Stephen Hawking

And another one bites the dust. Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

Dr. Hawking was a Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who pondered on and explored the cosmos. In 1988, he wrote A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. He was also the basis of academy-award winning film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne.

ASL. Before discussing his achievements in the world of science, I need to point out the most fascinating thing about Dr. Hawking is his strength. Dr. Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, back in the early 1960s. ASL is a un-curable disease that breaks down neurons to the point of minimal muscle functionality. For Hawking, the disease reduced his movement to the point where he could only flex his finger and voluntary eye movement. His mental strength, fortunately, was left untouched. He was given only a few years to live. He lived for more than fifty years.

The science. Dr. Hawking’s work can be quite intimidating if you are not a science nerd. I, for one, happily admit slight defeat in understanding science, but I happily admit matters pertaining to the universe fascinate me. I will do my best to provide brief explanations on Dr. Hawking’s work.

Post-education life began around the mid-late 1960s. He worked with Roger Penrose to expand the concepts of singularity theorem, which Hawking first introduced in his doctoral thesis. Their paper received second prize in the 1968 Gravity Research Foundation competition. Failing to accept the silver, the duo published a proof in 1970 stating if the universe were to obey Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity plus Alexander Friedmann’s models of physical cosmology, the universe would have originated from a singularity. That’ll show him.

In 1973, Dr. Hawking focused his attention on quantum theory, hoping to connect it with black holes. This came after a visit to Moscow to discuss these matters with some scientists, one of them being Alexei Starobinsky, whose work on black hole radiation was a precursor to Hawking radiation. Calculating it out, Dr. Hawking found that black holes fizzle out, seeping out radiation particles before finally exploding and disappearing. How did he figure this out? He was annoyed by the fact the calculation contradicted his second law of black hole dynamics.

Later in life, Dr. Hawking set out to figure out the massive questions of the universe, such as a singular nature to the universe and what exactly the fate of our universe would be.

The Book. A big believer in universal understanding of science, Dr. Hawking published A Brief History of Time in 1988 for the nonscientific folks (i.e. me). This book provides a simplified insight on the origin, structure, and fate of our universe. In 20 years, it sold more than 10 million copies. By 2001, it was translated into 35 languages.

Fun Facts. My mind is still boggling while trying to comprehend the concepts, equations and theories Dr. Hawking tried to work through in his career. Yes, this is counterproductive to his wish that everyone would know what’s going on in the universe. So, let’s stick to the fun facts.

  1. Dr. Hawking wanted the formula for Hawking Radiation engraved on his tombstone.
  2. In 2015, Dr. Hawking applied to trademark his name. Not sure if that ever got accepted.
  3. Dr. Hawking has been to every continent.
  4. Dr. Hawking would joking apologize for sounding American because of his synthesizer that he uses to speak.
  5. Hawking radiation led scientists on a 30-year controversy to figure out what exactly happened to things after they were sucked into a black hole.
  6. One of the only awards he hasn’t won is the Nobel Prize, but, according to him, that’s because Nobel Prizes are given to theories that can be observed and it is “very, very difficult to observe the things” he has theorized. You can read more about this in Dennis Overbye’s NYT article “Stephen Hawking Dies a 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos“.

Stephen Hawking may you rest in peace. Say hi to Albert Einstein and Madame Curie for me please.

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking at NASA’s StarChild Learning Center. Photo from Wikipedia

Hubert de Givenchy

Walking back from the break room to get my afternoon snack, my phone lit up with news notifications. Hubert de Givenchy, gentle giant and fashion icon, has died at the age of 91. Considering I had just finished reading two books on twentieth century fashion, my heart sunk an extra 5 levels of hurt. If you haven’t heard of Count Givenchy, bless your soul for living such a deprived life (yes, he is a Count). Givenchy is responsible for dressing the likes of Jackie O., Marlene Dietrich, Babe Paley, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn.


Hubert de Givenchy. Photo from

The Inspiration. Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927 with the name Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy to father Lucien Taffin de Givenchy – the Marquis of Givenchy whose family was ennobled in the 1700s – and mother Béatrice Badin – whose came from a family of well-connected artisans. In 1930, Lucien died of influenza, leaving Hubert and his brother to the care of Béatrice and his maternal grandparents. According to Givenchy myth, Givenchy decided he wanted to become a dressmaker at the age of 10. His family went to a Parisian fair where hot designers like Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli displayed their designs. He told his mother he was to become a dressmaker. Her mother accepted.

Early Career. Givenchy’s early career can be traced as far back as 1945 when he designed for Jacques Fath, a fashion designer part of the Trifecta of “postwar haute couture”. Later in the decade, he worked with Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong, Pierre Balmain, and Christian Dior, borderline-New Look. Starting in 1947, Givenchy worked under Elsa Schiaparelli (or “that Italian” as Coco Chanel would say), until 1951 to open up his own fashion house. In 1952, at the age of 25, Hubert de Givenchy opened up the House of Givenchy. History was to be made.

Hubert and Audrey. Fashion. Charlie Brown noises are what some of you are hearing. That’s okay. Everyone has their own interests and opinions. I do believe what you fail to realize is the impact Givenchy and his counterparts has made on the world beyond just fashion.

For example, Audrey Hepburn. She wasn’t known as a style icon pre-Givenchy. In Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, Audrey, who was shooting Sabrina in 1953, was assigned to ditch her low-key look for a more chic style. She visited Givenchy, who only gave the time of day because he thought Katherine (“the other Hepburn”) had come to visit. With some begging and the good ol’ Audrey charm, the two became fast friends and the rest is history. Givenchy styled Hepburn in films such as Charade, Love in the Afternoon, Funny Face, and, of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s with the famous Little Black Dress (side note: in Chanel fashion, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel came up with the concept of LBD and popularized it. Givenchy reinvented it, making it cool again).

Don’t think it was a one-sided friendship. Aside from putting Givenchy’s name out there through movies (and diminishing Edith Head’s power in the process), Audrey was the face of Givenchy’s first perfume collection – L’Interdit and Le de Givenchy – which he designed for exclusively for her. This was the first time a celebrity was seen on a perfume advertising campaign (you can thank them for the 60 seconds of Kristen Stewart and Julia Roberts perfume ads).

Vogue Paris has provided a lovely article on Givenchy and Hepburn’s friendship in 25 photos. You can check it out here.

The Idol. Around this time, 1950s/1960s, Givenchy met The One: Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The two were peas in a pod for more than a decade. Because of Balenciaga, Givenchy went from simply girly to lavish romantic with, as Eric Wilson puts it in his NYT article “Hubert de Givenchy Dies at 91; Fashion Pillar of Romantic Elegance“, “a strict reverence to construction.”



The Battle of Versailles. In the early 1970s, French and American designers decided to put on a “battle of the bands”-esque show for the restoration of Versailles Palace. Think Givenchy and Dior vs. Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein. This battle was Givenchy’s shining moment. He blew the minds of the traditional societal sticklers when he brought out African-American models. Not just one, not just two, but almost exclusively all his models, seven of which are well-known. This was a radical rebellion, especially for a French haute couture house. Why, this is still somewhat rebellious by today’s standards.

You can read more about Givenchy’s historical fashion moment in Pamela Keogh’s Vanity Fair article “How Hubert de Givenchy Brought Diversity to the Runway

Later in Life. The House of Givenchy was split between the perfume line and the fashion house. The fashion house was sold to the LVMH conglomerate in 1988. Givenchy worked for as a designer for the Givenchy until 1995. From then until his death, he spent time collecting art pieces and being an antiques expert for Christie’s, the Louvre, and Versailles. For several years, he managed the World Monuments Fund. He was a founding chairman for the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation. Givenchy died in his sleep, confirmed by longtime partner, Philippe Venet.


Givenchy, you were an icon. You looked into the future and didn’t fear it, but embraced it. You were more than a fashion designer. You were an innovator. Rest in peace with the rest of the innovators and the lovely Ms. Hepburn.

December 11, 2017

The Arabs understandably did everything they could to protect their monopoly. Coffee beans were treated before being shipped to ensure they were sterile and could not be used to seed new coffee plants; foreigners were excluded from coffee-producing areas. First to break the Arab monopoly were the Dutch, who displaced the Portuguese as the dominant European nation in the East Indies during the seventeenth century, gaining control of the spice trade in the process and briefly becoming the world’s leading commercial power. 

-Tom Standage, A History of the World in 6 Glasses

December 1, 2017

On this day in 1903, the first Western film, The Great Train Robbery, premiered. Tot think 114 years ago films were primitive pieces of silence that emphasized body language to the max, and to track the progress of advancement is spectacular. It’s eye-opening. It’s fascinating.

Today’s Quote of the Day will be silent to honor such a milestone. I recommend watching TGTR and then going to Google to watch the Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer. I like to think that’s a perfect beginning and “current end-point” to track just how far we’ve come and how much further we are going.

November 27, 2017

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.

-Jimi Hendrix

Jimi, today would have been your 75th birthday. Why did you and your genius leave this world so early on? I cannot help but think all the amazing things you would have done in this world. Not that I’m not thankful for the current gifts you have provided while you were a mortal like the rest of us, because I very much am. But one still wonders, you know?

Happy Birthday Jimi!


November 11, 2017

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

– American President Woodrow Wilson

Today, and everyday for that matter, we salute those who have bravely fought for our country. Today should not be about politics or debates. Today should be about honor and respect. If you see a vet, young or old, black or white, man or woman, take a few seconds out of your day to say, “Thank you for your service” because if it weren’t for them, who knows where we would be right now.


November 9, 2017

Because you don’t live near a bakery doesn’t mean you have to go without cheesecake.

-Hedy Lamarr


True dat.

She was every nerd’s pin-up girl back in the day. She was beautiful and super intelligent. For those of you who don’t know, Hedy was an Austrian actress and inventor. She starred in movies such as Algiers (1938). Not only that, she aided the Allies in stopping the Nazis by co-inventing a “secret communications system”, what we know today as Spread Spectrum Technology. What’s that you ask? Pretty much (ok, very much) the technical backbone for cellphones and every wireless piece of tech you have within arm’s reach.

Happy Birthday Hedy (Hedwig) Lamarr!


P.S – Does anybody know if JK Rowling named Harry’s owl Hedwig after Hedy?

November 3, 2017

In 1793, Olympe de Gouges was accused of being a Girondist, a group not being favored by the radical Jacobins that ruled during the Reign of Terror. Why? Well, she wrote a progressive declaration in 1791: The Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen.

Sound familiar? She based it off The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was written in 1789.

The most famous quote from de Gouges’ Declaration is the call to action: “Man, are you capable of being fair? A woman is asking: at least you will allow her that right. Tell me? What gave you the sovereign right to oppress my sex?” Basically, she’s asks why can’t humans get along like other animals species? Does it have to be hard?Somehow, more than 200 years later, we are still trying to figure out the answer.

Birthday Excursion Part Un – The Horse He Rode In On & Insomnia Cookies (Baltimore)

The evening started with a best 2 out of 3 chess match in the hotel lobby with one of my more nerdier friends as we waited for a third companion to come long. The first game went on for some time as we were both rusty. I lost that match. The second and third matches were much swifter and also not in my favor. Turns out the nerd was hustling hahaha

The night began with a short walk around the corner to The Horse He Rode In On, which is a well-known dive bar. It is supposedly the oldest bar in Baltimore, opening around the 1700s (can someone fact check that for me please?). It is also said (per the bar folks) that it was Edgar Allen Poe’s last stop before the Grim Reaper showed up. No, unfortunately I did not see Poe’s ghost wander around.

Live music was playing near the front. The singer was good but I’ve got to say nothing beats Austin live music. The food menu wasn’t too grand. Mostly snack items from what we could tell. We left the bar around 9:20 in search of food.

We passed by Insomnia Cookies near Fell’s Inn. The place smelled like fresh hot chocolate chip cookies. They also advertised ice cream sandwiches. We went in, falling for the temptation. Who doesn’t want dessert before dinner?

Insomnia Cookies Counter
Bryan, the gent pictured here, was quite friendly and non-judgemental, which is perfect when you are craving dessert before dinner.

Oh man. We spent a great deal of time in there, deciding which cookies to get and talking to Bryan The Cashier, who is pictured above. Insomnia Cookies doesn’t have a large variety, but when everything looks good, it’s hard to pick the cookies that gets the honor of cheat meal.

I got a Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal. I ate the Chocolate Chip in one minute. It would have taken about 20 seconds but I wanted to enjoy the gooeyness of the chocolate and the smoothness of the dough. It was heavenly. More than heavenly. It was above heavenly.

The best part? Insomnia Cookies is open AND DELIVERS until 3 AM. We made a note to venture back here later for ice cream sandwiches because dinner was awaiting us.

Insomnia Cookies Banner

The Horse He Rode In On is located in Fell’s Point at 1626 Thames St., Baltimore, MD 21321.

Insomnia Cookies* is located in Fell’s Point at 812 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231.

*For you Austin folks, Insomnia Cookies has a location in San Marcos at 111 E Hopkins St., San Marcos, TX 78666. Please note they do NOT deliver to North Austin. I asked.

October 9, 2017

It’s like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people’s shit?

-Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography

Good point Miles. With that logic, it should be called “Invaders Day”. Think I’m crazy? Listen to the SoundCloud clip below from the former 105.3 JB in the Morning Show.