Translation, DIY Biology, Umbrellas, Rolling Stone(s), Plato

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Translator’s Note To The Odyssey

Emily Wilson | Poetry Daily | 6th November 2017

Why plain modern English is right for Homer’s Odyssey. “My translation is written in a style that echoes the rhythms and phrases of contemporary anglophone speech. It may be tempting to imagine that a translation of a very ancient poem would be somehow better if it used the language of an earlier era. Mild stylistic archaism can be presented as if it were a mark of authenticity. But of course, the English of the nineteenth century is no closer to Homeric Greek than the language of today” (3,800 words)

Absolutely Anyone Can Hack DNA

Annie Sneed | Scientific American | 2nd November 2017

You can buy a CRISPR kit by mail order for $130 and do some serious genetic engineering in the privacy of your own home. The starter pack shows you how to modify e coli. The rest is up to you. Are we handing rogue scientists the means to flood the world with mutant life-forms? “Right now, it’s difficult to imagine how it’d be dangerous in a real way. If you want to do harm, there are much easier and simpler ways than using this highly sophisticated genetic editing technique” (4,200 words)

Nietzsche And The Philosophy Of Umbrellas

Marion Rankine | iai News | 2nd November 2017

The philosophy of umbrellas is “a curious and little-studied field”, save by Jacques Derrida, whose Spurs “contains one of the most sustained interrogations of umbrella-meaning in Western literature”. Derrida was mainly interested in the closed umbrella, “an organ which is at once aggressive and apotropaic, threatening and threatened”. The open umbrella is another matter: “It is a neat twist of logic that an object designed to maintain dryness has come to signify conditions of wetness” (2,400 words)

Jann Wenner And Mick Jagger

Joe Hagan | Vulture | 20th October 2017

Extract from Joe Hagan’s biography of Jann Wenner, recounting Wenner’s tangled relationship with Mick Jagger, which began with lawyers’ letters over Wenner’s use of the Rolling Stone title, developed into a disastrous Jagger-financed attempt to publish a British edition of Rolling Stone, and almost ended when Rolling Stone “flogged” Jagger for Altamont. Full of interesting detail — if, ex ante, you are interested in the Rolling Stones or Rolling Stone (6,500 words)

Plato’s Republic: On That Which Is Correct Politically

Mark Paglia | McSweeney's | 26th October 2017

“THRASYMACHUS: I don’t think we should let any Thebans into Athens because they’re all criminals, but I can’t just say that because it’s politically incorrect. SOCRATES: You claim that you cannot say it, and yet you just said it. Therefore, it is not true that it cannot be said. THRASYMACHUS: Okay, but everyone in the agora will say that I’m racist. SOCRATES: Well, as I have already established in our rather lengthy dialogue, one cannot trust the opinion of the masses” (670 words)

Video of the day Chemical Garden

What to expect:

Wildly beautiful film of salts growing inside sodium silicate solution (2’36”)

Thought for the day

One becomes weary only of what is new
Soren Kierkgaard

Podcast of the day A Life Of My Own | The Spectator

Sam Leith talks to biographer and critic Claire Tomalin about her memoir of life in Fleet Street and literary London

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