Monthly Archives: June 2012

Steve Jobs made the right call: Apple’s ingenious iPhone turns five today

FIVE years ago, the makers of BlackBerry didn’t believe the iPhone was possible. According to a former employee, they held internal meetings on 10 January 2007, the day after the unveiling but six months before it went on sale on 29 June, arguing that Apple was fudging the truth: it was simply impossible for a device that was almost all touchscreen to work on battery power. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Human nature, Liberal education, Technology

We need a political hero to slay the corporate undead

NO ONE will ever produce a film called David Cameron: Vampire Hunter. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, got a Hollywood blockbuster this week that reinvents his life as a fight to the undeath. Lincoln’s cod-historical battle with soulless, slave-owning bloodsuckers adapts a mash-up biography/monster novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, whose back catalogue of left-field bestsellers includes the wildly successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which sold 794,000 copies in 2009 alone. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Literature, Politics

Nimble thinkers can leave long-term visionaries locked in a time warp

IN WESTERN Texas, they’re building a clock in a mountain designed to last for 10,000 years. The project, backed by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and many other tech luminaries, will take decades to complete and is the centrepiece of a movement to encourage more long-term thinking. The foundation behind it makes a point of writing the year as 02012 as a reminder of how much future there is ahead of us. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Human nature, Innovation, Technology

Ghosts in the Bauhaus: Glimpsing the human face behind modernism’s mask

THE Barbican’s new Bauhaus exhibition is full of ghosts. These early twentieth-century disciples of modernism are renowned for furniture as coolly perfect as an equation, but it is the human messiness of achievement that haunts every room. A chair that takes the breath away is posed between half-finished student exercises, invitations to parties and dozens of photographs of the German design school’s members eating, playing and working. It’s a reminder that permanent achievement – in design and elsewhere – is never a sterile process, but a living conversation between creative minds as they grapple with their materials. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Human nature, Innovation, Olympics

A reminder of the ancient ties of the crown to the City

IT WAS a magnificent spectacle on the river in 1662. On Saturday 23 August, Samuel Pepys records in his diary that King Charles II brought his new Queen, Catherine of Braganza, to London in a celebratory flotilla that almost paved the surface of the Thames: “Anon come the King and Queen in a barge under a canopy with 10,000 barges and boats, I think, for we could see no water for them, nor discern the King nor Queen.” Continue reading

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The road to driverless cars is paved with ambition, imagination and courage

SOMETHING important happened in Spain this week, and not just the continuing revelations of the depths of its economic crisis. Volvo announced that on a motorway just outside Barcelona a convoy of four driverless cars drove 123 miles on a public road, among other road users, perfectly safely. Continue reading


Filed under Business, Innovation, Technology