~ ATT Trojan Horse
Just saw this for the first time while doing the 'This Day' thing below ... it's a nice spoof on the Trojan Horse theme in an ad from AT&T. If you collect such things, there's a quicktime version available.
Friday, September 03, 2004 8:29:10 AM
~ Constantine and Sausages
The other day we pointed to an article for the chronologically-challenged at the Major League Baseball site waxing on the history of hotdogs. Yesterday, Hypotyposeis was pondering semi-related material, to wit, the Church's supposed ban on sausages (inspired by a semi-similar query at Baraita) because of some association of them with Lupercalia. I perused the Codex Theodosianus for some sort of legislation which might be construed as referring to this but came up empty. The association of sausages with Lupercalia (sometimes also connected to Nero) is all over the web, but I can't find a source for it (why do I picture a cartoon with Nero 'fiddling while Rome burns' and enjoying a hot dog at the same time?). Baraita has put the call out for a source; I echo that call ...
Friday, September 03, 2004 8:11:48 AM
~ Thucydidean Giuliani?
Living on the other side of the longest undefended border in the world, I must admit that the American 'convention' aspect of their political process is utterly baffling to me. As a result, the only attention I pay to such things is during the snippets that get covered during the first ten minutes or so of the news. So for what it's worth, a snippet in the Jersey Journal commenting on various speeches having been made caught my eye:
Silvio Laccetti, a professor of humanities and social sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken for more than 30 years, will have his students compare Monday night's 40-minute oration by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to Thucydides' "The Funeral Oration," a speech about burying Athenians killed in war.
"You've got to capture the moment," said Laccetti, explaining why he believes Giuliani delivered a classic speech. "You have to put into words and sound the essence of the moment . This (speech) had to be made in New York and it had to be made at something huge."
Interesting assignment ... I still have to think about it, but at first semi-caffeinated reading it seems more to resemble Isocrates Panegyricus than Thucydides ...
Friday, September 03, 2004 7:48:30 AM
~ Er ... Sounds Roman to Me
This a.m.'s pile brought me a piece from Military Information Technology -- which I've never heard of -- entitled Net Centric Quantum Leap. The first paragraph was somewhat intriguing:
In today’s fast-moving world of cyberspace, the U.S. military services have had to adapt methodologies and transform systems to maintain superiority in information technology and processing. To this end, both the Navy and Army have been moving toward network-centric systems, capable of integrating multiple strategic and tactical information solutions.
... so I read on, not least because I wanted to see why it turned up in my scan ... seems it was a passing mention of Alexander the Great as a precedent:
These developments amount to more than simply modernizing communications. They represent a conscious shift toward a new warfighting concept: network-centric warfare. The tactical aspect of this theory is not new. Through improved communications and the networking capabilities of organizations associated with the FCS and the CEC, both the Army and Navy seek to exert effective control by relatively fewer forces over greater geographical areas and to enhance the forces’ ability to conduct widely dispersed operations.
This has been traditional warfare’s goal for centuries, and notable successes in this regard include those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Napoleon and the British in the 19th century. What is new, however, are two basic shifts in military assumptions. The first is the growing awareness that the new information technologies enable greater military effectiveness through self-synchronization by tactical units rather than though traditional hierarchical command structures. The second is that military mass—larger weapons systems and units—should be abandoned in favor of smaller, nimbler armaments. These assumptions form the conceptual foundation of network-centric operations.
When you imagine this concept visually, you get a real sense of the transformation. It’s like moving away from the recognizable, pyramidal “chain of command hierarchy” to a more spherical form.
In the former design, decisive power was concentrated at the top of the pyramid. Lower, tactical tiers sent information upward where the commanding tiers considered the narrow perspectives from below, decided what the tactical units should do and ordered them to do it. The system “worked” if subordinate units followed orders to the letter.
The network-centric model, however, is quite different. A command hierarchy exists, but it deals out “command intent,” thus permitting more discretion at the operating and tactical levels. In effect, decision power flows outward—“to the edge”—where combat units implement the intent of command. Information flows horizontally, not through hierarchical chains, but through networks, and it is this robust network flow that allows a common understanding to emerge simultaneously throughout the force. And that common understanding on the part of well-trained personnel, who recognize how actions within their purview can be positively or negatively affected by what is occurring beyond their direct cognizance, is what enables them to self-synchronize their actions with those of their co-protagonists. The payoff is a quantum leap in military effectiveness.
And this is supposedly new? This is how the Romans built their empire!! Even when emperors were at the 'top of the heirarchy', obviously military decisions of importance to an ongoing campaign were done 'at the edge'. I guess with the media creating a climate wherein the U.S. is Rome revivified, it would be only a matter of time before its army became legions and maniples.
Friday, September 03, 2004 7:07:17 AM
~ Strange Ways To Go
One of the many things that add colour to my email box on Fridays is something called Schott's Miscellany ... it's usually a brief list of interesting little tidbits and today's topic is "Dangerous Food and Drink". Inter alia:
QUINTUS FABIUS MAXIMUS (fl.200BC): the Roman praetor who choked to death on a single goat-hair within a cup of MILK.
Searching for the source of the story took me to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, which has a section on "Death from Strange Causes" which is replete with 'classical' examples (with sources for most of them). To wit:
Aes’chylus was killed by the fall of a tortoise on his bald head from the claws of an eagle in the air. (Valerius Maximus, ix. 12, and Pliny: History, vii. 7.)
Agath’ocles (4 syl.), tyrant of Sicily, was killed by a toothpick at the age of ninety-five.
Anac’reon was choked by a grapestone. (Pliny: History, vii. 7.)
Bassus (Quintus Lucnus) died from the prick of a needle in his left thumb.
Chalchas, the soothsayer, died of laughter at the thought of having outlived the predicted hour of his death.
Fab’ius, the Roman prætor, was choked by a single goat-hair in the milk which he was drinking. (Pliny: History, vii. 7.)
Gallus (Cornelius), the prætor, and Titus Haterus, a knight, each died while kissing the hand of his wife.
Lep’idus (Quintus Æm’ilius), going out of his house, struck his great toe against the threshold and expired.
Pamphilius (Cnevus Babius), a man of prætorian rank, died while asking a boy what o’clock it was.
Philom’enes (4 syl.) died of laughter at seeing an ass eating the figs provided for his own dessert. (Valerius Maximus.)
Saufeius (Appius) was choked to death supping up the white of an under-boiled egg. (Pliny: History, vii. 33.)
Torqua’tus (Aulus Manlius), a gentleman of consular rank, died in the act of taking a cheesecake at dinner.
Zeuxis, the great painter, died of laughter at sight of a hag which he had just depicted.
Something Pythonesque in dying of laughter ... You'd expect citations of Pliny and Valerius Maximus; I wonder what the source of the other ones are (Torquatus is the precedent for death by cheesecake ???).
Friday, September 03, 2004 6:48:43 AM