After Brexit, Meditation, Taxonomy, Africa, Rumi

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The World After Brexit

Brendan Simms | New Statesman | 1st March 2017

Britain has hard power, wealth and history on its side. Its position in any contest with the European Union is far stronger than Britain itself seems to understand. “The UK would be unable to uphold its security guarantees in Nato if those being protected were engaged in a vicious war against British livelihoods. Victory will go not to those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most. British society will cohere under pressure, whereas most European states will wobble” (4,300 words)

Yuval Harari On The Uses Of Meditation

Ezra Klein | Vox | 28th February 2017

Historian and futurist Yuval Noah Harari maintains his capacity to think deeply and clearly by meditating for two hours each day and going on a 60-day silent retreat each year. “You don’t have any distractions, you don’t have television, you don’t have emails, no phones, no books. You don’t write. You just have every moment to focus on what is really happening right now, on what is reality. You don’t know what’s happening on the outside, but what’s happening on the inside is so interesting” (2,500 words)

The High Drama Of Bird Taxonomy

Andrew Jenner | Atlantic | 28th February 2017

The scientific imperative to sort Nature into species and categories used to seem uncontroversial enough; an ostrich is not a bald eagle. But as the differentiations get finer, the arguments among taxonomists get fiercer. Is the stuttering Striolated-Puffbird of the western Amazon different enough from other Striolated-Puffbirds to merit full species status? And is that hyphen even needed? “The emotions that are involved in some of these decisions are really kind of out of proportion” (1,450 words)

The Contemporary Shadow Of The Scramble For Africa

Elias Papaioannou | Vox EU | 1st March 2017

Colonialists are typically blamed for exploiting and impoverishing Africa by means of the slave trade and through the installation of extractive political and economic institutions which transferred wealth to the ruling powers. But the most consequential legacy of colonialism may well be partioning of Africa by means of arbitrary borders into intrinsically unstable countries. The borders divide ethnic groups and disregard geography. Out of 49 countries, 16 are landlocked (3,700 words)

Rumi, Machado, and Co.

Anthony Madrid | Paris Review | 1st March 2017

Explaining the 13C Persian poet and mystic known as Rumi. “It’s easy enough to answer the question as to whether Rumi is funny. No. On the other hand, Rumi was a sweetheart, and his poetry does have a certain self-help aura. He loves homely metaphors, and he definitely does have ‘designs on your understanding’ (or whatever it was that Keats said was preeminently resistible to him). At the same time, he’s friendly and encouraging. He does not get up in your face. He is seldom grumpy” (1,140 words)

Video of the day: The Millennium (So Far)

What to expect:

Supercut of the best cinematography of the past 17 years, with shots from 100 films (11’40”)

Thought for the day

Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us
Marcel Proust

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