The Entrepreneurial Engineer

Sunday, October 15, 2006

YouTube UIUC connection

By now most of you have heard about the Google-YouTube deal (here), but lost in the shuffle is the strong University of Illinois connection. Three principles to YouTube, Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, and Max Levchin are UIUC CS alumni. See some coverage of the UIUC angle here.

Fable of the bees

While exercising this morning listened to a lovely lecture by Darren Staloff on Mandeville's Fable of the Bees on my Teaching Company course on The Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition. This has to rank as one of the great turning-conventional-wisdom-on-its-head stories of all time in which Mandeville argues against conventional wisdom and over two thousand years of philosophical thought that public virtue (the common good) emerges through the interaction of private vice (self interest).

I've blogged frequently about the Teaching Company. Currently I'm doing The Great Minds on video DVD in the mornings when I exercise, and I'm doing Introduction to Greek Philosophy (Roochnik) in my car on audio while I drive around town. I've got to do the Greek Philosophy course, because my older son Max is taking a Greek philosophy class at Northwestern and he was asking me questions about Platonic dialogs I hadn't read.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The art of worldly wisdom

I've been dipping into Art of Worldly Wisdom, a collection of aphorisms published in 1647 by Jesuit scholar and philosopher Baltasar Gracian. Here's number 83 (Fischer translation):

Allow yourself some pardonable defect, for a certain weakness at times may be the greatest evidence of strength. Envy carries its ostracisms, just as civil, as they are criminal: it accuse the most holy of sin, because without sin, and because totally perfect condemns totally. Envy makes of itself an Argus to discover the flaws of the flawless, for its own comfort. Detraction like lightning, only strikes the greatest heights. At such times, therefore, let Homer sleep, and let him affect some lack of spirit, or of virtue, but not of prudence, in order to appease envy, that it burst not of its own poison: wave a cloak before the bull of jealousy, to rescue immortality.

Get the Barnes and Noble version here or there are online versions available as well (see here)