"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son
loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
, which would later be called The Harvard Classics
." (Via) [more inside]
About 30 miles west of Charleston, West Virginia is a little town called Milton
, which was the home to the Plato Records label back in the 1960s. According to Al Collinsworth, vocalist and co-songwriter for The Outcasts
, Plato was intended to be an African-American music (Afrilachian) label, but the only known Plato releases are a handful of garage rock and funk singles from predominantly white bands, like The Outcasts' Loving You Sometimes
. That particular track has seen an uptick in interest, since it has appeared on some recent mixtapes, including Diplo's Chasing the Dragon
(MP3, streaming on Grooveshark
). For more on those few known Plato recordings, Garage Hangover has interviews, information and promo photos from members
. [more inside]
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan
, Ann Druyan
, and Steven Soter
, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot
. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
Humanities and the Liberal Arts
is the personal website of former Middlebury classics professor William Harris
who passed away in 2009. In his retirement
he crafted a wonderful site full of essays, music
and his thoughts on anything from education
. But the heart of the website for me is, unsurprisingly, his essays on ancient Latin and Greek literature
some of whom are book-length works. Here are a few examples: Purple color in Homer
, complete fragments of Heraclitus
, how to read Homer and Vergil
, a discussion of a recently unearthed poem by Sappho
, Plato and mathematics
, Propertius' war poems
, and finally, especially close to my heart, his commentaries on the poetry of Catullus, for example on Ipsithilla
, Odi et amo
, Attis poem as dramatic dance performance
and a couple of very dirty poems
(even by Catullus' standard). That's just a taste of the riches found on Harris' site, which has been around nearly as long as the world wide web has existed.
Dr. Jay Kennedy
, a philosopher from Manchester University, claims to have uncovered a series of secret messages hidden in some of the most influential and celebrating writings of the Ancient World,"
--that is, in the dialogs of Plato. His findings have been published in the most recent issue of Apeiron
, a well-respected journal of philosophy. [more inside]
An attempt at a collaborative translation of Plato’s Protagoras
. Every day for a few months, Dhananjay Jagannathan will post roughly a page of the dialogue, side by side in Greek, in his own translation, and in Jowett’s classic 1871 translation. He's invited readers to comment and offer suggestions to improve the translation. Jagannathan's goal is to communicate Plato in English the way readers of his would have interpreted his Greek.
Socrates and Glaucon on the Home Shopping Network
The Happy Hacker
offers you the secrets and tools to become an Überhacker
, and even how to build a railgun
. But who is this Happy Hacker? Though other folks are now involved
with the website, Carolyn P. Meinel is the primary face of The Happy Hacker. She is a long-time computer hacker, going back to getting unapproved access to the PLATO system
). She started Happy Hacker because "all sorts of guys were begging me, 'teach me how to hack'
." Her webpage gained attention, getting mentioned in The Happy Mutant Handbook
, and being invited to speak at Defcon
. But there are people who doubt her credentials
, and others who are a lot more harsh
. Regardless of the backlash, and the appearance that the peak of The Happy Hacker has passed
, her articles are still being published
. Awesome graphics. Online community.
No, I'm not talking about the latest handheld device to hit the market, I'm talking about Control Data's PLATO
system. [more inside]
"...the aspiring speaker needs no knowledge of the truth about what is right or good... In courts of justice no attention is paid whatever to the truth about such topics; all that matters is plausibility..."
A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms
If you were doing research in the 60s, You might've heard of Polywater,
A form of water that exhibited wide variety of interesting characteristics and existed under identical conditions to that of normal water. Eventually debunked, none the less is a fascinating story. Naturally one draws parallels to Vonnegut's ice nine, but did you know there actually is an ice nine?
In fact, there's twelve to sixteen types of ice
, depending on your opinion.
More recently, computer simulations have indicated water may structure itself into icosahedra
, which, incredibly, is the platonic solid (described over 2000 years ago!) representing the element water!
And if you don't know what an icosahedron is, I bet you've used one before
. One of the most ubiquitous, and arguably most important,
substances in our lives, our understanding of water
is far from complete.
Philosophy (digested). Julian Baggini
reads philosophy classics, so you don't have to. Plato
(“Sex is empirically verifiable, it’s only love that ain’t”). OK, its a rip-off of John Crace
) but at least these are books you should have read.
All Politics is Thymotic.
"Let me tell you what men want. Let me tell you why some middle-age men wear the sports jerseys of semiliterate behemoths half their age while others customize their cars with so many speakers they sound like the hip-hop version of the San Francisco earthquake as they roll down the street.
Recognition. Men want others to recognize their significance. They want to feel important and part of something important." (NYT via donkey o.d.)
New Sappho poem found.
Combining a Cologne University fragment found in the cartonnage of an Egpytian mummy
with a fragment from Oxyrhynchus
has allowed the reconstruction of Sappho's fourth poem.
The Oxyrhynchus papyri have been much in the news lately, what with the discovery of the earliest fragment of Revelations to give the number of the beast as 616
and the publication of several lines from Sophocles' lost tragedy The Progeny
(scroll down). Infra-red imaging techniques
may not be sexy, but Sappho
sure is. After all, Plato said she was worthy of being considered not only as a poet but as a muse.
Sappho herself is a palimpsest
or a sort of cypher. We know next to nothing about her -- including whether she was lesbian or not. One thing's for sure: she almost certainly wasn't a schoolmistress.
has been found, and it's... Ireland
? So says Swedish geographer Ulf Erlingsson
, who thinks the sinking of the island in Plato's story
may have referred to the inundation
of Dogger Bank
, which connected Britain and Denmark. Sorry Spain
. [Via MonkeyFilter.]
Just How Influential Is America?
Mark Rice-Oxley, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, argues that, 2000 years from now, Disney will probably be more remembered than Plato. Really? [More inside. Via Arts & Letters Daily.
The shape of the universe
may well be a dodecahedron
. New research from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
suggests a finite universe with a definite shape. One up for Plato
, who, following Pythagoras
, maintained that “God used this solid for the whole universe, embroidering figures on it.”
. So it appears. .. all expressed much more lucidly by the Economist.