Late Abroad Again

August 16th 1665 It was dark before I could get home; and so land at church-yard stairs, where to my great trouble I met a dead Corps, of the plague, in the narrow ally, just bringing down a little pair of stairs - but I thank God I was not much disturbed at it. However, I shall beware of being late abroad again. - Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703)...

August 3, 2020 · 4 min read · 668 words

Wedding Feast

Tonight I contemplate marriage. Or rather, I am contemplating what I will eat after I am married. For this evening sees a sampling of what could be on offer for my intended’s and my special day. Traditionally, what is served at a wedding feast is determined by both the time of day and local customs. Controversially, in these revolutionary times, my wedding will not differ from this historic model. With dishes coming from a largely Anglo-Aussie tradition and be suitable for an evening event....

July 31, 2020 · 2 min read · 328 words

The Shape Of Things That Are

Reading the popular press these days, I thought I had long gone past the point at which an article would surprise me. In an age in which E=mc^2^ has been argued to be a sexed equation because ‘it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us,’ no gymnastics should seem out of place. Yet today, an article in The New York Times managed the seemingly unmanageable....

July 17, 2020 · 2 min read · 424 words

Shape of Things to Come

#onthisday in 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered by French soldier Pierre-François Xavier Bouchard during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt. It is one of the most important artefacts pertaining to ancient Egypt as it was the key to deciphering hieroglyphs, which has helped humanity unlock lost ancient knowledge. The stone was created in 196 B.C.E. and has three inscriptions of the same decree, which affirmed the royal cult of the 13-year-old king Ptolemy V on the first anniversary of his coronation....

July 15, 2020 · 3 min read · 477 words

Scepticism and Wonder

I saw an excellent vlog from Ayishat Akanbi for Double Down News. Ayishat’s message is clear, that ‘We’re living in a culture of fear and as a result freedom of speech is under threat’: This video reminded me of the late great Carl Sagan, who was prescient in understanding the need to deal with people who disagree, even attack, us for our beliefs. Though his writing focused on superstitions and pseudosciences, his thinking is largely applicable to all forms of bigotry and ignorance in pursuit of a cause....

July 10, 2020 · 4 min read · 844 words

The Power of the Snub

Today was quite the red letter day. For the first time since gyms shut due to the Covid pandemic, my local reopened and I was able to train again. Though vowing to take things easy as I pulled on my sweats, it seems my body has lost what little fitness it had. Consequently, doing nothing more than going through the motions of a workout was enough to provoke bucking hysteria from my muscles....

June 13, 2020 · 3 min read · 503 words

Media Archipelago

If [journalists] have misled public opinion or the government by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, do we know of any cases of public recognition and rectification of such mistakes by the same journalist or the same newspaper? It hardly ever happens because it would damage sales. — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Solzhenitsyn, a long standing critic of he Soviet Union and communism, knew much about the use and abuse of public opinion....

June 10, 2020 · 4 min read · 689 words

So I Could See Further

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants. — Isaac Newton’s letter to Robert Hooke Newton knew a thing or two about sight, in his book Opticks he was the first to use a diagram of a prism as a beam expander. But for all his original ideas, his letter to Hooke is important as it underscores the reality of creative endeavours and original research: that each new work builds on that which went before....

May 25, 2020 · 3 min read · 448 words

So this is how privacy dies...

Maciej Cegłowski coined a phrase which I think should resonate far beyond the circles in which it currently does. The phrase: ‘ambient privacy’. He defined it as: the understanding that there is value in having our everyday interactions with one another remain outside the reach of monitoring, and that the small details of our daily lives should pass by unremembered. What we do at home, work, church, school, or in our leisure time does not belong in a permanent record....

May 11, 2020 · 4 min read · 645 words

Endurance Through Renewal

Today, while out walking, I came across a stone bench that appeared to be very old. Carved into an ancient looking wall, it was dappled in moss and thick creepers wound their way across its surface. As I walked on, I turned over in my mind the enduring legacy that is stone. From the construction at Göbekli Tepe in Asia Minor, the oldest religious structure in the world built c. 9500 BC, to the Nile and Indus valleys, the Orkney Isles and the jungles of Yucatán, humanities efforts to outlast time itself are evident....

May 9, 2020 · 2 min read · 410 words