When thinking about "the future", people use different mental pictures. For example, a modern CEO may fancy him-or herself standing face forward at the prow of a ship, peering boldly at the horizon. But that’s daft. None of us can see even a minute into the future — otherwise we’d all win at roulette.

Some historians believe ancient cultures of the Middle East (like the Sumerians, who gave us hours and minutes) saw time differently. Their view may best be illustrated using the analogy of a horse. I imagine myself sitting in the saddle, facing backwards. As the horse strides forward, I see the past receding, while the present unfolds with each step...

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