Burned, buried and brought back to life

A look back (first published 17 February 2015): discovering the secrets of the papyrus scrolls of Herculaneum, now in the National Library in Naples, Italy.

The Phraser

Library of Naples Library of Naples
Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli

It’s never a good idea to judge anything by appearances.  Here’s an example.

Mid-autumn of last year I was new in Naples.  The language was a challenge and I still didn’t know my way around.  The city seemed hectic and disheveled.

Then, on a wet Wednesday in November, I was invited on a trip to the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli.

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London and the life beneath its feet

Copyright Transport for London

Copyright Transport for London

A great city depends on the energy of its people – London is a great city and it’s thriving thanks to Londoners.

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Genes by email – hazard or hope? (by Alex Leslie)

Alex Leslie was founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector.  During the ten years of the GBA as an independent association he guided it through times of enormous change, challenge and opportunity for the communications industry.  He is widely published in communications magazines around the world.

dna-pictures1We tend to believe that we live in an age of awesome change.  Yet compared to the changes that have happened over the last one hundred years, some would say that we simply live in a world that is faster, smaller and cheaper.

There have been no inventions to rival the car in the last ten years, or the personal computer, or space travel.  There is however one area that is as exciting as it is frightening – it is where technology meets biology.  Two years ago scientists successfully ‘laser’ printed deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) on to sheets of cellular material.  Essentially they printed life.

Since then technology has gone further.  Now scientists and computer experts have worked out how to translate DNA into binary and back again.  The first reaction to this might be that this is theoretical and fascinating.  However, it does place the world of biotechnology under a spotlight where the contrast between light and dark is very marked and deeply worrying.

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Short Story: Could do Better (from ‘Could do Better’ by Peter Rolls)

IMG_0587Not making enough effort’, ‘lacks application’, ‘more effort needed’.

Boswell’s father looked at Boswell, and Boswell looked at his father, and his father said “There is a pattern here, Boswell.”

“Yes, Dad.”

“A consistency.”

“Yes, Dad.”

His father squared his glasses.  “Your English, Maths and Science reports.  Key subjects – would you say?”

“Yes, Dad.”  Boswell had come to realise that ‘least said’ was often the best policy.

His father flicked report pages.  “All telling much the same story.”

Boswell kept it simple, kept his brow furrowed.  “Yes, Dad.”

“In fact, the whole report is – how shall I put it – mediocre.”

Boswell took issue.  “Well, it doesn’t actually say that.”

“True, Boswell.  It doesn’t actually use the word ‘mediocre’.  But tell me, how would you describe ‘More effort needed’?”

Boswell puffed his cheeks and went for it.  “Average?” he said.

His father’s tone rose a notch.  “No, it does not mean Average.  In any case, Average isn’t good enough.”

“Average is better than lots of people …”

“I know what average is, Boswell.  Average is somewhere between grey and grunge.  What we’re looking for is the glint of silver and gold.”

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BANKING AND BEYOND – A MOBILE REVOLUTION: by Alex Leslie

Alex Leslie was founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector.  During the ten years of the GBA as an independent association he guided it through times of enormous change, challenge and opportunity for the communications industry.  He is widely published in communications magazines around the world.

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IMG_0580A ten percent growth in mobile phone subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa will translate into a one percent increase in that region’s GDP.  

So said Bill Clinton recently, quoting statistics from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the communications offshoot of the United Nations (UN).

Demand in the region is far greater than supply suggesting that much of the continent is set for an exciting period of growth.  It is not just the take up of mobile phones fuelling the revolution – it is what people are using them for.

Stories are commonplace of mobiles being used to discover what goods are in the market 20 miles away, and therefore whether a journey is necessary. Before mobiles were widely available, the journey simply had to be made, often for nothing.

Mobile phones create a more efficient use of time – and time is money.   They are also creating markets, allowing producers and traders to begin the business of buying and selling before the market is even open.

In banking there is a similar revolution thanks to the mobile.

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FEATURED: The Essence Of Now-ness (from ‘Could do Better’ by Peter Rolls)

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POEM: These are the boots … (by Peter Rolls)

(Peter Rolls retired from the Civil Service in 1990 and joined a creative writing class in Camberley.  Since then he has been writing on a more-or-less weekly basis: stories, poems and the occasional amdram play.  He is now with the West Street Writers in Farnham and busy, busy …)

These are the boots ...

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