Drops from the Fire Hose – September 17, 2012

The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012 — Fast Company

Welcome to our annual celebration of business innovators who dare to think differently. They’re the ones taking risks and discovering surprising new solutions to old problems. This year, they tell you exactly how they do what they do. Click on their names in the list below to find advice and read about their career milestones. Or for tips on a set of creative skills, browse the tool box to the right.

What Makes Presidents and Psychopaths Similar? — Forbes

What explains Roosevelt’s dauntlessness?  New research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that presidents and psychopaths share a psychological trait that may shed light on what made Teddy such a unique character.

The trait is called “fearless dominance,” defined as the “boldness associated with psychopathy.”  Researchers say that when found in the psychological makeup of presidents,  it’s “associated with better rated presidential performance, leadership, persuasiveness, crisis management, Congressional relations, and allied variables; it was also associated with several largely or entirely objective indicators of presidential performance, such as initiating new projects and being viewed as a world figure.”

Fear Thy Nature: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast — Freakonomics

The episode is about how profoundly human behavior is influenced not only by our inner bearings but by our outer circumstances. That sounds quite dull, doesn’t it? Hopefully the podcast is more interesting than this description. It centers on the fascinating show Sleep No More, created by the British theater group Punchdrunk; and the famous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which student volunteers were asked to play the role of inmates and prison guards. What do the SPE and SNM have in common? Give a listen to find out.

When Networks Network — ScienceNews

Efforts by Havlin and colleagues have yielded other tips for designing better systems. Selectively choosing which nodes in one network to keep independent from the second network can prevent “poof” moments. Looking back to the blackout in Italy, the researchers found that they could defend the system by decoupling just four communications servers. “Here, we have some hope to make a system more robust,” Havlin says.

This promise is what piques the interest of governments and other agencies with money to fund deeper explorations of network-of-networks problems. It’s probably what attracted the attention of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in the first place. Others outside the United States are also onboard. The European Union is spending millions of euros on Multiplex, putting together an all-star network science team to create a solid theoretical foundation for interacting networks. And an Italian-funded project, called Crisis Lab, will receive 9 million euros over three years to evaluate risk in real-world crises, with a focus on interdependencies among power grids, telecommunications systems and other critical infrastructures.

Why Can’t We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume? — Wall Street Journal

It’s time to change how society thinks about charity and social reform. The donating public is obsessed with restrictions—nonprofits shouldn’t pay executives too much, or spend a lot on overhead or take risks with donated dollars. It should be asking whether these organizations have what they need to actually solve problems. The conventional wisdom is that low costs serve the higher good. But this view is killing the ability of nonprofits to make progress against our most pressing problems. Long-term solutions require investment in things that don’t show results in the short term.

We have two separate rule books: one for charity and one for the rest of the economic world. The result is discrimination against charities in five critical areas.

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