Filmistan, Spiders, Sex, Scurvy, Socrates

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At Home In Filmistan

William Nakabayashi | Believer | 5th July 2018

An ethnographer in Bollywood. “Filmistan Studios occupies five acres in Goregaon, an outer suburb of Mumbai. The sound stages have been in continuous operation since 1943. Filmistan has remained open for business as a production facility, and the grounds now accommodate eight stages and several outdoor shooting areas, including a Hindu temple, a jailhouse exterior, and a village. But Filmistan is more than a collection of sets. Behind the scenes, there are real people living there” (5,600 words)

Spiders Fly Using Electricity

Ed Yong | Atlantic | 5th July 2018

How spiders can fly up to a thousand miles despite having no wings. They use electrostatic repulsion. “The upper reaches of the atmosphere have a positive charge, and the planet’s surface has a negative one. Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air” (885 words)

Sex And Sexuality

Raja Halwani | Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy | 5th July 2018

A brave attempt to rationalise the most unruly of human activities. “Sex has received little attention in the history of western philosophy, and what it did receive was not good: Plato denigrated it, Aristotle barely mentioned it, and Christian philosophers condemned it. Rooted in our biology, pervaded by our intentionality, and (normally) directed at other human beings, sexual desire is complex and not confined to specific mating seasons. Its pleasures are powerful and have ruined many lives” (16,300 words)

Scott And Scurvy

Maciej Cegłowski | Idle Words | 6th March 2010

The power of citrus fruit to cure scurvy, well-known in the mid-18C, was forgotten in the late-19C, and rediscovered in 1932. “That one of the simplest of diseases managed to confound us for so long, at the cost of millions of lives, even after we had stumbled across an unequivocal cure, makes you wonder how many ailments of the modern world — depression, autism, hypertension, obesity — will turn out to have equally simple solutions, once we are able to see them in the correct light” (5,300 words)

Socratic Humility

Agnes Callard | 3rd July 2018

The Socratic method entitles Socrates to be considered history’s first philosopher, even though Socrates produced no known theories or writings. “Socrates saw the pursuit of knowledge as a collaborative project involving two very different roles. There’s you or I who comes forward and makes a bold claim. Then there’s Socrates, or one of his contemporary descendants, who questions and interrogates and distinguishes and calls for clarification. Together, they make progress” (1,800 words)

Video of the day What Causes Hallucinations

What to expect:

How the human brain can misfire to produce hallucinations. Ted-ED explainer (5’41”)

Thought for the day

Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength
Edmund Burke

Podcast George Saunders | New York Public Library

George Saunders talks to Paul Holdengräber about Tolstoy, ghosts, chickens and Buddhism
(55m 50s)

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