Europe, Consciousness, Troy, Voynich Manuscript, Socrates


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Somerdale To Skarbimierz

James Meek | London Review Of Books | 6th April 2017

“All factories must close one day, but there’s something particularly brutal about a factory being closed because its owners have found cheaper labour elsewhere. The five hundred workers at Cadbury’s Somerdale chocolate factory near Bristol learned that most of their permanent, solidly pensioned jobs were to be moved to a new factory in Poland, not because they had done anything wrong, but because their Polish replacements could do the same job for less than one fifth of the money” (13,400 words)

The Consciousness Of Christof Koch

Steve Paulson | Nautilus | 6th April 2017

Conversation about brain and mind with “one of the great thinkers about consciousness”, Christof Koch, long-time colleague of Francis Crick and now president of the Allen Institute For Brain Science. “There’s nothing inherently magical about the human brain. It obeys all the laws of physics like everything else in the universe. Consciousness is really physics from the inside. Seen from the inside, it’s experience. Seen from the outside, it’s what we know as physics, chemistry, and biology” (4,600 words)

Digging Up Troy

Eric Cline | Lapham's Quarterly | 31st March 2017

A short history of excavating Troy. Heinrich Schliemann was right about the geography, wrong about the archaeology. His workers dug straight through the stone walls of Priam’s palace and down to the Troy of 2400 BC, a thousand years before Homer’s Trojan Wars. If archaeologists were now to excavate Schliemann’s spoil heap “it is highly likely that we would find all sorts of things from the Troy of Priam and Hector”. How Schliemann found Priam’s golden treasure remains a mystery (3,100 words)

The Voynich Manuscript — Secret Or Hoax?

Eamon Duffy | New York Review Of Books | 5th April 2017

Useful overview of current scholarship. The manuscript was owned by Emperor Rudolf II and Athanasius Kircher before reaching the London book dealer Wilfrid Voynich. Radio carbon analysis “firmly” dates the vellum to “the years around 1430”. Most of the pages depict imaginary plants; others show zodiacs and human bodies; the script has defied top codebreakers. “If we can be fairly sure that the manuscript is not a modern forgery, it by no means follows that it is not a medieval hoax” (3,400 words)

Making Athens Great Again

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein | Atlantic | 6th April 2017

Athenian leaders condemned Socrates to death for questioning Athenian exceptionalism. Killing him was safer than letting him continue, because he was right; Athens was in relative decline. The parallels with present-day America are nicely made here, and not laboured. The hero of this tale is Plato, who took a version of what we might now call the Benedict option. He withdrew from Athens, travelled, learned — and returned to found a new Athenian golden age (4,100 words)

Video of the day: Are You Lost In The World Like Me?

What to expect:

Hanna-Barbera style cartoon created to accompany music by Moby (3’13”)

Thought for the day

Madness in method, that’s genius
Frank Herbert

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