Water, Conscription, Agnes Callard, Dinner, Credit Scores


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Leonardo’s Watery Chaos

Irving Lavin | IAS | 10th April 2018

Leonardo Da Vinci’s notes and drawings reveal a fascination, even an obsession, with the behaviour of water, and particularly with water’s capacity for turbulence. “Through his studies of wave motions and currents, and especially his preoccupation with the effects of moving water encountering obstacles, including water itself and the surrounding air, Leonardo may have arrived at a concept of uncontrolled universal turbulence, akin to the ancient ideas of an original, primeval chaos” (3,800 words)

Everyday Politics And Military Service

Michael Szonyi | Aeon | 11th April 2018

China’s Ming emperors maintained “by a wide margin the largest standing army in the world”, consisting of about two million soldiers, all drawn from “military households”, a special category which comprised about ten percent of China’s population, principally families that had fought for the first Ming emperor and his defeated rivals in the mid-14th century. Every military household had a “permanent, hereditary obligation to supply one able-bodied man to serve in the military at all times” (3,000 words)

Agnes Callard On The Theory of Everything

Tyler Cowen | Mercatus Center | 11th April 2018

Conversation with philosopher and classicist Agnes Callard. Topics include Plato, Socrates, dialogue, argument, love, intoxication, longevity, Hamlet, truth, aspiration. “The reason why we have adversarial systems for pursuing certain goals is that there’s actually a tension inside the goal itself. The goal threatens to pull itself apart. In the case of justice, we have the goal that we want to convict the guilty, and we want to acquit the innocent. And those are not the same goal” (11,500 words)

A Short History Of Dining In France

Eugène Briffault | Lapham's Quarterly | 10th April 2018

How dinner migrated from a meal taken at dawn to one taken at dusk. “When leisure became the ultimate object of French society, dinner, taken by warriors during the first hours of daylight, drew closer to the middle of the day. In the 17th century the daily devotions fixed the time for dinner, placing it at the end of Mass. Later, dinner seemed to interfere with the dissipated life publicly avowed by the entire court; the previous century’s timing seemed impractical when bedtime was at daybreak” (1,700 words)

Democratising Credit

Adam Webb-Orenstein | Platypus | 25th September 2017

Josh Lauer talks about the origins of credit-rating in 19C America, and the perverse effects of mid-20C computerisation. “The credit bureaus wanted to collect information about people’s personalities, and about their home lives and all of that sort of stuff, which was not really compatible with computers because back then computers didn’t have the same kind of memory or processing they have now. So they had to reduce the categories they used to determine creditworthiness” (2,400 words)

Video of the day Sensual (Feat. David Chalmers & Baba Brinkman)

What to expect:

Philosopher David Chalmers and science rapper Baba Brinkman debate rationalism versus empiricism (5’02”)

Thought for the day

One is allowed to change the past: the present is so stubborn
Jorge Luis Borges

Podcast of the day Greater Than Equal | Philosophy For Our Times

Sophie Walker, Helena Cronin and Theodore Dalrymple discuss the uses and limits of equality
(34m 42s)

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