Life Stories

The Curious Case Of A Scholar Who Didn’t Exist

Alexi Indris-Santana was a brilliant mind who overcame hardships as a cowboy, excelled at Princeton, and captured the hearts of many. But there was one problem: he didn’t exist. Santana was actually James Arthur Hogue, a grifter who had a penchant for stealing and misrepresenting himself. Had he not been caught, he may have graduated from Princeton with flying colours because he was truly skilled. He likely felt the need to lie because the elite college wouldn’t have accepted him because of his past despite his exceptional test results. Read full article here

The Role Of Hypochondria In The Life And Work Of Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka, the author of The Metamorphosis, believed that illnesses were caused by one’s actions and often blamed his weak constitution on the fact that authors were meant to be weak. For example, his thoughts on his tuberculosis were quite striking, as he believed it was caused by his indecision to commit to his ex-fiance, Felice Bauer. He believes his body had had enough of it after five years of indecision, so it decided for him; he ended things with Felice after his first bout of tuberculosis in 1917. Read full article here

The Bounce

“It was his dream to see one of his trainees play in the NBA someday.” Punjab, home to an abundance of six feet and above players, is “the nursery for Indian basketball”, in part due to Dr Sankaran Subramanian and his efforts as a coach for the Ludhiana Basketball Academy. Subramanian could figure out his players’ every weakness and strength and toiled into the wee hours of the night watching videos and formulating strategies, fuelled by the dream to see India’s basketball scene be recognised internationally. Read full article here

The Medical Professor Who Beat The Roulette Table

Dr Richard Jarecki worked hard at the operating table, but his true love was the roulette table. After he moved to Germany, he, his wife, and a few other people he hired surveyed Europe’s roulette tables in search of “biased roulette wheels”. These wheels were old and a little scuffed; their wear and tear made them more likely to land on certain numbers. He won over 2 million USD (in today’s money) at the Casino San Remo, which almost filed for bankruptcy after he cleared them of their cash. Read full article here

How a 6-Year-Old Survived Being Lost in the Woods

Cody Sheehy walked to safety after going missing when he was six years old. He trekked an estimated 14 to 20 miles out of the mountains and into the Wallowa Valley over the course of 18 hours. He tumbled into a river, escaped coyotes by climbing a tree, and hid from a passing car. This piece, 32 years later, chronicles the adventure that captivated the nation. Surprisingly, “Cody could nearly precisely recollect the route he followed to avoid being apprehended by the search group.” Read full article here

The Botanist Who Defied Stalin

Nikolai Vavilov was one of Russia’s leading experts on plant genetics, recognised worldwide for his work in botany. This passion for plants initially drew him to Trofim Lysenko, an “average man” who claimed to be able to double Russia’s crop yields; however, after discovering that Lysenko’s results could not be replicated, he turned on him. Vavilov’s refusal to renounce “western” Mendelian genetics and opposition to the Stalin-appointed Lysenko landed him in prison in a sham investigation, where he would die of systematic malnutrition during World War II. Read full article here

Okuda Hiroko: The Casio Employee Behind The Riddim That Revolutionized Reggae

The Casio MT-40 keyboard’s “rock” unintentionally became a core ‘riddim’ of reggae music. Its creator, Okuda Hiroko, was a music graduate fresh out of college. She fell in love with reggae in middle school, and it became such an integral part of her life that she based her thesis on the genre. And apparently, this spilt over into her development of the MT-40’s preset rhythm tracks; although she hadn’t had the genre in mind, it likely influenced her subconsciously to make a rhythm that worked well with reggae music. Read full article here

Pencil Pushing

An insightful comic about a prison artist getting by and eventually prospering. Jorge H. Gonzalez made 8 to 12 USD a week drawing for other inmates, enough to fund his love of coffee and get him a few additional supplies every week. But after designing a traditional Japanese tattoo sleeve for a cop, his little venture became an all-out business; in return for the art, he got art supplies (deemed contraband) to use himself and sell to other prison artists. Read full article here

The Debonair Restaurateur Who Inspired The First Chinese-American Cookbook

The most substantial obstacle to Chin Foin’s culinary success was not competition but rather intense xenophobia. He strove to raise the standards for Chinese restaurants in Chicago amidst the citywide sentiment that “chop suey places” were an affront to American “morality, health, police regulations and other protective measures”, alongside various anti-Asian restaurant laws. One way he succeeded was by showcasing the open-air kitchen of the Mandarin Inn—his most opulent and famous restaurant yet—to prove to his upper-class clientele that his staff adhered to the strictest hygienic protocols. Read full article here

The Park Avenue Desperado

A dive into the past of boxing, this article – originally published in 1980 – examines the life of the most powerful boxing promoter of the time, Bob Arum. In boxing, Arum was a forerunner of the pay-per-view industry. “I think, given the rate of inflation, that I’ll be able to charge—easily and comfortably—$20 per home. Let’s say we get 30 per cent—that’s a conservative figure—of the sets in use. At $20 a pop, that’s $60 million. Comsat takes its 20 per cent, leaving me $48 million.” Read full article here

FASCINATING READS, SUMMARISED

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