Fine tastings of last week (#5)

1. The human brain is arguably the best of nature’s creations. Many of us have heard that the brain has the capability to train another part of the brain to take over functions from a defective part. It may be hard to believe, but it is true. Now we even have a celebrity endorsement to corroborate this – Scott Adams of Dilbert fame writes of his succcess in reprogramming his brain to overcome a speech impediment.  In a related story, the New Scientist reports on an amazing experiment where volunteers learnt to control their emotional responses by observing a display which represented in real time, the brain activity (like a thermometer) the activity in the insula region of the brain – known to be an important part of the brain for handling emotions.

2. When it comes to mass market retailing, Walmart and Target dominate the conversations.  Fortune carried an insightful article on Costco – the quiet giant that is now clocking over $56B in revenues. Why Costco is so addictive? – read on (Via NRF Smartbrief).

3. Most Indian cities have a lot of street dogs. The pathetic state of these street dogs will make any animal lover’s heart sink. So far the only solution has been to put the street dogs to death. Now thanks to an NGO called Help in Suffering and the Blue Cross of India, the street dogs are being sterilized (neutered) and are being cared for as an important part of the community in some cities like Jaipur and Chennai. Touching! (Via Priya Raju)

4. Geologists have made an amazing discovery that the Amazon river in South America once flowed from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean – the exact opposite of how it flows today.

5.  JP has written an insightful post on predicting innovation by using the innovations that have come about in the credit card marketplace as a pattern. Must read for people interested in innovation.

6. ACM Queue has published a brilliant interview laden with insights on how to do non-disruptive innovation on a platform. Industry veteran David Brown talks from his experience on evolving the Sun Solaris platform to another Sun veteran Bob Sproull. Some of what David Brown has done with Solaris are object lessons in platform evolution. If you are a techie, don’t miss this (Via Debashish “DR” Roy).