Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30: Anniversary of the Iroquois Theatre Fire

Billed as “absolutely fireproof,” Chicago's Iroquois Theatre went up in flames less than six weeks after opening. Upwards of 600 people perished in the blaze, and today it remains on the records of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as the deadliest single-building disaster in U.S. history.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Love Charleroi, Belgium?

Tour group offers sightseeing tours through Charleroi, Belgium, which has been called "the ugliest city in the world." The so-called “adventure city safari” includes stops at a vandalized, never-used metro station, a giant pile of coal waste, and the former home of a serial killer. Sound like fun?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Beware of the Urkel

Saggy pants are no longer an issue at one Memphis middle school, not since Principal Bobby White started The Urkel Initiative.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Failure magazine wishes you a happy -- and efficient -- holiday season!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Dead Sea is drying up

Every year the shoreline of the Dead Sea retreats a little more. With the region's tourism industry suffering, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians are teaming up to try to save it. But will their efforts accelerate the destruction?

Friday, November 26, 2010


In 1843 a small group of eccentric men and women founded a utopian community in east-central Massachusetts. By January 1844 the community had dissolved. What went wrong?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Disaster Deferred?

Two-hundred years ago a series of large earthquakes hit the Midwestern United States. But despite apocalyptic predictions, the New Madrid Seismic Zone isn’t likely to produce a devastating quake anytime soon, says Northwestern University geologist Seth Stein in a new Failure Interview.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Wednesday November 10 marks the 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Failure magazine revisits the disaster - and examines the prevailing theories about why the Mighty Fitz sank - in its latest feature, The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Subaru 360

The worst car ever sold in America? Ed Parsil, cofounder of The Subaru 360 Club, begs to differ.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Awkward School Pictures features bad haircuts, bad fashion choices, and more than its share of awkward situations. Read more about the site's launch.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Five-Year Party

College faculty member and former education reporter Craig Brandon on why hundreds of American colleges and universities are fostering a party atmosphere in an effort to retain students and maximize profits.

Monday, September 06, 2010

People of WalMart: The Book

Failure magazine interviews Luke Wherry, co-founder of, about his new book Shop and Awe.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

James Buchanan $1 Coins issued

Earlier this week, the United States Mint released the latest coin in the ongoing Presidential $1 Coin Program, this time featuring our “worst president,” James Buchanan (1857-61).

Read more: James Buchanan Dollar Coin

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Great Typo Hunt

Jeff Deck, Benjamin Herson, and the other members of the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) are out to change the world, one correction at a time. Read more about The Great Typo Hunt.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Golden Gate

Failure magazine reviews: Golden Gate - The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge, by Kevin Starr, Bloomsbury Press.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sudan: Darfur, Islamism, and the World

“This book is about one of the greatest humanitarian and political disasters of our age,” writes Richard Cockett, Africa editor of The Economist, in the introduction to “Sudan.” Read Failure magazine's book review.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today's Google doodle: The Wizard of Oz

Today's Google doodle celebrates the 71st anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Downstream: Death of the Mighty Colorado

Failure interviews photographer Brian L. Frank, who won the 2010 Global Vision Award for his photo essay Downstream: Death of the Mighty Colorado.

Success Made Simple

Only half of newly-opened American companies are still around after five years. But if the business is Amish, the success rate is ninety-five percent. What accounts for such a high success rate? Independent Amish expert Erik Wesner has the answer.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

When Failure is Tolerable

My co-editor pointed out an interesting post yesterday in the blog section of Harvard Business Review titled When Failure is Intolerable. The gist of the post is that while there is value in “positive failure,” there are also times when failure should be considered unacceptable. In the midst of making his argument, though, Scott Anthony brings up an important point — that part of the reason organizations (and the individuals who work for them) fear failure is because “Too frequently people reward (or punish) outcomes when they should reward (or punish) behaviors.” There’s a lot of truth in that; workers tend to act conservatively because they fear being scolded (or fired) for bold initiatives that don’t work out as planned. As a result, there’s a lot less innovation than there should be — or could be. Organizations need to empower individuals to push the envelope, with the understanding that things will not always unfold as planned.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Entirely too much intellectual energy has been — and continues to be — devoted to the Shakespeare authorship controversy. Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains the arguments of Shakespeare doubters, and what’s at stake in a dispute that has been re-energized by the rise of the Internet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The race to discover the Mount Everest of caves

Find out what it's like inside the world's deepest caves, and which cave holds the title as deepest in the world in Failure magazine's new feature To the Supercave.

The Rise and Fall of Baseball Cards

Dave Jamieson, author of the recent book “Mint Condition,” on the 1994 crash of the baseball card industry — and the outlook for a once-popular hobby.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Awkard Family Photos: The Book

If you think your family is awkward, compare your clan to the families on display in Awkward Family Photos, a LOL-funny book of pictures and stories culled from the pages of

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

New York City Museum of Complaint

The book New York City Museum of Complaint features 132 representative letters written to the Mayor of New York between 1751 and 1969, all urging the city’s leader to address one municipal problem or another.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Meet 'Be Grateful for Obama' guy

Lenny Kates, a retired social worker from the blue-collar town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, got fed up with all the disrespect being shown to President Barack Obama by Tea Partiers and the right-wing media. So he decided to counter the negativity with a message of his own. Once a week he stands in the middle of a busy traffic circle in his hometown holding a sign that reads: “Be Grateful for President Obama.”

Notably, his message isn’t really addressed to right-wingers, who are mostly unreachable anyway. It’s addressed to those on the left and in the center, who may be taking Obama for granted or frustrated that he hasn’t been able to effect more change (somehow forgetting that Obama inherited a long list of complex problems from the previous administration, problems that will take years to fix).

Says Kates to Americans: “Join with the president and stand up for him. He’s doing a wonderful job in a very difficult time.” Read more about Lenny Kates here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Richard Whittle interview

Today Failure published its interview with Richard Whittle, author of "The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey."

Saturday, May 22, 2010 A miserable failure

The Tea Partier-in-Chief at discovers that equating a president with failure isn’t as easy as George W. Bush made it appear.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

MRSA: Superbug

Failure magazine interviews "scary disease girl" Maryn McKenna, author of "Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA" (Free Press).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Victor Gruen's Shopping Mall

Architect Victor Gruen denounced suburbia, hated traffic, and had little interest in shopping. So what possessed him to create the shopping mall?

Age of the Castrato

In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy, thousands of pre-pubescent boys were castrated to preserve their youthful, high-pitched voices and allow them to pursue singing careers. Was getting castrated better than the alternative?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Utility truck fail

Here's what can happen when you fail to put (or keep) the downriggers out on a utlity truck. This accident occured on Friday March 26 in Ketchikan, Alaska. The worker in the bucket at the end of the truck's extended boom suffered a bloody nose and bruised ribs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The 2010 Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker contest is March 23

The Odor-Eaters National Rotten Sneaker Contest is a unique competition held annually in Montpelier, Vermont.

If ET calls, who answers for humanity?

Meet Paul Davies, chairman of the SETI Post-Detection Group, and author of the new book The Eerie Silence.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Day in Failure - Isabella Gardner Museum heist

On this day in 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston was robbed by two men dressed as police officers, who made off with artwork worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The case remains unsolved and the artwork missing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Eerie Silence

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is 50 years old next month. Yet still no sign of E.T. Theoretical physicist Paul Davies says it's time to re-think the search.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Friday, March 05, 2010

Remember Up With People?

The new Behind the Music-like documentary Smile Til It Hurts captures the essence of the ideologically-motivated singing group Up With People.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Illusions of Entrepreneurship

"The Illusions of Entrepreneurship," by Scott A. Shane, is now out in paperback (Yale University Press).

Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Fallen Giants"

"Fallen Giants," a remarkable history of Himalayan mountaineering, is now available in paperback from Yale University Press.'

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Rhoda Janzen interview

Six days after her husband left her for a man he met on, Rhoda Janzen was seriously injured in a head-on motor vehicle accident. Then she went home to the Mennonite community of her youth, and started writing.