August 23 – Mizzen The Mast

star clipperThere is nothing with quite the same beauty as a ship under sail. The calm grace of the massive white sails contrasted with the frantic shouting of the men as they pull the lines and sheets. The steady movement of the ship as she plows through the ever-changing waves. And the knowledge that the dance you are watching dates back more than ten thousand years and is responsible for modern civilization.

Ships created civilization because ships allowed humans to move around and mix. We did it mostly for trade. Murex shells (used to make purple and originally very, very expensive which is why it is a royal color) for gold. Wheat for cattle. And, most importantly, ideas for ideas. The Phoenician alphabet for Greek “democracy”.  Greek gods and mores for Etruscan ones. A heliocentric universe for secrets of chemistry.

Those trades continue today on the ocean of information known as the internet. Have you gone sailing today?

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