Drosophila, Fly-Fishing, Scythians, Catalonia, Brain Implants


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What’s The Fascination With The Fruit Fly?

Robin McKie | Guardian | 8th October 2017

Research into fruit flies has produced six Nobel prizes in physiology and medicine. Why so? Because fruit flies are ideal lab animals. Although outwardly as different from humans as you might care to imagine, they share 60% of human DNA and 75% of human diseases. They are live short lives, reproduce fast — and nobody seems too worried by about insect ethics. “We can plan an experiment on a fruit fly and have the result in three weeks. In a mouse that could take a year” (1,400 words)

The Philosophy Of Fly-Fishing

John Knight | Paris Review | 10th October 2017

Updating Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler for the modern age. “In Walton’s esteem for all the odd particularity of the fish and its environs, he seems to be attempting to merge two worlds that exist only in opposition to each other—the terrestrial and the aquatic. We know hardly anything of the vast empire that exists just below the surface of the water, but we know just enough that with a bit of study, a dash of faith, and a great deal of patience, we can, occasionally, break through” (2,100 words)

Scythians At The British Museum

Nick Richardson | London Review Of Books | 12th October 2017

A show of Scythian treasures at the British Museum exemplifies the problems of documenting nomadic civilisations. “The term ‘Scythians’ is a collective name for a number of migratory tribes who spoke early Iranian dialects and enjoyed a similar lifestyle and set of beliefs. Between 800 BCE and 300 BCE these tribes roamed a vast expanse of land stretching from Central Asia in the east to the Hungarian plain in the west. But being illiterate they left no manuscripts, and being nomadic no ruins” (1,700 words)

Catalonia On The Brink

Miguel-Anxo Murado | New York Review Of Books | 11th October 2017

Fine close-up account of the Catalan crisis and its proximate causes. “The nationalists played a perfect game, the Spanish made a blunder. They had failed to understand that their police officers would also be read symbolically. Madrid insisted and believed that those men in riot gear pulling demonstrators by the hair were simply defending the law and therefore democracy. But images take on a meaning of their own, and in the eyes of most Catalans, and many others, this was the face of oppression” (2,465 words)

Jose Delgado, Slightly Scary Pioneer Of Mind Control

John Horgan | Scientific American | 25th September 2017

Tribute to the late neuroscientist Jose Delgado, whose experiments with brain implants and electrical brain stimulation in the 1960s were more daring in many ways than anything done since, not least because Delgado was much less encumbered by ethical and regulatory constraints. He showed that he could stop a charging bull in its tracks by means of a radio signal. Once widely acclaimed, his work is rarely cited today, mainly he published in Spanish-language journals (3,360 words)

Video of the day: Paper Trail

What to expect:

The power of collage. Music and video, hand-drawn with ink on paper, by Jake Fried (1’00”)

Thought for the day

Life never gives us what we want at the moment we consider appropriate
E.M. Forster

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