In 1563, French philosopher Michel de Montaigne was invited to the King of France’s court to meet three Brazilian cannibals who were brought to France. After having been interrogated for hours by the 13 year old king, Montaigne sought to ask a few questions. And their answers were incredibly revelatory:
First, the Brazilians expressed surprise that “so many tall, bearded men, all strong and well armed” (i.e., the king’s guard) were willing to take orders from a small child: something that would have been unthinkable in their own society. And second, the Brazilians were shocked by the severe inequality of French citizens, commenting on how some men “were gorged to the full with things of every sort” while others “were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty.” Since the Brazilians saw all human beings “as halves of one another… they found it strange that these poverty-stricken halves should suffer such injustice, and that they did not take the others by the throat or set fire to their houses.”
Montaigne records these observations in an essay entitled, “Des Cannibales.” Well ahead of its time, the essay challenges the haughty denigration of cannibals that was so common among Montaigne’s contemporaries, but not by arguing that cannibalism itself is a morally acceptable practice. Instead, Montaigne makes the more provocative claim that, as barbaric as these Brazilian cannibals may be, they are not nearly as barbaric as 16th-century Europeans themselves. To make his case, Montaigne cites various evidence: the wholesome simplicity and basic nobility of native Brazilian life; the fact that some European forms of punishment — which involved feeding people to dogs and pigs while they were still alive — were decidedly more horrendous than the native Brazilian practice of eating one’s enemies after they are dead; and the humane, egalitarian character of the Brazilians’ moral sensibility, which was on display in their recorded observations.
“Name that space rock”, a handy visualisation of the most common astral objects.
Big hedge funds fueled fourth-quarter dive in Apple shares
Noted stock pickers including Leon Cooperman, Eric Mindich and Thomas Steyer unloaded billions of dollars of Apple shares between September 30 and December 31, according to disclosure documents filed on Thursday.
“The stock just went up so much in early 2012 and then was coming back to earth,” said Justin Walters, co-founder of Wall Street research firm Bespoke Investment Group. “Three months from now, we’ll be seeing a lot of the people who sold starting to pick it up again.”
Wishful thinking from Apple investors or fact?
Fascinating new research about how relaxing and getting comfortable can actually make you more productive. Piece by Tony Schwartz for the NYT:
More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.
There seems to be two product systems which are quite popular and successful at the moment, for mobile apps.
1. Simple, mono-action apps
This is Instagram and Vine.
Focus around a unique use case, craft a superb user experience, wait for the market.
Instagram: Take a picture, apply a filter, share it to all social networks.
Vine: Take a 6 second, non-continuous video, share it to all social networks.
2. Kill the middleman
This is Uber, Airbnb, iCracked and Exec.
Find some market which does not need a middleman, as we now have phones with constant Internet connections. Then make connections, and exchanges of goods/services between people super easy, peer-to-peer style.
Airbnb: peer-to-peer house/room rentals
Exec: peer-to-peer house cleaning
In the case of Uber and iCracked it’s business-to-peer via the app.
So you know what you have to do, if you want to build a startup now. (Or you could build a cheap, efficient solar panel (apparently, you can’t).)
Your chance of dying various deaths, nifty infographic by The Economist.
Ok so Daft Punk changed their website, confirmed its signing with Columbia Records and uploaded an image (see above). The world trembled. I conclude that they still have it. A new album must be on the way, come on now.