Vic Clarke | History Workshop | 16th November 2020
Another statue, another row; but this time it is a new work that gives offence — an "anatomically detailed" nude figure in London commemorating 18C feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Does such female nudity challenge, or indulge, the "male gaze"? If the sculpted body is "idealised", does this increase or decrease the risk of offence? Why have nude statuary in public, if we do not have nude people? (1,320 words)
Paul Koudounaris | Literary Hub | 13th November 2020
A history of European civilisation narrated by cats; the first of which were brought from Egypt to Greece by Phoenician traders around 800 BC. "We were seen as a living miracle. Greeks knew only of wild cats. They were entranced by the softness of our fur and our gentle personalities. Why, we were amenable to the touch, and even — well, depending — allowed humans to hold us in their arms" (2,040 words)
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Natalie Wolchover | Quanta | 12th November 2020
Interesting throughout. There is a large field of science called "particle physics", but no agreement as to what constitutes a "particle" — if, indeed, particles exist at all; they may be an obsolete concept of which science has yet to rid itself. Current working definitions of particles include an "irreducible representation of a group", a "collapsed wave function", and a "quantum excitation" (4,200 words)
Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 10th November 2020
Moore's Law was coined to describe the growth of computing power; but for those who grew up with it, it came to feel like a new law of nature, a model or a test for almost every enterprise. "We got used to the primary thing in our lives getting better and cheaper every single year. We acquired exponential-thinking mindsets. Thinking in terms of compounding gains came naturally" (830 words)
Kyle Chayka | Substack | 9th November 2020
A rich and thoughtful essay on what, I admit, had seemed at first glance an unpromising topic — the workings of the video platform TikTok. "You sink into its depths like a 19th-century diver in a diving bell. More than any other social network since MySpace it feels like a new experience, the emergence of a different kind of technology and a different mode of consuming media" (3,400 words)
“Good history upsets everyone”
— David Silverman
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