The best book in the world

Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks

There’s just one problem when you’re trying to convince other people that the best book in the world is a book about nature. The problem is that a lot of people don’t like nature. Or it’s not that they dislike it. It’s that they don’t think about it any more than they think about stamp collecting or subatomic physics. No one will fly into a rage if you say you’re on the trail of the British Guiana 1-Cent Magenta or the Baden 9 Kreuzer Error Stamp, just as they’re not like to start throwing the furniture through a window if someone starts geeking out over the fact that beryllium emits electrically neutral radiation when bombarded with alpha particles. Scockers, whelms: it’s all East Anglian to them.

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Eric Lauterbach — The Smart Set

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Fire burns part of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi

It is difficult to imagine what could be the dark side of bank on ivory.

Some might shrug off the loss of ivory artifacts as acceptable collateral damage in the war on poaching. But the existence of a vast amount of impeccably legal ivory in the form of bona fide historic carvings means that total prohibition of absolutely all commerce, even trade in culturally important antiquities, will never be completely accepted everywhere. Enacting such a sweeping no-exceptions ban could backfire badly. Many would view it as bureaucratic over-reach, encouraging disdain for regulation and stimulating the criminal ivory market — and the elephant poaching that makes it possible.

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John Frederick Walker — The Smart Set

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There are two versions of the American Dream – one a rising standard of living for all and the the other the ability to achieve success through hard work and talent. Which dream do you live?

It is downright dangerous to identify the American Dream with intergenerational mobility, with progress defined as the children of janitors and store clerks becoming lawyers or doctors or professors. The number of job openings for vocations that require little or no training beyond high school will continue to exceed job openings in elite professions. It would be a social disaster if many janitors and store clerks are overqualified for the work they do and resentful of the society that promised too few high-status jobs to too many ambitious citizens.

A nation in which most citizens are told that they can achieve anything they want and that if they fail to do so the fault is purely their own, will be a society with a majority of embittered failures. In contrast, one in which the standard of living goes up constantly over time, for the less educated and less able as well as the highly educated and talented, is likely to be a happier nation.

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Michael Lind — The Smart Set

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