It seems that, either on land in Gaza or under the sea nearby, last summer, some ignorant and greedy barbarians came into possession of an unusually intact and highly artistically significant Hellenistic bronze statue of Apollo. Reports differ, but apparently the priceless statue was briefly being offered on Ebay for $500,000, probably only a fraction of its actual value. Its finder, we are told, chopped off a few fingers for testing, thinking that the statue might be gold. Police representing the Palestinian authority, Hamas, subsequently seized the statue, and it has disappeared.
We can only hope that the nearby civilized state of Israel will take steps to secure possession of this important art object on behalf of the rest of the nations of the West.
Businessweek, January 30th: The Apollo of Gaza: Hamas’s Ancient Bronze Statue
The Guardian, February 10th: ‘Priceless’ bronze statue of Greek god Apollo found in Gaza Strip—Hamas officials seize statue after it appears on eBay—Doubt cast on fisherman’s claim to have found item in sea
Businessweek, February 10th: New Details Emerge in Mystery of Bronze Apollo Held by Hamas
The Verge, February 11th: Ancient statue of Greek god Apollo discovered in Gaza strip
A Georgia antiques collector is the latest person to claim that he might have found the original recipe for Coca-Cola.
Cliff Kluge and his wife Arlene recently bought a box of letters at an estate sale, and one of the yellowed papers, dated 1943, includes instructions for making cola, according to Atlanta’s WXIA. Kluge thinks it could potentially be the recipe for Coca-Cola and is trying to sell it on eBay; bidding starts at $5 million, but customers can buy it now for $15 million.
Somebody clearly believed that it was real, as it Sold via “Buy It Now” on May 15th:
On May 8th, 1886, Dr. John Stythe Pemberton, a pharmacist and inventor of medicinal beverages, invented the world’s most famous drink – Coca Cola. Shortly after, he began selling the fountain drink in a nearby Atlanta pharmacy. Concocted in a brass kettle in his back yard, this patent medicine was billed as being able to cure anything from morphine addiction to headaches to impotence.The ingredients, their ratio and the process method of the beverage is one ofthe most closely guarded secrets in the world. To this day, it is said that only two of Coca Cola’s executives know the entire ingredients.
In 1899, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead of Chattanooga, met with Asa Chandler, then President and owner of the Coca Cola Company. They approached him with the idea of bottling the beverage. Until then, Coca Cola was only available as a fountain drink. After much negotiations, Mr. Chandler agreed to grant bottling rights to the two gentleman, for the astronomical fee of $1.00.(He never collected the $1.00, by the way) Thus born was the world’s first Coca Cola Bottling Company, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Fast forward 100+ years later to the 21st Century – we were at an estate sale of a deceased, renown Chattanooga chemist, who at one time worked at one of the more prominent chemical companies in the area. There were masses upon masses of personal paperwork at the sale. Curious, we bought several boxes of this paperwork, which yielded some interesting finds. Among those finds is what is offered for sale here – what we believe to be the formula for Coca Cola.
Typed on January 15th, 1943, this single page (front and back) breaks down the formula into exact amounts of specific ingredients to make one gallon of concentrate, which, when combined and processed yields enough to make 16 gallons..
May we make this perfectly clear – we can never guarantee and never claim that this is the actual recipe for Coca Cola. Even if this formula was 100% accurate in every aspect—as mentioned above—there are only two people in the world that can verify it’s accuracy, and I doubt they will be willing to compromise Coca Cola to acknowledge our exactness. That is why we are selling this as a historic artifact.
What I can guarantee is that offered for sale is a single page, hand typed and written, 70+ year old recipe on yellowed paper that was purchased out of an estate of a local chemist in a city that claims the right of being where Coca Cola Bottling originated. Whoever typed this letter back in 1943, had access to the original recipe, and references that fact on the second page – “On page 83 of the Extractor is the original Coca Cola formula(e) which might serve as a source of preparation information.”
Though you’re looking at the “Swiss Cheese” version of that formula, with the ingredients edited out, you will be purchasing the entire recipe to include ingredients, ratios and preparation details. The formula is an interesting read in itself – including the Maywood Chemical Company, now the Stepan Chemical Company, which has the solitary right of decocanizing the coca leaves for Coca Cola. Indeed, until 1903, Coca Cola had an average of 9 milligrams of cocaine in each serving. No wonder it got rid of headaches.
It is to our belief that the interest in this will be so great, that the questions through eBay will be monumental—so we ask “serious inquires only”. I will never reveal any portion of the formula in any shape or form, so don’t waste the energy asking. You may find the “Buy It Now” price exceptionally steep, but it will be a drop in the bucket if this formula rises to the occasion and yields an accurate formula for CocaCola – the most popular drink in the world , with over a billion served daily. A billion plus per day – my goodness.
Update: It’s interesting to see how this is unfolding. According to some news sources, it appears that during World War II (this letter is dated January 15, 1943) Coca Cola was concerned that they were not going to be able to obtain all the ingredients they needed to make the formula – either by war time shortages, or the countries where the ingredients came from were deep in battle and couldn’t meet supply demands. This is pure speculation – the estate we bought this from—this person was a renown chemist—is it possible that this informal letter was written to that chemist to find other avenues to reach the same tasting Coca Cola recipe? Personally, I don’t believe it was written to compromise Coca Cola or the formula. There is no doubt (at least in my mind) that whoever typed the letter had seen the original recipe for Coca Cola, and they reference that on the second page – “On page 83 of the Extractor….” Is it the original recipe? I don’t know, but more evidence and external factors are falling in place to bolster the fact that this could be the original, with an emphasis on the word “could”. Looking at the recipe, it certainly is a lot more complicated than I could have ever imagined.
For sale: One Senate seat. Goes to the highest BLEEP-ing bidder. Seller’s positive feedback rating: since Tuesday, just about zero.
Outraged by the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, more than a dozen people have put the state’s vacant Senate seat up for bid on eBay.
The offers popped up on the Internet auction site after Blagojevich was accused Tuesday of trying to benefit financially from his power to appoint a Senate replacement to President-elect Barack Obama.
Daniel Finnegan, a student at the University of Georgia, said he started an auction because he’s “extremely upset about what happened” and wants to voice his opinion.
Finnegan says he’s glad others posted similar auctions so the accusations against Blagojevich don’t go unnoticed.
University of Illinois student Matt Platino says he posted his entry to be funny, but also because he’s upset with Blagojevich. ...
And folks are bidding, some jokingly. One posting (“Used Illinois Senate seat, all wood and leather, willing to deal on this one! Please be advised I will be away from my office for a while…”), had 78 bids and was going for $99,999,999.00 Wednesday morning.
Literal Senate seats have been eliminated as of this morning, but Internet domains named ObamaSenateSeat, newspaper clippings, and numerous joke references can be found.
Jarod Lanier (above) writes about Technology the way certain of my college friends used to talk about these kinds of things after a couple of hash brownies. This specific (brilliant, crossing the barriers of a variety of separate and distinct topics, wildly original and speculative, and a trifle daft) form of discourse was referred to in our circles as space-ranging. Criticized by his interlocutors for his prolixity, for the profusion of his ideas, for their chaotic disorganization, and for indulging in the characteristic intellectual overreach of the seriously stoned, one Early Concentration Philosophy classmate of mine, had on a particular occasion declared memorably in his own defense: “I am a Space Ranger!”
As the rings of Saturn fade distantly in the view-finder, Lanier remarks:
As it happens, I dislike UNIX and its kin because it is based on the premise that people should interact with computers through a “command line.” First the person does something, usually either by typing or clicking with a pointing device. And then, after an unspecified period of time, the computer does something, and then the cycle is repeated. That is how the Web works, and how everything works these days, because everything is based on those damned Linux servers. Even video games, which have a gloss of continuous movement, are based on an underlying logic that reflects the command line.
Human cognition has been finely tuned in the deep time of evolution for continuous interaction with the world. Demoting the importance of timing is therefore a way of demoting all of human cognition and physicality except for the most abstract and least ambiguous aspects of language, the one thing we can do which is partially tolerant of timing uncertainty. It is only barely possible, but endlessly glitchy and compromising, to build Virtual Reality or other intimate conceptions of digital instrumentation (meaning those connected with the human sensory motor loop rather than abstractions mediated by language) using architectures like UNIX or Linux. But the horrible, limiting ideas of command line systems are now locked-in. We may never know what might have been. Software is like the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which each day is the same. The passage of time is trivialized.
But, as is often the case in space ranges, there is some very good stuff in here. The concept of the Antigora, i.e., a privately owned marketplace whose owner benefits both from its use by, and from the volunteer labor of, entrants is potentially quite useful.
I have a strong suspicion that Lanier’s use of Agora, and variations thereon, as his preferred term for one kind of marketplace and another, stems from the influence of the late Samuel Edward Konkin III (1947-2004), founder of a unique strain of California counter-cultural Libertarianism which he called Agorism, whose theories were promulgated via Sam’s own Agorist Institute. Potlatch metaphors were also a characterististic trope of Konkinian Libertarianism. One can hear the echo of Sam Konkin’s sunny optimism in the following analysis:
Perhaps it will turn out that India and China are vulnerable. Google and other Antigoras will increasingly lower the billing rates of help desks. Robots will probably start to work well just as China’s population is aging dramatically, in about twenty years. China and India might suddenly be out of work! Now we enter the endgame feared by the Luddites, in which technology becomes so efficient that there aren’t any more jobs for people.
But in this particular scenario, let’s say it also turns out to be true that even a person making a marginal income at the periphery of one of the Antigoras can survive, because the efficiencies make survival cheap. It’s 2025 in Cambodia, for instance, and you only make the equivalent of a buck a day, without health insurance, but the local Wal-Mart is cheaper every day and you can get a robot-designed robot to cut out your cancer for a quarter, so who cares? This is nothing but an extrapolation of the principle Wal-Mart is already demonstrating, according to some observers. Efficiencies concentrate wealth, and make the poor poorer by some relative measures, but their expenses are also brought down by the efficiencies.
An amusing read and a fine provocation. John Perry Barlow, Eric S. Raymond, David Gelernter, and Glenn Reynolds will all be replying.
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.