My Intern, 50 Cent: A Lesson in Loyalty
You never know who your intern will become.
Jesse Itzler, author of Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, eats only fruit 'til noon, loves Run-D.M.C., and enjoys living life "out of the box." He cofounded Marquis Jet, the worlds largest prepaid private jet prepaid flight card company which he and his partner sold to Berkshire Harhaway/NetJets. Jesse then helped pioneer the coconut water craze with Zico coconut water, which was acquired by The Coca-Cola Company. He is a former rapper on MTV and he produced both the NBA's Emmy Award-winning "I Love This Game" music campaign and the popular New York Knicks anthem "Go NY Go." When he is not running ultra marathons, eating vegan food or being a dad to his three kids, Jesse can be found at the NBA's Atlanta Hawks games, where he is an owner of the team. He is married to Spanx founder Sara Blakely. For more information, please visit http://www.the100mileman.com and follow the author on Twitter.
Jesse Itzler: In your 20s, everybody is rising up the ladder. And in your 30s, the cream continues to rise and others stay here. And others rise too. And in your 40s, you’re really many times in a position of power or real leadership. It’s so important to maintain those relationships in an authentic way. And I’m a "thousand on my SAT" guy but I’ve been able to compensate for a lot of that through relationships and keeping great relationships and being able to contact people now that are in positions of power that 20 years ago, I would have never have thought. When I was starting Marquis Jet — even before Marquis Jet — I was in the music business and I was partners with a guy from Run-D.M.C. who has since been killed — Jam Master Jay, the DJ from Run-D.M.C. And he said to me that he was working with a kid, an 18-year-old kid at the time who was a boxer and he needed an internship. So he asked me if he could work as an intern. I said of course. His name was Curtis. And we ran a van, a promotional van for the New York Knicks and he would hand out keychains and stuff and come in. I was working on music at the time and he was helping me and blah, blah, blah, blah.
Eight years later, Curtis became 50 Cent. And I remember when we started Marquis Jet, I got a passenger manifest one day of all the people that were on our flights and he was a guest of one of the flights. So I had them write a note with a bottle of champagne that said Curtis, you’re never going to believe — because we had a small company. I mean, we all worked in one little war room. I said, "You’re never going to believe this but you’re on one of our airplanes and this is Jesse Itzler, you know. Haven’t heard from you. Congratulations on your success." But anyway the next day I got a note saying that he had changed in his rider that he would only fly with Marquis Jet. But it just reinforces the story that you never know what people turn out to be. And you just never know and loyalty always rewards itself. And that was a great lesson, a very valuable lesson for me and just the power of being nice to everybody and helping people. And I found that people in general want to help each other. And that’s been something that I found throughout my life that people in general want to help other people if you ask them.
Twenty years ago, Jesse Itzler was straddling the line between a music career and a life as a startup-toting entrepreneur. As a favor to a friend (the late Jam Master Jay), Itzler took on an ambitious young intern named Curtis Jackson. The rest is history. Jackson became 50 Cent, and Itzler learned a powerful lesson about loyalty and generosity.
For more from Itzler, check out his new book: Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet.
If you're lacking confidence and feel like you could benefit from an ego boost, try writing your life story.
In truth, so much of what happens to us in life is random – we are pawns at the mercy of Lady Luck. To take ownership of our experiences and exert a feeling of control over our future, we tell stories about ourselves that weave meaning and continuity into our personal identity.
Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.
- Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
- They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
- The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?
But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.
What's dead may never die, it seems
The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.
BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.
The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.
As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.
The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.
"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.
An ethical gray matter
Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.
The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.
Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.
Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?
"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."
One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.
The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.
"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.
It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.
Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?
The dilemma is unprecedented.
Setting new boundaries
Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."
She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.
A space memorial company plans to launch the ashes of "Pikachu," a well-loved Tabby, into space.
- Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mission.
- If all goes according to plan, Pikachu will be the second cat to enter space, the first being a French feline named Felicette.
- It might seem frivolous, but the cat-lovers commenting on Munt's GoFundMe page would likely disagree.
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