Ukraine, Pantheism, Farming, Hemingway, Voynich Manuscript

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Emptying The Bread Basket

Donald Rayfield | Literary Review | 4th September 2017

Why did Stalin starve millions of Ukranians in the 1930s? “Genocides usually have their own logic: to get rid of surplus populations that cannot be deported; to take over aboriginal land for immigrant cultivation; to unite a nation by scapegoating a particular class, race or religion. Stalin’s logic, however, is unfathomable. The only clear motives were hatred of Ukraine and the peasants, and the search for a pretext to purge any Party official prepared to stand up to Stalin’s orders” (1,470 words)

What The Meadow Teaches Us

Andreas Weber | Nautilus | 7th September 2017

We are part of the natural world, and the natural world is part of each of us. “It has taken a long time for biology and medicine to arrive at the idea that significant portions of an individual’s own body are foreign to it. Now, microbiology is discovering that there is no solid core within us, rather a lurking void around which life’s dance unfurls. We know that our body is colonized by microbes, particularly in the gut, which perform metabolic processes essential to our lives” (1,545 words)

This Tiny Country Feeds The World

Frank Viviano | National Geographic | 4th September 2017

The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It is bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it is the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass. More than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture. How on Earth have the Dutch done it? (4,200 words)

Two Kinds Of People

Terry Teachout | National Review | 26th August 2017

Shrewd comparative assessment of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. “The trouble with Hemingway, seen from the privileged vantage point of hindsight, is that he looks increasingly like a great influence, but not a great author in his own right. No 20th-century writer would leave a deeper mark on his contemporaries, yet all but the very finest of his short stories now sound mannered and artificial, while the novels come off as little more than sustained exercises in pose-striking” (1,400 words)

Voynich Manuscript: The Solution

Nicholas Gibbs | TLS | 5th September 2017

Interesting if true. Historian claims to have decoded the 15C Voynich Manuscript, which has baffled scholars for generations. The mysterious Voynich script is a form of Latin shorthand; each character represents “an abbreviated word, not a letter”. The manuscript is a guide to women’s health, “a reference book of selected remedies lifted from the standard treatises of the medieval period”. It borrows heavily from earlier works in the same vein, Trotula and De Balneis Puteolanis (3,000 words)

Video of the day: Zip Code With The Swingin’ 6

What to expect:

Public service announcement from 1967 encouraging US Postal Service customers to use zip codes (14’50”)

Thought for the day

Without publicity, no good is permanent
Jeremy Bentham

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