What makes people creative? What gives some of us the ability to create work that captivates the eyes, minds and hearts of others? Jonah Lehrer, a writer specializing in neuroscience, addresses that question in his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works.
Lehrer defines creativity broadly, considering everything from the invention of masking tape to breakthroughs in mathematics; from memorable ad campaigns to Shakespearean tragedies. He finds that the conditions that favor creativity — our brains, our times, our buildings, our cities — are equally broad.
145,000 businesses start-up each year in the US. Many launch in garages, home offices, or in the case of Stonyfield Farm, a drafty old farmhouse on a New Hampshire hilltop with seven cows, and a dream. Like most entrepreneurial ventures, the company also had vision, tenacity, some capital, market research, and an understanding of expenses, competition and supply chains. How a new business will affect the personal lives of its leader, or the lives of their families and spouses, however, rarely figures into a business plan.
Don Draper, the main character on the hit TV show Mad Men, is said to have been inspired by a real Madison Avenue ad man: George Lois. Lois was a leader in the "Creative Revolution" in advertising during the 1950s, and became one of the most influential art directors in advertising history. His work helped make brands like Xerox, Lean Cuisine and Jiffy Lube famous. Lois is perhaps best known for creating iconic Esquire magazine covers, many of which now reside in the Museum of Modern Art.
Today, flying is like riding a bus. But it wasn't always that way. Vaulted from the sands of Kitty Hawk and freed from military exigencies by the end of World War I, aviation soared into the 1920s and '30s on a direct course to tomorrow. Here are three flyers who not only helped open the skies, but also brought literary gems back from the cutting edge of progress, from a time when flying was the most exciting thing in the world.
We can’t say with any authority when the first con artist found his mark. But we can trace the term “confidence man” to an article in The New York Heraldin 1849. The Herald reporter urged citizens to stop by the city’s notorious tombs and peer at the suspect known as Samuel Williams. Many came to peer at the flim-flam man who described his effect on his marks as “putting them to sleep.” The willingness to be duped, is of course, the genius of the con.
Detail of The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet.
Credit Courtesy Harold Holzer
Credit Alex Wong / AFP/Getty Images
Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The 150-year-old document has suffered damage from handling and light deterioration. You can learn more and get a closer look at the five-page proclamation at the National Archives website.
Credit Courtesy Harold Holzer
This 1865 drawing by L. Hollis, engraved by John Chester Buttre, depicts Abraham Lincoln as he enters Richmond, Va., in April 1865. Scroll down to learn more about this image and other artistic works inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation.
One hundred fifty years ago, in the summer of 1862, the Civil War was raging and President Abraham Lincoln was starting to scribble away at a document, an ultimatum to the rebellious states: Return to the Union, or your slaves will be freed.
Emancipation was a "military necessity," the president later confided to his Cabinet. Lincoln called it "absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves," Lincoln said, "or be ourselves subdued."
When you think about blockbuster best-sellers, genres like mystery, crime and romance typically come to mind. Ethical or moral fiction? Not so much. But that's how Jodi Picoult, who has 33 million copies of her books currently in circulation, describes her novels. So how did an author who writes about divisive issues get so popular?
When an author writes something that's supposed to be a true story and readers discover he's stretched the truth, things can get ugly fast. Recall Oprah Winfrey's famous rebuke of author James Frey for making up much of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces. "I feel duped, but more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers," she told him.
Dr. Adam Wolfberg had two daughters and another on the way when his wife, Kelly, went into labor. But this joyous occasion had come much too soon — Kelly was three months away from her due date. After just 26 weeks in the womb, their baby daughter Larissa entered the world by emergency cesarean section and was whisked into the neonatal intensive care unit of a Boston hospital. It was the same hospital where Wolfberg was doing his residency in obstetrics and gynecology, and his medical background turned out to be a mixed blessing.
There were a lot of good stories from the 2008 presidential election, including Hillary Clinton's serious run for the Democratic nomination, not to mention the election of the first African-American president. The whole story was covered in the bestselling — and controversial — book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, Game Change.
The film version of the young adult book sensation The Hunger Games opens March 23rd. The hype around the movie has sent the sales of the already best-selling trilogy to new heights. And publishers are eagerly churning out more books set in post apocalyptic dystopian worlds — just like The Hunger Games.
Imagine, for a moment, that you're a publisher hearing a pitch about a children's book whose tangled plot braids together quantum physics, fractions and megaparsecs (a measure for distances in intergalactic space). The book also casually tosses out phrases in French, Italian, German and ancient Greek. Sound like the next kids' best-seller to you?
Two mysterious men pull up to the courthouse and head to the public records office. They're strangers, and they ask a lot of strange questions like, "I'd like to look at Mayor John Doe's property deeds." Or, "I want to see Congressman Smith's voting records."
The vast majority of the 175 indigenous languages still spoken in the United States are on the verge of extinction.
Linguist Elizabeth Little spent two years driving all over the country looking for the few remaining pockets where those languages are still spoken — from the scores of Native American tongues, to the Creole of Louisiana. The resulting book is Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Lost Languages.