Posts Tagged "compelling read"

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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Boxer Crabs: With Anemones Like This…

“The crab grabs the anemone in both claws, stretches it outwards, and uses its legs to slice through the middle. And since anemones can regenerate their bodies, each half eventually became a complete animal in its own right. The crab, by bisecting its partner, also clones it.”

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Slime Memory

“To reach some food, they had to crawl over a bridge that was laced with repellents like salt or coffee. At first, the molds were clearly repulsed, and were slow to ooze across. With more repetitions, they became habituated; they got used to the chemicals, started ignoring them, and moved faster.”

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The Hidden Life of Trees

[Trees] can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

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Why We Keep Playing the Lottery

“Fantasizing about winning the lottery activates the same parts of our brains that would be activated if we actually won, notes Daniel Levine, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington, and an expert on decision theory and neural networks. Picturing ourselves in a limo activates visual areas of the brain, while imagining the clink of champagne glasses lights up the auditory cortex.”

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A Love Letter to Tokyo’s Buildings Using Animated GIFs

“Spending two whole days there, we finally learned the dread and discomfort of living in a capsule hotel. It was wonderful, apart from the occasional shakeup and earthquake panic you’d feel when your neighbour decides to move his capsule four floors up, at 5 AM. He was courteous enough to leave a box of chocolate with an apology to his neighbouring capsules.”

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