Posts Tagged "compelling read"

The Professor Who Beat Roulette

With his wife, Carol, he scouted dozens of wheels at casinos around Europe, from Monte Carlo (Monaco), to Divonne-les-Bains (France), to Baden-Baden (Germany). The pair recruited a team of 8 ‘clockers’ who posted up at these venues, sometimes recording as many as 20,000 spins over a month-long period.

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The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief

“By the time the calendar flips to 2000, by Breitwieser’s calculations, he’s nearing 200 separate thefts and 300 stolen objects. For six years, he’s averaged one theft every two weeks. One year, he is responsible for half of all paintings stolen from French museums.”

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How to Avoid Catastrophe

“For the past seven years, we have studied near misses in dozens of companies across industries from telecommunications to automobiles, at NASA, and in lab simulations. Our research reveals a pattern: Multiple near misses preceded (and foreshadowed) every disaster and business crisis we studied, and most of the misses were ignored or misread. Our work also shows that cognitive biases conspire to blind managers to the near misses.”

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Listening to What the Kids are Listening To

“… Pump is out there living his best life, as evidenced in his song ‘Drug Addicts,’ where he raps, ‘I’m a drug addict, I’m richer than my professor (man, fuck school).’

If you are an old person like me — I am a full decade older than Pump so he sort of treats me like a matronly aunt bothering him with questions about his grades — your first question about Pump is likely: Where is your mother?

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A 500 Year Experiment

“Physically, the 500-year experiment consists of 800 simple glass vials containing either Chroococcidiopsis or another bacterium, Bacillus subtilis. The glass vials have been hermetically sealed with a flame. […] Every other year for the first 24 years, and then every quarter century for the next 475, scientists are supposed to come test the dried bacteria for viability and DNA damage.”

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The Phantom Gambler

“On September 24th, 1980, a man wearing cowboy boots and carrying two brown suitcases entered Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. One suitcase held $777,000 in cash; the other was empty. After converting the money into chips, the man approached a craps table on the casino floor and put everything on the backline. This meant he was betting against the woman rolling the dice. If she lost, he’d double his money. If she won, he’d lose everything.”

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Pac-Man: The Untold Story of How We Really Played The Game

“The impressions of human desire are often left upon objects of their devotion or on the paths leading to where a sense of peace or pleasure can be found; i.e. the worn frets on a favorite guitar; the finger-smoothed ivory keys on an old piano; the ‘secret path’ in the forest blazed by decades of children that’s been ‘a secret path’ to other children for over 100 years.”

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The Safecracker of Last Resort

“In a recurring dream, Santore returns home to see that somebody has broken into his safe. What’s worse, Santore continued, is that in the dream he cannot remember what was stored in the safe in the first place. Its door yawns open to reveal a painful emptiness, but he doesn’t know what was stolen. How can you get something back, he said, if you don’t even know you’ve lost it?”

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The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code

“Benter taught himself advanced statistics and learned to write software on an early PC with a green-and-black screen. Meanwhile, in the fall of 1984, Woods flew to Hong Kong and sent back a stack of yearbooks containing the results of thousands of races. Benter hired two women to key the results into a database by hand so he could spend more time studying regressions and developing code. It took nine months. In September 1985 he flew to Hong Kong with three bulky IBM computers in his checked luggage.”

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A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death

“Every evening around 6 p.m., before retiring for the night, Mrs. Ito closed the paper screen in the window. Then in the morning, after her alarm woke her at 5:40 a.m., she slid the screen back open.

‘If it’s closed,’ Mrs. Ito told her neighbor, ‘it means I’ve died.'”

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One Leg is Better Than Two

When they raise a leg, their body weight shifts in a way that naturally stabilizes the joints of their standing limb, so they can remain upright without any muscular activity. They can sleep like that. And as Chang and Ting found, they can even keep balanced when dead. You can pose a flamingo cadaver on one leg, and leave it there.

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