Month: November 2016

BIC

A reclusive genius who had pioneered the mass production of pens couldn’t topple his rivals at Gillette, the company closest to an American man’s heart (and face).

The Buffalo Bills

The four-time Super Bowl losers are enduring reminders that hard work plus talent plus time is still no guarantee of success.

Mothra

Did a lepidopteran girl-monster like Mothra ever have a chance against a reptilian guy monster like Godzilla? In the skies over Tokyo, yes. In the teenage brains of testosterone-addled mid-century monster movie fans. Not a chance.

Graham Parker

An angry young man at the vanguard of the post-punk English New Wave, Graham Parker never veered too far from his pub-rock roots while his contemporary Elvis Costello soared to great heights as a musical chameleon.

Tally-Ho Playing Cards

In the world of playing card design, there’s the classic Bicycle deck and then there’s everything else. Is it any wonder a fox-hunting dandy didn’t emerge as the nation’s most popular? Probably not.

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf

In his final free throw attempt of the ’94 season, he stepped to the line with a chance to make history. Does his miss say anything about what it takes to succeed, or the transcendent qualities of a champion, or the nature of failure? Nope.

Wang

Word processing – the world’s first “killer app” – enabled Wang Laboratories to threaten IBM’s decades of dominance in the computing world. The rise of the PC, and a troubled dynastic succession, led to the once high-flying company’s rapid demise.

Antoine Bechamp

Louis Pasteur’s bitter rival staked everything on a discredited theory of the role that germs play in the body. If his theories regain a measure of respectability, as many believe they already have, will statues of Antoine Bechamp appear beside those of Pasteur?

Flann O’Brien

If Samuel Beckett was literary heir to James Joyce, the one who had studied at the feet of the master, assisted him at his labors, and carried forward the banner of modernism, Flann O’Brien was Joyce’s wayward second cousin, one who hauled the banner further still, into the post-modern absurd, but only after spitting on it, pissing on it, and ripping it to shreds.

Broad Gauge Rail

In an early standards war played out across the fields of Industrial England, an engineering genius loses out to a more widely adopted, though possibly inferior, system.