Happy holiday Weekend Reads! If you want to share some stories with the family (or need a distraction), learn the incredible story of the man behind the modern toy industry, find out how deep the LinkedIn Santa Claus network goes, and discover what pregnancy does to the brains of new mothers!
You're probably buying a lot of presents this holiday season, especially if you're buying for kids. And even though gadgets are all the rage these days, what with Spectacles and drones (RIP hoverboards), you might find yourself buying classics like dolls and Transformers. Ever wonder how those Transformers hit it big enough to spawn an infinite number of action figures and a blockbuster movie franchise? Thank Henry Orenstein. If you want a truly uplifting story, read Orenstein's: he goes from surviving the Holocaust thanks to quick thinking and sheer luck to becoming one of the driving forces in the modern toy world. It's enough to forgive him for his part in making televised poker a multibillion-dollar industry and giving us not one, not two, not three, not four, but five Transformers movies (and counting).
Readers! Can we please take a minute to celebrate everything that's great about this article on the apparently-widespread Santa LinkedIn network? 1) There are Santa Clauses on LinkedIn. That alone is amazing. 2) Santas with real beards are apparently in higher demand and have their own international brotherhood. This must be the Illuminati. 3) There are Santa schools! And they give out diplomas! 4) They can make five figure salaries in five months of work. 5) Some of them include "expert cookie taster" in their list of skills. What a world we live in. And now you know where to go if you need someone to make a naughty list of people who send unsolicited LinkedIn invites.
Being a mother is a special thing, and people throw around the phrase "maternal instinct" a lot. I like to think it applies to them lifting cars off their children and knowing when vegetables are hidden rather than eaten, but turns out it goes deeper than that. The brain's grey matter actually transforms in new mothers, allowing them to better empathize and connect with their children. This, combined with ultimate cuteness, is why we stick with babies even when they're crying and throwing up and pooping literally everywhere. It's the best X-men-like power we could hope for in the real world. If you see your mother this holiday season, thank her for altering her brain structure to keep you alive.