Stars and Adventures


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Pushed Around By Stars

Raghuveer Parthasarathy | The Eighteenth Elephant | 29th November 2021

Building upon the astronomical work of early 20C French mathematician Émile Borel, this piece explores the idea that the answer to the question "Does X affect Y?" is always yes, and is thus useless. Better questions for scientists to be asking include "how much?" and "do I care about the magnitude of the effect?". Borel is verbose and vague, but this writer is neither (2,321 words)


Learning Sixteenth-Century Business Jargon

Edmond Smith | Lapham's Quarterly | 29th November 2021

Communication failure could spell disaster for the merchant adventurer in the 16C, wiping out an entire voyage's profit. Linguistic skill was highly prized, as was knowledge of local customs and etiquette. Handwriting mattered too: in 1636, a factor omitted the "r" from the phrase "2 or 3 apes", meaning that over 200 primates were shipped to London instead of the desired two or three (1,971 words)


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