Steve Jobs Remembered

It is still a bit hard to believe that Steve Jobs aint  around anymore. He was such a huge figure in the tech world and then, three years ago on October 5, he was suddenly gone.  He may have been a tad nasty at work, but as Om Malik writes, “… he put life and soul into inanimate objects”.   That, I think, is true. He did that.  He also led the way in changing the way we think about society — it is something that we can re-make and improve upon by using our genius. Pretty cool stuff, I would say. So long again, Steve!


Introducing: The Levitating Cocktail

Hmmm … when I see cocktails levitate, I know it is time to exit the bar. Next thing you know, I will be dancing with a Doberman Pincsher.  BTS, they are actually rather nice pooches. Though they are not very keen on dancing. The expression of this charmer gives you the idea

But, consider this news, hot off the presses!

Charlie Harry Francis, founder of the blog, “Lick Me I’m Delicious,” and his newest collaborator, Professor Bruce Drinkwater of Bristol University, just unveiled a machine they are calling the ‘Levitron.’

The levitron “create(s) a levitating field that traps droplets of liquid and allows them to float in mid air”.  And then what? Well, you lick your cocktail out of the air, of course.!

Paris and its Architecture

have you thought about the incredible achievement it was to build the Paris Opera? Auron Betsky writes

It organizes and beautifies its environment, taking its place at the intersection of several of the major boulevards created by Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s grand plans of 1853 and responding to each of its sides differently: The main façade faces a plaza, holding its expanse as a picture of important art, not only larger than the apartment blocks that surround it, but also articulated with bigger and more sculpted elements, and festooned with painted and sculpted decorations that all work in harmony.

In other words, it works because it is at the epi-center of the cultural heart of the city.


Contrast that with the Louis Vuitton Museum, also majestic, but far from the center. Betsky argues that this says something about our priorities these days. It is a provocative piece.


Remembering Roman Madness

Robert Graves did us all a great favor by penning “I Claudius“. Not because the story is true. But because it is better than true. In a fictional autobiography of the emperor Claudius, Graves captured a side of Roman life that is easily forgotten. The extreme power lust at the top. The TV series (see above link) is well worth watching –  more than once.

But if you want to brief introduction, consider the life of one of Caligula.  Was he mad before he became emperor? Or did something snap inside him? We will never know. We do know that he was murdered by his own guard a scant four years after becoming emperor.

Caligula was very tall and pale. While his head was bald, his body was extremely hairy, and as a result, he was often the subject of jokes. Caligula subsequently made it a crime for anyone to mention a goat in his presence, punishable by death.



Ancient Greece: Beware the Megarian Trap!

This is not something that you hear everyday. And yet, it is from a great story. The story that ended with the destruction of ancient Athens in war with Sparta.

Megara was a city state that was strategically located between Athens and Sparta and allied with Sparta.  At one point the Megarians asked Athens for help in a dispute with Corinth. The Athenians saw an opportunity to dislodge Megara from Spartan influence and took it.  But Sparta foiled the plan, embarrassing the Athenians.

In response, the Athenians issued something called the “Megarian Decree”, which banned Megarians from trading with Athenian allies. The Megarian elite was hit hard by this and asked for help from Sparta. Sparta responded. But they did not immediately go to war with Athens. The Spartans offered peace in exchange for repeal of the Megarian Decree.

Hmmm … what would you do? Pericles made two legal arguments and one practical one against the repeal. Athens, he argued, was independent and had no obligation to repeal the decree. Moreover, Sparta was required under a peace treaty to take its claim to arbitration. Well, legal arguments sound good. But it was the practical argument that most likely won the day. He argued that giving in would set a precedent that would lead ultimately to Spartan domination of Athens.

The Athenians listened to Pericles and refused. War commenced in 431 bc. The Spartans came to fight, but discovered that the Athenians had retreated behind their great wall. They refused to come out.  So far so good! But packing the people into this crowded space led to plague in Athens, which btw, claimed the life of Pericles himself. The war dragged on and eventually Spartans won in 404 bc. Athens lost its preeminent position in the region.

Is there a lesson in this? Me thinks there is more than one. The Athenians believed that they were superior to the other Greeks. BTW, the Parthenon, completed just one year before the start of the war, was the ultimate expression of that intense, indeed, incredible pride. Their wounded pride led to the Megarian Decree. And the Megarian Decree was in effect, a type of war — economic war. Economic war led to real war. Real war led to unforeseen and disastrous consequences, plague. It was a slippery slope. One slid from pride to wounded pride to arrogant policy to self-destruction.

You might keep this in mind the next time you visit the Parthenon