medal was called into question and her name taken off the list of awardees, she refused to give back the medal. The award was restored to her posthumously in 1977.
In the world of women’s rights, Walker chose to fight for female rights to a public professional role. She wore a Bloomer costume in protest of the unrealistic clothes required of working women. She also started to wear men’s clothes, which caused her to be arrested for impersonation several times.
However, Walker never let critics get her down. She held her head high for her accomplishments in her work.
With a confirmed 309 kills, Lyudmila Pavlichenko still holds the record as the deadliest female sniper in the world. As a young woman, she competed with the neighborhood boys in marksmanship and later attended snipers’ school to perfect her shooting skills. Even so, she studied to be a teacher and scholar at Kiev University.
Her goals changed in 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. Eager to fight for her country, she managed to prove herself and secure a place in the Red Army’s 25th Chapayev Rifle Division. Her first battle had her paralyzed with fear until a young soldier was shot right next to her. That propelled her to make the first of her many kills.
One hundred of her kills were German officers. She would spend days in sniper battles and was so well-known by the enemy that they would call for her by name on radio loudspeakers to try to bribe her.
After being promoted, she was pulled from combat and toured the world. Pavlichenko became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and received gifts wherever she went. On her tours, Pavlichenko would push aside sexist questions and instead promote support for the second (Western) front. She retired with the rank of major and was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
She was forgotten because her image was scrubbed from history by her own stepson.
Hatshepsut was the first women to attain the full powers of pharaoh. She began as a queen, the wife of her half-brother. When he died young, she assumed the role as regent until her infant stepson was of ruling age. She soon took full power, declaring herself a pharaoh.
She defended this move by reinventing how she was seen. Statues and paintings were commissioned that depicted her like a male pharaoh with a beard and muscles. Her achievements included construction of a temple at Deir el-Bahri, which is seen by many as the most beautiful temple in Egypt.
After she died and her stepson became ruler, he wiped her from history. Her images on temples and monuments were destroyed. The ancients believed that you would live eternally on the other side if you were remembered in life. But if you were forgotten, you ceased to be.
Accordingly, when the appropriate hieroglyphics were decoded in 1822, the revelations about Hatshepsut brought her back to her eternal life.
Zheng Shi (aka Ching Shih) achieved something that few ever managed to do—she won over the long term as a pirate. She started as a prostitute captured by pirates, and she was claimed by the pirate fleet’s admiral as his wife. Zheng Shi agreed on the terms that she was granted copartnership of command and half the admiral’s share of the loot.
When her husband, Zheng Yi, died, she quickly took control of the fleet. She was a ruthless pirate lord. She instituted a strict set of rules. Most punishments for breaking the rules involved execution. Loot was to be recorded and properly distributed, female prisoners were to be treated with civility, and deserters would have their ears cut off.
With an iron grip on her fleet, Zheng Shi created an empire that was unrivaled in its power and success. When met by a government armada, she sank 63 of their ships and sent the rest home in retreat.
Her might humiliated the three naval world powers of Britain, China, and Portugal. In a desperate attempt to end the pirate lord’s reign, the emperor offered amnesty for Zheng Shi and her fleet. She agreed and got to keep her loot. Zheng Shi retired, opened a gambling house, and died peacefully at 69 years old.
Nina Teicholz — The Big Fat Surprise About Diet and Nutrition
In this fascinating conversation with Michael Shermer, the investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reviews the scientific literature on diet and nutrition, the link (or lack thereof) between dietary cholesterol and heart disease, the history of the government’s recommendation of what constitutes a healthy diet and why they got it so wrong, statins and heart disease, exercise and nutrition, an update on what has happened since her book, The Big Fat Surprise, was published in 2014, and most importantly what you should eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner tomorrow (hint: it’s okay to have meat, butter and cheese without feeling guilty).
Nina Teicholz is an investigative science journalist and author. Her international bestseller, The Big Fat Surprisehas upended the conventional wisdom on dietary fat—especially saturated fat. The executive editor of The Lancetwrote, “this is a disquieting book about…ruthless silencing of dissent that has shaped our lives for decades…researchers, clinicians, and health policy advisors should read this provocative book.” The Big Fat Surprise was named a 2014 Best Book by The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Mother Jones, and Library Journal. Teicholz is also the Executive Director of The Nutrition Coalition, a non-profit group that promotes evidence-based nutrition policy. She is a graduate of Stanford and Oxford Universities and previously served as associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Teicholz now lives in New York city with her husband and two sons.
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Does belief in God make sense of the world? Or does reality itself point to God’s absence? Is God real or is he a product of human minds? On Friday, August 24, watch Michael Shermer and Frank Turek debate “What better explains reality: Atheism or Theism?
MICHAEL SHERMER’S “SKEPTIC” COLUMN IN SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
23 and We: Limitations of Personal Genome Service Testing
Like a lot of baby boomers, I find myself gravitating to newspaper obits, cross-checking ages and causes of death with my current health parameters, most notably heart disease (which felled my father and grandfather) and cancer (which slew my mother). And then there is Alzheimer’s disease, which a 2015 report by the Alzheimer’s Association projects will destroy the brains of more than 28 million baby boomers. Given the importance of family history and genetics for longevity, I plunked down $199 for a 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service kit, spit into the little plastic vial, opted in for every test available for disease gene variants and anxiously awaited my reports. How’d they do?
First, the company captured my ancestry well at 99.7 percent European, primarily French/German (29.9 percent), British/Irish (21.6 percent), Balkan/Greece (16.4 percent) and Scandinavian/ Sweden (5.5 percent). My maternal grandmother is German and grandfather Greek; my fraternal great-grandparents were from Sweden and Denmark. […]
Mr. Jack Ma, who founded e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and helped to launch China’s online retailing boom, announced that he will step down as the company’s chairman next September. In a letter released by Alibaba, Mr. Ma said he will be succeeded by CEO Mr. Daniel Zhang. Mr. Ma handed over the CEO’s post to Mr. Zhang in 2013 as part of what he said was a succession process developed over a decade. Mr. Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 in an apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou to connect Chinese suppliers with foreign retailers. It expanded into consumer retailing, online finance and other services, becoming the world’s biggest e-commerce company by total value of goods sold across all its platforms. Mr. Ma became one of the world’s richest entrepreneurs and one of China’s best-known business figures. Alibaba said Mr. Ma, will remain a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group that has the right to nominate a majority of the company’s board of directors. “This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development,” Mr. Ma said in his letter.
The Naukri JobSpeak Index for August 2018, at (2,161), marked a 17% rise in hiring activity from August 2017 (1,851). The Insurance & Construction/Engineering industries recorded notable rise in the hiring activity, growing by 68% and 22% respectively. The Oil & Gas industry which is undergoing revival, witnessed an increase of 36% in recruitment in August 2018. Hiring was positive across the metropolitan cities, increasing by 22% in Mumbai and 18% in Chennai. Commenting on the report, Mr. V. Suresh, Chief Sales Officer, Naukri.com said, “The Job speak Index has been consistently surging ahead over the past few months. The index for August has shown a very healthy 17% YOY growth. Apart from Non-IT sectors viz. Auto, Auto Ancillary, Real estate, Construction & BFSI, good news is the slow and steady revival of the IT & ITES sectors. The job market is likely to move further north in the months to come.” The Naukri JobSpeak Index for August 2018, at (2,161), marked a 17% rise in hiring activity from August 2017 (1,851). The Insurance & Construction/Engineering industries recorded notable rise in the hiring activity, growing by 68% and 22% respectively. The Oil & Gas industry which is undergoing revival, witnessed an increase of 36% in recruitment in August 2018. Hiring was positive across the metropolitan cities, increasing by 22% in Mumbai and 18% in Chennai. Commenting on the report, Mr. V. Suresh, Chief Sales Officer, Naukri.com said, “The Job speak Index has been consistently surging ahead over the past few months. The index for August has shown a very healthy 17% YOY growth. Apart from Non-IT sectors viz. Auto, Auto Ancillary, Real estate, Construction & BFSI, good news is the slow and steady revival of the IT & ITES sectors. The job market is likely to move further north in the months to come.”
Snap Inc., the parent of Snapchat messaging, said that its chief strategy officer Mr. Imran Khan will step down, the latest top-level executive to exit the company. Mr. Khan, 41, whose last day has not been determined, became the chief strategy officer in 2015. He was one of the highest paid Snap executives and was instrumental in taking the company public in March last year. At the time of joining, Mr. Khan received stock worth about $145 million, according to media reports. Mr. Khan said the departure is not related to any disagreements with Snap, the company said. The company’s finance head Mr. Andrew Vollero left in May and its vice president of monetization engineering, Mr. Stuart Bowers, quit to join Tesla Inc. Snap said Mr. Khan would continue to serve as chief strategy office for an interim period.
Mr. Taranjeet Singh, who was elevated as Twitter’s Country Director for India in May 2017, has decided to move on. In a series of tweets, Mr. Singh announced his resignation, saying that Mr. Balaji Krish, Twitter’s Global Head of Revenue Strategy and Operations, will become the interim country head. He was earlier leading the charge for sales and marketing support for Twitter’s advertisers in India. Before joining Twitter, Mr. Singh was sales director, South Asia for BBC Advertising. Prior to the BBC, he held various positions at Outlook Publishing. “I’ll spend the next month transitioning my country duties to colleague and friend @BalajiKrish, our global head of revenue strategy and operations. “He’s coming from the US to be interim country lead until my replacement is hired,” Mr. Singh informed. During his career, he saw the launch of “Twitter Lite”, a more accessible, faster and affordable way to get real-time information.
WhatsApp India is in the middle of finalising the senior leadership for its payments arm, even as it is stuck in regulatory issues. As per sources, former Paytm Vice-President Mr. Amit Lakhotia will be the head of WhatsApp’s payments entity. In consideration for the post was Mr. Sriraman Jagannathan, former India Head of Amazon’s financial services. He will reportedly be involved in another capacity. Senior executives of WhatsApp have been visiting India to conduct interviews with prospective candidates for these posts. WhatsApp Business Head Mr. Neeraj Arora was in India recently to finalize hires. At present, WhatsApp has one corporate entity in India, registered in Hyderabad, called WhatsApp Application Services, with Mr. Rakesh Rewari and Ms. Anne Hoge Milken as directors.
France-based technology services company Capgemini said it has made several top-level appointments, including Asia Pacific unit head and business services top boss. Ms. Aruna Jayanthi, earlier head of Capgemini’s business services unit, will now be the Managing Director of Asia Pacific and Latin America businesses. Ms. Jayanthi reports to Mr. Aiman Ezzat, the group’s Chief Operating Officer, and will remain a member of the group executive committee, the company said in a statement. She joined Capgemini in early 2000. Ms. Jayanthi has previously been the head of Capgemini in India, where she managed operations of all business units covering consulting, technology and outsourcing services in the country. During her tenure, between 2011 and 2015, there was a significant increase in Indian integration, performance and capabilities, with headcount rising from 32,000 to 85,000. Prior to this, she was the Global Delivery Officer for Outsourcing Services at Capgemini. Ms. Jayanthi will be replaced by Mr. Anis Chenchah, who has now been appointed CEO, Business Services Global Business Line, and would report to Mr. Thierry Delaporte, Group Chief Operating Officer. He will join the group executive committee.
Ms. Anshula Kant was appointed as the Managing Director of State Bank of India (SBI), an official order said. She is at present the Deputy MD in the bank. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment of Ms. Kant as the Managing Director (MD), SBI till the date of her superannuation i.e. September 30, 2020, the order issued by the Personnel Ministry said. Her name was recommended by the Bank Boards Bureau for the post.
HCL Technologies has named Mr. Prateek Aggarwal as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with effect from October 1, 2018. Mr. Aggarwal will replace Mr. Anil Chanana, who will step down from his position on October 1 and would retire from the company on December 31, HCL Tech said in a statement. “The company constituted a committee of the board to review internal and external candidates and selected Mr. Aggarwal as a successor to Mr. Chanana,” the statement said. A graduate in commerce from SRCC, Delhi, Mr. Aggarwal holds an MBA degree from IIM, Calcutta. This is his second stint at HCL Tech, the statement said.
It has been nearly a week since Vodafone India and Aditya Birla Group’s Idea Cellular joined hands to create India’s largest telecom company. And now that the dust has settled, the combined entity, Vodafone Idea, which boasts of 408 million subscribers, is finally moving towards its targeted $10 billion synergy benefits from the merger. And the first step towards realizing the targeted benefits is limiting the head count. Vodafone Idea is likely to limit the headcount to 15,000 levels. Both the companies will shed up to 2,500 people from their total staff of 1,750,018,000 people. “There will be some rationalisation, which is natural and the company will look at reducing about 2,000-2,500 employees in the next few months,” said a senior executive. While the newly emerged company will be looking to cut jobs, the employees will be given severance packages and possibility of transfers within the Aditya Birla Group will also be explored. Besides reducing the headcount, the week-old telecom giant is also likely to hold back on increments and promotions for a while in a bid to tread ahead of the competition and maintain a leading position in the Indian telecom sector.
Jet Airways (India) Ltd will delay paying salaries for an additional two months of September and October as the loss-making airline battles its financial woes. Jet Airways has already delayed salary payments for July and August. It now plans to disburse salary for August in two instalments in September, according to an internal note sent to employees by Mr. Rahul Taneja, the airline’s chief people officer. Those affected are employees holding ranks of general managers and above, cockpit crew and aircraft maintenance engineers, Mr. Taneja said in the note. He said salaries for August would be disbursed in two instalments—half by 11 September and balance by 26 September. “For the months of September and October 2018, the same disbursement schedule will be followed,” Mr. Taneja said. A spokesperson for Jet Airways said “issues such as the disbursement of salaries are being amicably addressed and we continue to resolve ongoing concerns through constant dialogue with the airline’s management team.” “The management has been receptive of the cost saving initiatives suggested by NAG committee,” the spokesperson said.
Japanese auto major Nissan plans to hire 1,500 people in India to strengthen R&D and global digital hub while also stating that it would go for “voluntary separation” at its Chennai manufacturing unit. The company, which is seeking to revive its presence in India, said it would go for separate dealerships for Nissan and Datsun brands especially in smaller towns in the country. As part of a new strategy, the company is positioning the Nissan at the upper end building on the brand’s global SUV heritage while the Datsun brand will address the mass market segment, Nissan Chairman for Africa, Middle East and India Mr. Peyman Kargar said. Interacting with reporters on the sidelines of annual convention of SIAM, he said Nissan will also bring new products to India starting with the Kicks SUV in 2019. The company already employs around 7,000 people at its R&D centre near Chennai doing development work for vehicles in India and handling engineering activities for its alliance with Renault. “We are going to invest in this area in India further. We will hire 1,000 for R&D this year and another 500 for the newly set up digital hub,” Mr. Kargar said. In the coming years, in India, he said, “We will grow and our workforce will shift towards highly skilled jobs to lead the technological changes coming to the auto industry in India.”
As per the recent report by PwC India and NASSCOM, the current Indian ecommerce market of $35 Bn is expected to grow at 25% in the next five years. The report also states that ecommerce can potentially create 1 million+ jobs by 2023. Ecommerce is expected to not just create regular corporate jobs but also increase employment in allied industries like logistics and warehousing. The report titled ‘Propelling India towards global leadership in e-commerce’ further states that e-tail and e-travel will continue to hold over 90 percent share of e-commerce, while online financial services will witness the fastest growth. The report says three out of four online customers are expected to come from tier II markets and beyond. A vast majority of them will be relatively less tech-savvy, seek greater transparency from brand and prefer consuming content in local languages. Additionally, the report stresses on the need for harmonization in the e-commerce policy framework that enables the growth of the sector. Ms. Debjani Ghosh, President NASSCOM said, “The e-commerce sector has been contributing towards various macroeconomic growth parameters, evangelizing local businesses and customers. In the next five years, the sector has the potential to create a million jobs in allied industries such as logistics, warehousing, etc. In addition, the FDI attracted enhances the country’s positioning significantly on the global stage. Ecommerce companies have to focus on building loyalty which will translate into repeat sales.”
The Google India office is seeing unprecedented action these days as it ups the ante in the country, including making an aggressive play for the next wave of internet users hailing from the tier II cities and beyond. The buzz is that it is bringing back former employees and relocating existing ones to put together a strong leadership team. This is perhaps the first time in the company’s 15-year journey in India that it has made so many key appointments in senior leadership roles. To begin with, Mr. Sajith Sivanandan, former managing director of Google for Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and new emerging markets, has relocated to Bengaluru as the head of payments and access service in India. Similarly, Mr. Pankaj Gupta, the founder-CEO of Halli Labs – a Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence startup that the company acquired in July last year – has been appointed as director of engineering, Next Billion Users, Google India. Then, Mr. Ambarish Kenghe, the co-founder and former product management lead for Google’s Chromecast based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, who moved on to Myntra as chief product officer in 2015, has been wooed back. Mr. Kenghe will now be leading product development for the payment app Google Pay. The internet giant is also casting its net wider to attract talent.
The country’s third largest private sector lender Axis Bank Saturday appointed Mr. Amitabh Chaudhry as Managing Director and CEO from January 1, after incumbent Ms. Shikha Sharma steps down at the end of this year. Mr. Chaudhry, who resigned from the post of MD and CEO of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company, has been appointed as MD and CEO for a period of 3 years, with effect from January 1, 2019 up to December 31, 2021. “The Board of Directors of the bank at its meeting have taken on record the approval granted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the appointment of Mr. Amitabh Chaudhry as the Managing Director and CEO of the Bank, for a period of 3 years, with effect from 1st January 2019 up to 31st December 2021 (both days inclusive),” Axis Bank said in a regulatory filing. Mr. Chaudhry will take over from Ms. Shikha Sharma after she demits office on December 31, 2018. The bank had selected three candidates to succeed Ms. Sharma at its board meeting held in July and had recommended their names for the approval of RBI. “I would like to thank the RBI and the Axis Bank Board for the privilege and honour given to me to lead this great institution. Axis Bank is amongst the leading private sector banks in the country. Together, with the support of the Board and the Axis team, I am confident of continuing the bank’s remarkable journey these past 25 years and to contribute to its future growth,” Mr. Chaudhry said. Chaudhry, 54 years, has been associated with HDFC Life since January 2010. He has been associated with HDFC Life since January 2010.
Hinduja Global Solutions said it is setting up a customer experience centre in Florida, US that will create 500 new job opportunities. “The centre, located in Jacksonville, FL, will bring more than 350 new career opportunities in the first phase of expansion, starting in September, with a total of 500 new job opportunities over time,” HGS said in a statement. This expansion is due to continued growth of the company’s domestic business, driven by a combination of providing additional services to existing clients and recent new business wins, it added. HGS has been aggressively growing its onshore presence across industries, growing its North American employee base by more than 40 per cent in the last 12 months. “We are excited to bring economic growth and job opportunities to the region and look forward to welcoming highly talented customer service people to the HGS team,” Mr. Tim Schuh, HGS President, North America said.
Being pretty isn’t easy. The most beautiful women in history weren’t just born that way. They put hard work into it—and, sometimes, a few crushed bug guts, stewed birds, or dung.
It’s the dirty little secret behind glamour: No matter how fantastic someone looks, it never comes naturally. Behind every great beauty in history, there’s a dirty secret about all the work that went into looking that good.
The most beautiful woman on earth, in the 19th century, was Empress Elisabeth of Austria. She was famous across Europe for her impeccable skin and the thick, chestnut hair that fell all the way down to her feet.
None of which came easy. To keep her skin beautiful, she would crush strawberries over her hands, face, and neck, bathe in warm olive oil, and sleep in what has only been described as a “mask lined inside with raw veal.”
It was the closest she came to eating food. Her favorite dish was pressed extract of chicken, partridge, venison, and beef—which isn’t so much a “food” as something you’d find in a spice cabinet. And even then, she’d wrap herself in a corset so tight that her waist only measured 49.5 centimeters (19.5 in) around.
She spent three hours each day getting her hair down, mainly because it was so long that it would get tied up in knots. And when it was put up in ribbons, her hair would get so heavy that it would give her headaches.
It meant that, more often than not, she was stuck indoors, too afraid to let the wind ruin her hair. But if you want to be beautiful, sometimes you have to give up on little luxuries, like ever leaving your house.
Queen Cleopatra won the hearts of the most powerful men alive. Maybe it was her grace. Maybe it was her charm. Or maybe it was that sweet aroma of dung and insect guts.
Cleopatra, after all, almost certainly followed the usual beauty conventions of her time—and that meant wearing a lipstick made out of mashed-up beetle guts and putting powdered crocodile dung under her eyes.
But Cleopatra didn’t limit herself to a peasant’s beauty regimen. She was a queen, and that meant that she could afford the most luxurious treatment of all: bathing in sour donkey milk. Her servants would milk 700 donkeys each day so that they could fill a tub with their milk. Then, once it had gone bad, Cleopatra would bathe inside.
The theory was that it would reduce wrinkles—and it may actually have worked. Soured lactose turns into lactic acid, which can make the surface layer of skin on a woman’s body peel off, revealing the smoother, blemish-free skin underneath.
That was the real secret to her beauty: burning her flesh off.
The Egyptian queen Nefertiti’s name meant “the beautiful one has come”—and she lived up to it. She was so beautiful that, in the early 20th century, a statue of her face caused an international sensation. More than 3,000 years after she died, her looks were still front-page news.
And no wonder. She put no small amount of work into looking good.
The queens of Nefertiti’s time would be buried with their makeup, and so, while they didn’t write many of their beauty secrets down, we’ve been able to find their methods left behind in their tombs. While her tomb has never been found, the tombs of her contemporaries give us a pretty good idea of how she did it.
Nefertiti was completely hairless. Her entire body was shaved from head to toe with a razor, including the hair on the top of her head. Instead, she topped her head with a wig and painted her eyes black with something called kohl.
Ancient Egyptian kohl, incidentally, was made out of the dark lead ore galena—which means that Nefertiti was slowly killing herself with lead poisoning every time she put on makeup.
But it’s highly unlikely that the lead killed her. There’s simply no way it could have finished her off before her lipstick. Her lipstick, after all, contained bromine mannite, another toxic substance that it’s generally believed would have poisoned her long before the lead she dabbed around her eyes.
Poisoning yourself with lead is no passing fad. It’s been a great look for thousands of years. While Nefertiti may have dabbed a little lead around her eyes, it was nothing compared to Queen Elizabeth I.
During the Elizabethan era, the most popular skin product was something called “Venetian ceruse”—which, quite simply, was a mixture of lead and vinegar that women would put all over their skin to make them look porcelain white.
Nobody used more of it than Queen Elizabeth herself. When she was 29, Elizabeth contracted smallpox and was left with scars all over her skin. She was too humiliated to show her scars in public—and so, instead, she covered every inch of her flesh with the toxic white paint.
Queen Elizabeth used so much of it that she was completely unrecognizable without it. When one man, the Earl of Essex, accidentally peeked a sight of her without her makeup on, he went around joking that she’d hidden a “crooked carcass” underneath that thick veneer of Venetian ceruse.
The French queen Marie Antoinette didn’t exactly let herself eat cake. She had a reputation as a world-class beauty, and she was determined to keep it up.
Like Empress Elisabeth, she would go to bed with a face mask, but Antoinette’s—made of cognac, eggs, powdered milk, and lemon—sounds a little bit less like a beauty treatment and a little bit more like the catering menu at a birthday party.
She’d start the morning by washing her face with a facial cleanser made out of pigeons. In those days, that was a selling point: the product came proudly labeled with the mean “Eau Cosmetique de Pigeon” and a little ad promising every bottle had been made with “eight pigeons stewed.”
Then she would get dressed—for the first of three times each day. As queen of France, Marie Antoinette was expected to never wear the same thing twice. And so, each year, she would 120,000 livres on clothes, the equivalent to about $4 million today.
She may even have indulged in the popular French fashion of tracing her veins with a blue pencil. At the time, the women of France wanted to be so thin that they were translucent—so they’d draw the inner workings of their bodies, trying to convince the men that they had transparent skin.
Mary, Queen of Scots, wasn’t a natural beauty. She was born with a nose a little large and a chin a little too sharp—but she was a queen, and she was determined to be beautiful.
To keep her skin as striking as possible, she had her servants fill a bathtub with a white wine. She would wade in it, convinced that the wine was improving her complexion.
It sounds decadent, but it’s actually something people still do today. Today, it’s called vinotherapy, and there are places all around the world where you can experience the Mary, Queen of Scots, treatment for yourself.
It’s hard to say exactly what the queen used, but the modern vinotherapists don’t actually pour drinkable, alcoholic wine. Instead, they use the leftover compost from the winemaking process; the “pips and pulps” of grapes that get left behind. So, no—you can’t get drunk off of it.
4Empress Zoe Porphyrogenita: Starting Your Own Cosmetics Lab
Empress Zoe Porphyrogenita was one of the most beautiful women in the Byzantine Empire. She didn’t just look good when she was young, though. Even when she was well into her sixties, it’s said, she still looked like a 20-year-old.
She certainly worked hard enough for it. After becoming the empress, Zoe Porphyrogenita had an entire laboratory dedicated to making her cosmeticsbuilt inside of the imperial palace. It was a real cosmetic factory, every bit as huge and expensive as the ones that supply whole countries. At this one, though, Zoe was the only customer.
It was expensive—but for the empress, blowing a small fortune was just all in a day’s work. It’s said that she was “the sort of woman who could exhaust a sea teaming with gold-dust in one day.”
But it’s also said that “like a well-baked chicken, every part of her was firm and in good condition.” This is definitive proof that it worked, because, clearly, Zoe looked so good that the men who saw her were so smitten that they couldn’t even form a sentence that didn’t make your skin crawl.
3Lucrezia Borgia: Spending Multiple Days Washing Your Hair
The poet Lord Byron once said that Lucrezia Borgia’s hair was “the prettiest and fairest imaginable.” He wasn’t just trying out a line for a new poem—he was in love, so much so, in fact, that he stole a strand of her hair and kept it by his bed.
It sounds one of those touching love stories that usually end with someone filing a restraining order. Lucrezia, though, probably appreciated it. She deserved a little recognition for the amount of work she put into that hair—because she would spend days washing it.
Lucrezia’s hair was bright and blonde, but that wasn’t nature. Everyone else in her family had dark hair. Lucrezia, though, made sure hers shined like the Sun by rinsing it in lye and lemon juice for hours, then drying it out in the sunlight for the better part of a day.
It took so much time that she repeatedly canceled trips to wash her hair. Multiple letters from Lucrezia’s attendants have survived to to this day. In them, she politely apologizes to people and explains that she will be a few days late because she has to “put her clothes in order and wash her head.”
Helen of Troy had the face that launched 1,000 ships. She was a woman so beautiful that thousands of men died for her honor.
Well, either that, or else she was just a figment of an old Greek guy’s imagination. If Homer really did make her up, though, he had a remarkable understanding of women’s cosmetic care. Because packed deep in her legend is a beauty regimen that really works.
Helen of Troy, according to the Iliad, would bathe in vinegar. Every day, her attendants would prepare what, technically speaking, was a bathtub full of acid, and she would just dive right in.
Today, people tend to assume that she used apple cider vinegar or that she diluted it in water, simply because, otherwise, it sounds pretty horrible. After all, that’s something people still do today—bathe in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. And it actually works. The vinegar balances the body’s pH levels, which can have a cleansing effect.
But there’s nothing saying Helen of Troy ever added water. She may just have dived right into a bathtub filled to the brim with white vinegar. It would’ve hurt, and she would’ve smelled—but that’s what it takes to look good enough to start a war.
1Simonetta Vespucci: Arsenic, Leeches, And Human Urine
Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve seen Simonetta Vespucci’s face. She was the muse for some of the greatest painters of the Renaissance. She was even chosen to model for the goddess of love herself at the center of the painting The Birth of Venus.
In the Renaissance, everyone wanted to look like her. And so they copied her beauty regimen—leeches, poisons, and all.
To keep their skin pale, white, and beautiful, the women in Vespucci’s time would attach leeches to their ears. The leeches would drain the blood out of their faces, leaving them deathly pale.
Those who didn’t want to go that far, though, could always use a face mask. Renaissance women would mix bread crumbs and egg whites with vinegar and then apply it liberally on their faces—a beauty secret that, conveniently, doubles as a great recipe for fried chicken.
Eyebrow hair, at the time, had to be plucked, or, ideally, burned straight off. Women would remove their hairs with arsenic and rock alum and then sand it all down with gold.
But that was nothing compared to what they’d do to get that long, flowing, golden mane of hair on her head. For Vespucci, it just came naturally, but the poorer women who wanted to copy her found their own way. They bleached their hair in human urine.
Sure, it sounds gross—but every beautiful woman has to do a few things that just aren’t pretty.
Perspective to lift the blinders of our cultural moment.
BY MARIA POPOVA
It has been a difficult year — politically, personally. Through it all, I have found solace in taking a more telescopic view — not merely on the short human timescale of my own life, looking back on having lived through a Communist dictatorship and having seen poems composed and scientific advances made under such tyrannical circumstances, but on far vaster scales of space and time.
When I was growing up in Bulgaria, a great point of national pride — and we Bulgarians don’t have too many — was that an old Bulgarian folk song had sailed into space aboard the Voyagerspacecraft, the 1977 mission NASA launched with the scientific objective of photographing the planets of the outer solar system, which furnished the very first portrait of our cosmic neighborhood. Human eyes had never before been laid on the arresting aquamarine of Uranus, on Neptune’s stunning deep-blue orb, on the splendid fury of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — a storm more than threefold the size of our entire planet, raging for three hundred years, the very existence of which dwarfs every earthly trouble.
But the Voyager also had another, more romantic mission. Aboard it was the Golden Record — a time-capsule of the human spirit encrypted in binary code on a twelve-inch gold-plated copper disc, containing greetings in the fifty-four most populist human languages and one from the humpback whales, 117 images of life on Earth, and a representative selection of our planet’s sounds, from an erupting volcano to a kiss to Bach — and that Bulgarian folk song.
Bulgaria is an old country — fourteen centuries old, five of which were spent under Ottoman yoke. This song, sung by generations of shepherdesses, encodes in its stunning vocal harmonies both the suffering and the hope with which people lived daily during those five centuries. You need not speak Bulgarian in order to receive its message, its essence, its poetic truth beyond the factual details of history, in the very marrow of your being.
Carl Sagan, who envisioned the Golden Record, had precisely that in mind — he saw the music selection as something that would say about us what no words or figures could ever say, for the stated objective of the Golden Record was to convey our essence as a civilization to some other civilization — one that surmounts the enormous improbabilities of finding this tiny spacecraft adrift amid the cosmic infinitude, of having the necessary technology to decode its message and the necessary consciousness to comprehend it.
But the record’s unstated objective, which I see as the far more important one, was to mirror what is best of humanity back to itself in the middle of the Cold War, at a time when we seemed to have forgotten who we are to each other and what it means to share this fragile, symphonic planet.
When the Voyager completed its exploratory mission and took the last photograph — of Neptune — NASA commanded that the cameras be shut off to conserve energy. But Carl Sagan had the idea of turning the spacecraft around and taking one final photograph — of Earth. Objections were raised — from so great a distance and at so low a resolution, the resulting image would have absolutely no scientific value. But Sagan saw the larger poetic worth — he took the request all the way up to NASA’s administrator and charmed his way into permission.
And so, on Valentine’s Day of 1990, just after Bulgaria’s Communist regime was finally defeated after nearly half a century of reign, the Voyager took the now-iconic image of Earth known as the “Pale Blue Dot” — a grainy pixel, “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” as Sagan so poetically put it when he immortalized the photograph in his beautiful “Pale Blue Dot” monologue fromCosmos — that great masterwork of perspective, a timeless reminder that “everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was… every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician” lived out their lives on this pale blue dot. And every political conflict, every war we’ve ever fought, we have waged over a fraction of this grainy pixel barely perceptible against the cosmic backdrop of endless lonesome space.
In the cosmic blink of our present existence, as we stand on this increasingly fragmented pixel, it is worth keeping the Voyager in mind as we find our capacity for perspective constricted by the stranglehold of our cultural moment. It is worth questioning what proportion of the news this year, what imperceptible fraction, was devoted to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded for the landmark detection of gravitational waves — the single most significant astrophysical discovery since Galileo. After centuries of knowing the universe only by sight, only by looking, we can now listen to it and hear echoes of events that took place billions of lightyears away, billions of years ago — events that made the stardust that made us.
I don’t think it is possible to contribute to the present moment in any meaningful way while being wholly engulfed by it. It is only by stepping out of it, by taking a telescopic perspective, that we can then dip back in and do the work which our time asks of us.
After bringing its worldwide Prime Day sale to India, ecommerce giant Amazon now plans to add benefits to its Prime subscription services which will benefit its offline expansion and encourage frequent use of the programme in the country.
The Telangana government has raised concerns that the implementation of certain clauses, especially the one on data localisation, will isolate Indian startups and hurt investments in the state and the country. Telangana has attracted investments worth $11.5 Bn and is currently the country’s second highest contributor to IT exports.
Payback, a Gurugram-based multi-brand loyalty management company for retail enterprises, is planning to expand its reach to neighbourhood kirana stores with point of sale (PoS) terminals. The company is looking to join hands with local PoS solution providers.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is seeking to rework a proposal prepared by the department of heavy industry on an incentive fund of $759 Mn (INR 5,500 Cr) for EVs as it also wants to use the fund to encourage local manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. Here’s a curated rundown of other important and related developments in the India and global EV Ecosystem this week.
Mumbai-based fintech startup Upwards Fintech has raised $5 Mn in a Series A round of funding led by Chinese venture fund Shunwei Capital. The round also witnessed participation from the startup’s existing seed investors, including Mumbai-based India Quotient and Mayfield.
Coworking spaces are being availed of not only by startups but also by professional freelancers, emerging businesses, and large corporates. But are coworking spaces startups themselves in a position to survive for long? This is what we have attempted to analyse in Inc42’s ongoing What The Financials [WTF] series.
Being an innovative e-governance project developed by the Rajasthan government’s Department of Information Technology and Communication (DoIT&C), Rajasthan Sampark now aims to empower the residents of the state by providing transparent and accountable means of grievance redressal.
This is the Brain Pickings midweek newsletter: Every Wednesday, I plunge into my twelve-year archive and choose something worth resurfacing and resavoring as a timeless pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here – it’s free.) If you missed last week’s archival piece – the great Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on how to love and mastering the art of “interbeing” – you can read it here. And if you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – over these twelve years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours and tremendous resources on Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it going. If you already donate: THANK YOU.
Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Vasily Perov, 1871
The story begins with the narrator wandering the streets of St. Petersburg on “a gloomy night, the gloomiest night you can conceive,” dwelling on how others have ridiculed him all his life and slipping into nihilism with the “terrible anguish” of believing that nothing matters. He peers into the glum sky, gazes at a lone little star, and contemplates suicide; two months earlier, despite his destitution, he had bought an “excellent revolver” with the same intention, but the gun had remained in his drawer since. Suddenly, as he is staring at the star, a little girl of about eight, wearing ragged clothes and clearly in distress, grabs him by the arm and inarticulately begs his help. But the protagonist, disenchanted with life, shoos her away and returns to the squalid room he shares with a drunken old captain, furnished with “a sofa covered in American cloth, a table with some books, two chairs and an easy-chair, old, incredibly old, but still an easy-chair.”
As he sinks into the easy-chair to think about ending his life, he finds himself haunted by the image of the little girl, leading him to question his nihilistic disposition. Dostoyevsky writes:
I knew for certain that I would shoot myself that night, but how long I would sit by the table — that I did not know. I should certainly have shot myself, but for that little girl.
You see: though it was all the same to me, I felt pain, for instance. If any one were to strike me, I should feel pain. Exactly the same in the moral sense: if anything very pitiful happened, I would feel pity, just as I did before everything in life became all the same to me. I had felt pity just before: surely, I would have helped a child without fail. Why did I not help the little girl, then? It was because of an idea that came into my mind then. When she was pulling at me and calling to me, suddenly a question arose before me, which I could not answer. The question was an idle one; but it made me angry. I was angry because of my conclusion, that if I had already made up my mind that I would put an end to myself to-night, then now more than ever before everything in the world should be all the same to me. Why was it that I felt it was not all the same to me, and pitied the little girl? I remember I pitied her very much: so much that I felt a pain that was even strange and incredible in my situation…
It seemed clear that if I was a man and not a cipher yet, and until I was changed into a cipher, then I was alive and therefore could suffer, be angry and feel shame for my actions. Very well. But if I were to kill myself, for instance, in two hours from now, what is the girl to me, and what have I to do with shame or with anything on earth? I am going to be a cipher, an absolute zero. Could my consciousness that I would soon absolutely cease to exist, and that therefore nothing would exist, have not the least influence on my feeling of pity for the girl or on my sense of shame for the vileness I had committed?
From the moral, he veers into the existential:
It became clear to me that life and the world, as it were, depended upon me. I might even say that the world had existed for me alone. I should shoot myself, and then there would be no world at all, for me at least. Not to mention that perhaps there will really be nothing for any one after me, and the whole world, as soon as my consciousness is extinguished, will also be extinguished like a phantom, as part of my consciousness only, and be utterly abolished, since perhaps all this world and all these men are myself alone.
Beholding “these new, thronging questions,” he plunges into a contemplation of what free will really means. In a passage that calls to mind John Cage’s famous aphorism on the meaning of life — “No why. Just here.” — and George Lucas’s assertion that “life is beyond reason,” Dostoyevsky suggests through his protagonist that what gives meaning to life is life itself:
One strange consideration suddenly presented itself to me. If I had previously lived on the moon or in Mars, and I had there been dishonored and disgraced so utterly that one can only imagine it sometimes in a dream or a nightmare, and if I afterwards found myself on earth and still preserved a consciousness of what I had done on the other planet, and if I knew besides that I would never by any chance return, then, if I were to look at the moon from the earth — would it be all the same to me or not? Would I feel any shame for my action or not? The questions were idle and useless, for the revolver was already lying before me, and I knew with all my being that this thing would happen for certain: but the questions excited me to rage. I could not die now, without having solved this first. In a word, that little girl saved me, for my questions made me postpone pulling the trigger.
Just as he ponders this, the protagonist slips into sleep in the easy-chair, but it’s a sleep that has the quality of wakeful dreaming. In one of many wonderful semi-asides, Dostoyevsky peers at the eternal question of why we have dreams:
Dreams are extraordinarily strange. One thing appears with terrifying clarity, with the details finely set like jewels, while you leap over another, as though you did not notice it at all — space and time, for instance. It seems that dreams are the work not of mind but of desire, not of the head but of the heart… In a dream things quite incomprehensible come to pass. For instance, my brother died five years ago. Sometimes I see him in a dream: he takes part in my affairs, and we are very excited, while I, all the time my dream goes on, know and remember perfectly that my brother is dead and buried. Why am I not surprised that he, though dead, is still near me and busied about me? Why does my mind allow all that?
In this strange state, the protagonist dreams that he takes his revolver and points it at his heart — not his head, where he had originally intended to shoot himself. After waiting a second or two, his dream-self pulls the trigger quickly. Then something remarkable happens:
I felt no pain, but it seemed to me that with the report, everything in me was convulsed, and everything suddenly extinguished. It was terribly black all about me. I became as though blind and numb, and I lay on my back on something hard. I could see nothing, neither could I make any sound. People were walking and making a noise about me: the captain’s bass voice, the landlady’s screams… Suddenly there was a break. I am being carried in a closed coffin. I feel the coffin swinging and I think about that, and suddenly for the first time the idea strikes me that I am dead, quite dead. I know it and do not doubt it; I cannot see nor move, yet at the same time I feel and think. But I am soon reconciled to that, and as usual in a dream I accept the reality without a question.
Now I am being buried in the earth. Every one leaves me and I am alone, quite alone. I do not stir… I lay there and — strange to say — I expected nothing, accepting without question that a dead man has nothing to expect. But it was damp. I do not know how long passed — an hour, a few days, or many days. Suddenly, on my left eye which was closed, a drop of water fell, which had leaked through the top of the grave. In a minute fell another, then a third, and so on, every minute. Suddenly, deep indignation kindled in my heart and suddenly in my heart I felt physical pain. ‘It’s my wound,’ I thought. ‘It’s where I shot myself. The bullet is there.’ And all the while the water dripped straight on to my closed eye. Suddenly, I cried out, not with a voice, for I was motionless, but with all my being, to the arbiter of all that was being done to me.
“Whosoever thou art, if thou art, and if there exists a purpose more intelligent than the things which are now taking place, let it be present here also. But if thou dost take vengeance upon me for my foolish suicide, then know, by the indecency and absurdity of further existence, that no torture whatever that may befall me, can ever be compared to the contempt which I will silently feel, even through millions of years of martyrdom.”
I cried out and was silent. Deep silence lasted a whole minute. One more drop even fell. But I knew and believed, infinitely and steadfastly, that in a moment everything would infallibly change. Suddenly, my grave opened. I do not know whether it had been uncovered and opened, but I was taken by some dark being unknown to me, and we found ourselves in space. Suddenly, I saw. It was deep night; never, never had such darkness been! We were borne through space and were already far from the earth. I asked nothing of him who led me. I was proud and waited. I assured myself that I was not afraid, and my heart melted with rapture at the thought that I was not afraid. I do not remember how long we rushed through space, and I cannot imagine it. It happened as always in a dream when you leap over space and time and the laws of life and mind, and you stop only there where your heart delights.
Through the thick darkness, he sees a star — the same little star he had seen before shooing the girl away. As the dream continues, the protagonist describes a sort of transcendence akin to what is experienced during psychedelic drug trips or in deep meditation states:
Suddenly a familiar yet most overwhelming emotion shook me through. I saw our sun. I knew that it could not be our sun, which had begotten our earth, and that we were an infinite distance away, but somehow all through me I recognized that it was exactly the same sun as ours, its copy and double. A sweet and moving delight echoed rapturously through my soul. The dear power of light, of that same light which had given me birth, touched my heart and revived it, and I felt life, the old life, for the first time since my death.
He finds himself in another world, Earthlike in every respect, except “everything seemed to be bright with holiday, with a great and sacred triumph, finally achieved” — a world populated by “children of the sun,” happy people whose eyes “shone with a bright radiance” and whose faces “gleamed with wisdom, and with a certain consciousness, consummated in tranquility.” The protagonist exclaims:
Oh, instantly, at the first glimpse of their faces I understood everything, everything!
Conceding that “it was only a dream,” he nonetheless asserts that “the sensation of the love of those beautiful and innocent people” was very much real and something he carried into wakeful life on Earth. Awaking in his easy-chair at dawn, he exclaims anew with rekindled gratitude for life:
Oh, now — life, life! I lifted my hands and called upon the eternal truth, not called, but wept. Rapture, ineffable rapture exalted all my being. Yes, to live…
Dostoyevsky concludes with his protagonist’s reflection on the shared essence of life, our common conquest of happiness and kindness:
All are tending to one and the same goal, at least all aspire to the same goal, from the wise man to the lowest murderer, but only by different ways. It is an old truth, but there is this new in it: I cannot go far astray. I saw the truth. I saw and know that men could be beautiful and happy, without losing the capacity to live upon the earth. I will not, I cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of men… I saw the truth, I did not invent it with my mind. I saw, saw, and her living image filled my soul for ever. I saw her in such consummate perfection that I cannot possibly believe that she was not among men. How can I then go astray? … The living image of what I saw will be with me always, and will correct and guide me always. Oh, I am strong and fresh, I can go on, go on, even for a thousand years.
And it is so simple… The one thing is — love thy neighbor as thyself — that is the one thing. That is all, nothing else is needed. You will instantly find how to live.
Ring in the future: Lazy Co wants you to control your world with its smart wearable
How do you ring in the future? Lazy Co wants you to control your world with its smart wearables. Aina, a premium AI-powered smart-ring, is many things – a smartphone, a fitness tracker, a smart home remote, and a timepiece. It offers an easier, faster way of doing certain tasks, including making calls and talking to friends. And to boot, it’s stylish too!
A sector-agnostic focus helps Mumbai-based Grab ensure last-mile delivery
With online delivery steadily gaining importance in our daily lives, the delivery boys working in these companies play an important role. A sector-agnostic focus helps Mumbai-based Grab ensure last-mile delivery. Founded by Prathish Singhvi, Nishant Vora, and Jignesh Patel, the startup offers same-day and on-demand delivery services.
This Delhi-based student housing startup promises to give you Your Space
Launched in 2016, this Delhi-based student housing startup promises to give you Your Space. Founded by Karan Kaushik, Shubha Lal, and Nidhi Kumra, Your Space hosts 1,200 beds in 11 hostels, with an average occupancy rate of 80-85 percent. The company, which targets undergraduate and post-graduate students, has a 30-member team.
Policy paper and a proposed regulatory framework for blockchain and cryptocurrency in India
Can the “blockchain good, crypto bad” ideology work? To find out, download the report “Realising India’s Blockchain Potential” that puts light on issues related to Blockchain and creates a dialogue between regulators and the blockchain community in India.
High energy costs? Try a Minion, which uses AI to track and cut down your electricity bills
High energy costs? Try a Minion that uses AI to track and cut down your electricity bills. Bengaluru-based MinionLabs has designed a smart energy device that uses Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning techniques and leverages AI to disaggregate, track, and analyse a building’s electricity consumption.
NASSCOM Design4India Design Summit 2018 will take place on 26th September 2018 at JW Marriott, Bengaluru. The 3rd edition aims to bring together industry experts from the design and tech community to network and discuss how emerging technologies, when aligned with design can create better user experiences.
Same taste, same flavour – that’s Haazri’s promise for your daily chai
Karan Shinghal, Arjun Midha, and Dhruv Agarwal have come up with a unique recipe, and process, so that your tea tastes the same, every time. That’s Haazri’s promise for your daily chai! Started in April 2016, Haazri’s tea is priced at Rs 20 a cup, and the team uses a standardised recipe across its five outlets, using tea leaves sourced from Dibrugarh.
Mumbai-based Agrahyah Technologies is riding the voice and vernacular wave on the internet
Founded in October 2016 by Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Uppal Shah, and Rushabh Vasa, Mumbai-based Agrahyah Technologies is riding the voice and vernacular wave on the internet. The software firm and content producer rolled into one is building a suite of apps, websites, content platforms, and voice-based products for India’s vernacular population.
“To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,”wrote the thirty-year-old Nietzsche. “The true and durable path into and through experience,” Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney counseled the young more than a century later in his magnificent commencement address, “involves being true … to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge.”
Every generation believes that it must battle unprecedented pressures of conformity; that it must fight harder than any previous generation to protect that secret knowledge from which our integrity of selfhood springs. Some of this belief stems from the habitual conceit of a culture blinded by its own presentism bias, ignorant of the past’s contextual analogues. But much of it in the century and a half since Nietzsche, and especially in the years since Heaney, is an accurate reflection of the conditions we have created and continually reinforce in our present informational ecosystem — a Pavlovian system of constant feedback, in which the easiest and commonest opinions are most readily rewarded, and dissenting voices are most readily punished by the unthinking mob.
Few people in the two centuries since Emerson issued his exhortation to “trust thyself” have countered this culturally condoned blunting of individuality more courageously and consistently than E.E. Cummings (October 14, 1894–September 3, 1962) — an artist who never cowered from being his unconventional self because, in the words of his most incisive and competent biographer, he “despised fear, and his life was lived in defiance of all who ruled by it.”
A fortnight after the poet’s fifty-ninth birthday, a small Michigan newspaper published a short, enormous piece by Cummings under the title “A Poet’s Advice to Students,” radiating expansive wisdom on art, life, and the courage of being yourself. It went on to inspire Buckminster Fuller and was later included in E.E. Cummings: A Miscellany Revised (public library) — that wonderful out-of-print collection which the poet himself described as “a cluster of epigrams, forty-nine essays on various subjects, a poem dispraising dogmata, and several selections from unfinished plays,” and which gave us Cummings on what it really means to be an artist.
A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.
This may sound easy. It isn’t.
A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
Cummings should know — just four years earlier, he had fought that hardest battle himself: When he was awarded the prestigious Academy of American Poets annual fellowship — the MacArthur of poetry — Cummings had to withstand harsh criticism from traditionalists who besieged him with hate for the bravery of breaking with tradition and being nobody-but-himself in his art. With an eye to that unassailable creative integrity buoyed by relentless work ethic, he adds:
As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.
If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.
And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.
Virus. The word is usually met with fear and understandably so. These microscopic collections of biological chemicals have been responsible for countless cases of death and sickness. The very mention of a deadly viral pandemic can send entire neighborhoods, cities, or even geographic zones into a state of sheer, frenzied panic.
Viruses are invisible to the naked eye, and they exist almost everywhere on Earth. They can infect fungi, plants, animals, and yes, humans. Some people have even speculated that viruses could pose a grave threat to the future of humanity.
However, not all viruses are bad. In fact, as we learn more about them, we are discovering that some viruses are actually quite beneficial. They have helped us in ways that we didn’t realize at first, and others pose interesting but positive possibilities for our future.
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. They are found almost everywhere—in soil, in water, and even in the human body (mostly in our gut and mucus).
They were originally discovered in 1915 by Frederick Twort and have since become relatively famous in the field of microbiology as a therapeutic tool to help control bacterial infections.
While “phage therapy” is still under development, it is possible that it could be used in a number of different applications. It has already been used to treat some different types of ailments, and it shows great promise for the treatment of conditions ranging from cystic fibrosis to cancer. Some say that in our age of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, phage therapy also offers a viable replacement for traditional antibiotics.
9There Is A Virus That Gives Plants Extreme Heat Resistance
Tropical panic grass has always had the ability to grow in soil with an unusually high temperature. Researchers have since discovered that the cause behind this unique ability seems to be a virus. A fungal endophyte grows on this grass, and a virus that infects this fungus seems to be the source of this heat-resistant power.
Even more interesting, scientists attached the virus to other plants, giving them the same ability. The researchers even managed to grow tomatoes in soil as hot as 60 degrees Celsius (140 °F) without killing them.
But what happens if you remove the virus? They discovered that plants “cured” of the virus lost the ability to grow in extreme heat. Maybe that’s how the Human Torch does it.
8Vesicular Stomatitis Virus
Vesticular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a contagious disease that is best known for afflicting horses, although it can also infect other animals and even humans. It is not usually fatal or even particularly dangerous for humans, though it can cause flu-like symptoms. Some people even develop blisters in their mouths as a result of the virus, which is usually transmitted to humans through horses.
But this virus has also made headlines for its use in oncolytic virus (OV) therapy. Yes, VSV has shown promise as an emerging anticancer treatment. Apparently, one of the reasons that this virus is such a good fit for OV therapy is because it is “not pathogenic to humans.”
Who would have thought that a virus that caused mouth ulcers in horses would be the source of a groundbreaking new cancer treatment?
Adenoviruses are a group of fairly common viruses. They are extremely contagious, usually cause only mild symptoms, and generally go away within a few days.
Some of them are actually quite well known. Bronchitis, pneumonia, many stomach infections, colds, croup, and even meningitis can all be found within the adenovirus family.
But researchers have also learned that one particular strain of the virus, type 52 (HAdV-52), binds to a very specific type of carbohydrate found in cancer cells. This creates some interesting possibilities for virus-based cancer therapy.
There is obviously more studying to be done. But in the future, scientists might be able to arm viruses with genes to help fight cancer. They may also be able to use viruses to activate the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer itself.
Virologists have become especially interested in noroviruses. These particular micro life-forms are well known for their ability to cause epidemics of diarrhea on cruise ships. They are also infamous for their ability to ravage laboratory mice colonies with disease.
But as it turns out, some strains of the virus have proven useful—especially for their role in helping to “normalize” mice that have grown in sterile environments. These mice don’t make enough T cells, which hurts their gut bacteria and immune response.
To fix the problem, researchers have shown that giving bacteria to the mice can help to rebalance their immune cells, but adding a norovirus to the mix can actually solve the same problem. Researchers also found that some strains of the norovirus helped to lessen the effects of pathogens that usually cause weight loss, diarrhea, and other related symptoms in mice.
This makes for an exciting discovery as researchers unveil new ways to use viruses for good. Giving strains of the norovirus to humans to treat other diseases would be seen as highly controversial, but a lot of evidence says that it could actually help.
Ancient retroviruses may be the reason we don’t lay eggs.
Scientists have yet to unravel the entire part that ancient retroviruses have played in human development. But some of them, technically referred to as “endogenous retroviruses,” are believed to have helped in the evolution of the placenta in mammals.
To put it in super simple terms, some scientists believe that a primitive human ancestor contracted an endogenous retrovirus that caused mutations in the genetic code. This eventually led to mammals being capable of live birth.
The formation of the placenta was a huge step in the evolutionary process because it allowed mammals to give birth to live young. But when you take a really close look at the relationship between a mother and a fetus, it is not surprising that it shares many of the same characteristics that you would expect to see in the relationship between a host and a parasite.
The work is ongoing. But don’t be surprised if we discover someday that the reason human females give birth to live babies instead of laying eggs is thanks to an ancient virus that altered our DNA.
This one is fairly technical, but it is no less amazing.
The Gammaherpesvirinae is technically a subfamily of herpesviruses that includes a number of different viruses. There are actually many different types of herpes viruses, with the best-known examples probably being herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2, which cause cold sores and genital herpes.
As it turns out, latent infection with one type of gammaherpesvirus (type MHV-68) has been shown to increase resistance to infection with Listeria monocytogenes—the bacteria best known for food poisoning.
Who would have thought that herpes would help to fight food poisoning?
This story actually begins with a dangerous virus called smallpox. Nobody is sure where it came from. But it is believed that even as early as the third century BC, it was afflicting the Egyptian empire. Records of it have been discovered in China from the fourth century, and it has basically shown up everywhere since.
It was a devastating disease that killed about 30 percent of infected people. Even those who survived were often left with terrible scars as a result of the ordeal.
But in 1796, an English doctor named Edward Jenner made a discovery. He noticed that milkmaids tended not to contract smallpox as often as everyone else. Soon, he realized that a similar virus called cowpox often spread from cows to the milkmaids and may have had something to do with it.
He tested his theory by inoculating a boy with material from a cowpox sore and then exposing him to smallpox. Although it may sound like a shocking experiment, it was actually successful. This led to the practice of vaccination that ended up eradicating the smallpox virus two centuries later.
HIV is probably one of the most terrifying and infamous viruses of the 21st century. Nevertheless, another virus, GBV-C, has been getting some attention from scientists for its effect on those who are HIV positive.
GBV-C is a member of the Flaviviridae family of viruses and can also be referred to as hepatitis G. The interesting aspect of this virus is its effect on the progression of HIV.
To put it simply, people who have both HIV and GBV-C tend to display a slower progression to AIDS and improved odds of survival—which is pretty amazing.
Who would have imagined that a virus as dangerous as HIV could possibly be slowed down by the existence of another virus?
1The Arc Gene
Did you know that human consciousness may have originally been caused by a virus? Yes, it is possible, and here is why.
Researchers believe that a virus attached itself to the genome of one of our ancestors long ago—probably even before we walked on two legs. But they also believe that a tiny bit of the genetic coding contained within the virus still exists within our brains today and may be responsible for some serious “brain power,” including consciousness itself.
The Arc gene is essential for the learning process in humans. Weirdly enough, it communicates by sending genetic material from one neuron to another using a process that is commonly seen in viruses.
Further research must be done to determine exactly what this means. But right now, it looks as though it is very possible that we inherited our ability to learn and form conscious thoughts from the genetic material of some ancient brain virus!
Yes, the universe is definitely a weird and mysterious place.
Some photos and videos are uploaded to the Internet and explode seemingly overnight. Feverish sharing transforms these bits of media into global sensations and starts new trends. Many feel encouraged to join in with the fun and keeping up with the cool kids.
Some of these trends entice us to do wonderful things for each other—but then there are others that have been known to result in real human stupidity. Collectively, the following Internet trends all resulted in serious injury, physical scarring, and even death. They are the ones to avoid or risk the chance of meeting the same fate.
Momo is a terrifying Internet trend that has been linked to the suicides of two teenagers and one child. The twisted challenge-based game has been played across South America, Asia, Mexico, France, Germany, and the United States. Players are encouraged to text a number on WhatsApp that reaches “Momo,” and the creepy, wide-eyed horror character messages back with their next challenge. The challenges include self-harm, watching horror films, and waking up at unusual hours. Players are threatened that their personal information will be leaked if they do not commit to the tasks. The final challenge is to commit suicide.
In India, an 18-year-old boy was found hanging in a shed near his home in Kurseong in August 2018. The walls of the shed were covered in graffiti related to the game. It was also reported that in Barbosa, Colombia, in September 2018, a 16-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl had committed suicide, and investigators discovered activity linked to the game on their phones. Police are still working hard to see who is behind Momo.
9Blue Whale Challenge
In 2016, a social network phenomenon known as the Blue Whale Challenge went viral with tragic consequences. The sinister game begins with players following a social media account that assigns tasks to the players over a 50-day period. These tasks include self-harm and end with encouraged suicide. According to InfoSec Awareness Online, the game has been linked to 130 deaths in Russia.
In early 2018, the bodies of two half-sisters, 12-year-old Maria Vinogradova and 15-year-old Anastasia Svetozarova, were found in the snow outside their apartment in Izhevsk, Russia. It was believed they had both jumped from the ten-story rooftop and that their suicides were linked to the Blue Whale Challenge. Before her death, the younger sister posted a photo of her boyfriend to social media with the caption: “Forgive me, please. I love you so much. I know you will find somebody better than me.”
Planking is a craze that involves taking a photo of someone lying facedown with their arms by their sides to mimic a wooden board. In just a matter of weeks, everyone was doing it, which turned planking into an Internet phenomenon, and the more unusual the location, the better. The craze even saw news anchors planking on their desks in their studios. Although it was intended to be harmless fun, people were constantly trying to one-up each other and began moving into dangerous locations to carry out the stunt.
In 2011, the planking trend claimed a victim when 20-year-old Acton Beale of Queensland, Australia, fell from a high-rise balcony in Brisbane in an attempt at planking. On a Facebook page set up in his memory, one friend wrote: “Those who really knew Acton will remember him for a lot more than one small moment of misjudgment.”
Anyone with a mobile device has surely taken more selfies than they care to admit—only to quickly delete the evidence if they are not as appealing as imagined. Then there are those who took their selfie game to the extreme levels, and some of them ended up paying for it with their own lives. One study reported that between March 2014 and September 2016, there were 127 “selfie deaths” around the world. The study, titled “Me, Myself and My Killfile: Characterizing and Preventing Selfie Deaths,” also revealed that India was the country with the highest number of fatal selfies.
A teenager in Mumbai was killed when she was too distracted taking a selfie and didn’t notice the huge wave that crashed into her, carrying her out to sea. Indian police now have safety measures in place to stop people from taking selfies at dangerous points. The deputy commissioner of police said, “We deploy [police protection] at selfie points when the tide is high. When the weather is rough, we request people not to go near the sea to take selfies. The personnel are sufficiently briefed not to let people pull dangerous stunts.”
Slender Man started as a creepypasta meme and then soon became a global phenomenon that led to an attempted murder. Slender Man is a tall, featureless figure who stalks and abducts children. The creation was feared by many as terrifying stories and pictures circulated online.
Then, in 2014, Morgan Geyser (left above) and Anissa Weier (right above), both 12 years old at the time, lured their friend into the woods in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and stabbed her 19 times. The victim, who was also 12, was able to crawl to a roadside, where got help. She eventually recovered from her near-fatal wounds. After the stabbing, Geyser and Weier set off on foot to find Slender Man in a forest 500 kilometers (300 mi) away.
Both perpetrators were sent to mental institutions, and psychologists found that Weier presented “a diminished ability to determine what is real and what is not real.” The young girl had claimed that she feared had she not carried out the stabbing, then Slender Man would hurt her and her family. Both girls were found “not guilty by mental disease or defect.” They will, however, be institutionalized.
5Punch 4 Punch
In 2014, a 23-year-old father named Tommy Main collapsed and died following a lethal game of Punch 4 Punch. The tragic death came when videos circulated online of people taking part in the Fight Club-style game. Two players take turns hitting each other until one eventually asks to stop. The violent blows are meant to only make contact with the arm or shoulder; however, some players were taking hits to the face and stomach. Others have one arm tied behind their back. The loser then has to typically do a forfeit, which usually involves drinking alcohol. The earliest videos of the craze date back to 2009, though games like Punch 4 Punch have existed since long before the Internet.
One doctor explained, “This is like Fight Club online—it’s going back to the roots of masculinity and testing your strength in that way. There’s that gladiatorial test. When your body moves from that of a child to having the full strength of adulthood, there is a need to test out and compete with others to get a sense of your potency, your strength, your courage.”
One of the craziest trends on social media in recent years was the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge. Inspired by the reality TV star’s plumped up lips, her followers had begun a trend where they attempted to achieve the same look by sucking on shot glasses, bottles, and jars. The suction-like effect would draw the blood to the lips, creating a “pillow-lipped” look. However, there were many injuries, and some were left permanently scarred. Photos of casualties from the challenge were shared on social media and showed that some people’s lips were even turning black.
Doctors warned that the suction causes micro-trauma to the vessels, scarring, hematoma (clotting), or fibrosis (thickening of the tissue), all of which can result in disfigurement. One doctor advised, “The practice of trying to engorge your lips by suctioning can be dangerous. It’s a traumatic injury when you’re suctioning anything.”
NekNominate was an Internet craze that began in 2014 and resulted in a number of deaths. The game involves people being nominated to down alcohol. The drinking is recorded and put online for others to view. Afterward, someone else is nominated. Often, players will attempt to outdo their friends’ drinking feats. Among those killed by the game was 20-year-old athlete Bradley Eames, who filmed himself downing two pints of gin—he died four days later. Also, 20-year-old Issac Richardson died after drinking a cocktail of wine, whisky, vodka, and beer as part of a NekNominate dare.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics warned, “It is possible in the future we will get a lot more these deaths because of games like NekNominate. We are also seeing deaths from liver disease increasing and we are seeing it appearing in younger people, which suggest they are starting to drink from a younger age and are drinking stronger alcohol.” The warning came after it was reported that accidental alcohol poisoning in England and Wales increased by 200 percent from 2004 to 2014.
Multiple injuries and deaths have been linked to tombstoning, which involves jumping into water from high up, with the body held in a rigid, vertical position. In recent years, teenagers and young adults have started filming each other leaping off a cliff edge known as Dead Man’s Cove in Devon, England. The 20-meter (65 ft) drop to the sea below proved deadly for a 39-year-old man, who fell to his death attempting the tombstoning stunt. A teenager broke his neck in three places, and a 25-year-old was left paralyzed after jumping from the same site.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency warned, “Jumping from piers, cliffs, rocks or other structures into the sea can be very dangerous. The depth of the water can dramatically change with the tide, and what was a deep pool at lunchtime might be a shallow puddle by teatime. [ . . . ] The shock of cold water may make it difficult to swim to safety and strong currents can quickly sweep people away.”
Another dangerous craze is subway surfing, which was once a popular stunt in the 1980s—but then people decided they wanted to live a longer life. The trend has now resurfaced, and New York City has seen a rise in the number of joyriders going where they’re not supposed to go. Local daredevils attempt to hang onto moving subway trains, either from the back on the moving car or on the rooftop.
In 2016, 25-year-old Christopher Serrano from the Bronx died while attempting subway surfing. He was killed as he tried to climb on top of an F train in Brooklyn sometime around 5:00 AM. Serrano was traveling with a female friend when he went between the two moving cars and climbed on top. Investigators believe Serrano may have been clipped by something as the train was moving, which knocked him off. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His death is a tragic reminder that nobody should attempt the same stunt on the subways.
New Delhi-based Imagismart Solutions, which runs an educational subscription activity box for children under the brand name Xplorabox, has raised an undisclosed amount in a Seed funding round. Z Nations Lab, Sridham Enterprises, and US-based investment fund Metaform Ventures.
Media reports have surfaced that Flipkart has held talks to buy a stake in Star India’s video streaming service Hotstar to bet big on video content and attract more Internet consumers and shoppers. Even though the talks have not reached an advanced stage, the deal may or may materialize.
The talks with BigBasket are at a nascent stage and Grofers continues to scout for new investors, and it’s unclear who will run the merged entity if the deal is finalised. However, reports further claim that Grofers has a term-sheet from a strategic investor, which is conducting a due diligence.
In this edition of Startup 101, we bring to you the answer to this all-important question — where can I find angel investors? The decision is largely based on who suits the needs of your business better.
There are no signs of Hike trying to monetise its offerings. At the same time, the company’s active user base is also falling. Thus, Inc42 Datalabs decided to delve into Hike’s financials and brainstorm the reasons for its failings as part of Inc42’s ongoing series What The Financials [WTF].
Twitter will now put live streams and broadcasts started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline, making it easier to see what they’re doing in realtime. In a tweet, Twitter said that that the new feature will include breaking news, personalities and sports.
For the Model 3, the more affordable, backlogged sedan, a red “multi-coat” paint job went up to $2,500 this weekend. It used to be $2,000 for the red color. As Electrek pointed out, when the Model 3 was first produced red cars were available for $1,000.
In the world of laboratories, foam is not the froth that makes beer look crisp. Appearing as gels, solids, and even at the quantum level, foam is earmarked to improve the lives of humans in remarkable ways.
This flexible substance spawns innovation in combat, operating theaters, and robotics. It also fosters a safer environment for the public. At its most bizarre, foam lies at the heart of a mystery that questions the very nature of reality.
Most vehicles, ships, and aircraft contain something called syntactic foam. The material is renowned for being lightweight, tough, and buoyant. This makes syntactic parts perfect for submarines, except for one thing. They tumble from injection molds as smaller parts needing to be fastened together, and any kind of seam is vulnerable to failure.
In 2018, scientists figured that 3-D printing would solve this by printing the entire part instead of sections. It was not easy. Syntactic foam consists of billions of hollow microspheres, made of glass or ceramic, inside plastic resin.
At first, they were either crushed while mixing the resin or they clogged the printer’s nozzle. Success came when the team changed to another plastic resin and replaced the spheres with balls of fly ash. Blending the two ingredients took great control because the balls could still flatten. However, in the end, the idea worked.
Using commercially available printers, the first intact syntactic foam parts were born. This holds special appeal for deep-sea submarines. Manufacturers can now entertain the idea of printing massive parts as a single unit, enabling submarines to brave the pressure of diving deeper than before.
At one time, asbestos was the material of choice to fireproof buildings. Made of magnesium and silicon oxides, it was both flame retardant and kept plaster from falling off the walls.
When the truth dawned that asbestos was a potent carcinogen, it had been in use for decades and widely installed in homes, offices, and schools. Removing the material took time and a deep wallet. Worse, when asbestos is torn from a wall, some fibers can float around in the air and be inhaled.
In recent years, a Florida fireproofing firm came up with a solution. They created a special foam made of fluoride ions and acids. When injected into a wall, the chemical froth broke down asbestos fibers into a harmless silicate. Not only does it save the homeowner the cost of a new wall and possible illness, but the material that stays behind remains fire resistant.
When the Russians and Koreans get together, things get interesting. In this case, the researchers whipped up the world’s first sound-absorbing nanofoam. It may not seem like much, but this groundbreaking material could save lives.
To use foam as a noise blocker is nothing new. Unfortunately, past attempts only blocked high frequencies and it is the lower range that is harmful to humans. Low frequencies such as infrasound can lead to scary health problems.
The new nanofoam is the closest that scientists have come to neutralizing the lower spectrum. It absorbed frequencies as low as 0.5–1.6 kHz. Researchers took sheets of everyday sound-absorbing foam and injected each with microscopic granules of silica and magnetite. The final steps included soaking the sheets in liquid nanopowder and performing ultrasonic treatment before being dried.
The resulting material was similar to the widely used aerogels but cheaper and more user-friendly. The future of nanofoam is aimed at one day helping to absorb large amounts of noise in a given area—from inside a car to an entire neighborhood.
In 2015, Swiss scientists took precious metals to a bizarre new level—they turned gold into foam. Tiny fibers called amyloid fibrils were harvested from milk proteins and mixed into a gold saline solution. The result was a mass resembling a cross between strings and gel.
Air drying damaged the delicate structure, but the final step finally met with success when researchers figured out how to parch the mass with a carbon dioxide bath. The gold foam consisted of 98 percent air, enabling it to float on water.
Indistinguishable from normal gold, it might also be the next step for the metal in the jewelry business. Since the foam is a thousand times lighter than any gold alloy, a jeweler can shape the desired piece by hand.
The right color also makes some gold more wanted by the public than others. The foam’s manufacturing process can be tweaked to adjust the gold’s appearance. In particular, when reaction conditions are changed, the precious metal will turn dark red.
When considering how cars pollute the world, most people only think of exhaust fumes. However, cars that are scrapped from service annually contribute millions of tons of waste to the planet.
In particular, two kind of plastic are hard to reprocess. Recycled polycarbonate (PC) and polyurethane (PUR) need a complex chemical treatment often not worth the trouble.
In 2017, researchers found a novel way to recycle these cars’ plastic parts—including PC and PUR. Using coconut oil and microwaves, the scientists turned these parts into a multipurpose foam.
At first, the plastic was recovered as waste into a usable form and then merged with existing foam. Previous attempts made the changed foam brittle, but the coconut-treated plastics had no such side effect. The new foam was stable and more fire resistant.
This recycling process turned two major sources of plastic waste into something with many new uses. Ranging from the mundane to the complex, the foam can stuff cushions or get used as insulation in the construction and automotive industries.
Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, had a special love of composite metal foams (CMFs). After spending years developing this unusual line of the foam family, Rabiei announced some of their most remarkable qualities in 2015.
For one, the material is not afraid of an armor-piercing bullet. During trials, several bullets smashed to dust against the foam. As it is much lighter than metal plating, it offers soldiers and combat-zone vehicles more maneuverability and protection.
Another ability makes CMFs the darling of anyone who hates fire because they can withstand unholy temperatures. In addition, CMFs are particularly good at blocking dangerous rays, including neutron radiation, gamma rays, and X-rays. This makes metallic foam perfect for space travel or lugging nuclear waste safely from one place to another.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is known for inventing really nifty technology, but injecting huge amounts of foam into the stomach of a wounded soldier? That’s exactly what DARPA came up with (minus the soldier).
Using the next best thing, scientists took pigs and assessed the foam’s future as a tool for medics on the battlefield. In the field, internal bleeding is deadly. It needs treatment as soon as possible. But often, combat soldiers cannot reach the operating table for some time.
DARPA’s foam is injected as two liquids, and when they blend, the resulting hybrid polymer swells 30 times in volume. While it mushrooms, the foam closely hugs organs and tissue before hardening. This sealing effect slows the rate of abdominal bleeding. The presence of any excess blood does not interfere with the way the foam behaves, either.
Removal only required an incision, and about a minute later, the pig was foam free. The procedure dramatically spiked the animals’ survival rates, giving hope that the foam could keep human patients alive for long enough to reach the hospital.
There’s a reason why surgeons, engineers, and DARPA dream of squishy robots. Shape-shifting machines can squeeze into tight spots and go deep into the debris of a disaster or behind a human liver.
In 2014, researchers at MIT managed to make a “muscle.” The discovery is the starting point for artificial dexterity that may one day rival the natural flexibility of an octopus.
Incredibly, this big step was achieved by using materials that anyone can pull off a craft store’s shelf—polyurethane foam and wax. The engineers placed a foam lattice in a container of melted wax. Wires ran an electrical current through the lattice and melted the wax. This caused the robotic muscle to soften.
To return it to a hardened state, the current was simply switched off and the wax was allowed to cool. Future evolution of the invention could replace the wax with robotic fluids that shift between solid and liquid under the influence of magnetic fields or electrical currents.
In 2015, a remarkable thing tumbled from a 3-D printer at Cornell University. It was an artificial human heart made of memory foam called poroelastic or elastomeric foam. What makes this synthetic ticker noteworthy is that it pumps like the real deal.
The cardiovascular device works with intuitive sensitivity to biological pressures and liquid flows—all thanks to the elastic foam cover. Effective blood circulation is not the only virtue of this strawberry-shaped wonder. In addition to the 3-D printer, the heart was shaped with a reusable mold—an economic advantage.
Should the foam heart ever get patented and make it to the operating room, it could make heart transplants an affordable procedure.
There’s evidence that the true reality of space is a chaotic froth. Physicists call these particles “space foam.” Truth be told, nobody has actually seen space foam because it is too small and, for now, exists as theoretical particles.
Space foam was predicted in 1947 by Dutch physicists who suggested that it could be observed by the force it exerted on two metal plates. Particlescreate waves. If space foam was real, only short waves could exist between the plates and eventually be crushed by longer, more powerful waves pushing the metal together from the outside. This so-called “Casimir Effect” was seen for the first time in 1997.
However, the quantum world is rarely that simple. Another test timed two photons expelled from a stellar explosion. If space foam exists, its density would slow one down and prevent both from arriving together at a given point.
Several studies of explosions had different results. Sometimes, photons arrived together, and at other times, one won the race. It was like space foam showed up for one experiment, and then it went completely missing for the next. Should this froth be confirmed, it would not only change how scientists view the very fabric of space but also that of reality.
Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco was known as “La Madrina” (“The Godmother”) after she successfully pioneered a Miami-based cocaine drug trade for nearly five decades from the 1950s to the early 2000s. The murderous matriarch stood only 152 centimeters (5’0″) tall. But she was feared by many and even dubbed the “Female Tony Montana” due to her lavish lifestyle.
Blanco is remembered for many things—her power, her bloody tactics, her coldheartedness, and her ability to amass a staggering net worth of $2 billion in a field that has always been dominated by men.
Born in 1943 in Cartagena, Colombia, Blanco was surrounded by poverty from birth. The shantytown where she grew up had such a high murder rate that children would pass the time on the streets by digging holes for the bodies that littered the roads.
At age 11, she went with a group of friends to a nearby wealthy village and kidnapped a 10-year-old boy from a rich family. The boy was held hostage as Blanco tried to obtain ransom money from his family. When it was clear that the family was not willing to give up the cash, Blanco was handed a gun and she shot the boy between the eyes. Violence was present from the beginning of her life, and it followed her into adulthood.
DEA Agent Bob Palombo explained, “I don’t think the fact that she was a female trying to prove something had anything to do with her violent behavior; I just think it was inherent to Griselda Blanco. This goes back to her life, the way she was brought up. She was just a violent person.”
9She Was Making Around $80 Million A Month
Blanco ran away from home at age 14 to escape abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. She survived by earning money as a pickpocket and a prostitute. In the mid-1970s, she immigrated to Queens, New York, with her second husband, Alberto Bravo.
There, they started their own network of cocaine dealing. Her client list included Hollywood stars and top athletes. The huge success of their narcotics empire put her on the FBI’s radar, and eventually, she moved to Miami.
When Blanco hit Miami, the timing was just right and she soon had a monopoly. By the late 1970s, at the height of her game, she was earning around $80 million a month. Everyone wanted to work for her, and the DEA estimated that she had 600 people on her payroll.
DEA agent Bob Palombo told Maxim, “She mesmerized people. She could woo you with her acumen and make you a loyal follower.” Blanco was able to live a life of comfort and luxury. However, with great riches came powerful enemies.
Business was going so well for Blanco that it was only a matter of time before her rivals started to invade her territory. One of those rivals was Pablo “The King of Cocaine” Escobar. He had become the biggest threat to her business even though she had given him a leg up from the start. Jennie Smith, author of Cocaine Cowgirl, explained, “[Escobar] wasn’t afraid of her. Everyone else was, but he wasn’t.”
In 1975, Blanco and Escobar were at war and they wanted each other dead. So began a deadly game of assassins as they both deployed members of their own drug cartels to kill the other.
In this drug war, Escobar had the upper hand. When the FBI was closing in on Blanco, Escobar was on his way up. It was just a waiting game until he would come out on top.
7She Was Believed To Be Responsible For More Than 200 Murders
The actual number of murders for which Blanco is responsible has been disputed over the years. Many have pegged the potential victim count as between 40 and 240, although she was only convicted of three murders. The details of the slayings that put her behind bars had all come from her former hit man Jorge Ayala.
One of the most shocking was the murder of two-year-old Johnny Castro who was in the car with his father Jesus “Chucho” Castro. Blanco had ordered the killing of Chucho because he had disrespected her son.
Ayala told the police, “At first, she was real mad ’cause we missed the father. But when she heard we had gotten the son by accident, she said she was glad, that they were even.”
In 1985, she was captured in Irvine, California, by the DEA and sentenced to three concurrent 20-year sentences. She would only have to serve 10 years as the case collapsed due to technicalities.
6She Named Her Son After A Character In The Godfather Movie
Blanco clearly loved her reputation as “The Godmother.” She even named her third son, Michael Corleone (pictured above), after the third son of Mafia don Vito Corleone in her favorite movie, The Godfather.
Blanco’s former hit man, who would later become a witness against her, revealed that he accepted a $50,000 payment for killing a man for her while three-year-old Michael was in the room with her. Blanco never hid her criminal ways from her sons. She was determined that they would follow in her footsteps and inherit her multibillion empire.
However, things didn’t work out as planned. Michael’s father and his older brothers were all killed before he reached his 16th birthday. It wasn’t long before his mother was sentenced to decades behind bars, so he was left in the care of his maternal grandmother and other legal guardians.
Blanco’s three husbands were all murdered. The blame was pointed in her direction, earning her the name “The Black Widow.” Her first husband was Carlos Trujillo, with whom she had three sons. They were all killed under suspicious circumstances after they were deported to Colombia following prison sentences in United States.
She then married Alberto Bravo, and the pair went into business together. In 1975, she confronted Bravo in a Bogota nightclub parking lot as she believed that he had stolen millions of dollars from the profits they had made in business together.
The married couple was locked in a deadly gun battle. She was holding a pistol, and he had an Uzi submachine gun. It ended with Bravo dead along with six of his bodyguards. Blanco walked away with only a minor gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Blanco’s third husband, Dario Sepulveda, was the father of her youngest son, Michael Corleone Blanco. In 1983, Sepulveda kidnapped Michael during a custody disagreement. Blanco then paid to have Sepulveda murdered in Colombia, and Michael was returned to her.
When you have to transport 1,540 kilograms (3,400 lb) of cocaine into the United States a month, it pays to be a bit creative to avoid detection. According to Miami New Times, “She revolutionized smuggling by developing her own line of underwear with secret compartments to stuff drugs into.”
She invented the underwear with hidden pockets so that her cocaine mules could get the drugs into the US. In Medellin, Colombia, she opened her own manufacturing facility that developed custom-made bras and girdles that were perfect for drug smuggling.
Another one of her inventions was deadly. In 1979, she coordinated a shoot-out at Dadeland Mall in Miami. Three gunmen drove up to the target in a fully equipped “war wagon” and sprayed 60 shots. Two men were killed, and a store clerk was injured. It was the first grisly drive-by of its kind, but it was copied by many cartels after Blanco died.
When they finally busted Blanco, it was a big deal for the DEA. Miami Attorney Sam Burstyn told Maxim, “She was our John Gotti.” Blanco was not happy about sitting behind bars, so she cooked up an elaborate plan to regain her freedom.
According to the New York Post, she intended to send her foot soldiers in the cartel to kidnap John F. Kennedy Jr. A promise of his safe return would be negotiated if she was allowed to walk free. Nothing ever came of Blanco’s elaborate plan. With her behind bars, it was business as usual—and then some—for her rivals on the outside.
The safest place for Blanco was behind bars. Miami homicide detective Nelson Andreu explained to the Miami Herald, “It’s surprising to all of us that she had not been killed sooner because she made a lot of enemies. When you kill so many and hurt so many people like she did, it’s only a matter of time before they find you and try to even the score.”
2She Avoided The Death Penalty Due To A Phone Sex Scandal
Most of the information about Blanco’s web of illegal drugs, murder, and extortion came from her former hit man Jorge Ayala who became the key witness in the investigation. Blanco was looking at the death sentence in the state of Florida if she were found guilty of murder.
But the case took a shocking U-turn that saved her life. Ayala had begun a phone sex relationship with two of the secretaries at the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office who also cashed money orders that he sent them.
The phone sex scandal brought Ayala’s credibility as a witness into question. With the key witness now useless, the state didn’t have enough evidence. It’s strongly believed that Ayala purposely sabotaged himself as a witness so that he wouldn’t be murdered by one of Blanco’s henchmen. Although one of her most loyal soldiers had turned against her, he had also saved her.
Blanco created the method of killing her enemies while on a motorcycle. Her henchmen would ride up on motorbikes, shoot the intended target, and then zoom off before anyone really knew what was going on. It was such a successful method of killing that many of her rivals also adopted the technique.
After Griselda Blanco was released from prison, her youngest son revealed that she had become a born-again Christian. Then, on September 3, 2012, Blanco went to the butcher’s shop in Medellin with her pregnant daughter-in-law. They bought $150 worth of meat.
A middle-aged man got off a motorbike, walked up to Blanco on the street, and shot her twice. Then he walked back to his motorbike and drove away. One witness at the scene said, “He was a professional. It was vengeance from the past.”
As Blanco lay dying on the ground, her daughter-in-law placed a Bible on her chest. Blanco was 69 when she died. She had finally fallen victim to the same fate that she had forced on so many others.
Founded by Monish Shah and Malhar Gala, TraveLibro enables users to build a global social network where they can capture their travel experiences in live ‘On-The-Go’ stories via photos, videos, reviews, and thoughts, chronologically.
Established in 2016, pi Ventures claims to be India’s first such venture fund that is focused on AI. It recently raised $6 Mn from the CDC Group UK. Here are the excerpts from this week’s Moneyball with Manish Singhal founding partner at pi Ventures where he talks to us about how their model is nott to spray and pray, his belief that in future, products will struggle to survive if they don’t use AI and machine learning in a meaningful way and much more…
Inc42, in the 21st episode of Ask Me Anything (AMA), hosted Siddharth Talwar, co-founder and partner of Venture capital firm Lightbox. He has been in the startup ecosystem for nearly two decades with hands-on-experience of being an entrepreneur and then an investor, supporting consumer technology startups.
Zoho, which enables enterprises to run their businesses smoothly with its suite of online productivity tools and SaaS applications, claims to have more than 35 Mn users worldwide. Even as Indian startups are going the IPO way, Vembu loves his freedom and has no plans to take Zoho public.
Online lending startup CASHe has developed a proprietary scoring system called ‘SLQ’ as an alternate to the current banking credit scoring system. The SLQ is independent of any bureau reports and generates its own scores based on the customer’s social behaviour data
“It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
“Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others,” philosopher Alan Watts wrote in the 1950s as he contemplated the interconnected nature of the universe. What we may now see as an elemental truth of existence was then a notion both foreign and frightening to the Western mind. But it was a scientist, not a philosopher, who levered this monumental shift in consciousness: Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907–April 14, 1964), a Copernicus of biology who ejected the human animal from its hubristic place at the center of Earth’s ecological cosmos and recast it as one of myriad organisms, all worthy of wonder, all imbued with life and reality. Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder. The message of her iconic Silent Spring (public library) rippled across public policy and the population imagination — it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, inspired generations of activists, and led Joni Mitchell to write a lyric as timeless as “I don’t care about spots on my apples / Leave me the birds and the bees / Please!”
A woman scientist without a Ph.D. or an academic affiliation became the most powerful voice of resistance against ruinous public policy mitigated by the self-interest of government and industry, against the hauteur and short-sightedness threatening to destroy this precious pale blue dot which we, along with countless other animals, call home.
Carson had grown up in a picturesque but impoverished village in Pennsylvania. It was there, amid a tumultuous family environment, that she fell in love with nature and grew particularly enchanted with birds. A voracious reader and gifted writer from a young age, she became a published author at the age of ten, when a story of hers appeared in a children’s literary magazine. She entered the Pennsylvania College for Women with the intention of becoming a writer, but a zestful zoology professor — herself a rare specimen as a female scientist in that era — rendered young Carson besotted with biology. A scholarship allowed her to pursue a Master’s degree in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University, but when her already impecunious family fell on hard times during the Great Depression, she was forced to leave the university in search of a full-time paying job before completing her doctorate.
After working as a lab assistant for a while, she began writing for the Baltimore Sun and was eventually hired as a junior aquatic biologist for what would later become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Her uncommon gift for writing was soon recognized and Carson was tasked with editing other scientists’ field reports, then promoted to editor in chief for the entire agency. Out of this necessity to reconcile science and writing was born her self-invention as a scientist who refused to give up on writing and a writer who refused to give up on science — the same refusal that marks today’s greatest poets of science.
In 1935, 28-year-old Carson was asked to write a brochure for the Fisheries Bureau. When she turned in something infinitely more poetic than her supervisor had envisioned, he asked her to rewrite the brochure but encouraged her to submit the piece as an essay for The Atlantic Monthly. She did. It was accepted and published as “Undersea” in 1937– a first of its kind, immensely lyrical journey into the science of the ocean floor inviting an understanding of Earth from a nonhuman perspective. Readers and publishers were instantly smitten. Carson, by then the sole provider for her mother and her two orphaned nieces after her older sister’s death, expanded her Atlantic article into her first book, Under the Sea-Wind — the culmination of a decade of her oceanographic research, which rendered her an overnight literary success.
Against towering cultural odds, these books about the sea established her — once a destitute girl from landlocked Pennsylvania — as the most celebrated science writer of her time.
But the more Carson studied and wrote about nature, the more cautious she became of humanity’s rampant quest to dominate it. Witnessing the devastation of the atomic bomb awakened her to the unintended consequences of science unmoored from morality, of a hysterical enthusiasm for technology that deafened humanity to the inner voice of ethics. In her 1952 acceptance speech for the John Burroughs Medal, she concretized her credo:
It seems reasonable to believe — and I do believe — that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.
One of the consequences of wartime science and technology was the widespread use of DDT, initially intended for protecting soldiers from malaria-bearing mosquitoes. After the end of the war, the toxic chemical was lauded as a miracle substance. People were sprayed down with DDT to ward off disease and airplanes doused agricultural plots in order to decimate pest and maximize crop yield. It was neither uncommon nor disquieting to see a class of schoolchildren eating their lunch while an airplane aiming at a nearby field sprinkled them with DDT. A sort of blind faith enveloped the use of these pesticides, with an indifferent government and an incurious public raising no questions about their unintended consequences.
In January of 1958, Carson received a letter from an old writer friend named Olga Owens Huckins, alerting her that the aerial spraying of DDT had devastated a local wildlife sanctuary. Huckins described the ghastly deaths of birds, claws clutched to their breasts and bills agape in agony. This local tragedy was the final straw in Carson’s decade-long collection of what she called her “poison-spray material” — a dossier of evidence for the harmful, often deadly effects of toxic chemicals on wildlife and human life. That May, she signed a contract with Houghton Mifflin for what would become Silent Spring in 1962 — the firestarter of a book that ignited the conservation movement and awakened the modern environmental consciousness.
But the book also spurred violent pushback from those most culpable in the destruction of nature — a heedless government that had turned a willfully blind eye to its regulatory responsibilities and an avaricious agricultural and chemical industry determined to maximize profits at all costs. Those inconvenienced by the truths Carson exposed immediately attacked her for her indictment against elected officials’ and corporations’ deliberate deafness to fact. They used every means at their disposal — a propaganda campaign designed to discredit her, litigious bullying of her publisher, and the most frequent accusation of all: that of being a woman. Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who would later become Prophet of the Mormon Church, asked: “Why a spinster with no children was so concerned about genetics?” He didn’t hesitate to offer his own theory: because she was a Communist. (The lazy hand-grenade of “spinster” was often hurled at Carson in an attempt to erode her credibility, as if there were any correlation between a scientist’s home life and her expertise — never mind that, as it happened, Carson did have one of the most richly rewarding relationships a human being could hope for, albeit not the kind that conformed to the era’s narrow accepted modalities.)
Carson withstood the criticism with composure and confidence, shielded by the integrity of her facts. But another battle raged invisible to the public eye — she was dying.
She had been diagnosed with cancer in 1960, which had metastasized due to her doctor’s negligence. In 1963, when Silent Spring stirred President Kennedy’s attention and he summoned a Congressional hearing to investigate and regulate the use of pesticides, Carson didn’t hesitate to testify even as her body was giving out from the debilitating pain of the disease and the wearying radiation treatments. With her testimony as a pillar, JFK and his Science Advisory Committee invalidated her critics’ arguments, heeded Carson’s cautionary call to reason, and created the first federal policies designed to protect the planet.
Carson endured the attacks — those of her cancer and those of her critics — with unwavering heroism. She saw the former with a biologist’s calm acceptance of the cycle of life and had anticipated the latter all along. She was a spirited idealist, but she wasn’t a naïve one — from the outset, she was acutely aware that her book was a clarion call for nothing less than a revolution and that it was her moral duty to be the revolutionary she felt called to be. Just a month after signing the book contract, she articulates this awareness in a letter found in Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952–1964 (public library) — the record of her beautiful and unclassifiable relationship with her dearest friend and beloved.
Carson writes to Freeman:
I know you dread the unpleasantness that will inevitably be associated with [the book’s] publication. That I can understand, darling. But it is something I have taken into account; it will not surprise me! You do know, I think, how deeply I believe in the importance of what I am doing. Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent… It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.
In that sense, the eventual title of Silent Spring was a dual commentary on how human hubris is robbing Earth of its symphonic aliveness and on the moral inadmissibility of remaining silent about the destructive forces driving this loss. Carson upheld that sense of duty while confronting her own creaturely finitude as she underwent rounds of grueling cancer treatment. In a letter to Freeman from the autumn of 1959, she reports:
Mostly, I feel fairly good but I do realize that after several days of concentrated work on the book I’m suddenly no good at all for several more. Some people assume only physical work is tiring — I guess because they use their minds little! Friday night … my exhaustion invaded every cell of my body, I think, and really kept me from sleeping well all night.
And yet mind rose over matter as Carson mobilized every neuron to keep up with her creative vitality. In another letter from the same month, she writes to Freeman about her “happiness in the progress of The Book”:
The other day someone asked Leonard Bernstein about his inexhaustible energy and he said “I have no more energy than anyone who loves what he is doing.” Well, I’m afraid mine has to be recharged at times, but anyway I do seem just now to be riding the crest of a wave of enthusiasm and creativity, and although I’m going to bed late and often rising in very dim light to get in an hour of thinking and organizing before my household stirs, my weariness seems easily banished.
Stirring her household was Roger — the nine-year-old orphan son of Carson’s niece, whom she had adopted and was single-parenting, doing all the necessary cooking, cleaning, and housework while writing Silent Spring and undergoing endless medical treatments. All of this she did with unwavering devotion to the writing and the larger sense of moral obligation that animated her. In early March of 1961, in the midst of another incapacitating radiation round, she writes to Freeman:
About the book, I sometimes have a feeling (maybe 100% wishful thinking) that perhaps this long period away from active work will give me the perspective that was so hard to attain, the ability to see the woods in the midst of the confusing multitude of trees.
With an eye to Albert Schweitzer’s famous 1954 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which appeared under the title “The Problem of Peace” and made the unnerving assertion that “we should all of us realize that we are guilty of inhumanity” in reflecting on the circumstances that led to the two world wars, she adds:
Sometimes … I want [the book] to be a much shortened and simplified statement, doing for this subject (if this isn’t too presumptuous a comparison) what Schweitzer did in his Nobel Prize address for the allied subject of radiation.
In June of that year, Carson shares with Freeman a possible opening sentence, which didn’t end up being the final one but which nonetheless synthesizes the essence of her groundbreaking book:
This is a book about man’s war against nature, and because man is part of nature it is also inevitably a book about man’s war against himself.
At that point, Carson was considering The War Against Nature and At War with Nature as possible titles, but settled on Silent Spring in September — a title inspired by Keats, Carson’s favorite poet: “The sedge is withered from the lake, / And no birds sing.”
Four months later, in January of 1962, she reports to Freeman the completion of her Herculean feat:
I achieved the goal of sending the 15 chapters to Marie [Rodell, Carson’s literary agent] — like reaching the last station before the summit of Everest.
Rodell had sent a copy of the manuscript to longtime New Yorkereditor William Shawn, who gave Carson the greatest and most gratifying surprise of her life. Struggling to override her typical self-effacing humility, she relays the episode to Freeman:
Last night about 9 o’clock the phone rang and a mild voice said, “This is William Shawn.” If I talk to you tonight you will know what he said and I’m sure you can understand what it meant to me. Shamelessly, I’ll repeat some of his words — “a brilliant achievement” — “you have made it literature” “full of beauty and loveliness and depth of feeling.” … I suddenly feel full of what Lois once called “a happy turbulence.”
After Roger was asleep I took Jeffie [Carson’s cat] into the study and played the Beethoven violin concerto — one of my favorites, you know. And suddenly the tensions of four years were broken and I got down and put my arms around Jeffie and let the tears come. With his little warm, rough tongue he told me that he understood. I think I let you see last summer what my deeper feelings are about this when I said I could never again listen happily to a thrush song if I had not done all I could. And last night the thoughts of all the birds and other creatures and the loveliness that is in nature came to me with such a surge of deep happiness, that now I had done what I could — I had been able to complete it — now it had its own life!
Silent Spring was published on September 27, 1962 and adrenalized a new public awareness of the fragile interconnectedness of this living world. Several months later, CBS host Eric Sevareid captured its impact most succinctly in lauding Carson as “a voice of warning and a fire under the government.” In the book, she struck a mighty match:
When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence … it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.
How tragic to observe that in the half-century since, our so-called leaders have devolved from half-truths to “alternative facts” — that is, to whole untruths that fail the ultimate criterion for truth: a correspondence with reality.
Carson, who was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, never lived to see the sea change of policy and public awareness that her book precipitated. Today, as a new crop of political and corporate interests threatens her hard-won legacy of environmental consciousness, I think of that piercing Adrienne Rich line channeling the great 16th-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, another scientist who fundamentally revolutionized our understanding of the universe and our place in it: “Let me not seem to have lived in vain.”
Let’s not let Rachel Carson seem to have lived in vain.
Since the dawn of time, a problem has haunted a section of mankind. They just can’t stop their hair from falling out. With the hair loss industry estimated to be worth almost $3 billion, it is little wonder that many people have invented weird and wonderful treatments for this perpetual problem.
From the ancient Egyptians to modern man, many have tried and failed to stem the ravages of time and keep the hair on their heads. Maybe these bizarre cures didn’t work, but you have to admit they were creative.
Man’s seemingly futile quest to retain a full head of hair isn’t a new phenomenon. Recorded evidence of baldness treatments extends all the way back to ancient Egypt. For Egyptians, appearance indicated a person’s status, role in society, or level of political influence. It’s no wonder that men who lost their hair would try anything to get it back.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus, the oldest-known surgical treatise on trauma, contains an ancient hair loss remedy. The papyrus recommends treating baldness by applying a balm consisting of the mixed fats of lion, hippo, crocodile, cat, serpent, and ibex. Although this may sound completely unpalatable to people today, it illustrates clearly how much Egyptians valued their hair.
Balding men in 1930s America needed to look no further then the Crosley Corporation’s Xervac. Inventor Dr. Andre Cueto had spent several years researching the problem of baldness and came to the conclusion that hair fell out due to a reduction in blood flow to the scalp.
A user of the Xervac device would place a bicycle-style helmet on his head. This was attached by a hose to a large device on the floor. The Xervac then alternated cycles of suction and pressure to increase blood flow to the scalp. Supposedly, this process would lead to the growth of new hair.
As this device is no longer in use, we can conclude that it must have been just a load of hot air!
Hippocrates is often considered to be the father of modern medicine. His name is associated with the Hippocratic Oath, which urges physicians to “do no harm.” While his legacy lives on, his cure for baldness does not.
Plagued by baldness himself, Hippocrates recommended a treatment consisting of pigeon droppings, opium, beetroot, horseradish, and spices to cure hair loss. Although this had to smell funky, it would have done little to help the “follicly challenged” patients under his care.
Hippocrates is still remembered in the pursuit of a full head of hair. In a man with male pattern baldness, the rim of permanent hair around the back and sides of the head, which is used for hair transplants, is known as the “Hippocratic wreath.”
7A Laurel Wreath
One of the most influential figures in world history, Julius Caesar (whose name ironically translates as “abundant hair”) was embarrassed by his baldness. Roman biographer Suetonius reported that Caesar’s baldness was “a disfigurement which troubled him greatly since he found that it was often the subject of the gibes of his detractors.”
A hairless head was regarded as ugly in Roman times. The poet Ovid wrote: “Ugly are hornless bulls, a field without grass is an eyesore, so is a tree without leaves, so is a head without hair.”
Caesar’s lover, Cleopatra, devised a remedy of ground mice and horse teeth. When that failed to work, Caesar began wearing a laurel wreath to hide his baldness. The wreath had been awarded to him for his many battlefield victories. Caesar’s technique was used in later years by great performer Elton John, who used elaborate and unusual hats to cover his baldness onstage.
Used in salons across the US and UK, bull semen is touted as a potential treatment for hair loss. According to this theory, bull semen is incredibly rich in protein (yuck) which will help to feed and stimulate hair growth. We can only speculate as to who first tried this or why, but it’s probably best to “moove” on to the next cure before we throw up!
The Thermocap, another wacky invention to help balding men, was marketed by New York’s Allied Merke Institute in the 1920s. Based on a series of experiments by French scientists, the institute claimed that hair follicles did not die but instead lay dormant, waiting to be restimulated.
The bald and somewhat gullible user would wear the cap for 15 minutes a day to allow the device’s blue light to stimulate new hair growth.
In yoga, the headstand is known as the king of all poses due to the wide number of benefits. One is the supposed prevention of hair loss. The theory behind this is similar to that of the Xervac. By inverting the body, yogis believe that there will be an increase in blood flow to the scalp, which prevents hair loss.
For those unable (or unwilling) to do a headstand, many companies now offer inversion tables. These devices allow you to suspend yourself upside down for extended periods of time. If your world has been turned upside down by baldness, this might be the cure to make things right.
Although it’s too eye-watering for most, this remedy does at least have a toehold in scientific fact. In a 2003 paper published in the Korean Journal of Dermatology, scientists describe how capsaicin (the active ingredient in chili peppers) helped to regrow hair at a faster rate on mice.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that this works on humans.If you are tempted to give it a go, please be careful that the hot sauce doesn’t get in your eyes!
In traditional Indian medicine, cow urine is still used today to treat a wide range of conditions.
Known as gomutra, cow urine is purported to be effective in the treatment of hair loss. For maximum effect, the urine should be from a virgin cow and is supposed to be collected and drunk before sunrise. (Other doctors recommend against drinking urine as it can cause illness, rash, or both in humans.)
Don’t have access to a nearby cow? Fear not. In 2009, an Indian company released a soft drink containing 5 percent cow urine.
Our dear friend Hippocrates first reported this final cure for baldness—castration. His theory began when he noticed that eunuchs (castrated men) never lost their hair.
Unwilling to test this idea himself, Hippocrates stuck to pigeon droppings. However, a 1960 paper backed up Hippocrates’s theory when it found no development of male pattern baldness in people who had undergone castration. A hair “cut” too far, some might think!
Identical twins have tried gaming the law ever since they learned they could. Visual differences are often difficult to pinpoint. DNA does not help, either, because identical twins are from the same fertilized egg. As a result, they have the same DNA.
Many times, one twin will commit a crime and blame it on the other. Sometimes, they will not pass blame but will just refuse to talk. Twins have tried escaping justice this way. Sometimes, they are successful, and sometimes, they are not.
A set of twins identified only as Hassan and Abbas O. escaped prosecution despite one or even both of them being involved in a jewelry heist. In the early hours of February 25, 2009, three men raided the Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe) luxury store in Germany and stole watches and jewelry worth €5 million.
The men were caught on CCTV. One of them also left a glove behind. Police extracted DNA samples from the glove, but it led to twin brothers Hassan and Abbas O. Police could not determine which brother had committed the heist or whether both brothers were involved. The men never confessed, either.
The CCTV footage was useless because the criminals were masked. The police finally freed both brothers even though the jewelry remained missing. In appreciation, the brothers thanked the state for allowing them to go scot-free after it could not establish the exact identity of the criminal.
Albert Ebenezer Fox And Ebenezer Albert Fox looked so alike that their parents needed to attach colored ribbons to their clothes to tell them apart. Their similar names also allowed the brothers to get away with most of the crimes they committed.
The Fox twins never went on their robbery sprees together. That way, both could claim innocence of the crime, leaving the police confused about which one was the real criminal.
The brothers had such frequent run-ins with the law that the police started taking their fingerprints and identifying them by their scars. The Foxes were the reason that research into fingerprint identification was fast-paced. In 1904, they became the first people to be prosecuted using fingerprint evidence.
The brothers lived on poaching and stealing fowl from farms. They also had a few legal jobs, including capturing foxes from farms and building a police station. Ironically, they were later detained in that same police station. Despite the confusion they often caused regarding their identification, they were convicted over 200 times throughout their lives.
Charles and George Finn served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. George served as a flight instructor while Charles was a B-17 pilot. In 1952, the brothers purchased a World War II–era C-46 airplane from the Bakersfield school district with the intention of modifying it for their new airline.
The US government stopped the purchase because the school district was not allowed to sell the airplane. The brothers refused to return the plane, and one of them flew it into the Nevada desert to hide it from the government.
The FBI recovered the craft and arrested the brothers. A federal grand jury decided against prosecuting the Finns because the witness could not identify the twin who flew the airplane into the desert.
7Sathis And Sabarish Raj
In 2003, police officers in Malaysia arrested one of Sathis and Sabarish Raj for being in possession of 166 kilograms of cannabis and about two kilograms of opium. The arrested twin had been transporting the drugs to the house where he was busted. Shortly after, his twin arrived at the house and was also picked up.
Officers soon found themselves in a fix when they could not identify which twin they had arrested for being in possession of the drugs. DNA tests were inconclusive, and the brothers were not talking.
Although the twins were put on trial, the judge discharged them because she could not determine which had committed the crime. The errant brother would have been executed if he had been found guilty.
Outside a nightclub in Arizona, a fight broke out on the night of February 12, 2011. By the time it was over, 19-year-old Sir Xavier Brooks had been shot dead. A month later, police picked up Orlando Nembhard for the murder. The investigation quickly became complicated after police realized that Orlando had an identical twin brother named Brandon.
Police had no DNA to pinpoint the brothers for the murder, although it would have done little. The murder weapon was also missing, so police could not get fingerprints. They only had visual identification. But that was unreliable because witnesses kept alternating between the brothers. Some said Orlando was the shooter, some said it was Brandon, and others just refused to talk.
The judge presiding over the case termed it inconclusive and reduced Orlando Nembhard’s bond from $500,000 to $10,000. The shooter remains unknown. Brandon had no criminal record, while Orlando had been previously arrested for burglary and marijuana possession.
On July 18, 2008, someone shot and killed Genai Coleman at a train station and stole her car. Police later recovered the abandoned vehicle. Inside, they found a cigarette butt. DNA from the cigarette butt led them to Donald Smith, who had earlier been sent to prison for drug crimes. Donald denied the crime and said that the murderer was his twin brother, Ronald.
To confirm that it was Ronald, Donald asked investigators to show his relatives the CCTV footage of the murderer. Investigators did, and Donald’s relatives confirmed that it was actually Ronald.
Ronald was arrested a few days later. Fingerprints taken from the vehicle implicated Ronald, and some witnesses had seen him around the area where he had abandoned the car. He had also made phone calls around the same area.
Ronald confessed to the crime, although he claimed that it was a case of accidental discharge. However, he backtracked during the trial when he denied being the murderer and said that it was Donald instead.
Ronald’s attorney added that Ronald’s fingerprints were in the vehicle because he had helped Donald to clean it. This excuse did not fly with the jury, and Ronald was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
4Darrin And Damien Fernandez
In summer 2001, police arrested Darrin Fernandez for breaking into the home of a lady in Dorchester, a Boston neighborhood. The lady was awake during the break-in and had heard the window shatter. She called the police. They arrived to find Darrin trying to escape from the home. He had not attacked the lady and had injured himself during the break-in.
Police ran Darrin’s DNA through their database and discovered that it matched two earlier rapes committed in the area. In both instances, a man had broken into a lady’s home while she slept and raped her. The investigations soon hit a brick wall when police realized that Darrin had a twin brother named Damien who could have committed one or both rapes (and not Darrin).
Police were able to convict Darrin for the first rape because the victim correctly described the tattoo on his arm. The second case remained inconclusive even after Darrin was tried twice. At the first trial, investigators attempted to pin the rape on him by claiming that he had been in the area around the time it happened. That was unsuccessful because they could not prove that Damien had not been in the area.
During the second trial, Assistant District Attorney Mary Kelley took the jury to a Dorchester home where Darrin had been employed as a painter. There, she showed them how Darrin had climbed a ladder to survey the neighborhood and scout out his next victim. Although this made sense to some jurors, the case ultimately ended in a hung jury.
On January 19, 2016, police in Cheltenham, England, arrested Patrick Hennessy for dangerous driving, causing an accident, and being in possession of a pocketknife. After his arrest, he was treated at a hospitaland released to appear in court on a later date. Patrick appeared in court on that date, only to deny that he had been arrested or treated.
He said that it was his twin brother, James, who had been arrested and not him (Patrick). Prosecutors tried to match the DNA found at the accident scene with one of the twins, but it led nowhere. The court freed the brothers because it could not determine which one was guilty.
Between September 2012 and February 2013, a rapist prowled Marseilles, France, committing a series of rapes and attempted rapes. DNA recovered from some of the crimes led police to identical twin brothers, Yoan and Elvin Gomis. The brothers looked so much alike that they were almost indistinguishable.
Investigators became more confused after they realized that both brothers lived in the same house and shared a car, phone, clothes, and Facebookaccount. The brothers denied any involvement in the assaults. Instead of letting them off the hook, the police just sent them to jail, where they remained for 10 months until police determined that Yoan was the attacker.
He was found guilty after his victims stated that the attacker stuttered when talking. Yoan was the one who stuttered because he suffered from partial deafness. He apologized for not talking earlier and for putting his brother in jail. Elvin was not offended.
One night in November 1999, an unnamed 26-year-old student at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had just finished a night class and was on her way to her car when she was attacked and raped. DNA tests led police to Jerome Cooper, but they soon realized that his twin brother, Tyrone, could have been the attacker. Both brothers were registered as sex offenders and lived in the same area.
At the time, limitations in DNA technology meant that investigators could not determine which brother was the rapist.
Police thought that they had found a solution after a new type of DNA test implicated Dwayne McNair (one of another set of twins) in an unrelated rape and robbery in Boston. Prosecutors believed that they could use the same DNA test to expose the rapist in the Cooper case in Michigan.
The new DNA test was not accepted in the Boston court even though Dwayne was convicted for the crime based on other evidence. This meant that the DNA test for the Cooper brothers might not be accepted in Michigan, either.
Another issue was the expense associated with the test. In the Boston case, the cost was $120,000, an amount that would have taken a considerable chunk of law enforcement budgets. As a result, the Boston police and the district attorney’s office agreed to split the bill in that instance.
The roots of American racism run deep. The country’s troubled history of infighting over the ideal that all men are created equal has often clashed with the harsh reality of life for people of color.
Racial prejudice has always haunted the United States, and it continues in many corners of the country today. Although the conclusion of the US Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolished the institution of slavery, individual states remained free to write their own brutally racist laws (aka “Jim Crow laws”).
Here are 10 disturbing facts about the Jim Crow era in the United States.
The history of Jim Crow laws dates all the way back to the early 1800s when slavery was still legal in the United States. In Jump, Jim Crow, a bizarre stage show that debuted in 1828, Thomas Rice created what he and his audiences thought of as comedy. Rice painted his face black and performed with the supposed gestures and mannerisms of African Americans.
Though stage actors had appeared in blackface before Rice, he popularized the genre in the 1830s and had a disgustingly cultish level of success with it. The name of the show came to represent the patently racist laws and practices that developed a century later.
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which carried an anti-racist, antislavery message and even featured a character called Jim Crow. In an ironic twist, Rice ended up performing in blackface in stage adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which were unfaithful to the novel and delivered a racist message that mocked African Americans.
After a long-drawn-out civil war, the federal government made slavery illegal in the United States on December 18, 1865. At that time, Secretary of State William Seward verified the ratification of the Thirteen Amendment to the US Constitution. At least three-quarters of the then 36 states had to vote in favor of ratifying the amendment to abolish slavery across the country.
Twenty-seven states ratified by December 6, 1865. Five more voted in favor by the end of January 1866, and Texas assented in February 1870. However, three states held out until the 20th century. Delaware ratified the amendment in February 1901, Kentucky in March 1976, and Mississippi in February 2013.
Mississippi had actually voted in favor of the amendment in March 1995. But they didn’t send the required paperwork to the National Archives to make it official until 2013 due to a clerical oversight.
Today, many people do not realize that the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, mainly fought for the rights of blacks during and after the Civil War. Despite opposition from the Democrats, the Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment (outlawing slavery), the Fourteenth Amendment (giving blacks equal rights under the law), and the Fifteenth Amendment (giving blacks the right to vote).
After the Thirteenth Amendment was formally ratified in 1865, there was a brief intermission in systemic racism. But it took less than 20 years before many Democrat-dominated state and local governments, primarily in the South, began enacting laws to mandate racial segregation. These came to be called “Jim Crow laws.”
In this long, painful period of US history, slavery was officially abolished but overt racism at the hands of the law was not. The grim period of Jim Crow had begun.
8The Civil Rights Act Of 1875
Believe it or not, a civil rights act existed in the United States way back in 1875. Cosponsored by two Republicans, the bill passed 162–99 in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and 38–26 in the Republican-controlled Senate. An impressive seven African-American representatives had debated in favor of passing the bill. On March 1, 1875, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law.
The act would have stopped Jim Crow laws by prohibiting racial segregation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the US Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional. Although the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, Congress did not have the authority to regulate private persons or corporations under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Nevertheless, the Civil Rights Act of 1875 shows that many people in the 19th century wanted to abolish racial discrimination under the law.
Tennessee didn’t even have a recovery period before its racist ways became law. As early as 1866, shortly after the end of the US Civil War, Tennessee passed its first Jim Crow law.
Initially, the state created separate schools for white children and black children. In 1870, Tennessee banned interracial marriage. Then, in 1875, they legalized racial discrimination via private businesses, saying that hotels and other private enterprises could refuse service on the grounds of race.
Shortly thereafter, the infamous “Whites Only” signs began appearing in front of many public establishments. The tragic fact of segregation had just become a reality for the people of Tennessee.
Alabama was another Southern state which almost immediately adopted Jim Crow laws after the end of the Civil War. In 1867, they banned interracial marriage. Fines ranged as high as $1,000, which was an exorbitant price to pay in those days.
Several years later, the state passed a law that made black and white children attend separate schools. In 1891, with limited exceptions, railroads were required to have separate cars for black and white passengers.
As more laws were enacted, bus stations soon had separate waiting areas and ticket windows for black and white people. Bathrooms were segregated by skin color, and white female nurses weren’t allowed to tend to black male patients. It was even illegal for people of different races to play a game of pool together.