Lincoln’s Pockets

President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 at 10:15 p.m. at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C.

Futility Closet notes the contents of his pocket:

  • Two pairs of glasses
  • Lens polisher
  • Watch fob
  • Penknife
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Handkerchief

… and a Confederate five-dollar bill.

Follow the Signs of the Times

Sereno Sky writes in Lonely Traveller (2014,)

You have to follow the signs of the times in your life. When it’s time to move on you must do it, even though it may have some sad consequences as others may not understand or want to move on with you. If you don’t follow that still small voice within you, you will only get lost in confusion.

Veeraswamy on Regent Street, the Great British Curry House

Edward Palmer, a retired Indian Army officer founded E. P. Veeraswamy & Co. in Hornsey in 1896 to promote Indian foods “so that they could be used under Western conditions and yet produce Eastern results.” Palmer also launched the Veeraswamy restaurant on Regent Street in London.

Chronicling the history of the vaunted British curry house, the guardian’s food journalist Bee Wilson notes,

In 1960, there were just 300 curry restaurants in Britain. The grandest of these was the venerable Veeraswamy’s off Regent Street, opened in 1926 by Edward Palmer, a retired army officer and Indian spice importer who had been the official caterer for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. Palmer aimed his menu at visiting Indian princes and upper-middle-class Londoners who appreciated the turbaned waiters and chandeliers.

Singapore’s Haw Par Villa: Not Your Average Theme Park

The Haw Par Brothers, creators of the Tiger Balm in the early 1900s, developed an unique educational and cultural exposition. It’s themes are universal and not just Chinese. What is bad is bad and cuts across all nationalities.

Haw Par Villa—formerly known as the Tiger Balm Garden—is an 8.5-hectare Asian cultural park, the last of its kind in the world. Built in 1937, Singapore’s largest outdoor art gallery is the brainchild of Aw Boon Haw, millionaire philanthropist and marketing extraordinaire who gifted the world Tiger Balm.

The eclectic park is a treasure trove of Asian culture, history, philosophy and religion—quirky yet enlightening at the same time.

Economist Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution writes ,

It has its gruesome side, as illustrated by this look at a traditional site for visits, Haw Par Villa:

Thousands used to throng the park, and it once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with attractions like Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park. “Every Singaporean over the age of 35 probably has a picture of themselves at Haw Par,” said Desmond Sim, a local playwright. Those pictures would probably include the following statues, each made from plastered cement paste and wire mesh: a human head on the body of a crab, a frog in a baseball cap riding an ostrich, and a grandmother suckling at the breast of another woman.

But the highlight of this bizarre park are the Ten Courts. A tableau of severe disciplines are shown in painstaking detail, along with a placard stating the sin that warranted it. Tax dodgers are pounded by a stone mallet, spikes driven into a skeletal chest cavity like a bloodthirsty pestle in mortar. Spot the tiny tongue as it is pulled out of a screaming man, watch the demon flinging a young girl into a hill of knives. Ungratefulness results in a blunt metal rod cutting a very large, fleshly heart out of a woman. Perhaps the most gruesome depiction is an executioner pulling tiny intestines out from a man tied to a pole. The colons were visible and brown. The crime? Cheating during exams.

Quality of People and Workplace Engagement

Yishan Wong on engineering management,

The quality of coworkers is the single greatest determinant of workplace happiness, and fully engaged participation by everyone is the primary way by which everyone exercises direct power over making their job experience better.

Intimacy and Vulnerability

American psychologist and Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach writes in Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha (2003):

The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right there, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.

Einstein Took Naps

Science journalist Zaria Gorvett on Einstein’s quirky habits:

Luckily for Einstein, he also took regular naps. According to apocryphal legend, to make sure he didn’t overdo it he’d recline in his armchair with a spoon in his hand and a metal plate directly beneath. He’d allow himself to drift off for a second, then—bam!—the spoon would fall from his hand and the sound of it hitting the plate would wake him up.

True Tolerance

Robin Hanson of Overcoming Bias on what it means to be tolerant:

“Tolerance” is a feel-good buzzword in our society, but I fear people have forgotten what it means. Many folks are proud of their “tolerance” for gays, working women, Tibetan monks in cute orange outfits, or blacks sitting at the front of the bus. But what they really mean is that they consider such things to be completely appropriate parts of their society, and are not bothered by them in the slightest. That, however, isn’t “tolerance.”

“Tolerance” is where you tolerate things that actually bother you.

The Blood Brother of Corporate Evil

Charlie Munger at the 2005 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting,

The history of much of which we don’t like in modern corporate capitalism comes from an unreasonable expectation, communicated from headquarters, that [corporate] earnings have to go up with no volatility and great regularity. That kind of an expectation from headquarters is not just the kissing cousin of evil. It’s the blood brother of evil. And we just don’t need that blood brother in our headquarters.

Gratitude and the Dignity of Dying

Renowned neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, the bestselling author of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, writes in the New York Times, upon learning of his terminal cancer diagnosis at the age of eighty-one,

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Sacks famously noted, “my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.”