Monthly Archives: October 2011

The e-book is killing the page


According to Alexandra Horowitz

The e-book hasn’t killed the book; instead, it’s killing the “page.” Today’s e-readers scroll text continuously, eliminating the single preformed page, along with any text defined by being on its bottom. A spokesman for the Kindle assured me that it is at the discretion of the publisher how to treat footnotes. Most are demoted to hyperlinked endnotes or, worst of all, unlinked endnotes that require scrolling through the e-reader to access. Few of these will be read, to be sure.

‘Alexander the Great’ was a Roman invention


According to Mary Beard

Cicero’s contemporary Gnaeus Pompeius has been eclipsed in the modern imagination by his rival Julius Caesar, but as a young man he had achieved even more decisive victories over even more glamorous enemies than Caesar ever did. After conquests in Africa in the 80s BC, he returned to Rome to be hailed “Magnus” (or “Pompey the Great,” as he is still known), in direct imitation of Alexander. And as if to drive the point home, in his most famous surviving portrait statue (now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen), Pompeius is shown aping Alexander’s distinctive hairstyle, with a rising “quiff” (or anastole as the Greeks called it) brushed back from the center of his forehead.

Julius Caesar was not to be entirely outdone. When he visited Alexandria, where Alexander’s body had finally ended up (hijacked in its hearse on the way back from Babylon to Macedon and claimed for Egypt by one of Alexander’s “successors”), he made sure to make a pilgrimage to the tomb: one demented despot paying homage to another, as the Roman poet Lucan derided the stunt.


Roman writers did not merely debate the character of Alexander, they did not merely take him as model, they more or less invented the “Alexander” that we now know — as Diana Spencer came close to arguing in her excellent book The Roman Alexander (2002). In fact, the first attested use of the title “Alexander the Great” is in a Roman comedy by Plautus, in the early second century BC, about 150 years after Alexander’s death. I very much doubt that Plautus himself dreamed up the term, but it may well have been a Roman coinage; there is certainly nothing whatever to suggest that Alexander’s contemporaries or immediate successors in Greece ever called him “Alexander ho Megas.” In a sense, “Alexander the Great” is as much a Roman creation as “Pompey the Great” was.

See also “Julius Caesar” and “The Roman conspiracy to invent Jesus“.

China/USA net labor costs for manufacturing converging fast


Update: “New Boston Consulting Group Report Elaborates on Why America Is Likely to See a ‘Manufacturing Renaissance’” LINK

According to the Boston Consulting Group

Within the next five years, the United States is expected to experience a manufacturing renaissance as the wage gap with China shrinks and certain U.S. states become some of the cheapest locations for manufacturing in the developed world, according to a new analysis by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).


“All over China, wages are climbing at 15 to 20 percent a year because of the supply-and-demand imbalance for skilled labor,” said Harold L. Sirkin, a BCG senior partner. “We expect net labor costs for manufacturing in China and the U.S. to converge by around 2015. As a result of the changing economics, you’re going to see a lot more products ‘Made in the USA’ in the next five years.”