Word magic…

Cavers and miners of the future will spot the Anthropocene as a stratified layer of plastic, which he finds strewn on beaches in the farthest points of the Lofoten Islands. His book is suffused with sadness for this. He finds comfort where he can: in the innocence of children, the company of friends, the light-drenched vividness of surface life, which cries out to be cherished—and in the astronomer who, confined to the dark, patiently turns towards the stars.

—The Economist: ‘Into the underland with Robert Macfarlane

India – nationalism, colonialism, history and the future

Narendra Modi, the prime minister, controls the story of Indian nationalism these days, and has little use for the history of the anti-colonial struggle (which his own heroes, the first Hindu nationalists, largely sat out).

The Congress party, now in opposition, would traditionally stoke the embers of the anti-British campaigns, which it led. But it is trying hard to appeal to new voters, desperate for jobs and otherwise far from the memory of the freedom struggle.

— The Economist, in ‘The politics of apologising for Amritsar

Why we centralise control…

Centralising power not only offers a sense of control and order, but it’s a cheaper way to fight a war. Letting commanders decide what to do on the fly requires more training and more troops, which can be expensive and unpredictable.

— From Quartz, ‘A ferocious tank battle taught H.R. McMaster how to prepare for the unexpected

Self improvement needs both solitude and the world

Any self-improvement is impossible if you live constantly in the bustle of the everyday world. But it is even less possible if you live in constant solitude. If you want to improve yourself, the very best approach is to develop and establish your view of things in solitude and then to apply it as you live in the everyday world.

— Tolstoy (from “A Calendar of Wisdom” by Leo Tolstoy, Roger Cockrell)