Mary Beard in Durham

Sam booked tickets a while ago to see Mary Beard speak about her new book, Emperor of Rome. Sam's always been fascinated with Rome (the empire, that is; we could take or leave the city) and is a fan of Beard in her own right, so we snatched up tickets early.

I haven't read the book yet (though it's on my list, and Sam managed to snag an autographed copy), but Beard's thesis during the talk was that Roman emperors were, while extraordinarily accessible to regular folks, also themselves regular folks—fallible, idiosyncratic, hopelessly diseased—doing their best to hold onto power. The idea of Roman emperorship, in effect, was to "through autocracy, turn democracy into a sham."

At the end, there was time for a few questions—none generated much controversy but they were all well-asked and worth asking. Whether any of what she wrote could be a reflection on current leadership is, I suspect, a question she wouldn't have answered.



Durham Lumiere

Out with Striders to check out the Lumiere installations. Most of them were dark but the run was lovely.


Oil change

Changing the oil at regular intervals is a good way to ensure the longevity of your car's engine.