Mao, Geoengineering, Paper James, Crete, Colour

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Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin Or Mao?

Ian Johnson | New York Review Of Books | 6th February 2018

“In these pages nearly seven years ago, Timothy Snyder asked the provocative question: Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin? As useful as that exercise in moral rigor was, some think the question itself might have been slightly off. Instead, it should have included a third tyrant of the twentieth century, Chairman Mao. And not just that, but that Mao should have been the hands-down winner, with his ledger easily trumping those of the European dictators”. Mao’s victims: Upwards of 40 million (2,800 words)

Promethean Planetary Care

Nick Taylor | PERC | 6th February 2018

Eye-opening discussion of geoengineering, informed by Oliver Morton’s book, ‘The Planet Remade’. “If you haven’t yet read much about geoengineering, it may come as a surprise that governments across the world already presume it will be happening at great scale in the future. Almost all of the scenarios which inform existing international agreements on climate change assume that not-yet-existing technologies will work to suck carbon out of the atmosphere” (1,460 words)

Why Paper Jams Persist

Joshua Rothman | New Yorker | 6th February 2018

A trivial problem reveals the limits of technology. “There are many loose ends in high-tech life. Paper jams suggest that imperfection will persist despite our best efforts. They’re a quintessential modern problem — a trivial consequence of an otherwise efficient technology that’s been made monumentally annoying by the scale on which that technology has been adopted. Every year, printers get faster, smarter, and cheaper. All the same, jams endure” (Metered paywall) (3,980 words)

Rise And Fall Of The Mighty Minoans

Mireia Movellán Luis | National Geographic | 2nd October 2017

Ancient Greece gave birth to Western culture. But what gave birth to Greek culture? Archaeology points to prehistoric Crete, called “Minoan” for its legendary King Minos. “Crete has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The culture that developed there during the second millennium BC spread throughout the entire eastern Mediterranean world. Crete’s command of the seas would allow its stunning art and architecture to deeply influence the Mycenaean Greek civilization that would succeed it” (2,200 words)

The Red And Green Specialists

James Higham | Aeon | 6th February 2018

Humans are unusual among mammals for their reliance on colour when understanding the world. Most mammals rely primarily on scent. But what is stranger still, given this reliance, is the eccentricity with which humans process colour. “We have prioritised distinguishing a few types of colours really well, at the expense of being able to see as many colours as we possibly might”. Our eyes and brains work first to distinguish red from green, and, second, red and green from all other colours. But why? (1,300 words)

Video of the day One Minute Art History

What to expect:

Dazzling. A seemingly continuous cartoon constructed from fast-framed artworks across culture and time. By CaoShu (1’20”)

Thought for the day

Greatness of mind is never measured by what one disbelieves
Brandon Emrys

Podcast of the day Choice Architecture

Rory Sutherland talks to Larry Weeks about advertising, attention, and behavioural economics

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