Century Marks

Century Marks

Brain drain

In the 1980s a recent Princeton Ph.D. graduate in aeronautical engineering asked Paul Volcker, head of the Federal Reserve Bank, which Wall Street firm he should work for. Volcker asked why he didn't go work for Boeing. The man said he could start at Boeing for a salary of $50,000 and work up to a high of $90,000. "I can make that overnight on Wall Street," he said. A generation of the best and the brightest young Americans made similar decisions, according to Joe Klein. They were diverted "from making new products to making new deals" (Time, October 18).

All aboard

Online churches like LifeChurch.tv are just a recent example of American religion using technology in an inventive way. Now almost forgotten are 19th-century chapel train cars that took religion to where the people were—on the frontier. Clergy rode in these cars, holding services between stops, using what in that day was a state-of-the-art means of making religion accessible (Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, Simon & Schuster).

Yellow journalism

A new Ugandan newspaper named the Rolling Stone (not to be confused with the American magazine with the same name) featured a list of the 100 "top" homosexuals in the country, along with their pictures and addresses. The banner on the paper said, "Hang them." This edition of the newspaper appeared near the one-year anniversary of the introduction of legislation in the Ugandan parliament that would impose the death penalty for some homosexuals and life imprisonment for others. The proposed legislation was shelved, yet more than 20 homosexuals have been attacked in Uganda since its introduction and another 17 were arrested and are in prison. The legislation was supported by some conservative Christian leaders in the U.S. (AP).

Fire or ice?

Humans have long speculated about how the world will end. During the cold war the focus was on nuclear annihilation. Now the focus is on the threat of terrorists getting access to bioweapons. Corey S. Powell lists 30 threats that could end the world—or human life—as we know it. Environ­mental toxins, a biotech disaster or an ecosytem collapse could make life impossible. But Powell thinks most of his 30 doomsday scenarios are unlikely (Discover, October).

Dream team

In January Apple announced that it had sold 250 million iPods, the fastest-selling music player of all time. The iPod fulfilled the dream of Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, to dominate the music industry and change the way music is heard, sold, bought and consumed. The year before, Apple had lost $816 million, and the company's reputation as an innovator was in decline. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of The Orange Revolution (Free Press), ask: would your organization, on the heels of its worst year, put its best people on a team and ask them to create something that fell outside the usual operating model?