Thursday 11 February, 2021

The Dig

We watched this lovely film on Netflix last night. Based on a true story, it tells of how Basil Brown (played by Ralph Fiennes), an English self-taught archaeologist and astronomer, in 1939 discovered and excavated a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk on the estate of Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan). The find was, as one archeological journal described it, “the greatest treasure ever discovered in the UK” and the fabulous artefacts it yielded are now in the British Museum. It’s a beautifully made, acted and photographed film with a script that has an acute ear for the subtle — and not so subtle — dimensions of English snobbery and class distinction. Think it of as Merchant Ivory does archeology. Strongly recommended.


I love the ‘goofs’ one finds on imdb pages. The one for the film has this:

“When Mrs Pretty has Grateley turn on the wireless, the broadcast is heard immediately. Before the advent of transistors, the vacuum tubes used in radios and televisions would have to warm up for 10 – 20 seconds before operating.”

Quote of the Day

“The most important thing in acting is honesty. Once you’ve learned to fake that, you’re in.”

  • Sam Goldwyn

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Andrew Lloyd Webber | A song for Jackie Weaver


This is fun. Jackie Weaver (for those who have been vacationing on Mars) is the lady who restored some element of decorum and sanity to the unruly Zoom meeting of Handforth Parish Council, a recording of whose proceedings went viral on the Web. More background here

Cognitive reflection correlates with behavior on Twitter

Hmmm… This article in Nature Communications comes to unsurprising conclusions. Here’s an excerpt from the Abstract:

We find that people who score higher on the Cognitive Reflection Test—a widely used measure of reflective thinking—were more discerning in their social media use, as evidenced by the types and number of accounts followed, and by the reliability of the news sources they shared. Furthermore, a network analysis indicates that the phenomenon of echo chambers, in which discourse is more likely with like-minded others, is not limited to politics: people who scored lower in cognitive reflection tended to follow a set of accounts which are avoided by people who scored higher in cognitive reflection. Our results help to illuminate the drivers of behavior on social media platforms and challenge intuitionist notions that reflective thinking is unimportant for everyday judgment and decision-making.

This is news?

Long Read of the Day

 The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review

This is an impressive report by a Treasury team led by the Cambridge economist Partha Dasgupta. It’s massive — 600 pages, but cleverly presented in a range of sizes to suit all tastes and capacities. There’s a 100-page “abridged” monograph (pdf), for example, and a short ‘headline messages’ document (also a pdf). There’s a very brief summary online which isn’t much cop. I’ve read only the ‘Headline Messages’ version. The overall message is, in a way, what everyone should know: if there is to be a solution to the damage we are inflicting on the planet and its inhabitants we have to start by accepting a simple truth: our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it. You’d have thought that maybe the pandemic might have convinced people of this. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • Missing your favourite bar? Why not re-create its soundscape? This is a lovely, interactive, idea. Try it. Link
  • The lawyer who’s definitely not a cat. (So he swears.) Link

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