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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Howard Bragman on Andy Warhol

Question: What does Andy Warhol have to do with branding today? Bragman: I think the ‘60s and ‘70s are kind of the time when we experimented with fame, and I think he was, he ran the studio that was almost a lab for being famous. They talked about a lot of people. There’s a lot of actors, a lot of artists, a lot of journalists who came out of there, and he created this culture of celebrity. He created a mystique, and he was one of the first ones to really do that and realize that you could do it on a much larger scale by branding people, which is something that’s become commonplace today but wasn’t so common for people back then. It certainly was for cars and light bulbs and everything else. Question: What would Andy Warhol say about personal branding? Bragman: I think he would say, “Be authentic and have fun with it,” because nobody had more fun with it. What you knew about Warhol was he was in on the joke, and I often tell my celebrities that you got to be in on the joke. When I worked with Monica Lewinsky, we went on Saturday Night Live, she said, “Why would we do that?” And I said, “We have to show that you get the joke.” And, you know, early on in my career, I represented LA Gear, the sneaker company and I got a story for them in a major business publication, I got an advanced copy faxed to me. That was the old days when we faxed, and I got this story and it was a horrible story. The company eventually had big financial problems. It’s this horrible story, and I just started my company less than a year before and I said, “Oh, my God, this horrible story is out, my business is going to go under. I’m going to be out on the streets eating dog food,” and I called a friend of mine and said, “It’s over,” and he said, “Howard…” I said, “Yeah?” He said, “It’s tennis shoes.” And I’ve never forgotten that because 99% of the time, it’s tennis shoes, okay? It’s tennis shoes. It’s not life or death struggles that we’re talking about here. And so you’re allowed to make a mistake, that’s the human condition is to make mistakes, and we live in this great Judeo-Christian culture that allows you to make mistakes as long as you apologize, appear contrite. Why did O. J. get convicted again? Because he wasn’t contrite, okay? It wasn’t so much about the mistake as the lack of contrition on his part. He stood in court and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” If he had said, “I made a mistake. I acted out of arrogance.” I think the judge and the jury would have been a little more sympathetic towards him.

Howard Bragman on getting more than 15 minutes.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
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Economists show how welfare programs can turn a "profit"

What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
  • It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
  • The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
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Unhappy at work? How to find meaning and maintain your mental health

Finding a balance between job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle is not easy.

Videos
  • When most of your life is spent doing one thing, it matters if that thing is unfulfilling or if it makes you unhappy. According to research, most people are not thrilled with their jobs. However, there are ways to find purpose in your work and to reduce the negative impact that the daily grind has on your mental health.
  • "The evidence is that about 70 percent of people are not engaged in what they do all day long, and about 18 percent of people are repulsed," London Business School professor Dan Cable says, calling the current state of work unhappiness an epidemic. In this video, he and other big thinkers consider what it means to find meaning in your work, discuss the parts of the brain that fuel creativity, and share strategies for reassessing your relationship to your job.
  • Author James Citrin offers a career triangle model that sees work as a balance of three forces: job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle. While it is possible to have all three, Citrin says that they are not always possible at the same time, especially not early on in your career.

How the Smiths took over Europe

In more than a dozen countries as far apart as Portugal and Russia, 'Smith' is the most popular occupational surname

Image: Marcin Ciura
Strange Maps
  • 'Smith' is not just the most common surname in many English-speaking countries
  • In local translations, it's also the most common occupational surname in a large part of Europe
  • Ironically, Smiths are so ubiquitous today because smiths were so special a few centuries ago
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The Anthropause is here: COVID-19 reduced Earth's vibrations by 50 percent

The planet is making a lot less noise during lockdown.

Photo by Eric Rojas/Getty Images
Coronavirus
  • A team of researchers found that Earth's vibrations were down 50 percent between March and May.
  • This is the quietest period of human-generated seismic noise in recorded history.
  • The researchers believe this helps distinguish between natural vibrations and human-created vibrations.
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