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The Genius of Pascal on 'Post-It' Notes *

Blaise Pascal had been a brilliant mathematician and a bit of a playboy, but when he lost control of his carriage and was sliding toward oblivion, he underwent a dramatic change of heart and mind. He was transformed. Thereafter, he pursued a pious life with the same vigor that he had pursued a self-indulgent one. As the mood would strike him, he would write down brief thoughts on scraps of paper. His intent was to create a defense of religion aimed at convincing a person such as the man he once was. He collected over 900 inspirations, the most recognizable of which is Pascal's Wager. The logic goes like this: It is always best to follow God's commandments because if God exists and you follow His commandments then you go to Heaven, but if He doesn't exist then you have lived your life well and all you will have lost is the freedom to engage in certain activities of dubious value. After Pascal dies, one of his friends tidies up Pascal's notes and has them published under the title: Pensées (pawn SAY) which means "Thoughts". Pascal "Thoughts" will remain in print into the modern day. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In 1968, a scientist at 3M was working on a super adhesive glue but the sticky goo that he invented could barely hang on to anything. Dr. Spencer Silver had a sense that the goop must be useful for something so he became an evangelist for the glue that just wouldn't hold. Back in those days 3M believed in "business bootlegging"... the practice of looking the other way and letting researchers pursue their blue sky projects on their own time because project managers don't have a box on their spreadsheets labelled "Sudden, Freakish Inspiration." (Hewlett-Packard had a similar policy at the time.) After 5 years of looking for an application for his invention, Art Fry asked if he could use the glue on his bookmarks so they would stop falling out of his hymnal. Everyone at the church loved it and after some marketing tests, they named the product Post-It Notes and the rest is history. [4] [5] [6]

Tong Ren Tang Pharmaceuticals and the Gods of Medicine

Tong Ren Tang Chinese Pharmaceuticals is open for business. They are selling the basics for Chinese medicine. Over the years the family will sell the business to outsiders but the family will eventually buy it back. It will become the largest Chinese pharmaceutical company in the world. [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Frankly, I don't know much about Chinese medicine, but my doctor is a supporter of various non-medical supplements. (One should always use caution even with things recommended by one's doctor. My doctor recommended a supplement that produced a salty taste in my mouth. It wasn't dangerous but quite annoying. My wife takes the same stuff and she's fine. So... every body is different.) Having doctors prescribe medicine is actually a modern phenomenon. It started in the early 20th century when anti-biotics began curing diseases that had plagued mankind for centuries... including the Plague. Doctors became more than advisors. They became miracle workers and the M.D. became the norm. (Before the 20th century many doctors were NOT M.D.s) I'm glad for medicine, but disease is not an anti-biotic deficiency and doctors are not gods. I know too many doctors, personally, to believe that. Good people? Sure. Heroes? More than average. Gods? Forget it.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1669, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. <Alex Shrugged notes: Yes. The Pascal programming language is named after Blaise Pascal. It was a real improvement over the strict structure of FORTRAN and even though it was considered a "toy" programming language, Borland's Turbo Pascal was used to implement some of the systems on the International Space Station.
  2. Pensées - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 October 2015. “The Pensées (literally 'thoughts') is a collection of fragments on theology and philosophy written by 17th-century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal. Pascal's religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism and the Pensées was in many ways his life's work.[1] The Pensées represented Pascal's defense of the Christian religion. The concept of 'Pascal's Wager' stems from a portion of this work.”
  3. Pascal's Pensées - (Free Ebook). Gutenberg.org (1669). Retrieved on 30 October 2015.
  4. 9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake. smallbusiness.yahoo.com (2015). Retrieved on 30 October 2015. “Silver proselytized the potential uses of his new, sort-of-weak glue around 3M for years, all to deaf ears. Finally, a colleague named Art Fry attended one of Silver's seminars in 1974 (3M has long been known for encouraging employees to step outside of their own departments to see what people in other areas of the company are doing). Fry saw a use where no one else did: holding his page in his hymnbook, which his bookmarks kept falling out of.”
  5. Post-it note - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 October 2015. “In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a 'low-tack', reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his 'solution without a problem' within 3M both informally and through seminars but failed to gain acceptance. In 1974 a colleague who had attended one of his seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.”
  6. Bootlegging (business) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 October 2015. “Bootlegging is defined as research in which motivated individuals secretly organize the innovation process. It usually is a bottom-up, non-programmed activity, without the official permission of the responsible management, but for the benefit of the company. It is not in the department’s action plan nor are there any formal resources allocated towards it (Augsdorfer 1996).”
  7. Tongrentang: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese medicinal herbs shop. BeijingToursGuide.com (2010). Retrieved on 28 October 2015. “The family creating Tongrentang was a legend. Le family started the business in 1669, while in 1754, Tongrentang suffered a hard period and was transferred to Zhang Shiji, an associate with Le family. More and more investors joined the business. In the mid 1800s, Le Pingquan, the offspring of Le family, opened up another pharmacy called Guanrentang, and started buying back Tongrentang.”
  8. Beijing Tong Ren Tang Canada. Tong Ren Tang (OFFICIAL SITE) (2015). Retrieved on 28 October 2015. “Traditional Chinese medical companies pioneered overseas investment in the industry, beginning in the early 1990s. Perhaps the best-known brand is Beijing Tongrentang Group, founded in 1669. Counting on its strong brand image, Tongrentang set up an export and sales company in Hong Kong in 1993 and is now the biggest exporter among Chinese drug makers, with total overseas sales of $20m in 2003.”

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