George Forster Travels Overland From Bengal To England

Little is known of the early life of British explorer George Forster.  His travel memoirs, published in 1808 after his death, were edited by persons who apparently never considered that such information would be of interest to readers.  We can thus only rely on what we find in scattered letters and journals.  He was probably born around 1750 and at some point joined the East India Company as a young man; he would eventually be posted to Madras to work as a writer.  Around 1782 he was granted leave to return to England; and for some reason–perhaps it was just a taste for adventure–he decided to make the return trip by land through Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Russia.

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Ictus Animi: The Smiting Of The Mind

We are unlikely to arrive at any awareness of things while sitting within the confines of our domestic barricades.  Enlightenment requires perception; perception, sensory input; and sensory input, direct experience with the world of the living outside our familiar habitations.  The leisure of contemplation, and the enticements of philosophical reflection, allow for the refinement and processing of these experiences, but cannot serve as a direct substitute for them; and unlucky is he who deludes himself into believing he has arrived at weighty insights from the contemplation of the four walls around him.

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Keep Moving Forward, No Matter What Happens (Podcast)

We discuss the importance of continuing to move forward, no matter what happens, and no matter how many bad things happen to you. Everyone’s luck changes for the better sooner or later, and you have to be in the game when it happens.  We compare and contrast the experiences of Nikki Sixx of the rock band Motley Crüe with that of television personality Anthony Bourdain.  We close by reading a few tweets from the G Manifesto.

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The Liberation Of The Mind

From birth we are surrounded by the inherited and imposed belief systems of our environment.  Such systems exert a silent force on our thinking; they channel our behaviors within defined limits, and demarcate the boundaries of conventional thought.  They can become so pervasive that they escape even our own notice.  We should not necessarily see this as an evil, for custom and tradition provide, on balance, a certain predictability and stability that makes for civilized leisure and artistic creation; and society must have some immovable foundation upon which to direct its spires skyward.

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The Sorrow Of The Grammarian Of Basra, Iraq

Abu Faid Muwarrij al-Sadusi was a grammarian from the city of Basra, Iraq.  We do not know the precise date of his birth, but he is reliably said to have died in the year A.D. 810 (year 195 in the Islamic calendar).  His biographer Ibn Khallikan says that he studied at the school of Abu Zaid al-Ansari, and showed a particular talent for poetry and philology.  We are also told that he accompanied the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun to Khorasan, and eventually took up residence in Marw and Nishapur.

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Arthur, The Three-Legged Dog (Podcast)

A reader asks about how he should handle a limitation he believes he has. We respond by telling him an anecdote, and drawing the appropriate lessons from it.

We close on a humorous note by reading some recent tweets by the G Manifesto.  Humor may indeed be the healthiest tonic.

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Captain George Francis Lyon’s Explorations In Africa

There is a certain type of Englishman who is not content with confinement in any one locale.  He seeks new vistas, new challenges, and the chance to test his mettle against geography, climate, and the decrees of Fortune.  We have chronicled a number of such men in these pages.  To this list we must add the name of British naval officer George Francis Lyon (1795–1832), who enjoys perhaps the unique distinction of being known for exploratory achievement in two very different climatic conditions:  the polar regions of the Arctic and the desert expanses of northern Africa.

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