From egghood to personhood

Somewhere on that journey, consciousness happens, according to Paul Broks' excellent review of Seeing Red. This is the best book review (in the format of a standalone essay) that I've read in a long time, and it's even got a cliffhanger! Have a go at it, and then I am sure you'll be in for its object, too (via virtual philosopher).

Btw, when did you order your first book online? My first traceable Amazon order happened on 11 August 1998: Paul Krugman's Accidental Theorist and Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma.


One more thing ...

If you like computer fruit, then you'll know the phrase: It's the sentence used by Apple CEO Steve Jobs to introduce a product surprise at the end of one of his keynote presentations. I think we might hear the following variation on the theme from Mr Jobs later this year: Oh, and one more thing - here's my successor!

Whence that outrageous allegation, now that we know about Mr Jobs' value to the firm? That's exactly the point. If Mr Jobs were to resign from Apple just like that, this would likely cause a considerable drop in the share price, ceteris paribus.

But I have a feeling that Mr Jobs his character is not one to allow for that assumption that everything else remains the same: he'll just change it thanks to his famous RDF. That's what's happening now at One Infinity Drive IMHO: Apple is being preened for an important change in the near future. The technology leadership in the No 1 strategic asset (OS X) is affirmed with Leopard, and its installable base is multiplied by the introduction of the iPhone, Apple TV and another thing that we don't know of, yet. Market demand for all these items will easily beat expectations and the Mac market share will expand, too, pushing the stock price through the roof. And then ... then we'll get that ominous announcement in a carefully orchestrated fashion so as to minimise the damage. I have a feeling that this is Mr Jobs' Grand Plan that goes well together with his dramatic persona. Remember, you've read it here first.



I am quite the sucker for new journals & magazines. That's why on my last London trip, I made sure to get a copy of the first issue of Monocle, Mr Brûlé's latest addition to the refined forrests market. At Waterstone's I was told that everybody was looking for it, but nobody had it since it was already sold out. Then I struck gold at Borders' ...

Monocle has a smart structure and caters to a like audience. Its contents is divided up under headings A B C D E. The design is surprisingly, yet sophisticatedly low key to the extent of appearing boring at first blush, and it comes in a handy, soft-cover bookish format. But it'll work its magic over time, I think. For the contents is definitely out of the ordinary with a wealth of unusual material spanning the globe. Let me just quote the instances where Switzerland is referred to, since that's what I know best. It starts with a small article about Porta Alpina, a project for a rather exotic type of train station in the alps. Then I just have to mention the article about the Ahmadinejacket, the first in a "series decoding power dressing [by looking] at the semiotics of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's man of the people look". When's the last time you saw semiotics used (without explanation) in a street journal?

Ok, next. Next is a portrait of the relevant components of the Coop chain of retail stores in Zürich. The Monoclists also did some shopping: they actually talk about underwear and Calanda aqua. But it gets weirder: There is a 12 page photo report about La Chaux-de-Fonds, a tiny Swiss town best known for its watch industry, Le Corbusier and Lenin's stay during the Russian revolution. Finally, the website also contains a small guide to Geneva. All in all, the selection of topics, items and locations is always a bit quirky, but interesting, and everything is well researched. I'll take out a subscription, I think.

P.S. Don't forget to check out the video section. Priceless.


Turkish delights

It's already a few days that I've returned from my second trip to Istanbul within a couple of weeks, but I've been kept from blogging about it. While in the Istanbul Hilton, I had an inexplicable (or so it seemed) corruption of all my system preferences on the laptop. Thanks to the trusted backup, that could later be restored without difficulties. But then I remembered that the same thing had happened earlier in Athens where I also stayed at a Hilton. The common factor most likely is the fact that I left the machine running overnight while connected to the web via Swisscom Eurospot, a disgustingly expensive hotel ISP which apparently somehow messes with my machine's preferences. Rest assured that I am not going to take that risk again.

Speaking of risk taking - I have a funny little story to tell about my close encounter with the Istanbul underworld. I spent the Sunday evening walking the town before meeting up with friends later. So, this regular looking guy asks me something in Turkish, to which I respond in English. Turns out he wanted to know the time, and he's a stranger, but frequent visitor to Istanbul by the name of Ali. We strike up a conversation during which he shows me around. A bit later, we decide to have a drink at a place he knows. Hmm, funny, I think, but ok, let's go.

Not long after sitting down at a table at this place "friend" Ali knows, we were being joined by two very blond, very curvy Russian ladies who developed a healthy appetite for the local bubbly. At that point, all my remaining warning lights went off and I asked for the bill. Not really surprisingly, the tab already stood at 2'340 Lira (EUR 1'270). What came next really took me by surprise though, and that was my reaction: I remained rather cool and asked for the police because there was no way I was going to pay. Naturally, our friendly ladies quickly cleared away, and the room's atmosphere turned distinctly unfriendly. Equally naturally, the manager was disinclined to call the police, nor did I have the local emergency number. Thus, the negotiations commenced.

I offered to pay 400 for the wine and firmly stuck to that offer, knowing full well that I didn't have more than 70 with me. That wasn't satisfactory of course, especially since "my friend" Ali offered to take half the bill. When I still wouldn't budge, he finally switched sides and started boasting his boxing prowess and mafia relations, to which I responded in kind (karate & bankers!). After about half an hour of this back and forth haggling, the manager became increasingly nervous and finally took me up on my offer. When I disclosed that I only had 50 in cash, he suggested to escort me to the next ATM as he wouldn't take credit cards for the remainder (why's that, I wonder ...). But once we were outside (he all by himself), I decided that I'd had enough and bade him farewell, not without shaking hands, and swiftly made it to the next cab.

In the end, that little adventure only cost me 50 Lira, and I learned a lesson or two along the way. On the one hand, I am rather pleased with the brazen way I negotiated myself out of that mess, on the other, I am not very happy about having gotten myself into it in the first place - it could have ended much less satisfactorily. I'll be more careful next time. There will be a next time for sure, as this could have happened everywhere, and Istanbul really is a fascinating place, you can take my word for it!



Fun! I just discovered this newish gossipy blog about Schönenbuch, the place where I happen to live. The blog is called ant after an old nickname of the village used by our neighbours - must have been the villagers' proverbial industriousness ... I wonder who the blog belongs to, and how long he will be able to maintain his anonymity. Good luck, and keep up the good work!


Global warming

What with the raging debate about man made global warming and all its derivative industry pro & con, I am still trying to get my head around it, although I must admit that I am growing increasingly weary about the blatantly partisan direction that the debate is taking. Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Swindle takes a refreshingly contrarian position: it not just questions the economics of counter measures (it barely does, in fact), but it goes so far as to question the received wisdom that global warming is scientifically proven (yes, yes ...) to be man made. It offers alternative explanations for unquestioned climatic variability (unsurprisingly, the sun), plus a set of more or less obvious conspiracy theories. Well worth watching for every open minded contrarian.