Saturday, November 25, 2006

Aluminum Finish on Powerbooks/MacBook Pro

I've come to the conclusion that aluminum exterior of the Powerbooks and MacBook Pro's scratches too easily. I accidently placed my Macbook Pro upside down one of those plastic airport security bins and I got several ugly scratches on the top of it. Sure, I should have placed it in the proper orientation so it sat on its rubber feet. My only excuse is that it was late, I was tired, and airport security annoying demands all laptops are removed from their bags.

My next purchase will likely be a Macbook. The Pro is from work and it's really too big for airplanes. My personal laptop is still a 12' Powerbook which I've managed to keep in pretty good shape except for some scratches on the underside. Though having to baby a laptop is kinda of annoying. It really seems like Mac laptops ought to be tougher. Guess I'll find out whether the plastic ones are better when I spring for Macbook,.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lessons on the hazards of occupation from Sparta

Back in junior high, I remember being taught about Ancient Greece and the Sparta and the Athens and how the Spartans were a cold, militaristic people and the Athenians were cultured and democratic. Turns out my education left something out, how Sparta became militaristic, which has great relevance the fiasco in Iraq. I'm listening to The Teaching Company's excellent course on Ancient Greek Civilization and found that Sparta became a rigid and militaristic people as result of their occupation Messenia.

Prior to this occupation, the Spartans were a more typical Hellenistic Greek society with art and culture. But Sparta's subguation of the Messenian people, which they called helots, forced their society to change. Professor Jeremy McInerney writes in the class notes:

fear of the helots encouraged the
Spartans to develop a close-knit social order directed
mainly toward maintaining the status quo. All Spartan
institutions were devoted to keeping the helots in

The Spartan society became an unpleasant place. Occupation has severe negative effects on the occupier. Something both America should consider as figure out what to do about Iraq.

All the Teaching Company courses, I've bought are excellent. I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys learning or wants to fill in gaps in their education.

Disneyland, the mirror of America

I made my annual trip to Disneyland at the end of the October, about 2 weeks before the election. Going every year, I've come to find that if you want to see what's going on in America, Disneyland is the place to do it. This year the guests had a different mood than in year's past. The park was very crowded for a fall weekend and I got the sense that people were coming not so much to have fun but to escape.

While it may sound corny for an adult to say, one of the reasons I keep going to back to Disneyland is that place has a certain magic and normally the guests, from the kids to the adults get caught up in it. This year the guests were draining the magic rather than adding to it. They were their to escape something. I think it was the reality that the country is caught up in a un-winnable war where our actions have made the people our leaders claimed to be helping worse off.

After so many elections where the Democrats looked promising but failed to pull it out in the end, I refused to get optimistic about this one. My assessment of the mood at Disneyland should have given me some confidence. The public really is unhappy with where the country is headed.