The Top 10 Crazy Bastards Who Actually Changed the World (For the Better)

G. K. Chesterton once said that imagination does not breed insanity, but reason. He argued that artists and poets rarely go crazy, but with scientists it’s pretty much par for the course, and one good look around the halls of fame of the scientific community seems to confirm this. Hell, Newton once stuck a giant needle under his eyelid to see what was back there. In tribute to the certifiable lunatics that made the world the way it was, we at Spike.com present nine doctors and scientists, and one president, who changed the world in spite of, and perhaps by virtue of, being completely bats**t insane.

Source: Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

10. W. C. Minor

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Source: Oxford University Press

What he did:

The Oxford English Dictionary was notable as being one of the first well-organized and well-compiled dictionaries. Indeed, it was more or less the first dictionary that didn’t suck, and which made an attempt to catalogue all the words in the English language, not just the ones that were tricky. Eventually, a few professors realized that all the dictionaries of the time were aggravatingly laid out and just generally crappy, so they set about making a better one.

One of the many problems they identified was that there weren’t any good example quotations that demonstrated how to use the word in a sentence. Unfortunately to rectify that problem, they needed someone who could compile such quotations and definitions, and match them up to every word ever written. They were to busy to do it, and they didn’t have the funding to pay anyone to do it, so they put out word that they needed volunteers for an frighteningly menial task. They didn’t get a whole lot of go-getters.

Of the people who did volunteer was William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who loved the English language. Minor compiled an enormous quantity of words with quotations and definitions that he could call up on demand. He compiled lists of every instance of every word in all the books he owned, and was by far the most efficient of the volunteers for the OED. He became close friends with the Editor of the OED, Dr. James Murray, and they would eat lunch several times a week. Indeed without his contribution, the OED would have probably been as poorly done as all the others and dictionaries would continue to suck to this day.

So what’s so crazy about him?

He did all of this while incarcerated in the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane, after going nuts and killing a father of six-with-one-more-on-the-way named George Merett, who Minor thought was out to get him. During his interment he had little else to do, so he hoarded definitions and quotations the way that lady down the street hoards stray cats. Meanwhile his mental condition became continued to deteriorate until he cut his dick off with a straight razor, and they shipped him back to America.

 

9. Tycho Brahe

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Source: Eduard Ender

What he did:

Before Galileo, there was Tycho Brahe. Tycho Brahe catalogued the motion of every star, planet, UFO, and ball of ignited swamp gas in the heavens for much of his life, information that was surprisingly important for its time and allowed the creation of the laws of planetary motion.  His carefulness and scientifically rigorous methodology are considered to have been essential for setting the stage of the scientific revolution.

So what’s so crazy about him?

Many famous geniuses were drunks, but few were as spectacularly so as Tycho Brahe. Dinner at his house would put most modern day drunken college frat parties to shame. Not only did he tend to do stupid things when he was drunk (at a Christmas party when he was 20 he got into a duel with a man in a pitch black room and lost his nose in the process), but his house was like a goddamn circus. Since Brahe at one time had a net worth of about one percent of the entire wealth Denmark and lived in a castle, the guy knew how to throw a hell of a party. Among other shenanigans, one thing he was known for was having a dwarf in his employ named Jepp who Brahe maintained was clairvoyant. Jepp’s full-time job consisted of wearing a jester’s outfit, sitting under the table at dinner, and whatever else a psychic midget is supposed to do. He also had a pet moose that would drink with the rest of them, until one day it got totally s***faced and fell down a flight of stairs.  When was the last time you were at a party and a drunk moose fell down the stairs? We thought so.

 

8. Samuel Morse

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Source: Project Gutenberg

What he did:

He invented the first electrical telegraph, and made Morse code, the language used in communication for over a hundred years. This worked wonders in the advancement of civilization, as it provided a means of communication over long distance in short time, as well being the forerunner of modern binary code.

So what’s so crazy about him?

He was a little paranoid. He was determined that the Blacks, Jews, Catholics and the entire nation of Austria were working to destroy the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants of America. He wrote several books on the subject in which he talked about how the immigrants and lesser races were oppressing all the white people, how the Jews and Catholics were working together to kill Protestants, and how all of these groups met on a regular basis in the basement of an orphanage in Ireland. Oh, and Austria’s in there too somewhere.

Ironically, when the telegraph became widespread it allowed people to arrange in advance for their arrival when they immigrated. This led to a massive storm of immigration into the USA and filling it with people of different ethnicities, religions, and all the other things that are obviously conspiring against the poor oppressed WASPs of the country. So Morse ended up dying locked in his house afraid of going out for fear of the Catholic-Austrian-Immigrant Jews that were taking over the world.

 

7. Yoshiro Nakamatsu

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Source: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

What he did:

At 81 years old, Nakamatsu has over 3,000 patents, giving him the record for the most patents in the history of ever (Thomas Edison only had a little over a thousand, most of which he ripped off).

Chances are you encounter several of his inventions on a regular basis. He invented the CD, the DVD, the digital watch, and the taxicab meter.

So what’s so crazy about him?

Nakamatsu meticulously catalogues, records, and analyses everything he eats, in a bid to survive to the age of exactly 144. No more, no less, he is determined to die at that exact number. He sleeps only four hours a night, saying that sleeping over six hours is “very, very bad.” His diet is almost exclusively made up of his “Yummy Nutri Brain Food”, a combination of seaweed, cheese, yogurt, eel, eggs, beef, and chicken liver.

What is most interesting is his method for inventing things. He holds his breath underwater until he almost dies. He himself says “A lack of oxygen is very important… I get that flash just 0.5 sec before death. I remain under the surface until this trigger comes up and I write it down with a special waterproof Plexiglas writing pad I invented.”

Usually when you need a near death experience just to get through the day, you’re either insane, or you just have stones the size of basketballs. Or both.

 

6. Sergei Bryukhonenko

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Source: Experiments in the Revival of Organisms/Prelinger Archive

What he did:

Sergei Bryukhonenko made enormous leaps for medical science, and indeed mankind, when in the early 1920s he invented The Autojector, the worlds first ever life-support machine. It acted as a mechanical heart and lung, and while primitive by today’s standards it did the job pretty well. This was the template for pretty much all life support machines that came after, and we probably don’t need to tell you how important those are.

So, what’s so crazy about him?

In order to test his machine, he needed the dead and the dying, and even though this was back when medical ethics were pretty much left up to whatever the doctor’s scruples were, he couldn’t very well use people. Instead, he used dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. He would first kill them, then use his system of pumps and bowls to get them going again. As he went on, he got increasingly dramatic, practicing draining the blood from dogs’ body, then restoring it and bringing the dog back alive (however brain damaged). Later he started testing if his machine would work only on the whole dogs, or if he could get away with only part of a dog. Like, say, just the head. As it turns out, it is possible to sever a dog’s head, hook it up to a bunch of tubes, and keep it alive. Well, only for a few minutes, and in sort of a stupor, but it’s the principle that counts.

All things considered, the man was only a castle, a hunchback, and poorly recorded lightning track from being Victor freaking Frankenstein.

5. Henry Cavendish

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Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What he did:

Cavendish was an instrumental figure in the scientific community. Aside from discovering hydrogen, he also calculated the density of the planet earth with surprising accuracy using only a couple of lead balls and his own intellect. This may not sound too important, but it was influential in the field of astrophysics, because it led to many important breakthroughs, including the calculation of the gravitational constant of the universe. He also did great work with electricity, discovering the concept of voltage, the formula for the capacitance of a capacitor and a unit for it (now called the Farad), Ohms law, Coulombs Law, Richter’s law of Reciprocal Proportions, Dalton’s law of Partial Pressures, and Wheatstone’s laws of parallel circuitry.

So, what’s so crazy about him?

You may have noticed, all his discoveries are named after other people. Henry was a bit of a loner. He almost never left his house, except when he needed equipment, or to go to the Royal Society Club, where he barely talked to anyone unless they had something really important to say. He never entertained visitors at his house, and actually had a hidden staircase in his house so he could get around without encountering his housekeeper, who he communicated with via letters left on a special table. There is one account where a fan of his work ambushed him at his door in an attempt to tell him how great he was, only to have Cavendish scream and run into the woods, to be coaxed out two hours later.

All the discoveries listed above under someone else’s name, are there because Cavendish didn’t publish them. Instead they sat in his attic for almost a hundred years collecting dust, until a man named James Clerk Maxwell showed up, and found them. By that point, people were starting to make these discoveries on their own. In essence, Cavendish was almost a century ahead of his time, but didn’t get any credit for it because of his terrifyingly bad social skills.

 

4. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg

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Source: Project Gutenberg

What he did:

Back in the 1800s, breakfast meant one of two things. If you were rich, it meant eggs. If not, it was porridge. John Kellogg and his brother Will changed that. They invented the first cereal in the world: Corn Flakes! A cheap and tasty (albeit slightly bland) breakfast food. This paved the way for a whole new era in the land of breakfast. An era where instead of gruel, porridge, or other boiled grains, one had dozens of foods to choose from, each represented by it’s own anthropomorphic cartoon animal, with dozens of games and puzzles on the back, and toys and decoder rings on the inside.

So what’s so crazy about him?

The thing which no one pays attention to, and which will never make that little side-panel on the box with the explanation of how “ever since its conception, Kellogg’s has been dedicated to quality” is why he made Corn Flakes in the first place.

Dr. Kellogg was a strong believer in nutrition, and felt that a simple diet low in sugar and energy, would be paramount in preventing little children from masturbating. Yes, for real. You see, Kellogg felt that masturbation was what was eating away at society and destroying all that was good in the world. You may laugh, but it’s proven to cause a number of serious health problems including (but not limited to): insomnia, fatigue, excessive hair-loss, excessive hair growth, weight-loss, weight-gain, blindness, nausea, insanity, gout, cancer, homosexuality, and communism.

He was the founding father of several movements including the “Race Betterment Foundation,” part of the early eugenics movement. He was also a strong advocate of circumcision. Not circumcision at birth, mind you. He felt that it should be done as punishment when little Billy is caught fiddling with his boner in the bathtub:

[The procedure] should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.

He maintained that circumcision would work almost one hundred percent of the time, because “following the cicatrisation of the wounds, the skin will cover the organ tight…which will considerably hamper masturbation or eradicate it altogether.”

For the record, it doesn’t.

Along with restrictive dieting, circumcision, and his diabolical acid treatment, he also advocated tying the subject’s hands together, putting their genitals in special devices that would make an erection intolerably painful, electroshock therapy, and sewing the foreskin shut.

He also once preformed a clitorectomy on a nine-year-old. If you don’t know what that is, just take our word for it that you’re better off not knowing.

So that’s why we have Corn Flakes. Oh, his brother Will was the one who invented Frosted Flakes. Johnny flipped s***, we don’t mind saying.

 

3. Nikolai Tesla

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Source: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

What he did:

Tesla’s contributions to humanity are too many to all be listed here. Among other things, he invented AC, the Induction motor, the Tesla Coil, Wireless Technology, Radio Astronomy, Radar, and Robotics. He was also the guy who thought up the Death Ray, although he never actually got around to building one (that we know of).

So what’s so crazy about him?

Tesla was very OCD. And that doesn’t just mean he washed his hands more often than Lady Macbeth. He had an obsession with the number 3 to an almost frightening extent. Whenever he entered a building, he first had to circle the blocks 3 times clockwise, he only stayed in a hotel room if the room number was divisible by 3, and he always used exactly 9 napkins, which he kept in three stacks of three, and spent many of his meals calculating the volume of his food before eating it. He also loved pigeons to the point that he would import special seeds for feeding them in the park, and would sometimes capture them live and take them back to his apartment with him.

He hated jewelry (especially pearls, earrings, and pearl earrings), refused to touch anything with any amount of dust on it, and was terrified of anything round and/or metal. Of course that last one could just be a healthy reaction to working in a lab where most of the round, metal objects would fry you on contact.

 

2. Andrew Jackson

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Source: Stock Montage/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What he did:

Won a major battle in New Orleans in the War of 1812 (the one where Canada burned down the White House), securing the respect of his peers. He was elected as the seventh president of the U.S.A., where he helped form the American Political system, and got his face on the 20 dollar bill. In his term he reduced national Debt, caused several structural changes to the bureaucratic and political system (including the implementation of the Spoils System), and pushed for expansionism, allowing the US to grow to the size it is today. He also helped screw the Indians out of all their land.

So what’s so crazy about him?

Jackson was what we in the Biz call a “Badass Motherf***er.” He earned the nickname “Old Hickory” in his war days for being almost completely indestructible, and for regularly beating the s*** out of people with a hickory walking stick. He won the battle at New Orleans by virtue of his both being a hard-ass, and by hiring a crap-load of pirates to help out. That’s right, freaking pirates. They even brought their cannons down into the artillery. His men won with only about 24 deaths.

He was also known for participating in a great many duels. Understand that back then, duels were fought with muskets, the most hideously inaccurate gun in the history of guns. This meant a duel consisted of just shooting at one another until the other guy was so scared and/or bloodied that he surrendered. During his duels, Jackson sustained so many bullet wounds that (according to biographer Chris Wallace) he was known to “rattle like a bag of marbles” when he walked, and cough up blood on a regular basis. After seeing the guy take a few shots to the abdomen, and taking a few themselves, most surrendered, and Jackson only once ever actually killed a man in a duel.

This unlucky individual was Charles Dickinson, who was convinced by Jackson’s political opponents to make fun of his wife, who Jackson he married before she divorced her first husband. Jackson, who just didn’t stand for that kinda s***, challenged him to a duel. Then, even though Dickinson was well known as being an award-winning marksman, he let Dickinson shoot first. Just to reiterate, he actually had made money off of being particularly good at shooting things, and Jackson let him be first to try to shoot at him. Dickinson shot him square in the chest, missing his heart by about one inch. While any sane human being would have screamed all bloody hell and called for a medic, Jackson straightened up and shot the guy in the face, killing him instantly.

Jackson was also the first president on whom an assassination was attempted. The would-be assassin (a guy named Richard Lawrence who thought he was King Richard the Third) opted to try to shoot Jackson, even though he was by now probably more bullet than actual living flesh. Lawrence ran up to him, pulled out his gun, pointed at Jackson’s heart, and pulled the trigger.

The gun misfired. So he pulled out a second gun he brought with him, pointed it at his heart, and pulled the trigger. In what can only be called a statistical miracle, it also misfired. Jackson charged the man with fire in his eyes, and proceeded to beat the living s*** out of him with his walking stick until his aides pulled him off, with the help of local bystanders (including Davy Crockett). Lawrence later said that he “only felt genuine fear when he saw the 67-year-old president charge.”

 

1. Pythagoras

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Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What he did:

Pythagoras was one of the founding fathers of mathematics. Aside from being credited with writing the Pythagorean Theorem, he also conducted a great deal of work with sound and harmonics, and discovered the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is a number that represents the geometric relationship “A is to B what B is to C” and it appears a good deal in nature as well as art. You may recall that there was a long and overall pointless chapter in The Da Vinci Code completely devoted to the subject.

Pythagoras also created a model of the universe in which the universe was a series of glass spheres, all turning in harmony, with the earth at the center. This dominated astronomy for about 2,000 years, and was the favored view of the Catholic church who felt it was proof of God. And we all know that you can’t argue with the Catholics, or they’ll send the black Austrian Jews after you.

So what’s so crazy about him?

He had a cult. A weird one. Not, you know, one of the average, Jesus-lives-in-a-spaceship-under-Antarctica cults. No, this was a number cult. Sure, they had all the weird rules. Have sex in the summer, not the winter, only drink water, only eat uncooked foods, don’t wear wool, etc. Oh, and never ever eat beans. They make you fart and are “like the genitalia” therefore they are pure evil.

But they were also obsessed with numbers and geometry. Every number was a shape and every shape represented a number. And every number-shape had a purpose, a divine meaning, and a place in the order of everything. And Pythagoras loved them all.

Their symbol was a number-shape (of course), it was the number five, the pentagram, because the pentagram was infinite. The pentagram contained a pentagon. The pentagon, if all corners were connected, formed another pentagram, which was proportionate in every way to the original and which formed another pentagon. Pythagoras saw more numbers in music, in the ratios of the strings and the beauty of the notes. In fact, his views on philosophy can be summarized in his own words “All is numbers.”

Unfortunately his idea of numbers and geometry can only allow numbers to be expressed as ratios with nice whole numbers (i.e. 2/3 instead of .66666). Decimals didn’t exist. This meant that irrational numbers such as Pi, which continue forever in a non-repeating decimal fashion and can’t be represented as fractions, are impossible to represent.

So when a guy named Hippasus said “hey guys, this doesn’t work here…” Pythagoras did what any rational person does when someone is a threat to their beliefs. Which is to get their secret brotherhood of math nerds to kidnap him, tie him up, take him out in the middle of a lake, light the boat on fire, and disappear into the night.

That’s right, they killed the guy over Pi. And he wasn’t the only one. Anyone who had a proof that was a threat to Pythagoras’ vision of a perfect, rational, measurable universe was to be silenced.

Pythagoras’ end came when he denied a few people entry into his elite group of math nerds. They came in a mob to torch his house, and he ran away out the back with them hot in pursuit. Supposedly this continued until he came to a large field of beans. Given the option between the Angry Mob and the Bean Field, he just turned around and let them kill him.

This guy made math what it is today. Damn, eh?

Post courtesy: spike.com

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The Pig And The Horse

There was a farmer who collected horses; One day, he found out that one of his horse became ill and he called the veterinarian, who said “Well, your horse has a virus. He must take this medicine for three days. I’ll come back on the 3rd day and if he’s not better, we’re going to have to put him down.”

Nearby, the pig listened closely to their conversation. The next day, they gave him the medicine and left. The pig approached the horse and said “Be strong, my friend. Get up or else they’re going to put you to sleep!”

On the second day, they gave him the medicine and left. The pig came back and said “Come on buddy, get up or else you’re going to die! Come on, I’ll help you get up. Let’s go! One, two, three…”

On the third day, they came to give him the medicine and the vet said “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to put him down tomorrow. Otherwise, the virus might spread and infect the other horses.” After they left, the pig approached the horse and said “Listen pal, it’s now or never! Get up, come on! Have courage! Come on! Get up! Get up! That’s it, slowly! Great! Come on, one, two, three… Good, good. Now faster, come on…. Fantastic! Run, run more! Yes! Yay! Yes! You did it, you’re a champion!!!”

All of a sudden, the owner came back, saw the horse running in the field and began shouting “It’s a miracle! My horse is cured. This deserves a party. Let’s kill the pig! and celebrate”


Points for reflection: this often happens in the workplace. Nobody truly knows which employee actually deserves the merit of success, or who’s actually contributing the necessary support to make things happen.


Moral: LEARNING TO LIVE WITHOUT RECOGNITION IS A SKILL!
If anyone ever tells you that your work is unprofessional, remember: amateurs built the Ark and professionals built the Titanic!

This post originally ran on hiyamedia

Your time is Limited


Like a lot of us, I’m affected by the news of Steve Jobs leaving Apple. I don’t know how to interpret his resignation except to imagine that he believes he’s too sick to continue doing the work he so obviously loves. I find it sad when someone is robbed of something they want desperately to do by disability, sickness, or poor health. A few years ago at a commencement speech, Jobs said that working at Apple was “the best decision he ever made.” I bet choosing to leave Apple was the hardest he’s ever made.

Where does this leave Apple? I think Jobs’ greatest legacy may not be the actual products he shepherded into creation, but rather the vision and culture he created and made famous. What other hardware / device company can you think of where holding the product in your hands will tell you who made it? How many companies can you think of where you’d know how to work there and know what’s expected of you on your first day when you walk in the door? The aesthetic & culture of Apple is understood throughout the world, and I think this legacy will live on even if Steve is no longer with us.

Maybe the greatest accomplishment any leader can hope for is that the team, organization or business he built can continue & prosper without him once he’s gone.

I know there are a lot of Apple detractors on Google+ — I wish I had a place to post this where people could appreciate what I’m saying instead of commenting about what I got wrong, or something even more crass. Whether you like Apple or Jobs, I hope you see these words in the most important context: that we are all in this together… this thing called life. Thanks Steve. 🙂

A vision for everything – Strategic planning

When you are walking on the road, vision of your eyes is required, else you may fall down.

When you are walking on the path of life, vision for life is required, else,… you may fall down.

A Vision for everything

Be it a road, your life, or your business, a vision is always required to move on, “SUCCESSFULLY”.
A vision is an aim, a goal, or a view how you want your future should look like. Like when you are walking or driving on a road, your eyes sees  if anybody is coming on the way from a distance. If  you are not careful or do not keep a eye on the road you’re walking… you may be knocked down.

Similarly, your business or your life is like that same walk of the road. Before moving on (recommended) or atleast at the beginning of it you should have your visions clear about what you actually want to do and where you have to reach.
A Vision plays an important role in shaping and organizing the future of the business (life). A vision is nothing but a small summary of your future plan. And it’s obviously great if you write down your vision in words, for it helps to make more crisp and clear plans and helps other people in your team to understand your goal and objectives. Without a vision? ofcourse you gonna fall down soon, unless you are so lucky (like #siddharth mallaya) to regret having fallen down. And ofcourse you are not one.  And if you’re still confused about your goals, take a 30-minute break, sit down at a corner or at a balcony where it’s silent enough that you can concentrate on yourself, talk to your mind, feel your soul what it wants, and write down in a notepad.